We have talked about it before – NATURAL RUNNING – a term that is used and abused like no other term in running over the last couple of years. There is numerous products out there that claim to rectify the use of the term NATURAL RUNNING – one way or another. However, let’s not discuss what natural running really is, if a shoe deserves the use of the term ‘natural running’ or if ‘natural running’ and shoe really fit into one sentence.
Let’s agree for now that each of the shoes shown below – Newton Trainer, On-Running, Ecco Biom, Leguano, Newton Racer and Vibram Bikila all deserve to be offered as natural running shoes. Let’s also agree that we use the term ‘natural running’ for all the shoes – despite the fact that some call their product ‘natural motion’ or similar.
The first post is all about the first look and first impression of the shoes – in the next couple of weeks we will introduce the different concepts of each shoe and the company behind the shoe, followed by a first running impression and a final review. We will do so comparing each of the shoes, their effects, wear comfort, price, bang for the buck, and many more aspects.
For now let’s start with the first look and feel – this is before running the shoe and finding out more about it – so a lot of things might not turn out the way they seem at a first look!
Newton Trainer: The Newton Trainer weighs in at 281 Gramm in a size 10 (we’ve seen it advertised at 245 Gramm – no idea how the do it) and sure looks like a fast running shoe. With a lot of mesh and sporty looking, narrow cut the shoe leaves the impression of a fast shoe. The most interesting thing about the Newton when looking at it is the 4 lugs in front of the shoe. The first impression when putting the shoe on is a good one. It sits tight around the foot without being too tight and the heel seems to be held in place. The lugs feel a little funny though and immediately it becomes obvious that this shoe is made for running and not for walking. The first barefoot impression without running the shoe leaves us with a lot of doubt if this shoe is made for barefoot running. It might be rubbing on your foot a little too much. We’ll find out.
Newton Racer: The Newton Racer looks and feels a lot like the Newton Trainer. With about 254 Gramm it weighs in at almost 30 Gramm less then the Trainer. Other than that it has the same breathable mash, cut and look. A difference is the heal though which is a lot softer than it is on the Trainer which makes the trainer a little more forgiving when getting tired and starting to heel-strike.
Ecco Biom B: The Ecco Biom B is the ‘middle class’ in the line of Ecco running shoes. There is also an A and a C. A standing for the least cushion, C for the most. The B seemed to be the best choice for long term testing. According to the producer it is made for any distance up to the marathon. The Biom B weighs in at 325 Gramm, thus being significantly heavier than for example the Newton. However, the surprising thing is: the shoe doesn’t feel heavy at all. The shoe has a a great, sporty look to it and there is no ‘surprises’ to the shoe from the outside. When putting the shoe on it feels very natural and offers a great fit. The outer mash doesn’t seem to be as breathable as on the Newton shoes but should certainly be enough for the long runs (yes, we are testing the mash version – there is also a slightly more expensive Yak-Leather version. The mash version doesn’t seem to be made for barefoot running in particular. There is no obvious rubbing but it’s not the greatest comfort either.
On-Running: At 331 Gramm the On-Running shoe is not only the heaviest shoe in the test but it also looks the heaviest and leaves the heaviest feeling when putting the shoe on for the first time. With their Cloud-Tec cushion, mash on the outside and very soft inner layer it leaves the optical impression of an aerobic shoe rather than a running shoe. However, that is only a first look at the shoe and it definitely gets points for the barefoot comfort. Very comfortable, no seems and no rubbing. The Cloud-Tec certainly looks very interesting – cause it is so simple. No airbubbles, no carbon, no nothing on the outside. Just something that looks like nothing more than a rubber square without a filling.
Leguano: Is it a shoe or a sock. We’re not sure. Since we are testing shoes here – let’s call it a shoe. The Leguano is nothing more than a sports sock with a rubber sole glued to it. The sole looks loke a lot of small round rubber bits and pieces put together to form a sole. Of course the shoe can be worn barefoot – afterall it is a sock glued to a sole. The sock itself seems to be a little thick for our liking. It takes away from the active look and feel we were hoping for. At 155 Gramm it is the lightest shoe in our test. No surprise here – no cushion usually makes for a light weight shoe. Walking around in a sock definitely doesn’t get you the style points though!
Vibram Bikila: The Bikila is the latest member in the Vibram Five Finger running family. Vibram has a long history in natural running products and in comparison to their first models the Bikila actually offers a great fit. With their Five Finger form the Bikilia is the hardest of all shoes to put on but it is worth the effort. Of course it comes down to personal prefference with the looks but we actually like the look of the Five Finger – the outer material, thin cut and rubber sole make for a sporty look, the shoe wears very comfortable – both with or without socks (in this case you need five finger socks such as Injinji socks). The Bikila weighs 174 Gramm making it the second lightest shoe in the test.
Folks, this is the first impression when looking at the shoe and putting it on for the first time – next up is a first running impression as well as a quick intro of the different concepts behind each shoe!
Until then – ROCK ON!