Author Archives: SKORA

  • Top 10 features to look for in running shoes

    Everyday it seems the running shoe market is growing larger. The walls of your local running store are probably overflowing with the “newest and greatest” minimal shoe. So how do you choose from this glut of lightweight shoes? We at SKORA have amassed quite a bit of knowledge in the last few years from designing and developing our shoes, and we wanted to share some of that knowledge with you.

    There are ten major characteristics that we’ve identified that should be considered when purchasing a pair of minimalist kicks.

    1. Lightweight - Pick up your average running shoe. Now pick up a minimalist shoe. Feel the difference? Every ounce of weight in your shoe adds weight to your foot and your stride.

    2. Flexibility - When you run, is your foot able to flex and bend naturally? Or is the sole so stiff you feel like you’re clomping along? The more flexible the shoe, the stronger your feet will get the and more your stride will improve.

    3. No artificial support - This just adds weight (see point 1) and masks your stride, meaning it’s easier to get injured because you are not as aware of your bodies cues.

    4. No artificial stability - Like artificial support, increased stability takes you farther from your natural stride and makes it more difficult to run naturally and efficiently.

    5. Minimal cushioning - The layers of thickness and cushioning in contemporary running shoes are a modern concept. Adding this extra cushioning just means you’re more likely to run into overuse injuries. So look for shoes with a thin yet firm midsole.

    6. Zero-drop - Zero-drop means the shoe maintains the same thinness from toe to heel. A zero-drop shoe most closely mimics a barefoot stride.

    7. Wide toe-box - This gives your toes the freedom to land naturally. Since your feet swell as you run, this leaves a realistic amount of space for your foot to grow comfortably throughout and still have freedom of movement.

    8. Thin-soled - Like zero-drop, this allows your feet to feel the ground and react accordingly.

    9. Rubber outsole with good traction & durability - These features ensure more of ease of running over a variety of surfaces, wet and dry.

    10. Adjustable lacing and heel lock-in straps - These features encourage the closest and best fit of the shoe to your foot, minimizing the risk of rubbing or sliding.

    So there you have it, folks. From our brains to yours, the best features to look for in a minimalist shoe. Until of course, you can get your hands on a sweet pair of SKORA's.

    Run Real, SKORA

  • Things change, usually for the better...

    skora_strap-concepts_modelA Product design and development is a process.
    A process that challenges not only your concept but also your patience and endurance.

    Over the past couple of months here at SKORA, one of our challenges was the fit and function of our strap system for our laceless shoe model. What started as a Z strap, then it morphed into a Y construct.

    Sometimes a concept is just that, a concept. It requires testing and honest analysis and asking the tough questions; Can we do better? Our passion to create the very best running shoe drives everything we do.

    We finally arrived at a X shape strap design, which, after 6+ edits finally achieved the level of comfort, performance and practicality we were after.

    Here’s a sneak peek of just a side of the X-Strap design you can expect in the upcoming laceless design of our shoes.
    We’ve got much more to share in the coming months, so stay tuned!
    Run Real, SKORA

  • Sneak peek photo released

    We just posted a teaser shot of one of SKORA’s upcoming zero-drop running shoes. Our all-leather design with our anatomically rounded heel outsole. See for yourself on

  • Finding what's right for you

    2625709518_5cc9bd2453 [Image credit: drinksmachine]
    Barefoot and minimalism have come a long way in the last few years; I’d be hard pressed to see anyone today coating a sock with rubber to make their own minimalist footwear. The market is full of minimalist options, barefoot beginner guides and the still-popular over engineered, over-cushioned, stabilizing running shoe.

    I’ve talked before about choice and listening to your body. But what about when your body can’t make up it’s mind? Matt Frazier at No Meat Athlete recently posted about his minimalist running saga, moving from Vibrams to a minimalist shoe to minimal trail shoes to “traditional” trainers. What I find really interesting about this story is the reminder that determining how we run as individuals - barefoot, in a minimalist shoe, foot gloves, or all of the above - is a very personal process. And it is, indeed, a process.

    I say all this in the spirit of remembering that no people share exactly the same feet and no one product works for everyone (though I’m biased in knowing that SKORA shoes will come pretty darn close!). So I encourage you, as you continue on your journey to finding the right way to run for you, that you try everything.

    Happy trails!

  • Lots of Barefoot Buzz in Boulder

    This Monday, May 30, the Bolder Boulder 10K will snake through Boulder, Colorado, proudly proclaiming “Sea Level is for sissies.” This course is jam-packed with bands, comedy acts and more along the race route and incorporates a ton of “mini waves” so runners don’t have to fight their way through a crowd of bodies at the start of the race.

    But none of that is why I’m interested in the Bolder Boulder. I’m interested because Boulder has a Barefoot Running Club with over 300 members. How great is that? In fact, there are so many who are going to be racing in bare feet, the race has provided corrals just for barefooters! Interestingly, a lot of these runners are also touting the green benefits of running barefoot; no more running shoes to buy and discard and a closer relationship with nature, to boot.

    In addition to the bare feet at the Bolder Boulder, barefoot/natural running advocate Chris McDougall also toured the area, leading a barefoot run up to an area amphitheatre, the Sunrise Amphitheatre. Of course, McDougall’s experience was a little less than ideal, since he was ticketed for hosting the run to the amphitheatre without a permit (the ticket has since been rescinded).

    Anyway you look at it, Boulder is becoming a leader in the barefoot/minimalist movement. Is there a barefoot or minimalist movement in your area?

  • The Barefoot Days of Summer

    4268068616_c5715fe505[Image credit: heyitsgarrett]

    Now that warmer weather is rolling in, maybe you’re starting to feel like the time is right to give that first barefoot run a try. After all, what could be more appealing than seeing that green spread of grass in the park or that inviting paved trail?

    Here are just a couple things to keep in mind while hoofing it unshod during the summer months:

    Grassy Fields: That grassy patch may seem harmless, but remember no matter how cushy and springy that grass may look there can be a lot of things hiding in it to potentially damage bare feet. Make sure to scope out the area prior to going on that run.

    Asphalt: The soles of our feet can adapt to hard man-made surfaces. Toughening of the soles will require more time and patience however. That said, asphalt is great unshod running surface, however asphalt can get very hot when it’s been baking in the sun. Look for shadier areas, like paved trails in your local park, until your feet begin to get used to the higher temperatures.

    Sandy beach: The beach is a fantastic barefoot running spot. Make sure to find a flat and hard packed beach as running in soft sand will stretch your Achilles and cause real discomfort and possible injury. Remember: Hard and flat is best.

    Running in the rain: While your bare feet will actually be grippier on wet surfaces than a normal shoe, there are a few things to keep in mind. Wet conditions can easily soften your soles, leading to more-than-normal wear and tear to your calluses. Wear minimal shoes in wet weather as your soles are probably not tough enough for all-weather running.

    Aside from just being barefoot, don’t forget these 5 good tips of warm weather running:

    1. Stay hydrated. It’s so easy in the summer months to lose track of how much you’re drinking. 2. Wear sunscreen. Don’t undo the health benefits of running by frying your face or feet. 3. Run early or late in the day, when it’s cooler. Hot surfaces can ruin a good experience quickly. 4. Wear light-colored clothing to maximize coolness. 5. Remember you need to acclimate - your body has to remember how to regulate itself to stay cool when hot season arrives.

    So get out there and enjoy! What better way to connect with nature than through your soles?

    Happy Trails!

  • Design into Reality (Almost)

    Heading into summer, things at SKORA are starting to heat up. We’ve had a really great and busy few weeks and are excited about a lot of things that are coming down the pike.

    We’re moving ever closer to the much-anticipated tester pairs. It’s thrilling to think that before long we will finally be running in the inaugural SKORA shoes - the journey has been long to get here.

    I’ve talked some about design versus reality when it comes to the shoes. Something that looks great on paper doesn’t necessarily translate well to a three-dimensional, usable shoe. A lot of these elements have already changed through the design process, but one feature I’m really eager to try out is one I haven’t mentioned much, and that is the fit when worn sockless. Barefoot running purists, along with many cyclists and triathletes already tend to go barefoot, but most runners haven’t adopted this. From the very onset, I wanted to design our shoes for sockless comfort. This has required creative pattern design and stitching techniques, so that the seams won’t irritate the foot.

    The sockless design is a component that really is impossible to know if it worked until you slip the shoe on and put in a few miles. It’s almost one of those checkpoints where you get to see how well your idea really worked. There’s such a big difference between the way something feels when you’re just trying it on or walking around with it versus when you really start to put in miles. Ask any runner who went from the occasional two or three mile run to suddenly doing seven, eight or ten mile runs. Things that don’t chafe at shorter miles can become really uncomfortable later on.

    When I first discovered barefoot running in 2002 and remedied my severe IT-band injury, I was very much a purist. I was convinced unshod running was the only way. I eventually realized though that barefoot running all the time, in every climate or all surfaces at any distance is not possible for most of us. Heck, as much as I enjoy barefoot running and try to incorporate a lot of unshod runs in my training, I won’t generally attempt to run trails barefoot. It’s not worth risking a possible injury or catching a virus that won’t show up in my bloodstream for a decade or two.

    We’ll keep you posted on our progress towards our testers. Stay tuned and happy trails!

  • Tips for Beginning Barefoot

    I touched briefly last week on the barefoot run when I talked about listening to your body when it comes to your training. I wanted to expand on that a bit, since I think a lot of people like the idea of barefoot running, but don’t know how to start or what to expect, so here is some food for thought on the effort.

    Running shoes have given us all this extra thickness to land on, causing us to land harder with every stride because our bodies are seeking a hard, stable surface. So, even though it sounds counter-intuitive, barefoot running on pavement, despite the roughness to the soles, is still what we need and is a great place to start.

    An interesting example of this need for a tougher surface comes from the world of gymnastics. Several years ago the Olympic gymnastics’ community toyed with increasing the softness and thickness of the landing mats for gymnasts. Following the increase in thickness and softness, injuries spiked dramatically. Why? Our bodies and our feet need stable, solid surface. By increasing that mat’s softness, it caused the body to push through that mat even harder to find that hard surface, causing more injuries.

    As far as the roughness of the harder surfaces goes, you’ll eventually build up a callus, just like anyone who works daily with their hands eventually builds up that same protective thickness. Keep this in mind on your first several runs, don’t expect to go out to do a 60 minute perfect barefoot style run, even if you are perfect mid-foot, fore-foot runner. Your soles will be too tender, and the skin is very thin and you may have calluses from your shoes. And trust me, with the calluses and the rough surfaces, your feet wind up looking better. The rough surfaces act as a sort of exfoliant.

    But back to the transition. You have to remember that your body has two very independent transition speeds: what you want to do and what your body can actually do when you start barefoot. Training barefoot strengthens entirely new groups of muscles than running with shoes; your arches, your calves, your knees, ligaments, different muscles in your hips. If you go purely barefoot, your body may need a completely different timeline and it will be the one dictating the schedule of how the soles of your feet toughen. Your body may crave a thirty minute run, but the soles may be good only for 5 minutes and that’s where the disconnect happens. It is important to understand that the soles always win over muscle.

    If you want to be the purist barefoot runner, you have to follow the schedule your body dictates to you and you alone, based on your soles. If instead you wanna be a barefoot-style runner, you can probably forget about the soles, and focus on how your body feels—the muscular components.

    But I would recommend sprinkling a barefoot run once in a while but one has to be aware that you revert to the other schedule which could go back to the other 3 minutes or 5 minutes of the soles not based on the strength and the gait performance of your body.

    I hope these tips are helpful.

  • Your Body’s Natural Cues

    I’ve talked a lot over the last couple weeks about where we are with Skora; it’s really exciting to see the progress that is being made, and the momentum that is happening so swiftly. So I wanted to take a step back and talk a little about the why of Skora, why minimalist/barefoot running is important.

    At the end of the day, what it all comes down to is running naturally. Our body naturally gives us cues when it comes to how far and how fast we can run, and how it should feel to when we do it. What running shoes have done since the 1970s, when they started to get these thicker, cushier soles, is to sever that sensory connection between the foot and the brain. Normally, the body gives you signs to let you know you’re tired, that you need to rest: heel striking, poor form, tired feet, painful soles. When you’re wearing these over-engineered shoes, these natural cues are eliminated, leading to so many of today’s common running injuries, such as runner’s knee, Plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and so many more.

    I’ll take a moment here to say I’m not a doctor—I don’t play one on TV, I don’t play one online, but what I know from experience is it’s common sense when you heel strike and you’re at a locked-knee position, and with every strike on the ground that in a locked, straight position, you are in essence putting all that pressure and compression into your knee. That’s not natural.

    When you start to heel strike, especially, it’s your body’s way of saying, “hey, you’re done for today. Go home, relax. Don’t run anymore today.” That lack of mid-foot stride is really indicative of your body’s fatigue.

    You have to listen to your body, and the best way of doing that, in my opinion, and in many supporters of this movement is to begin with a barefoot run. Or at the very least, sprinkle true barefoot runs into your training when running on minimal shoes because that barefoot run will reinforce the form and reinforce that connection. Even in a minimal shoe you can fall into the same trap that, “Oh, I can go long because my soles don’t hurt. It’s okay, it’s fine. I can go longer, I wanna do that 60 minute run on Sunday.”

    What I’m really trying to get across here is just to remember to listen to your body, to enjoy the feel of the run. For 9 years, I’ve been running barefoot, primarily, or in a second-skin minimal shoe. But I still try to do as many miles barefoot because I love it; it makes me feel connected to the earth, to the nature around me which makes me appreciate my running that much more. It’s really my form of meditation.

  • Development Trip

    As I mentioned last week, I recently took a trip across the ocean to China to meet the folks who will be making our shoe and get to know the factory where the magic will happen. I went over for a week to the Guangdong Province of China. This was my first trip to Asia and it was really an incredible week.

    China as a country was a real eye-opening experience. Despite the madness of people, cyclists, scooters and cars on the streets, there was no road rage. It really drove home how much the Chinese value politeness. The work/life balance was something I really admired to, and something that North Americans can take example from. They work hard, but they also take full advantage of the evening hours and night life their community or city has to offer. It reminded me a lot of European sensibilities that I’ve experienced.

    Up until this point, my communication with the factory and production team was through a series of emails, phone calls and skype chats, talking through design and sending pictures and changes electronically. This trip had some really great results, including building a strong relationship with the factory and meeting with all the suppliers and partners that are key to make Skora a success. I was also really blown away by the warmth and hospitality of the Chinese culture; I had always heard the Chinese were amazing hosts, but experiencing that first hand was really a treat.

    Outsole technical development with mould maker.


    So having the opportunity to see where and how Skora will be made was very educational and eye-opening. Logically, I know all the steps that go into producing a shoe like the back of my hand, but living and breathing the production cycle for a week made me realize how many components and suppliers are involved and how imperative it is that everyone work in concert. This holds especially true with a shoe like Skora that’s really breaking the traditional shoe mold when it comes to design and construction.

    Pattern cutting and assembly.


    The leather factories, synthetic textile factories and the factory that specializes in making lasts all have to work together and with the factory that makes the final product.  So to make the pullovers, you need all the textiles and leather, and a last, and then all of these pieces are pulled together by hand at the shoe factory, in what is referred to as a ‘sample room,’ which is pretty cool. It’s a room comprised of a small team of the factory’s best pattern makers and sewers, and they are the ones who create the pullovers and prototypes.

    After that comes production, where all the components that make up a shoe are assembled by the shoe factory, packaged and ready for export. So it really is imperative that the entire chain of production work together to ensure no details are left out and that the final shoe meets the design and quality requirements.

    Sewer reviewing master patterns.


    While there, we were able to accomplish three more rounds of pullover changes (some of which were pretty major) and we did this in only five days. That was amazing to me when I compare it to the normal amount of time it takes us to work through design changes; this would have taken at least 6 weeks through the normal process of emails and shipping samples back and forth. Being able to make fundamental changes on the fly with the master pattern maker present and receive immediate input and advice on construction techniques is invaluable. This is product development at its best.

    By the time I got home, a few things stood out for me. Above all else, it was my first experience of seeing the entire Skora team pull together to accomplish our development goals. We were on a tight schedule, and working under pressure only seemed to fuel the passion for our product, driving home just how awesome our team is and what a great product Skora will be.

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