F-Lite 232First up is my new pair of inov-8 F-Lite 232, they are zero drop, have an anatomical last that fits my wide feet perfectly, are very light and the sole uses inov-8's sticky rubber compound which provides great grip. The lugs are shallow so they won't make a great shoe for running in mud, but for both the dry conditions rocky trails and tarmac lanes that I ran on in Spain. The mid-sole is pretty minimal and provides a small amount of cushioning and with no rock-plate you can feel all the rocks and stones underfoot, but the cushioning and lugs take the sting out of them so even though I ran on some very rocky and technical terrain I rarely felt over exposed, you will need to watch where you put your feet though.
I will write a dedicated review of the shoes soon, but the quick conclusion is that right from the first time I put them on to the my last time they have just screamed out run, run fast, run free, I just adore them, they coped well with everything I threw at them are easily the best all round best running shoe that I have ever worn. Here photographed prior to the trip, stuffed with all my running kit - socks, shorts and T-shirt, saving room in many bag and protecting the shoes from getting squashed. The colours matched the sunsets and scorching blues skies of Spain so what is there not love!
Bare-X Lite 150My second shoe was Inov-8's Bare-X Lite 150's, again zero drop with anatomical last. I chose them for every day usage more than running in them, easy to get on and off with the quick lacing system and great for wearing sockless on these hot summer days. I find them a little bit tight around the mid-foot but this is down to my oddly shaped feet and how well the shoe secures the mid-foot region, I'm sure more averagely shaped feet will just find them secure and roomy. The sole is quick soft to touch from the outside, but feels firmer when you wear them. You can feel all the undulations and bumps underfoot but the sole smooths and cushions it out so you are aware of all the stones but they don't hurt. While really comfortable for wearing all day I just don't get the urge to run and run fast in them like I do with the F-Lite's, which I have to admit having a rather irrational level of affection for!
Plimsoles with Breathable upperI also bought a pair of shoes that were a little smarter for going to restaurants but still breathable and minimal enough to wear all day, and to/from the beach. I got these for under a £5 at Primark, are zero drop and plenty wide enough for even my feet. The sole is pretty thin with a rubber outsole with only the insole for cushioning, they are essentially just plimsolls with a breathable upper. These shoes prove that you don't need to spent lots of money on Vivobarefoot shoes to get a minimal every day shoe.
X-Flops!The final shoe I took with me was a flip-flop I bought for the beach but on trying them out in the house decided I din't like the traditional flip-flop means of attaching the sole to the foot so set about making a custom upper from a sheet of thing foam reinforced with tape. I settled upon a X layout they secured my foot really well to the sole and as I made it myself ensured that it was sculpted exactly to my foot making them really comfortable to wear and even secure enough to jog if the whim comes to me.
My eldest daughter on seeing them named them X-Flops, a cute play on the X design of the upper and the fact they were once Flip-Flops. Of all the shoes above they had the most cushioning thanks to the 10+mm foam sole, but as they were all just foam actually weighed just 50g each so still qualify as minimal in my book. Sadly the the glue between the upper and the sole didn't last beyond three days at the beach, however I have to admit my family were not too disappointed by their demise given they rather home-made look :-)