Pah Tempe Long Term Test – Final

Final Thoughts
The Pah Tempe can be summed up in one word – EASY.  This is the thought that comes to mind most while wearing them.  They are easy to put on, easy to adjust, easy to run in, easy, easy, easy.  I like them for casual use but LOVE them for running.  The level of comfort is amazing.  All of the straps are soft against your feet and I have never had any chafing or strap pain. 

No toe strap

Toe will occasionally catch and fold under (read on to see my modifications)


If you are new to minimalist footwear or don’t like toe straps than the Pah Tempe is for you.  There are many other companies like Luna, Invisible Shoes, and Bedrock  to name a few but none offer the toe strap free design.  I personally own 3 different Luna sandals and love them all especially the originals but none compare to ease of use and comfort (especially while running)

Many people have asked if the newflex will mold to your foot.  The answer: Yes! I have to say that they are more comfortable now than when I first received them and love they they are “my foot”

Final Review Time
As a tester, I take the testing of the shoes that are given to me seriously.  All other reviews are just impressions right when they get them. What happens after a year, what about two. Did they fall apart or wear out? After 2.5 years of daily abuse in every possible situation, my Pah Tempe sandals are still going strong. In fact, they are probably better now than they were when they were new.

Check out my video review for the Pah Tempe sandals and watch why  I think they are the best minimalist running sandal on the market.



1 Comment

Filed under Long term test, Review, Running

New Business

I have lots of exciting updates coming but they have all been put on hold while I launched my new business.  If you have kids or just love colors feel free to check it out.

Now that it is up and running I’ll hopefully have some posts updating the Pah Tempe as well as new sandals I have made.

Leave a comment

Filed under Custom Shoe

Pah Tempe Long Term Test – Part 2

I have spent a lot of time running in the Pah Tempe and have loved every minute of it.  Until recently, I couldn’t find any faults, but then, I finally found the Pah Tempe’s kryptonite.  More on this in a bit, but first a little more scrutiny on the front of the sandal.

As a tester, I wanted to provide as much input on the function of the design as possible.  As part of this, I purposely ordered my test pair of Pah Tempe 1/2 size too large.  I wanted to see how important toe length was to the overall function.  As it turns out, it is extremely important.  My first step resulted in the toe of the sole catching on the ground and folding under the sandal.  I tried to get used to it, but aside from high stepping there was no way to keep from catching the toe.
Lesson:  Trace your foot carefully
Click on the photo below to see what the “too long” sole looks like.  If you look carefully, you can see the tracing of my foot on the sole.  This is where it should have been cut had I not added to the length.

After I trimmed the sole back to where it should have originally been they fit like the picture below.  This length resulted in far fewer fold overs.

Proper sizing

Even though they now fit like they should I was still occasionally folding over the toe.  The sole is so flexible that catching the toe is not as bad as it seems.  It simply folds under and causes almost no change in stride.  Your toes are now exposed but I found it more annoying than dangerous.  This was happening only while walking, when I wasn’t picking my feet up enough.  The original Pah Tempe design was simply cut out of Newflex with the cut being 90 degrees to the bottom as shown below.

I found that I was catching the front edge, which caused the front to fold over.  I decided to take the 90 degree edge and put a 45 degree bevel on it.  This simple change completely removed almost all of the fold overs.  The finished front looks like the picture below.After talking to UnShoes, they said that this bevel will be included on all future Pah Tempe to reduce the chance of the toe catching.

With my modified Pah Tempe, I felt invincible.  It was the most versatile form of foot protection I had ever encountered.  Then one warm and sunny day I decided to play badminton with my family in the grass.  The grass was green and needing to be mowed but we played anyway.  This was the kryptonite that killed the Pah Tempe.  They were completely unusable.  The front would fold under on every step.  The heel folded under when backpedaling.  I had to take them off and play barefoot or face utter humiliation and embarrassment for my numerous falls and missed hits.

In Summary, the toe will occasionally fold under and everyone should expect this to happen.  Proper sizing and the new 45 degree bevel will almost completely eliminate fold over occurrences.  Using the Pah Tempe on the road, trail, or mall will make you smile, however, keep them out of the long grass or the swamp monster get you. (Sorry, I have been watching too much Scooby-Doo with my son)


Filed under Long term test, Review, Running

BestTough Mudder Shoes Ever!

Soft Star Dash and the Tough Mudder

I’m sure most of you that found this page are looking for a tough, gnarly shoe for the tough mudder, spartan race, or even death race.  What you are probably expecting to see is something like this.

I’m here to say that an unlikely shoe actually makes it to the top.  I was focused purely on performance and function and talked to many people about their shoes.  Read my conclusions below.

Back in September I decided that a custom pair of Soft Star Dash would be the best option for the Tough Mudder.  After running the race I can say that the Dash outperformed every other shoe out there.  They had no weakness and performed flawlessly.  If you are looking for the perfect pair of shoes for the tough mudder, the perforated Soft Star Dash is it.  Here is why.

The race forces you to get wet many, many times.  It also requires about 12 miles of running over a variety of terrain and a little bit of swimming.  Lastly, the course forces you through tons of sticky mud.  Regular shoes are the worst option due the the weight when wet and the amount of mud that gets into them.  Not to mention I saw several people loose their shoes in the mud and were forced to finish the race in socks.  Five fingers would be a great option and anyone that already has these should use them.  The downfall of the five fingers is the mud.  I didn’t see anyone loose theirs but I saw many people complain that they had their feet abraded away once gunk got in.

The advantage of the perforated leather is that the mud gets in but then goes right back out.  I routinely had gravel under my foot just bounce out.  After the muddy spots, tons of people had to stop and empty their shoes out.  Not me, I was able to keep running.

The GA event was also really cold.  My feet were cold when submerged in water but actually dried out very quickly and became comfortable again.  The people in VFF’s had numb feet and were complaining about not being able to feel the ground or their toes.

I wore drymax trail socks and couldn’t have been happier.  These socks don’t hold water, dry quickly and most importantly, keep out all dirt.  After the race, my feet were clean, although my socks and shoes were caked in mud.

Note: Drymax trail socks run way big.  Order one to two sizes down.  (they stretch).  I wear size 13 shoes and the Large fit perfect.

The Dash provided the right amount of traction and protection.  My feet came out happy without any issues.  The dash was great to run in regardless of the conditions.  They were also great to swim in and the enhanced ground feel really helped with the obstacles (especially the balance beam).  Anyone looking for the ultimate or perfect shoe for the Tough Mudder should consider the perforated Dash.

One added plus is that the race didn’t trash my shoes.  They took a beating but a quick rinse brought them back to normal (almost).  The leather needs to get a quick coat of dye to restore the color.  Take a look.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Long term test, Review, Running, Soft Star

Pah Tempe Long Term Test – Part 1

I am excited to announce that I am starting a new long term test.  I recently received the newly redesigned Pah Tempe sandal from Unshoes.  The Pah Tempe is unique in that it does not have a strap running between your toes.  I was interested to test the Pah Tempe sandal after multiple people stopped me to ask about my huaraches, only to say “Those are great, but is there a version without the toe strap?”  When Unshoes offered to let me test the newly redesigned Pah Tempe I was excited but also a bit apprehensive about performance.

After lots of testing, I can unequivocally say that Unshoes Pah Tempe is a legitimate contender in the crowded minimalist sandal market.  Not only that, I had a hard time finding a situation that it couldn’t handle (I tried).

Comfort and Versatility
Overall performance was exceptional.  They were intuitive and easy to put on and adjust.  Once on, you can simply slide on and off with no need to readjust.  They were comfortable, in a way that only Soft Star can match.  The wide webbing distributed pressure evenly, ensuring that there were no pressure points.

I didn’t really think of the Pah Tempe as a running sandal but this is where it really surprised me.  This is hard to say, since I love my Luna’s, but the Pah Tempe out preformed them in every way.  I ran in them every day for over a week and never once felt any hot spots, pressure points, or slipping.  After nearly 3 days of no issues I decided to come up with the most brutal tests I could find to see how far these sandals could go.

Day 1 of brutality testing:  Lateral loading
I ran 2 miles sideways doing the grapevine.  My RunAmoc’s are weak when it comes to lateral loading so I was shocked when I had no issues.  I decided to up the ante and do some shuttle runs.  The rubber gripped my feet and the webbing held everything tightly in place.  Hmm, I was actually getting a bit mad that they did so good.

Day 2 of brutality testing:  Hills
I sought out every hill I could find.  I ran short steep grassy hills and long steep paved hills.  Running up hill posed no problems at all.  The heel strap and the grippy rubber kept everything in place.  Now for the downhill, every shoes weakness.  Again, the Pah Tempe surprised me with its ability to hold my foot.  Downhills were not an issue at all.  I tried to get my toes to slide off the front and never could.  From an engineering perspective here is the genius behind the webbing system.  One strap crosses you foot 3 times.  This strap is free to move and redistribute as pressure is applied to each section.  Since your foot is essentially triangular shaped in profile the straps act against the wedge-like shape of your foot.  The harder your foot attempts to press forward, the harder the three straps press back, evenly distributed of course along the full length of the strap.  Essentially, there is no place for your foot to go.

Day 3 of brutality testing:  Wet mud
I really wanted to find some wet mud but couldn’t so I opted for the closest thing that I could find.  Wet grass and sand.  Ok, it doesn’t have the same appeal as mud but it was the best I could come up with.  Wetness was not an issue at all.  Sand was interesting.  It seemed to cause less than normal problems.  I didn’t like it, but did notice that since the sandal is not really strapped that tight, the sand seemed to work its way out easier than I expected.  In general, I have more testing to do in the wet mud area so stay tuned.

For those not familiar with the Vibram Newflex material, it is one of the best minimalist soling options.  It is light, flexible and has good traction.  Combined with the 1″ webbing there is no slapping while running.  Newflex provides an excellent balance between ground feel and protection.

Climbing webbing is one of my favorite options because it is strong and smooth.  Webbing feels great against your bare skin.  Unshoe has combined the webbing with a ladder buckle that locks the webbing in place.  Once set it does not move.  Over the last week I have never once adjusted the webbing.  Coming from huaraches, this fact alone is enough reason to buy these. 

Overall quality is exceptional especially considering the price.  The webbing was all cut and sealed neatly and stitched professionally.  It was even coated with a clear rubber where it could contact the pavement.  However, I was disappointing with the cut of the sole.  It was cut accurately but looked like my first pair of homemade huaraches looked.  My Luna’s came with edges that looked extremely professional.  These came looking like they were cut out by hand (see heel detail below).  This didn’t really affect performance or appearance but it is a small detail could be improved

Tripping Hazard?
When I first saw the Pah Tempe, I wondered how likely it would be to trip in them.  I will have a whole post on this topic but for now lets just say that if sized correctly (see pic below) tripping never happens.  Again, stay tuned for a post full of my crazy antics involved in ensuring that I would never trip.

Comfortable out of the box
Set it and forget it webbing
Slide on and off fit
Secure fit
Low cost

Non professional finish
The excess strap would never laid flat

This was part 1 of my long term test so stay tuned for more each week or so.  On to the pictures


Filed under Long term test, Review, Running

Reflecting on 2011

Overall 2011 was a great year.  It felt more relaxed and enjoyable than any prior year in recent memory.  I think it had to do with the fact that we haven’t moved recently and that I have finally come to a point where I see myself as an adult.  It’s funny but all through my 20’s I was still under the impression that I was 20.

2011 was also a year filled with a lot of change, excitement and  learning.  I think I have taken care of myself more in 2011 than any other year.  I have exercised more, eaten better, and prioritized the important things.  It really hit me in May when I posted this that I hadn’t stopped to think about who I was and what I wanted to do.  Since then I have been much happier because I know my choices are intentional and purposeful.  I made a list of accomplishments that I wanted to achieve and this is a good time to review them.  Here is my list from May

  • To plan several fun days with my family (done)
  • To work less, not at work but working around the house (done)
  • To make my wife feel loved and special (done)
  • To continue exercising (done)
  • To sleep more (not even close)
  • To play for an hour straight with each kid (done)
  • Plan something in secret for my wife (done)
  • Make sure I treat everyone in my life in a calm loving and respectful way (still working on this)
  • Listen more and talk less (tried this then forgot about it)
  • Quit bragging (done)
  • Stay out of debt (almost there)

Overall I would say that I did pretty good at focusing my attention on these specific things.  It really made a difference in my overall happiness and it is something that I will continue to do.

Obsessions.  Throughout my life I have always been obsessed with something.  2011 was the year I was obsessed with minimalist shoes as is evident in this years blog posts.  I can’t start to describe how much better I feel now that my feet are strong.  This may sound weird to 99% of the population, but strong feet affect the rest of my body in ways I never would have imagined.  My wife an I agree, once you go minimalist you will never go back.

The last couple of months in 2011 were probably the most exciting for me personally.  I don’t have a lot of details to share but my wife and I started our own business based on her invention.  I will share much more on this later, but for me, this project has been so fulfilling both personally and professionally.  Leaving my well respected engineering career to get my masters in business always left me feeling like a sellout.  I was hopeful that one day both my engineering background with my expertise in business would merge together.  This is exactly what has happened with the formation of this company and I couldn’t be more excited for what is to come in 2012.

2012 is already a year full of excitement.  I have plans for a fun new Soft Star project along with a couple other highly anticipated long term minimalist shoe reviews.  I will be running the Tough Mudder in February using my Soft Star Dash.  Finally, the adventures in our business that have yet to unfold are sure to be both exciting and memorable.  2011 was a great year but I have a feeling 2012 will be even better.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Original RunAmoc 1 Year Update

Since most reviews stop after their initial testing, leaving the long term performance in question, I wanted to show the full life cycle of my favorite shoe.  The Soft Star RunAmoc SMOOTH has been my primary shoe for the past year.  I have logged about 500 running miles and over 800 walking/hiking miles in the past year in them.  There was never a single time that I wished for a more substantial shoe.  I was concerned many times that I was going to get hurt due to the thin sole, but it never happened.  I carried a 50 lbs pack and a 30 lb 2 year old over crushed granite while backpacking and came out feeling great.

Overall Impression
The RunAmoc is one of the few products I have encountered where its value far exceeds the cost.  My pair has seen daily use for a year.  That is a year of running, hiking, walking, climbing, digging, building, traveling and generally being abused.  I don’t baby these, and they don’t seem to mind the abuse.  A quick wipe with a damp cloth and they are good enough for the office again.  I have raved about these throughout my long term testing so I will leave those thoughts there.  What I want to highlight here is what happened over the year period.  The sole wore out.  Yep, that’s it.  Post done.

Seriously, the shoe is almost exactly the same as it was when it was new.  The leather is perfect, the stitching is still intact, the sole is still attached.  In a couple of months I’m going to have to replace the sole but that is a minor cost compared to buying a new shoe.

Ok, it wasn’t really all unicorns and rainbows.  I did have two issues over the year.  The first was the insole.  Yes, all RunAmoc’s have insoles.  Mine was glued in, and after 7 months the glue started to fail at the heel (Soft Star now stitches the insoles in, fixing the problem).  The second issue I had was with the leather stretching.  Leather has the amazing ability to stretch and take the shape of your foot.  However, this can be a double edged sword.  My pair stretched too much in the heel which allowed my foot to slip back too far.  I fixed this by copying the dash heel cup.  The added piece of leather greatly helped the heel issue.

What I really loved about my RunAmoc’s was how wearable they were.  I could wear them to the office, come home, take them for a run and then wear them to dig post holes.  I have spilled 218 degree boiling sap on them, dumped red paint on them, played in the rain, worked in the mud and literally destroyed them many, many times.  In all cases, a wipe with a damp rag cleaned the leather and a squirt from the garden hose cleaned the sole.  I can’t think of any other shoe that could have survived this type of abuse and continued to look like they were new.

Leather after 14 months of constant use still looks great

Almost worn through the sole

Almost worn through the heel

Heel detail, note that the leather is starting to wear now that the sole is thin


Filed under Long term test, Review, Soft Star RunAmoc Review

Soft Star Dash Review

It has been a little over a month since I completed my custom Soft Star Dash project.  I wanted to wait to review them until I had sufficient time to test them.    Overall, I would say that the Dash is a great shoe.  Anyone that is used to wearing traditional shoes will feel at home in these.  Since they have laces, generally feel and look like a shoe, I’m going to say that they are definitely a shoe not a moc.

If you are coming to the Soft Star Dash from a traditional shoes, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement in comfort the Dash will provide.  The toe box is wide enough to let your toes spread without any compromise.  The heel and midfoot are nice and fitted which provide for a more secure and sleek feeling.

However, if you are coming from the traditional RunAmoc you may be a bit confined feeling.  The Dash is confining in the sense that a sock is confining.  There are no hot spots or pressure points but there is an overall feeling that your feet are being squeezed.  This never would have been an issue had I not been spoiled by the Original RunAmoc’s.

Comparing size of Dash vs Original RunAmoc

Why is the Soft Star Dash is better than any other minimalist shoe on the market

First off, it is a shoe so it is competing with all of the other shoes on the market.  Next, it employs one of the best principles in life – the KISS principle.  By keeping things simple Soft Star has made a shoe that is everything it needs to be but nothing it doesn’t.  Let’s break this down piece by piece to show what I mean.

A shoe is essentially made up 4 parts, the heel, midfoot, toebox and sole.
Heel – The heel is reinforced with an additional layer of leather and some thin EVA foam so that the heel keeps its shape and ensures your heel is positioned where it should be.  There is no ankle padding or ‘extra features’ to rub or cause problems.  I have worn these mostly barefoot and never had an issue with the heel or ankle enclosure.

Heel cup on Dash

Midfoot – This area is dominated by one amazing feature, the tongue.  Shoes have had a tongue on them for over 100 years, but this is what causes me the most discomfort in traditional shoes.  Soft Star got it perfect.  The tongue fits smoothly over the top of the foot and never moves and never causes any discomfort.  Did it really take 100 years for someone to get it right?  I don’t know, but I do know that the Dash has it right and this alone is a reason to get the Dash.  Besides the perfect tongue, the midfoot fits snug and give you the feeling that it is just an extension of your foot.
Toe – You can’t beat Soft Star when it comes to the toe box and the Dash is no exception.  They provide ample room for toes to splay, wiggle, or bend.  Additionally, the leather will conform to your feet and will soon feel like they were tailor made for you.
Sole – Mine are different from what Soft Star offers, but I have tried all of the soles they offer and it come down to simple performance.  You don’t need computer models to perfect a sole, you only need a little protection and some traction, which is exactly what they offer.

Since I’m raving, I’m just going to continue.  This was my first pair of perforated leather shoes.  I love my smooth RunAmoc’s but when it gets hot the perforated is the way to go.  This leather is so much more porous than I had thought.  I said porous since it lets stuff in and out.  Sweaty feet are never an issue, as the breeze blows straight though, which is why I wear these barefoot so often.  They aren’t sandal airy, but very close.  A plus and minus is that I get tons of stuff in them, but I can usually just bounce it out.  Water, rocks, pine needles, and dust all make their way in an out fairly freely.  I rarely take them off to clear them out as the stuff usually makes its own way out.

Now for the grumbling
What I dislike about the Dash is that it is not the Original.  It is not as comfortable, as easy to put on, as simple, or as weird looking.  Ok, my only real complaint is that the midfoot is a little too narrow for me.  I have ridiculously long toes so I think my midfoot is back further than most.  In the future I will probably order a wider pair to accommodate this.  Just realize that it fits like a sock all the way through the arch and then loosens up for the toes.

I don’t love the Dash like I love the Original RunAmoc (1 year review coming soon) but they are a fantastic shoe.  For people that aren’t sure if they want to try a moc style or (as in my case) you need a shoe that will stay on through mud and water, this is the perfect option.

One last note on the newflex sole that I put on.  First, it is exactly what I wanted as far as protection and ground feel.  I just hiked Stone Mountain in Georgia and they did great.  Really, I couldn’t find a fault with them.  Actually, the shoes in general were almost perfect for this all granite steep hike.  My only disappointment is that they are wearing much faster than I had hoped.

Ok, one more last note.  My coworkers say that the Dash look better with my dress clothes than the Original RunAmoc’s.  I think the tighter fit and laces make it look more normal.  However, my wife says that I’m weird enough that I can pull either off.

Leave a comment

Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Long term test, Review, Running, Soft Star, Soft Star RunAmoc Review

Custom Soft Star Dash Completed

They worked!!  I was seriously nervous and a bit scared that I had just ruined my shoes.  I had dreams that I had mistakenly glued them in the shape of a pretzel.  I didn’t and they turned out beautifully.

It was not an easy job and I have a new respect for effort Soft Star puts into making their shoes.  I started with a pair of expertly sewn shoes thinking that the hard part was done.  I didn’t realize that the glue you use, how much of it you use, the pressure applied, and the way they are applied makes so much difference in the final product.  Soft Star, you have my full and complete respect for creating great shoes.  Fear not, I will not be entering into competition with you anytime soon.

On to the finished product.

Finished product. Notice the difference between the tip of my right shoe vs the left. Gluing can change the shape if not done carefully.

Finished product. Note: I changed my mind on how to handle the arch on my left shoe.

The shape of the sole was identical prior to gluing, but gluing can be very tricky.  I inadvertently stretched the leather while trying to smooth it out.  Balancing pulling it taught and not stretching it are something that takes skill (and I had none).  So I now have one pointy shoe and one round one.  Luckily the pointy one does not affect my gait so I’m ok with it.

Showing how the arch pulls up around the foot

I’m very happy with the arch cutout.  It is 100% unnoticeable, but saves weight and adds to the flexibility.

Finished arch area

I was initially planning on using some 2mm cherry material to fill in the arch but after accidentally applying glue to the entire sole I realized that the glue provides more than enough protection.  I’m going to add glue to the other arch too.

The sole 

If you want to make good barefoot shoes, this is the new gold standard.  I went with the 8mm newflex sole because I had feared the 5mm would be too thin.  After using these I’m not so sure.  They are great but I bet that I could have saved some weight and gone with the 5mm because the glue does add some protection.  If I weren’t intending these to be used in such rough terrain I probably would have gone with the 5mm, but as it stands I’m happy to have picked the 8mm.  The suppleness more than makes up for the extra thickness.

Can your shoes flex downward? Mine can

This material is new and quite expensive, but totally worth it.  The properties that are important to a barefoot enthusiast are embodied by this new sole.  It is light and flexible in a way that make it feel like it is attached to your foot.  When walking over rough terrain it feels more like super thick skin than a sole that is protecting your foot.  The rubber is just a little bit squishy so it forms over rough objects and lets your foot mold to them like they would if you were barefoot.  Comparing it to my 1/2 worn out trail sole on my originals I would say that it out performs them in every way.  They are more flexible and provide more ground feel but somehow don’t sacrifice protection on rough terrain.

Overall, I am happy with this project.  The sole is perfect and I’m glad I cut out the arch.  Next up is some serious testing.  I need to see how these perform in the water and mud.  I’m hoping to take them for a swim before it gets too cold out.  They seem to be more flipper shaped than any traditional trainer so I think I will have an advantage on the swim.


Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Running, Soft Star

Custom Soft Star Dash

I finally had some time this weekend to work on my latest project.  It has been in the works for months and is a little embarrassing that it took this long.  But let me back up and tell the whole story.

When I first started on this minimalist journey I wasn’t sure if I was going to like them so I picked the cheapest option I could find.

Feiyue's have a supple and very soft rubber sole

Feiyue – Pronounced (Fay-you), like Tina Fey and hey you, yeah I’m talking to you.  Anyway, Feiyue’s are a bit narrow for my feet and I haven’t worn them much in the past year.  I have been wearing my RunAmoc’s or Luna’s almost exclusively.  The Luna’s are really the one that got this ball rolling.  I tried a pair of their Equus sandals and they were stiff and thin.  I didn’t like stiff at all so I removed the rubber sole and used just the cordovan leather and it was better.  A half dozen coats of leather conditioner and they were better yet.

Ok, so we have established that I like soft, so what.  Well, one day awhile ago I pulled my old Feiyue’s out and took a walk and my feet were exhausted.  I have been running in nothing but Luna’s all summer and wearing my RunAmoc’s to work, how could my feet be weak?  The Feiyue’s sole is soft, softer than any vibram product out there.  It isn’t all that thin but being so soft really made a difference.

Enter the Tough Mudder

After I signed up my first thought was shoes……I don’t have any shoes…….what am I going to wear?!  Panic sort of set in because I really only have 4 pairs of shoes.  Luna sandals, Soft Star RunAmoc SMOOTH, Vivo Dharmas, and some black dress shoes.  Dress shoes are obviously out and my RunAmoc’s are not perforated so they would be like running the race with muddy water balloons tied to my ankles.  I seriously considered the Luna’s but that much mud made be rethink it.  I searched through all of the recommended options and discussed them with many people that actually ran the Tough Mudder.  Here were my options

Regular shoes – 12 miles is not an option in regular shoes
Five Fingers – My feet are weird shaped and don’t fit them well
Inov8 – These could work but I don’t know that I would wear them beside for the race
Soft Star Dash – Based on my success with my originals, this seemed like the clear choice.  Thanks Ryan B. you help was priceless.

Soft Star has done a great job with their shoes but they only offer two choices for soles.  I didn’t want to go with the street sole due to the slippery mud factor and the trail sole is just a bit stiffer than the newflex sole I used in my huarache’s.  The tread and flexibility of the newflex would be the perfect sole if it were combined with the dash.

I have a special relationship with Soft Star and after a quick call they agreed to send me a soleless Dash RunAmoc to test on (thanks Soft Star).  I have never worn these before and the first thing I noticed was that without a sole they fit like a sock.  The laces pull the leather up and around the foot without any gaps anywhere.  The next thing I noticed was the arch.

Dash pulls up around the arch

The arch would not like to be pulled down and glued to the sole.  I took a look at the wear on my original RunAmoc’s and noticed the wear pattern.

RunAmoc Original trail sole with 500+ miles and no wear in the arch area

I decided to lighten the shoe and increase its flexibility by removing the arch since it wasn’t needed anyway and would cause me gluing problems.

Rough cut sole

I hacked a rough shape out, using my originals as a template.  Then came the messy part.  The belt sander.

Cleaning up the edges

Final sole shape

At this point I was starting to feel confident that this was going to work.  I was taking my time and had not made any mistakes.  I wanted these to last so I was going to do it right.  I stopped and made a fancy gluing press.

Homeade gluing press

My plan was to slip this inside the shoe to provide a flat hard surface to press the sole to.

Shoe with gluing press inserted

Ready to glue


The sole was the right size, I was sure of it, but the gluing board had stretched the leather bottom so the shoe was now way too big.  I tossed all my hard work making the perfect gluing board out the window and just decided to glue them.

Gluing time

Pound it, beat it, hammer it, just make sure it is on good

Top of the line "Shoe press 2000" in action

So in the end my fancy shoe press was sent to the trash but my trusty “Shoe press 2000” was ready and available.  I took my Luna’s and used them to help spread the pressure and just clamped it everywhere.  I’m going to let it sit for 3 days to make sure it has had sufficient time to cure.  I can’t wait to see how they turned out.  I’m excited and a bit nervous.  See the finished shoe HERE.


Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Running, Soft Star