If you’re not familiar with ‘barefoot’ or minimalist running, you may not have heard of Skora, a new-on-the-scene running shoe company based out of Portland Oregon. In fact, the men’s Skora FORM and BASE running shoe models only came on the market last year, and the women’s are brand new this fall.
Skora’s motto is ‘run real’, and I’ll admit: as a daily runner, I hadn’t realized I’d been running fake. But what they mean is this: Skora takes away features to their running shoes instead of adding them. What remains is a minimal running shoe that works with your natural running gait, not against it. The result: a very different feel for your feet and your entire body if, like me, you typically buy running shoes with the most cushion possible.
How did Skora compare? I tried the new women’s Skora FORM, and it took a bit of getting used to. At first, I rebelled against feeling every contour of pavement beneath my feet, the thin soles of the Skora FORM feeling foreign to me. While I loved that the shoe is extremely lightweight, I just didn’t think I had enough…something…on my feet: protection? Padding? Synthetic siding?
I stuck with it, and before long, I saw the benefits. I was no longer clomping, for lack of a more technical term (can you tell I’m only a recreational runner?). Because the FORM forces me to run with a natural gait, my heel is on the same plane as my forefoot, which leads to what Skora calls ‘bio-mechanically correct’ running. In my personal experience, this has led to less stress on my knees and joints. Plus, these shoes are so darn lightweight, you hardly feel them on your feet.
What else I noticed about the Skora FORM that my other running shoes lack: they’re leather! As in, real, soft-as-butter goat’s leather. And it makes such a difference in the fit! The FORM mold to my feet like a dream, with stitch-down construction and a roomy toe-box. They’re designed to wear with our without socks, and I’ve found the most comfort without (the built-in OrthoLite sock liner keeps feet from getting to hot or sweaty, a worry of mine). Even the lacing is designed especially with form in mind, with asymmetric lacing for a more practical fit. They fit snugly, but there’s an elastic heel strap to adjust to your preferred level of tightness. Only one warning: because the FORM has a curved out-sole to follow the contour of your foot, there’s not a lot of room for those with wide feet.
If you need to know the nitty-gritty runners-speak on how Skora shoes have been working (or not) for various runner types, the running world (aka the blogs) are abuzz with technical details and case studies about the Skora FORM’s design. Since I’m a traveler, not a competitive runner, I want to speak to the FORM’s other virtues, namely, that they fit in even the most cramped carry-on luggage.
See? Proof! Usually, if I’m flying carry-on only, I have to make hard choices about footwear, and bulky running shoes can be the first to go. The Skora FORM squishes down to next to nothing, and easily double as comfortable walking and touring shoes. The leather of the FORM features reflective detailing for twilight and night time runs, and the anti-slip heelpad provides enough traction to get the job done unless you’re doing some serious hiking or scrambling. I’ve taken the FORM on travels for my morning run only, and ended up wearing them during the day as well.
The women’s Skora FORM comes in a very pretty natural/blue/pink with bright yellow laces, or an impressive royal/white/light blue. If the $185 price tag deters you, Skora also offers their BASE model for $110. Is the FORM worth the price? I think the answer is yes if 1. you’re serious about making the transition to barefoot running, 2. serious about packing light and running on the go, or 3. serious about having the latest and greatest. Here are the links to the Form and Base on Amazon, plus you can find the men’s FORM there as well.