• barefootshoereview

Episode 34 : Softstar "Dash Runamoc"

Updated: Oct 24


Introduction:

I stumbled across Softstar shoes after finding the brand on the recommended footwear list on the Correct Toes website. This was quite some time ago, and I was unaware of what the world of barefoot shoes had on offer. During this stage, I was still wearing Crocs to alleviate a foot injury, and minimalist shoes were a foreign concept to me - let alone an artisan made minimalist shoe; The very idea of this felt somewhat extreme. Were my feet that peculiar, that I was actually contemplating whether I should buy handmade shoes from the US? I put the idea on the back-burner until recently, as I felt that investing in something I had minimal knowledge on seemed ambitious.

Softstar market the Dash Runamoc as their multi-purpose shoe, capable of being used in athletic, dressy or casual circumstances. They have a different toe box compared to the Primal Runamoc, but don’t let that fool you – they allow for completely uncompromised toe splay regardless. The Dash Runamoc is extremely versatile, regarding customisation options. There's an option to completely customise the entire shoe for an additional $20US – which includes a vast array of colour swatches, materials and even sole types (2mm, 5mm, or bullhide leather). In addition to this, they’re also available in a Vegan Quick Dry option, and the MegaGrip Trail (9.5mm sole, priced at $165 US). They range in regular, wide and narrow widths, sizes 5U-15U, and priced from $140US/$192 AUD/118 Euro/108 GBP.

Click here to view. (Disclaimer: These shoes were given to me to review, however my opinion is my own).

The non-customised colour options are available in the following: (This colour range is not available anymore).

  • Black

  • Aged Poblano

  • Flint/Black

  • OxBlood/Flint

Company Overview:

“Softstar Shoes is an American shoe manufacturer and retailer based in Philomath, Oregon. It is known for its minimalist or barefoot-style shoes and has been recognized as an early participant in the movement to encourage minimalist footwear.

Softstar Shoes was founded in 1984 by husband and wife Tim and Jeannie Oliver. They founded the company after being unable to find minimalist shoes for their daughter and learned to sew their own from a local artisan. They began selling the shoes to their friends and neighbors and introduced the brand Softstar Shoes at the Sawdust Art Festival in 1986. Softstar Shoes relocated from Texas to Oregon in 1991.The company was purchased by current owners Patricia Salcido and Larkin Holavarri in 2005. Holavarri sold her interest in the company to Salcido in 2018, leaving Salcido as the sole owner of the company.

Softstar Shoes manufactures minimalist or barefoot-style shoes, which attempt to promote natural foot function by allowing feet to move, stretch and flex as though they were barefoot. In 2009 the company launched their RunAmoc line of minimalist running shoes, which coincided with the release of Christopher McDougall's bestselling book Born to Run, which increased interest in barefoot running and minimalist shoe. Softstar also manufactures minimalist shoes for children, and a variety of styles of moccasins. Its shoe line includes minimalist athletic shoes, minimalist adult casual shoes and minimalist children's shoes. It is also the only manufacturer of children's shoes based in the United States, with all materials sourced from the United States.”


To view more about the history of Softstar click here.

Sustainability:

  • They're careful to source non-toxic materials, including leather colored with food-grade dye and non-toxic adhesives.

  • Almost all their leather is sourced from tanneries within the US. Otherwise it is sourced from approved tanneries overseas.

  • They were awarded the 2019 Recycler of the Year Award for the Business/Institution category from the Association of Oregon Recyclers.

  • They ensure they use as much of their leather as possible, and even sell their scraps on their website for the cost of shipping

  • Their electricity is 100% sourced from sustainable wind and solar energy sources. We are working towards installing new solar panels in our workshop as well.

  • They use minimal packaging to reduce waste when shipping shoes, and also collect and reuse paper packing materials from a local bookstore and newspaper for padding. They ship our lighter/smaller domestic orders in recyclable bubble mailers to keep weights and shipping costs low. These bags also take up less space than larger cardboard boxes, which means their postal carrier can take fewer trips between our workshop and the post office. The smaller bags, which are sourced from a company called EcoEnclose, are made from 32.6% post-industrial recycled content. These mailers are also reusable, which is a great option if you need to return your shoes.

  • They have a Softstar resale page. This page uses an Ebay tool to create a community where customers can buy and sell their used shoes to each other. By reusing shoes as much as possible, we reduce waste!

See more here.

First Impressions:

  • They look better in person than in photos online

  • Handmade quality – the detail is stunning

  • Soft leather - no hard edges which can normally aggravate my feet

  • They're in the top 3 widest shoes I own

  • Flexible, fairly light and they have a flat sole (my favourite kind of sole)

Sizing and Fit:

  • My foot is approximately 292mm in length, with my 2nd toe being the longest. At the time that I measured my foot, the width was approximately 110mm.

The table below, and with helpful advice from a staff member (Thank you Ali!) - indicated that 13U in a regular would fit my foot. As most of us in the barefoot community have a sense of scepticism in regards to shoe fit - I decided to choose a Wide, instead of the Regular. However, I'm tempted to say that the staff member was correct in this case. Although there aren't any major issues with the width - I believe the Regular width would've been more ideal, as it would've ensured a more secure fit for more athletic scenarios. Overall, the shoe was wide throughout the entire shoe - they have a mid-high volume instep and ankle area, and they're one of the top 3 widest shoes I own.


Softstar have a number of different shoe shapes, as shown in the image below. However, we feel as though this image could be discouraging for people that are tossing up between the Primal and the Dash. In our opinion, this isn't too much of a fair representation. The Toe-box of the Dash allowed me to splay my toes with absolutely no issue whatsoever. Softstar have an extensive amount of information regarding how to choose your shoe size. In addition to the table below, they also have a print out sheet - available here.

Performance:

The Dash Runamoc is one of, if not, the most natural feeling shoes I own...

  • The leather upper is extremely soft and supple, and feels like a second skin, which feels amazing when wearing no socks. The upper is very minimal, as it doesn't have a lining. Its also free of any seams - which means that there is no rubbing. However, I am sceptical how the upper would fare in rougher terrain - as it's so soft, and the perforated leather could catch onto something, and rip

  • The footbed is a suede - which I prefer to a synthetic material, and once again, feels amazing when completely barefoot. The same suede is used as a heel counter in the shoe, which is soft and malleable, yet acts like a cradle for the heel

  • The sole is a Vibram sole - which is my preferred kind of sole. It has a nice amount of thickness (5mm), and is completely flat, and free of any contours - meaning that it feels more natural, as it doesn't inhibit your foot mechanics/anatomy in any way. In addition, it is fairly slip resistant

  • The shoe has decent breathability properties - this could be due to using natural perforated leather. I mostly wore the shoes without socks, and didn't experience any issues with noticeably sweaty feet.

  • Overall, flexible, light and super wide. However, I did experience my feet catching onto the ground occasionally, and in the future I would like to try a regular width model

Technical Specifications:

Upper: Responsibly Sourced Leather - Suede and Lite (Perforated leather)

Footbed: Responsibly Sourced Leather - Suede

Sole: 5mm Vibram Omniflex (Options of 2mm, 5mm, 9.5mm trail or bullhide leather)

Weight: 5.0–9.5 oz. (depending on size and sole type)

Drop: 0 mm

Stack Height: Approx 5-8mm total (including leather footbed)

Available sizes: 5U-15U (Available in Regular, Narrow or Wide)

Price: From $140US/$192 AUD/118 Euro/108 GBP

Future Improvements:

  • Possible reconsideration for ankle width/volume, as they're quite loose for my ankle

  • Different coloured soles?

  • Winter versions with a warm lining or thermal sole

  • Waterproof version

  • Mid or High-Top

Where and how to wear:

In my opinion, the Dash looks the best with shorts and no socks, or with pants/jeans rolled up, exposing your socks. I haven't worn the Dash in settings other than casual, or athletic scenarios. I believe there is an opportunity (as stated on their website) to use the Dash in a more dressier scenario, however I'd suggest that you select a more suitable colour - such as Black or Brown Leather.

Conclusion:

Most companies seem to gravitate towards mass manufacturing, or either more expensive custom made alternatives. The beauty of Softstar, is that they meet somewhere in the middle. They're an established company who have mastered their craft - providing their customers with a base range of models, suitable for every occasion; however, they also provide the customer a number of options where customisation is possible for a small expense.


Overall, my experience with the Dash Runamoc has been extremely pleasant. I feel proud to wear the shoe - they feel quite exclusive, and they give off a sense of genuine quality you can't find in a mass manufactured shoe. The physical traits of the shoe are the biggest selling point of the shoe however. The shoe uses natural materials, uses an upper with a stretchy glove like fit; and in addition to the flat sole and width - giving me the closest feeling to actually being barefoot.


-TBSR, Alex

Disclaimer: This shoe was sent to me for a review, but my opinion is my own.

All Rights Reserved by The Barefoot Shoe Review

Melbourne, Australia

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