When you're an athletic individual who values a healthy, active lifestyle, you need footwear that supports you in your activities. Especially if you're in a high-impact endurance sport like running, it's crucial to have gear that can go the distance. Wearing the right running shoes can help you prevent injury and even shape the way you run.
If you're a minimalist or barefoot runner, your footwear (if you wear any) should offer protection and give you extra traction while still allowing freedom of movement. Softstar's RunAmoc line of minimalist shoes lets you feel the ground's contours while your feet stay sheltered from sharp rocks and twigs. The comfortable, flexible materials and wide toe box allow extra mobility in the feet and ankles, which builds strength.
About Softstar Shoes
Softstar Shoes specializes in handcrafted minimal footwear for children and adults. Minimal shoes are typically thin, lightweight, and designed to let the feet move naturally. The theory is that traditional shoes — even ones with orthopedic designs — may confine the feet and force them into positions that can cause pain and dysfunction. Some studies suggest that wearing flexible shoes with little to no cushioning can help alleviate certain foot ailments.
As a company, Softstar believes wholeheartedly in the value of going barefoot, and they strive to offer quality shoes that enhance the lives and health of customers. They also adhere to socially and environmentally conscious business practices, and they take pride in treating their employees well. The shoemaker handcrafts all of its shoes with care in the USA.
On its website, the company states that its core values are:
- Providing one-of-a-kind handmade footwear and excellent customer service to all clients
- Minimizing their ecological footprint through conserving materials, reducing waste, reusing, and recycling
- Creating a vibrant and inspiring workplace for staff
Softstar Shoes was founded in 1985 by Tim and Jeanie Oliver, two parents on a quest to find minimal shoes for their daughter, Corina. When their efforts proved unsuccessful, they studied with a local artisan and learned how to sew shoes from soft leather, which they began to sell to friends and neighbors.
The following year, they brought their shoes to sell at the Sawdust Art Festival in California, where they started using the Softstar name. Softstar shoes were such a hit at the festival that the pair was able to purchase land and build their first home on it.
Softstar opened its first storefront location in Corvallis, Oregon in 1990. Over the next decade, the Oliver family continued to sell their shoes in-person and via mail order, eventually expanding into offering five different shoe sizes. They launched their first company website in 2001.
In 2005, the Olivers sold the company to business partners Tricia Salcido and Larkin Holivarri, who pledged to carry on the tradition of producing natural, healthy shoes for families; Tim stayed on as a production manager.
Meanwhile, the workshop converted to using solar power, and the company adopted eco-friendly practices such as composting, recycling, sourcing sustainable materials, reducing waste, and rewarding employees for biking to work instead of driving.
By 2010, Softstar's moccasins had become popular with barefoot and minimal runners. In response to growing demand, the company made adaptations to its lightweight moccasin design, adding a rubber sole and ankle laces, and began selling the new shoes under the name RunAmoc. From there, Softstar went on to develop an entire line of adult minimal shoes, and the business has continued to grow and prosper ever since.
What We Like Best
Softstar running shoes offer shoes with several different soles that are suitable for different types of running. For hiking or trail running, the 6mm Vibram Megagrip or the 5mm Vibram Omniflex are great choices. Their treads offer extra grip on uneven surfaces such as gravel and rock. Although they're thicker and more protective than some of the other soles, the Omniflex and Megagrip are still thin and flexible enough to offer a minimal experience.
The 2mm Vibram Street soles are a thinner option, offering a barefoot-like feel. They provide enough traction to run on smooth surfaces such as roads and sidewalks, but they aren't recommended for trails unless you've developed the necessary foot strength for barefoot running and can tolerate the feel of rough terrain.
Finally, the bull hide leather sole offers the most flexible choice for complete freedom of mobility. Similar to the Street style, these soles perform best on smooth surfaces, and Softstar suggests only taking them off-road after you've built up your foot strength and gotten used to running on natural ground.
All of the soles are zero-drop, meaning they are the same thickness at the ball and heel. These mimic the condition of standing barefoot on flat ground for a natural feel. If you are a barefoot runner, but you still desire some of the protection that a shoe offers, Softstar's soles provide the best of both worlds.
One of our favorite things about Softstar shoes is that the company makes them to order. Shoemakers cut and sew each shoe to the height and width of the customer's feet. This process ensures that each person gets a pair of shoes tailored to their unique foot shape. If you're looking for a shoe that is just the right fit for you, custom-fitted footwear may be the way to go.
Also, we love that you can wear these running shoes with or without socks. The extra-wide toe box allows plenty of room for your toes to splay out without chafing or blistering.
What We Don't Like
While the leather material is flexible and breathable, leather can be difficult to keep clean, and it doesn't do well in wet, soggy conditions.
Barefoot and minimal runners, hikers, and athletes will love the flexibility and natural feel of Softstar RunAmoc leather running shoes. And Softstar is a company you can feel good about doing business with; its owners endeavor to care for the planet, look after their employees, and enhance their customers' well-being.