Unless you’ve been living in a cave on Knoydart subsiding on fulmar eggs and whatever flotsam finds its way across the sea, you will have heard about the recent interest barefoot running. You may be curious and wondering what it’s all about, or you may already be running in minimal shoes, advertised as barefoot, but the Inov8 Evoskins take this to a new level as they’re essentially just rubber gloves for your feet.
While I’ve already been running for two years with minimal zero drop shoes, I made the mistake of thinking that these would be little different. Setting out on a 6.5km run wasn’t the best idea, and I could feel it in my foot for a couple of weeks. As it was where I’d sprained it severely in the past, I chose to wait until the pain had subsided entirely before setting off on 2km jaunts at the start or end of specific runs where I could change footwear during the run.
Of course, on setting off again it was too much bother to stop after 2km. Instead, I decided to try running 3km and ended up running 4.5km with no issues other than the Evoskins starting to pinch between my toes due to my strange feet. Take a good look at the Evoskins, look at the way the toes are splayed and if your toes don’t look like that then you will feel some discomfort initially. You can choose to wear them around the house if you want to get used to them.
I found that as I have a little toe that’s overlapped, these are an absolute pig to put on. It took about 5 minutes each initially – or felt that long – but eventually I’ve settled on getting them on my feet and then simultaneously stretching the toes and forcing them back by spreading my toes. It takes a few goes, isn’t ideal but is largely down to the shape of my feet. Yours may be perfectly formed tootsies that fit perfectly!
Once on, you’ll need to take care with every step whilst running. Gravel is a particular hazard, being particularly painful if you happen to step on it. They provide next to no protection really, and are basically a rubber sock that keeps your pampered feet from chafing too badly against the hard surfaces and getting muddy. Step on glass and you may as well be barefoot. It’s a strange sensation as you can feel everything under your feet, especially the cold. You’d need to be a tough cookie to use these in winter, but combined with toe socks they might be OK. They’ll be perfect for a specific local trail run where I can get around 5km in on a sandy beach, and which I usually run barefoot, but not entirely comfortably.
Other than for running, they’re so light (340g) that you can take them for wearing around camp or for crossing rivers when you don’t want to go barefoot. Of course, it depends on you finding them comfortable in the first place and able to get them on in a reasonable time.
They can also get a bit sweaty in use as well, causing some slippage as they’re constructed from non-breathable silicone. I didn’t find this that much of a problem, and if I did then I’d wear toe socks or dust them with talc before use.It would be a problem if you did want to run for prolonged periods in warmer weather, and are prone to sweaty feet.
Finally, there’s the price. You can pick them up at much below the RRP of £44.99, which quite frankly is overpriced for what are essentially extra strong marigolds for your feet. However, they’re usually available on-line for half that, which is a fairer price.
There’s very little like these out there, and they are a viable option for those of us who want to go barefoot without baring our feet. Because I have to cross urban areas to get to anywhere that I can run, always passing broken glass on the way, I’ve had to take these in a waist pack and change after a few kilometres once I know it’s reasonably safe to do so. Initially, when limiting the distance, that’s no problem. This limits me from running a complete run in these unless I’m driven to the starting point. You’ll also need to bear in mind exactly how much stress these’ll put your feet through, so remember to start slowly and build up.
The protection these Evoskins provide is as much psychological as physical and of main interest to dabblers in barefoot running like myself rather than seasoned barefoot runners. Though they’re great fun to run in and you know the dog walkers are looking on in bafflement.