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