Back in June of 2016, we featured Skinners as an impressive piece of new tech that wasn’t available for purchase yet. Having recently exceeded their Kickstarter funding goal by leaps and bounds, Skinners are now being shipped to backers around the world and are available for preorder on their Kickstarter page.
Designed to be an ultraportable, multi-function footwear option, Skinners offers a surprising amount of benefits for such a minimalist item.
Simplicity and usability at the heart of Skinners design
When we spoke to Petr Procházka, inventor, founder, and CEO of Skinners, he stressed that when designing Skinners he and his team focused on bringing a simple product to the market for, “active people, sportsmen, travellers and others who want to live to the fullest.”
To say that the sleek design of Skinners is simple would be, frankly, oversimplifying their unique minimalist, yet incredibly durable, quality. The design was born out of a conversation Procházka had with a coworker while working as a cook.
His friend was recovering from a painful foot injury, and his foot couldn’t fit in a normal shoe. When wearing regular footwear became possible during his recovery, he was uncomfortable, and the moisture trapped in his shoe hindered the healing process.
“I asked myself: Why is there nothing [a footwear product] that could let the foot move freely like being barefoot while protecting it like a shoe at the same time?” Procházka shares with Digital Trends.
This, as Procházka describes it, was his “a-ha” moment. He set out to create an ultralight footwear that relied on the natural mechanics of the human foot rather than manipulating and restraining movement like regular shoes tend to do. The results are surprising, to say the least.
Despite looking like a basic athletic sock, Skinners are anti-odor, adhesive and phthalate-free, anti-abrasive, machine washable, anti-bacterial, and have a waterproof underside all while weighing a mere 2.8 oz. Interested? We are, too.
How is it possible?
Skinners combine multiple technologies that help the minimalist footwear be, well, wearable. Using silver-infused threads creates an antibacterial material that protects your foot from any microorganisms, making them an ideal option for outdoor activities.
Combine that with the high-tech viscose threading that provides cooling, and the mesh ventilation zones, and you’ve got yourself one comfortable minimalist sock-shoe hybrid. But the usability of Skinners doesn’t stop with comfort, check out these videos:
Can you walk on glass and a box of spilt Legos and not damage your Skinners? Apparently so. The idea behind the highly anti-abrasive, waterproof underside of Skinners was to offer them as an option to barefoot runners and other outdoor adventure-seekers.
“It wasn’t easy, and we had to come up with a few new things and procedures that are now the subject of several pending patents,” says Procházka. “It was a hell of a job to make them look so simple, but as Leonardo da Vinci said: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
What are Skinners used for?
Running? Biking? Hiking? Skinners are designed to stand up to all of these rough-on-the-feet activities and more. In fact, Skinners were designed with a physically active buyer in mind – just like the founder.
“Because I am typical recreational/amateur sportsman, who once goes cycling, then to the gym, inline skating, running, kitesurfing, camping, travels to long distances… during all these activities Skinners are a handy partner,” says Procházka.
But if you’re not an athletic or outdoorsy kind of person, Skinners are still for you. The Skinners Kickstarter page offers several other uses for Skinners – including changing out of uncomfortable dress shoes while at your desk in the office and packing as a footwear-alternative during long travel trips.
Are they safe to use for barefoot running?
While the Skinners team does recommend that you use Skinners as a part-time alternative to regular footwear, there have been success stories of Skinners being used for long distance barefoot running – with some backers using them to run half and full marathons.
Procházka was never a barefoot runner before he invented Skinners, but during the testing period he gave it a whirl and fell in love with it. “After few weeks, I could not go back to regular running shoes anymore. So, I am glad that using the product speaks for itself and also fulfil real needs,” Procházka adds.
As far as the science behind barefoot running goes, a Harvard study backs up the idea that your foot has all the technology you need to run safely and efficiently. The way modern footwear contains and manipulates your movement during a run tends to promote a heel strike stride.
However, when running barefoot, if you focus on your actions in an attempt to achieve a more natural midfoot or forefoot strike, you’re not only more likely to prevent injury, you’re also more likely to run more efficiently.
Because Skinners are designed to promote the natural form of the barefoot running experience, they could provide a viable alternative to other popular barefoot or minimalist running footwear, such as the Vibram FiveFinger.
However, because of their extremely minimal design, it’s suggested that they’re used as a supplement to regular footwear as opposed to a full-time replacement.
Like any barefoot or minimalist running product, the general advice is to ease into it and see how things go with shorter distances before committing to anything too physically demanding.
How do I get my hands (or feet) on a pair?
Skinners are now available for preorder on their Kickstarter page, which connects you to the Indiegogo account, and are estimated to arrive at buyers (who aren’t original backers) spring of 2017. They come in a variety of colours with their carrying pouch and are currently $40 plus shipping through Indiegogo.
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