Contributed by: Dan Stoner
To be fair, the Spring 2012 shoe models from many companies are not yet widely available and I have not yet tried them all. Reviews are starting to appear on the web and some of the forthcoming shoes do look interesting. However, they would have to be really completely awesomely perfect to knock the Soft Star Shoes Moc3 off the top of my best minimalist shoes list.
The Moc3 provides only minimal protection, no cushion. I have a tendency to increase my leg pounding as the level of cushion in a shoe increases (and my ability to feel the ground decreases). The Moc3 keeps me true to barefoot form but at the same time provides a fiction barrier to allow me to run more miles. The sole is made by Vibram and is the "street sole" used by Soft Star in their RunAmocs. The Moc3 sole has interesting cutouts that increase the flexibility of the shoe and reduce weight. The gaps in the outsole material are still protected with a thin flexible sole material that Soft Star uses in some of their other shoes. I have not yet been poked by anthing that snuck past the vibram.
The soles looked fine after the first 200 miles of mostly road/sidewalk miles and it is even still possible to make out the word "Vibram" at the ball of the foot:
I have owned the shoes for about 7 months and I am glad to see they will be usable for many more miles.
Sizing appears to be almost identical (in terms of length) to the RunAmoc LITE. The forefoot area is definitely wide enough for me. The overall shape fits my foot well and there is plenty of room for the big toe. The shoe has zero extra "features" that interfere with natural running form. I find it is much easier to maintain "barefoot style" in the Moc3 than any other shoe I have tried. Ground feel is better than the VFF Bikila. The footbed is completely flat, there are no raised interior surfaces to confuse the nerve sensations on the bottom of the foot.
For casual wear, they feel very much like a slipper. When I wear them with socks I do not notice my feet getting any warmer than in any other shoe, including my other Soft Star mocs. The Breathe-O-Prene upper material does seem to do its job. I always run sockless in these shoes, whereas most other shoes I tend to prefer socks.
For the first few runs I was worried that the lack of adjustment at the ankle would be a problem. After wearing the Moc3 for many miles, I have discovered that they stay pleasantly attached to my foot. If Soft Star makes any changes in the future, I'd suggest adding some kind of fastener around the ankle to allow adjustment of tightness. One of my gripes about Vibram FiveFingers is that most of the velcro and tie closures don't actually affect the tightness around the ankle, but mostly just apply pressure across the top of the foot. In some situations (like sloping trails) I don't want any slippage around the ankle area and want to feel that the shoe is secure to my foot. An added fastener would only be useful to me if it actually secures the shoe to the ankle.
The Moc3 is easy to slip on and off. I could see the Moc3 being a whole lot nicer for a barefooter to carry along "just in case" than a pair of huaraches since the Moc3 requires no adjustment or lacing.
The Moc3 is my primary road/sidewalk training shoe where most of my training is in the aerobic zone. Most of my mileage happens before dawn or after dark, so I am glad to have a little protection on my feet.
This review is long overdue, but I have been too busy running injury-free in my Moc3s to blog about it... which isn't a bad thing in my book.