Monday, October 17, 2011

Zem 360 Barefoot Runners Series review

I have been waiting anxiously to try these for a long time now.  Zem says these are designed for barefoot runners.
They are feather lite weighing in at 2.5 ounces and I really like the Japanese tabi style and I love the colors.
They are priced at $59.99 which seems reasonable to me for a pair of shoes.  I would pay twice that for a good fit though.

Zems are a fabulous concept and I don't like to write only about the unfavorable aspects of a shoe but unfortunately that's all I have here.  Again, these are a great concept but these shoes are not shaped like a foot and the flaws interfere with the movement of the foot.

They fit well in the ankle as well as all across the foot.  This aspect was done well.  No slipping or sliding of the shoe around the ankle area and it was a soft fit and yet it wasn't too tight it just stayed in place.
The fabric is stretchy and moves with the foot across the top as well as the opening at the ankle. 

 The fabric at the achilles just above the heel seat however rubbed the back of my ankle uncomfortably.  There was too much extra fabric at the seam and it was just bunched up instead of a smooth seam on the inside.

   The area where the sole and fabric meet on the inside of the foot at the arch rubs my arch even just walking.
The shoe sole is so narrow that when my arch collapses in the gait cycle my foot would spread outside the sole and rub with each step on the area where the sole and upper meet at the arch.  When I google search for images of Tabi style boots and shoes I see a wide foot shape instead of the shape the sole of the Zems make so I don't think it has to do with the style only the poor implementation of this style.

My big toe rubbed against the end of the shoe and yet there was much room between the rest of my toes and the end of the shoe that would make them far too big if I were to go up a full size.   It wasn't just that my toe rubbed but the fabric that was folded over from the stitching was bunched up at the end of the big toe.    This is the same issues that I found with the extra bunched up fabric at the seam at the back of the heel cup.

The sole material seemed grippy as well as nice and flat however even though I have long skinny narrow feet they were still too narrow.  The fabric accommodated my foot however where the fabric met the sole was disappointing.  You can see in the photo above where this area is.

I think Zem would do well to hire Josh Sutcliffe to do some design work.  He so cleverly came up with the slogan "Less Shoe, More You" and being an artist as well as successful barefoot runner I think it would be a wise to hire his expertise.
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