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.
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.
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.