Winter Running / Walking Shoes - Updated

Posted on October 12, 2010 by C.Elf.O Tricia There have been 49 comment(s)

A few weeks back we posted the blog below asking for feedback on a Winter running / walking shoe. Thanks to everyone for the great comments!

We have spent a lot of time considering your feedback and testing the shoe only to reach the conclusion that our design is not ready yet. To do this "right" and provide you the best quality and value we can - we need more time to overcome some design challenges and create a better solution. Unfortunately this means no new winter running/walking shoe this fall. If you want more details why—please keep reading.

We want the new shoe to incorporate your ideas about ankle coverage and removable innersoles - both of which are important for keeping snow out and feet dry/warm. Over this same time period we were aggressively testing the shoe pictured below and had a few other concerns that led to our decision to go back to the drawing board. The snow-and-ice sole we were proposing is simply too heavy for a minimal shoe. We will continue to test for a lighter weight, snow-and-ice sole. Another testing concern that came up was ensuring consistent sizing with the sheepskin lining as natural sheepskin is highly variable. On comfort shoes we have many ways to accommodate this, but in running shoes an exact fit is more critical.

The great news is work on a new RunAmoc as well as another exciting new minimal running shoe style is moving ahead full steam. We are continuing to focus our efforts here and hope to delight you with some new options in Spring of 2011.

-Original Post -
If you live in a part of the world where winter cold and ice are a reality - do you have a need for "warm" minimal running or walking shoes? There's not a lot of snow and ice in Oregon right now, but we are already thinking about the upcoming winter and would love input from our minimal footwear or barefoot running fans on a possible new stock shoe for this fall.

Tim made a some modifications to our RunAmoc design and lined the smooth grain leather uppers with genuine sheepskin. He also added a non-slip "snow and ice" sole to the bottom. We are wondering if :

A. You have a need for "warmer" running /walking shoes in the winter - or if your feet are already warm?


B. A shoe of this ilk would be of interest to you - what would you like to see?

Note that the "snow" sole and sheepskin on this prototype would add about 3-4 ounces per shoe. The snow and ice sole is also slightly thicker: 7mm compared to the 2mm street sole and 5 mm trail sole - but still is flat and very flexible. The price point on this shoe as currently prototyped would be around $120. As we are looking for customer input - this is all subject to change based on materials / design.

This post was posted in On the Horizon, Running and was tagged with minimalist shoes, RunAmoc, Winter

49 Responses to Winter Running / Walking Shoes - Updated

  • David Henry says:

    Yes. A winter RunAmoc like you have pictured would be of use especially for hitting any types of trails here in Eastern Oregon in the winter. I was planning on using the solid leather RunAmocs this winter when I run on the road and it is not too cold, but if it is below 20 degrees, which it gets tp often on the east side of the state, and off-road something more insulated and thicker on the sole would work well. Really enjoying my RunAmoc Lite, street and trail versions, and looking forward to anything new you guys come up with.

    Posted on August 2, 2010 at 11:32 AM

  • Nate says:

    I&#39;ve run in the winter in my Vileys and found them adequate as far as grip (on packed snow/ice) and warmth went. I have the T-rex soles.<br /><br />I&#39;m not sure the sheepskin is necessary on the upper, and a 7mm sole certainly isn&#39;t necessary. I hiked a mountain on snow and ice with nothing but T-rex soles.<br /><br />The one thing I&#39;d add is some ankle protection - snow/ice/water can get in around the ankle and that&#39;s just bad. Just a bit of leather that wraps around the ankle could keep that out.

    Posted on August 3, 2010 at 3:30 PM

  • Matt Riopelle says:

    For the Willamette Valley, sheepskin might be overkill, but less temperate places might benefit. At most, a lining to keep some of the cold from getting in, rather than holding warmth, would be beneficial.

    Posted on August 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, would be great for the UK..running or just walking around.

    Posted on August 7, 2010 at 4:20 AM

  • russ138 says:

    I live in Northeast Ohio and get a lot of Lake Effect snow. And yes, a nice, comfy, warm, and dry winter minimalist shoe would be amazing! I&#39;ve been taking advantage of the summer and doing as much bare footing as I can but have been wondering what I&#39;m going to do this winter. I agree that the sole may not need to be 7mm, but I think the lining looks like pure heaven! I run between 50-60 miles a week,half barefoot, if you want anyone to test these in the winter I&#39;d be happy to oblige!

    Posted on August 8, 2010 at 9:47 AM

  • Gerry says:

    I run minimalist year around which in Western Canada means cold & wet in winter. The factors that I find most important in a winter shoe are a thicker sole and water proof upper. Therefore I like the sole of your proposed shoe. Running barefoot makes my feet rather warm after a short time so the sheepskin liner would not be of value to me, more of a negative with its cost and inflexibility.

    Posted on August 8, 2010 at 10:23 AM

  • shel says:

    i live in rochester, ny 1 mile south of the lake ontario shoreline. we can get a couple hundred inches of snow each year, but as an ultrarunner that cannot stop me. last year my compromise was a pair of neoprene boat shoes and a wool sock, the problem was that traction was terrible. i would definitely be interested in seeing a product with more grip and added warmth. i am not opposed to the thickness of the sole, as long as there is no heel to toe drop and no support. a snug fit around the ankle to keep the snow out would be huge, but i have no recommendation on how to accomplish that. i run 70+ miles/ week and am a full time minimalist trail and ultra runner. let me know if you need testers... the first snow will be flying here in november :-)

    Posted on August 9, 2010 at 7:48 AM

  • wirehairedrunner says:

    YES to more sole traction and sheepskin liners. I run uneven snowy, icy, muddy, slushy trails of Boise, ID in the winter and a more aggressive sole would be great. A good cinching system for tightening around ankle/foot would also help on uneven terrain. Thank you for your forward thinking!

    Posted on August 9, 2010 at 2:01 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    I would love a shoe like that! With the sheep skin, please!! It would be kind of like your sheep skin boots but a shoe instead, right? I would wear it to work. I am currently enjoying my black runamocs.<br />Thanks, Helen in Gresham

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 7:42 AM

  • Brian Pomerantz says:

    Count me in for a pair!

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 12:48 PM

  • Evan says:

    I ran through the Anchorage winter last year in a pair of Feelmax Niesas and really appreciated the thin soles. They gave me good feedback and allowed my toes to grip the snow when necessary. On colder days I would put in an extra insole or wear thicker socks. I don&#39;t believe you need a thicker sole. What&#39;s more important to me is a warm but breathable upper. I have never had a sheepskin upper in any footwear, but the best winter boots I have are a pair of Norwegian-made Lobbens which use a wool felt upper. My feet are always warm and dry; I can even wear these inside. Short answer: I&#39;d like to see a thinner sole and a wool felt upper.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 12:59 PM

  • Tom says:

    The pictured design is probably overkill for most of my winter running. A felt liner option makes sense. Some kind of gaiter-friendly system would be nice for snow.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 3:25 PM

  • Brian says:

    I live in Chicago. Cold and wet. I think my current RunAmoks are going to be just fine with Smartwool socks. I&#39;m pretty sure my feet will be sweating anyway! Although the lining looks cozy, I think it would be uncomfortable.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 3:56 PM

  • Christie says:

    I would love something like this to walk in; absolutely flat, very flexible and warm, with great traction. Have been wanting a minimalist shoe to wear during colder weather. I live in NY, and when it&#39;s cold - it&#39;s cold, so I like the sheepskin inside. I don&#39;t care about the thickness of the sole as long as it is very flexable, and FLAT! If you need any testers, I definitely am interested!

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 4:06 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    I would welcome a minimal shoe for the winter, but I don&#39;t think the sheepskin is necessary. I would love to see a water resistant upper with no insulation. With normal socks and a 5 mm sole my feet stay quite warm in Kentucky in the winter.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 4:39 PM

  • Mark R Johnston says:

    I love the idea of a smooth leather upper with a lugged sole. I&#39;ve been running in fivefingers, but on the rocky mountain trails around Salt Lake City they just don&#39;t provide enough protection or traction. A smooth leather upper can be waterproofed for wet and snowy conditions. I thought the current RunAmoc would offer better protection from sharp rocks, but it is not a true lugged sole, so I don&#39;t think would improve traction too much over the fivefingers. I&#39;m disinclined towards the lining since my feet are usually warm when running.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 6:38 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    SWEET! i don&#39;t have to run in my wetsuit booties. thank you softstar

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 6:40 PM

  • liquidhands says:

    I think waterproofness, resistance is more important than warmth... the insulation won&#39;t help much when your feet are soaked with ice water. sheepskin is cool, not sure if the 7mm is neccessary... If the moc isn&#39;t waterproof, I don&#39;t see how any of the changes make it better than the old runamoc with wool socks.<br /><br />Thanks.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 8:29 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    For my climate, I don&#39;t need a winter running shoe. <br /><br />However, for comfort, I might like to try a wool or sheepskin insole.<br /><br />I have a pair of RunAmoc Lites with the 2 mm sole, and a pair of RunAmoc Lites with the 5 mm sole. In conventional running shoes, I like to order men&#39;s size 11.5 EE. The size 11A RunAmocs that I have seem a little short. I may have to order a larger size next time. Will Soft Star offer a size 11.5A next spring?<br /><br />Also, when running on trails, I have had to stop to empty rocks from my RunAmocs. The rocks are entering through the side openings. I might try folding my socks down over the sides of the RunAmocs, so that rocks and grit can&#39;t enter.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 8:37 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    Would you make a warm season and a cool season bootie suitable for standup paddle boarders? Maybe you do already. I&#39;ll check your other products.

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 8:49 PM

  • Ken says:

    Gaiters, gaiters, gaiters. Minimalist footwear with gaiters would be AWESOME! <br />Removeable, replaceable wool felt liners. Something that can be taken out to dry daily. The sweat load would soak, mat, and mildew up sheepskin insides leaving a lumpy, ice prone mess. With a spare pair of felt liners to swap out daily, they would rock.<br />Ken

    Posted on August 10, 2010 at 8:51 PM

  • Andy says:

    I&#39;ll agree that the fluffy interior is unnecessary. Great for a walking boot, maybe, but in a running shoe your feet (especially a minimalist runner&#39;s feet) would be on fire after 5 minutes and sweat and sweat and sweat. After 10 minutes they&#39;d be soaked and freezing. Much easier to add a wool felt liner (or even a thick pair of socks) on those freezing cold days.

    Posted on August 11, 2010 at 7:32 AM

  • Anonymous says:

    I would buy these as a winter casual shoe for sure.

    Posted on August 11, 2010 at 9:03 AM

  • Sarah AJ says:

    I love Evan&#39;s idea of a wool felt upper! I don&#39;t wear leather, but even if I did, I think the sheepskin would be way too hot about five minutes into a run.

    Posted on August 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM

  • Aaron says:

    I like the sole; it looks like it&#39;ll last longer than the trail nubby. I&#39;m not sure about the complete sheepskin lining but wouldn&#39;t mind it on the footbed.

    Posted on August 11, 2010 at 1:40 PM

  • Mark Schoenhard says:

    I run year around in South Dakota. I feel that being dry is more important than insulation so I would be hesitant with sheepskin lining causing sweating or getting puddle soaked. I like the idea of a removable wool/felt liner and some type of ankle protection. I like the sole with traction, I don&#39;t feel it would need to be thicker. What I do know is the Elves have a gift and will conjure perfection. Let me know when it happens.

    Posted on August 11, 2010 at 7:35 PM

  • redhook6 says:

    I&#39;d buy a pair for winter jogging in Colorado Springs!<br /><br />I have a pair of the trail version of the RunAmocs, and my feedback on them is that they seem loose - I&#39;d describe it as "floppy". My same-size (11) Ramblers do not exhibit this behavior. Perhaps future versions should have some sort of lacing or tensioning system?<br /><br />--Kevin Knapp

    Posted on August 17, 2010 at 5:44 AM

  • Norm Deplume says:

    YES! I tend to run barefoot in the warm weather, but my bare feet just cannot tolerate Illinois&#39; cold winters. This is definitely something I&#39;d consider buying.

    Posted on August 19, 2010 at 9:46 AM

  • Dr. Cookie says:

    YES! Here is AK I give up my slippers in the winter and jog/hike in flats with gaitors. Sheepskin seems like overkill for most runners, but a little gaitor loop would be welcome, and quickdry, breathable material. I like the wool felt idea!

    Posted on August 19, 2010 at 1:26 PM

  • Honey says:

    As a momma I&#39;d like to have a shoe for the children and myself that&#39;s lined... I have poor circulation/my feet are always cold and having something to help hold the heat in would be lovely. Also...this would be nice in the children&#39;s shoes.<br /><br />Just found you today and I&#39;m excited &#39;cause we&#39;re soft sole shoe/barefoot/I make our shoes kinda folk and I bought crocs today as youngest has outgrown robeeze and I don&#39;t have time to make new shoes. <br /><br />I&#39;d like winter boots, winter shoes that are for play and a bit dressy for church....but with thin soles/barefoot feel.<br /><br />Honey

    Posted on August 19, 2010 at 9:05 PM

  • richhuang says:

    I&#39;m from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Here, the extra warmth from the Sheep Wool inner lining would be much appreciated. Also, the waterproof-ness of the shoe is important because we get a lot of wet snow and icy rain. Lasty, a thick outer sole is always nice for extra traction and to for stepping through sludge.

    Posted on August 28, 2010 at 1:21 PM

  • Chris Butner says:

    Yes. I desperately need a winter walking shoe for rain. The market is limited for minimalist rain shoes. I assume this shoe would work for rain. So count me in on this shoe. Whatever the cost I want one ! Will final version be released soon ?

    Posted on September 1, 2010 at 2:29 PM

  • Prudence says:

    I live in Houston, so insulation really isn&#39;t necessary. I would, however, LOVE a water resistant winter Moc! Dry is better.

    Posted on September 8, 2010 at 2:57 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    I would love the shoe w/ the sheepskin. Perhaps make it optional. I do not run barefoot anymore, but I walk, and would love, love, love to have a warmer shoe. For runners, yes, the sheepskin might be too much, but for walking in freezing Michigan winters, it would be a very welcome feature.

    Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:34 PM

  • Bill Delano/ Minneapolis says:

    The best winter running conditions I experience in Minnesota are between 5 and 25 degrees F. Insulation and a grippy sole are useful, but nothing keeps you up on ice except better than carbide tipped studs. I have used the same set of Nokian bicycle tires equipped with carbide studs for the past 5 years bicycle commuting during the winter which attests to their durability. These studded tires allow me to bicycle around my frozen lake in winter! Carbide studs don&#39;t rust like cheaper steel studs. I&#39;ve fallen hard on ice during winter running in regular running shoes so I&#39;m hoping Soft Star will develop a studded winter shoe as several other running shoe companies alredy have. I do love my current RunAmocs by the way!

    Posted on September 13, 2010 at 1:22 PM

  • Carrie Lane says:

    Yes! I am an avid year-around walker hiker from Duluth, MN. Deep snow and frigid conditions are the norm November-early April. Cold feet and slippery conditions are a constant challenge. Your suggested design will be welcome here! Making them a little higher at the ankle to keep snow out might be a thought... I&#39;ll happily wear them and pass the word if they keep my feet warm and dry.

    Posted on September 22, 2010 at 10:33 AM

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes! Very much needed in the Netherlands, where cold rain is the norm.

    Posted on September 23, 2010 at 11:35 AM

  • Dale Robertson says:

    A winter designed moc ?.... Definitely !!<br />I am searching for such a solution since months, with the winter season arriving.<br />I live in Montreal where, as you know, winter are hard, and long. <br />We have snow (either fresh, compact or melted) during four entire months (minimum),<br />and nobody can&#39;t stop to run during a so long period.<br />I planned to made myself a pair of winter running mocs, <br />when I found your website. Thank you !<br /> <br />Here are my thoughts regarding your suggestions: <br /><br />- A thick sole ? Not really. <br />We just need insulation from the ground, and very thin gloves can do it, so the same could apply for moc. Your 4mm trail would be enough I guess.<br />Moreover, ground feel is essential, even in winter. This should help to avoid slippering.<br /><br />- Sheepskin ? It sounds good. <br />But I think I would prefer without it, cause warm socks can do the same job. <br />In fact, like we do with winter jackets, <br />we could play with the different layers, <br />adjusting them depending of the cold level. This would allow to use the mocs even in the hot season...;)<br /><br />Here are my suggestions now:<br /><br />- First, the most important: waterproofing. <br />Winter means deep fresh snow, melted snow/salt mixture, hidden puddle under thin ice and so on... So avoiding water to penetrate to our feet is essential. <br />Maybe by using a waterproof leather, or a synthetic upper (neoprene ?).<br /><br />- Second: Extra material to cover the ankle higher. <br />Snow and melted snow tend to go above the ankle pretty easily, and thus penetrate in the shoes. <br />This extra material could be coupled with a closing feature, like an elastic or a leather lace, to waterproof the shoes. <br />This higher ankle protection don&#39;t need to be very high, cause it can be coupled with a pair of gaiter in extreme conditions. <br />Also, this extra protection could be foldable, like we can see on some old native moccasins, and thus the shoes could be used in summer too.<br /><br />- Third, a good grip on the sole.<br />Non slipping on ice or snow could be more easy with a good, bigger pattern sole design. As said above, such a feature would also benefit in summer, on muddy trails.

    Posted on September 27, 2010 at 8:13 AM

  • Anonymous says:

    I&#39;m a recent convert to barefoot/minimal shoe running who runs in New England, so I&#39;d like to see you keep a thin sole and a warm upper. I wonder, however, about the ability of the upper to breathe and vent for somebody like me whose feet perspire heavily. It seems to me that the material could become matted quickly.

    Posted on September 27, 2010 at 10:41 AM

  • Anonymous says:

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. This would be the ideal shoe for winters in colorado. If you made the winter RunAmoc I would buy them! You don&#39;t have any idea how hard it is to find sweat free shoes made in the usa and i don&#39;t think the original RunAmoc would be warm enough for the winter here. Thanks for the innovation. -Evie

    Posted on September 30, 2010 at 10:36 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    Any updates on this? I&#39;d love to order a pair for fall/winter. Thanks.

    Posted on October 10, 2010 at 12:30 PM

  • kris laroche says:

    yes. i am interested for sure. i&#39;d love to be able to run in this in the winter. exciting, to be sure.

    Posted on October 14, 2010 at 7:20 PM

  • Trudy says:

    I live in Minnesota and have been looking for a way to do my jogging outside in the winters, which, if you know about Minnesota you know they are brutal. I would LOVE a sheepskin lined shoe that would allow me to do this. Please let me know when they are available! Trudy Petersen, 612.998.8606,

    Posted on October 19, 2010 at 4:10 PM

  • Cavegirl says:

    I live in the north of Scotland, I really want a minimalist barefoot experience in a shoe that keep my feet warm and dry for walking to the shops in the rain during the winter and for light trekking in the wet.

    Posted on October 21, 2010 at 1:11 PM

  • Richard says:

    My vote is to allow for a felt liner or even just felt insole. Wool socks will keep the foot and ankles warm. Where I run (Eastern Maine)frequently it&#39;s as cold as 0° in winter. <br />Have you tried Steger mukluks? Not for running, but great traditional concept for light weight boots for super cold winter weather. Breathable leather with felt liners and sewed on gaiters.<br />I do like my new RunAmocs, though I wish they were a half size bigger. Toes rub a bit on top, though not badly.

    Posted on November 14, 2010 at 5:14 PM

  • James says:

    I agree that the fleece inside the shoe is likely to become dirty and matted pretty quickly. Perhaps something like Thinsulate could be used instead? That material is pretty standard for mountaineering boots and will stay moderately warm when wet. Waterproofing is certainly a must, and the shoes must be able to accommodate gaiters for those who might occasionally find themselves post-holing up to the knee. The sole might benefit from a groove under the arch for the gaiter strap. I am not sure how much luck you will have combining and aggressive tread with a thin sole, although wouldn&#39;t it be great if we could have both. I think it would be really cool if you could incorporate removable metal spikes, as used in track shoes, for running on ice. That might not qualify as minimalist but would be a cool option for those of us that need to deal with a lot of ice. Also, the rubber for the sole must be of an extra-flexible variety to stay pliable at low temperatures.

    Posted on November 17, 2010 at 5:54 PM

  • Anonymous says:

    I can see a runamoc with solid leather top on a trail sole. The most important factor is water proofing! What do you think about waterproofing the leather and seams with some type of wax application? If not going completely natural I could see a gortex or tyvek layer in there somewhere. You could always use recycled materials. Even if it&#39;s not snowing it&#39;s cold in the winter in the PNW and would love to have to comfy warm insulation. A good minimalist footwear company you may want to talk with is arrow moccasin company out of Hudson, MA.

    Posted on February 22, 2011 at 4:49 PM

  • John Kjellberg
    John Kjellberg says:

    Some belated input from this Swede:
    In the 70:s-80:s I had a pair of Saami inspired boots like these:
    I cut of the heels to make them flat (nothing new!). You could tie them as shown on that picture (like the RunAmocs) for good ventilation. Or you could tie them as on this picture (usually with much less lace) for protection, for example in deep snow. They had a very loose fit around the foot which made them quite warm in most weathers. They were my absolute favorites on cold rainy windy days. Even when the leather was soaked there was enough air to keep my feet warm.
    Actually much the same idea as the original RunAmocs, just tie them around the wrist and the foot is free.
    Never used them for running though.
    Loose innersoles of sheepskin are wonderful. The leather side does not have to be stiff, they will stay in place anyway.
    But the only insulation that should come from the shoe is the sole. For the rest socks are a much wiser idea. Several pairs when it gets real cold (under -4 or so).

    Posted on July 22, 2011 at 2:35 AM

  • John Kjellberg
    John Kjellberg says:

    ... -4 Fahrenheit that is. -20 Celsius.

    Posted on July 22, 2011 at 2:40 AM