post about a new shoe that Nike had released called the Nike Sneakerboat II. It's basically a water shoe/aqua sock that I thought looked like it might have some potential as a minimalist running shoe. Well, I went ahead and bought a pair of Sneakerboat II's (only cost me $40), and they just arrived in the mail yesterday. Here are a few initial impressions after kicking around in them this afternoon (no run yet):
1. Sole is flat - though I didn't measure, it seems like a 0 drop from heel to toe. Feel is not unlike my Vibram KSO's without the toes.
2. Outsole is made out of something called "0.44 Sticky Rubber" - not sure what that is, but there is a decent yet not conspicuous tread (see picture below) and it seems like it'll be durable (though I have no reason to be sure of that yet).
3. Toebox is very roomy - not at all narrow and constricting like the cheapo water shoes I bought at Target last year (see below). Feels like there will be plenty of room for the toes to spread on ground contact.
4. I wear a 10 in most shoes, and size 10 in these fits perfectly. If I were a half size, it's hard to say whether I'd recommend going higher or lower since they don't come in half sizes - I'd probably lean toward sizing up since they are snug. That being said, my VFF KSO's are a tad large for me, and they look slightly shorter than the Sneakerboat II in the above picture.
5. There is a thin layer of cushion in the midsole - again, I don't have calipers to measure at home, but it feels only a tad thicker than in my KSO's. Despite this, these shoes are very low to the ground.
6. Very flexible - can be rolled up into a ball (see below).
7. Upper is fabric-only. No support of any kind, although the outsole does curl up a bit under the arch.
8. Wore them out and about today to my son's teeball game and to the supermarket. They're very comfortable, and felt great on gravel, grass and rocky dirt. Just enough sole to make walking on gravel and rocks tolerable.
9. They look like almost like a 3-way cross between a dress shoe, sneaker, and aqua sock. Different, but not nearly as conspicuous as Vibrams (about which I was stopped and questioned 2-3 times at the mall the other day, including by the entire staff at Finish Line). If you swap the red laces with some brown ones, you could probably get away with wearing these as a casual work shoe (guess that depends somewhat on where you work!).
10. I'm betting these would be a blast for running in the rain.
11. Weight = 6.5 oz, so very light.
12. As was mentioned by a poster in this Runner's World Forum thread about these shoes, the biggest potential drawback is a lack of ventilation - I suspect these will run hot and will hold a crazy stink after a few days of wear.
What I find most odd about the Sneakerboat II is that they may be a more "barefoot-like" running shoe than the Free line of oxymoronic "barefoot shoes" that Nike is so heavily promoting of late. Don't get me wrong, I love my Free 3.0's, but all of the Nike Free's have a raised heel to some degree, whereas Sneakerboat II's don't, which fact alone means that you're probably more likely to midfoot or forefoot strike in these.
One additional word of caution I'll add - should you decide to give these shoes a try, I'm guessing that given the lack of heel cushion, they'll require a slow break-in period to avoid injury for those not used to running in this type of shoe - same caution applies to shoes like the Vibram Fivefingers (check out my podcast episode on barefoot/minimalist running caution).
That's all I've got for now - I hope to get in a run in them in the next few days and I'll report back on how that goes. Seems like a decent option considering the modest pricetage (~$40).
Here are some purchasing options should you decide to try the Nike Sneakerboat II:
Purchase the Nike ACG Sneakerboat II at Eastbay.com (Eastbay mistakenly call these shoes the "Sneakboat" on their website, but gets it right in their print catalog).
Purchase the Nike ACG Sneakerboat II at Onlineshoes.com
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