These are very comfortable shoes, and if you’re impressed by traditional craftsmanship and handmade artisanal products then Softstar’s Primal RunAmoc shoes might be right up your trail. Just make sure you get the best fit possible.
Grippy and protective
Hand made in Oregon, USA
Foot-shaped and VERY wide
Vague-feeling heel / lack of lockdown
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Softstar Megagrip Primal RunAmoc: first impressions
When you unwrap your new Softstar Megagrip Primal RunAmocs from the eco-friendly paper they arrive wrapped in, you’re hit a sensational, super-pleasing waft of soft leather. Welcome to one of the more extreme choices in our selection of the best barefoot running shoes.
The asking price ($170 / £160) is high for a minimalist barefoot running shoe, but it’s easy to see where your hard-earned dosh is going, and pleasingly it is on skilled craftsmanship rather than branding and fancy packaging.
The leather is sumptuously soft and therefore it feels as though it breathes very naturally. The eyelet chain is smartly reinforced to allow for a good mid-foot lockdown and increase longevity – we think the whole shoe will last well if looked after.
The heels are internally padded with more leather, which makes them comfortable, but also means that it’s a bit tricky to get a good lockdown. The other esoteric design choice is the toe rand bumper, a thin rubber material that feels like a bike inner tube. It’s tight across the toenails and ensures the shoe’s volume is experienced as width rather than height.
Softstar have used Vibram’s excellent Megagrip rubber on the outsole, and the 4mm lugs provide impressive grip over most terrain. The addition of a firm but thin midsole introduces a well-judged level of underfoot protection producing a ride that’s high in natural ground feel and low in painful impacts. At 130mm in width, the forefoot is unusually wide – if you don’t have wide feet, there is a narrow fit option that’s well worth considering.
• RRP: $$170 (US) / £160 (UK)
• Weight (per shoe, men’s UK11): 339g / 12oz
• Drop: 0mm
• Colors: Azure & Navy / Black
• Compatibility: Zero drop, grippy, very wide forefoot, foot-shaped
Softstar Megagrip Primal RunAmoc: on the trails
For my feet – which are more narrow than the standard version of the Softstar Megragrip Primal RunAmocs were designed for – these shoes were somewhat tricky to test at first, as there was so much lateral movement going on. I would definitely go for a narrow fit next time. However, once I got them synched up properly and hit the trails, I was able to get a good feel for them.
The Vibram Megagrip soles, as usual, shine – thanks to this component, the Primal RunAmocs provide excellent grip on dry and technical trails. The lugs are well spaced too, so when the terrain gets sticky they grip reasonably well and stay clear of muck and mud, which keeps the weight down.
The 3.5mm of firm foam ‘midsole’ results in a ride that’s quite protective for such a minimal shoe, meaning you can trot over rocky sections without checking your speed too much.
The overall fit is a little vague feeling, especially around the heel, which reduces their score as a performance trail running shoe, but they are a solid all-rounder.
Essentially, the Primal RunAmocs are fine over fairly varied terrain (including occasionally rocky landscapes) but they do struggle a little when things get really technical, for example in the mountains, as they have a sloppy fit. The leather is very stretchy, so even if the fit was perfect I think they’d feel like a suede slipper
Mid-pack fell-plodder Paul has been writing about his outdoor adventures for about ten years. Initiated by a move from Coventry to the Peak District in 2010, Paul quickly evolved from jogger, reluctant gym-goer and occasional camper to full-blown fell-obsessed trail runner and wild camping adventurer. Paul’s 2016 attempt at the Cape Wrath Ultra was only curtailed (on day six!) by an infected big toe; the story of its Vesuvius style release, with supporting photos, is something Paul is too keen to share.
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