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I'd like to wear VFFs for running, but unfortunately I have odd shaped/length toes and feet that make these almost impossible to wear. Are there any reasonably priced alternatives that I could look at (complete barefoot is not an option)?

Thanks

Side note:

I visited a store in my area and asked if they carried the NBs. I was then treated to a diatribe as to how all these companies are in it only for the money, they're not for all runners, she studies podiatry and they're horrible, why would anyone recommend them, etc.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 6 down vote accepted
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I didn't realize NB made a shoe for this. I've been wearing NB shoes for 20+ years now, and by far they've been the most comfortable - everything from cross-trainers to my last 2 pairs of running shoes. I'll have to check these out. –  Larry G. Wapnitsky Jul 15 '11 at 12:05
    
I tried on the NB MR10s during lunch. WOW were they comfortable! –  Larry G. Wapnitsky Jul 15 '11 at 18:55
    
-1 this answer really needs to be more than just two links. –  Dave Liepmann Jun 5 at 20:42
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The Nike Free 5.0 was one of the first running shoes designed to simulate barefoot running. The "5.0" was supposed to indicate that it was half way between running with a traditional shoe (10.0) and running barefoot (0.0). You might find the 3.0 to be good for regular running.

There are lots of minimalist running shoes you just need to decide what it is that you really want.

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+1 for the link to roadrunnersports. That's where I was going to point to. –  Ryan Miller Jul 14 '11 at 20:51
    
I love the Saucony Kinvara for up to 10 miles. Longer runs, I need a little more substance. –  Ryan Miller Jul 14 '11 at 20:52
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http://barefootrunningshoes.org/ has a pretty comprehensive database.

My suggestion due to the irregular toe length issue would be the Vivo as it has the widest toe box.

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I'll have to check that one out as well. Thanks. –  Larry G. Wapnitsky Jul 15 '11 at 18:54
    
yikes...a bit pricier than the NBs –  Larry G. Wapnitsky Jul 15 '11 at 20:31
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The RunAmocs from Soft Star Shoes are nice. I have a pair which I've reviewed here. Actually my review talks more about the transition to minimalist shoe running than the shoes themselves, but you can get the idea. They are very lightweight shoes with a Vibram 2mm rubber sole. When I first put them on they didn't seem to fit very snug like I'm used to. But because they are so extremely light and flexible, they actually stay on the feet very well.

My reasons for getting these instead of the Vibram Five Fingers are twofold:

  1. I too have oddly shaped big toes.
  2. I wanted the option to wear socks.
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These maybe a little closer to barefoot than you are looking for, but Luna sandals are a good option. Odd size feet are no problem because you measure your foot, send them the measurements, and they custom cut the sandals.

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I considered these but the strap between the toes worries me. Running long distances in these must be uncomfortable. I mean, aside from the fact that the sole is super thin. At least the RunAmocs have a nice fit without any unusual pressure points. –  Steve Wortham Dec 12 '11 at 16:05
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Aqua socks (aka Water Shoes or Beach Shoes) are a very cheap alternative, though you are paying for what you get. They don't last for very long before they start to fall apart (a few months perhaps).

Fit tends to vary greatly depending where you get them, but if you can find something that's snug enough to run in, then they will do the trick to protect your feet from nasty pointy things on the ground.

At around $5 for a pair, it's a good place to start if you're interested in trying out minimalist running without having to make a large investment in specially made shoes.

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I have been very happy with my XeroShoes huarache sandals. They take a little bit of adjustment, particularly finding a tying style that fits your range of movement and is easy to tie, untie, and adjust, but I think they're the next best thing to being barefoot. The only catch is that their flagship product is DIY, which can lead to spotty results and the occasional bit of buyer's remorse when you speculate on whether you could have done the same thing yourself for cheaper. That said, whatever they use for the soles is very durable without sacrificing feeling, so I've ultimately weighed it as worth the price.

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