My son loves his kigo edge shoes, which I reviewed here , and which typically retail for $70. The kigo blog often has coupon promotions, which is how I grabbed two pair of these for about $35 each. The second pair went to my middle daughter, who fits into the smallest women’s size. kigos also tend to run a bit narrow and quite small as well, and they have unisex sizing that sometimes requires a jump of a full size (instead of half-sizes) into the next model.
These are my son’s everything shoe – even for mountain biking - and he absolutely loves the minimalist construction and flexibility of them. However, you can see the wear he has put on them in about three months; for the price we paid, these were a great deal – but if we had to pay full price, they may not justify the cost.
Another shoe that my son wears on occasion is a Sockwa Amphibian that I received as a test pair, but never officially reviewed here (for various reasons, too complicated to go into now). I really like the Sockwa company, and I’ve had several discussions with the owner about the direction they’re heading; I think they’re on the verge of producing a great minimalist product, but the Amphibian wasn’t quite it for me. My son likes it, however, and I’m eagerly awaiting Sockwa’s next generation minimalist shoe.
My middle child’s collection looks very similar to my son’s
She’s got the Saucony Kilkennys - still sporting the race chip from her most recent 5K, which she wears like a badge of honor – as well as the same kigos that her brother uses. The edge is an everyday shoe that she alternates with the other model pictured: the Simple Satire, which I reviewed here after we scored a closeout pair for $20 from REI (whose inventory is currently limited, but I found them for ). The shoe has a zero-drop platform with a standing height of approximately 1”. It’s not purely minimalist or super-flexible, but it bends well enough to allow natural foot movement, and it has a great fit and decent traction for P.E. class or just kicking around the neighborhood.
Simple makes grown up versions of the Satire as well, but my daughter still fits into the “big kid” sizing, which is nice because it saves you a few bucks. The kids shoes come in some cool color patterns such as a leopard print from REI or a - but before you buy any pair, make sure that you identify the right size in the Little Kid, Big Kid, or adult models, because a lot of the colors and patterns are the same in all three categories.
Considering that she’s the youngest kid in the family, my 7-year-old has a shoe collection that puts her brother and sister to shame
You see the aforementioned Kilkennys, as well as a pair of that are very similar in construction to the Simple Satire, with a flat 1” platform, fair flexibility and good outsole traction. We got ours at Target for $20, and the Amazon link above has them for $18-$30 depending on size and color.
The pink shoes above are a pair of Speedo Surfwalker water shoes, which you can buy for , and are definitely the most minimal shoes in the collection. They’re super lightweight and completely flexible, and my daughter loves wearing them as an everyday shoe, even wearing them for day hikes before she had the Sauconys. The only caution I’d offer is that with excessively rugged activity like climbing trees or scrounging in the dirt, their durability shows some signs of strain, especially where the upper meets the outsole.
The other shoes in her assortment are from Terra Plana’s VIVOBAREFOOT kids collection : the Pally model I reviewed here , and the Oaky model I reviewed here . Granted, we received both of these free of charge, and Terra Plana isn’t exactly known for its bargain pricing – but to their credit, the kids’ models aren’t nearly as steep as their adult versions, and the company frequently has coupon offers like they did in conjunction with each of those review posts. If you had used the 50% off coupon that went along with my review, you could have picked up the very fashionable Pally for $30 – which is a fantastic deal when you consider how versatile and comfortable VIVOBAREFOOT shoes are.
The best case in point is my daughter’s Oakys , which are noteworthy for a couple of reasons
1) These are far and away her favorite everyday shoes, even after the laces have frayed and the insoles have holes in them thanks to constant use since she received them last October. She’s worn them in the sandbox, in mud puddles and playing in the river, and for pretty much every activity you can imagine. When it comes to all-purpose durability, these have to rank near the top. However …
2) They’ve also been the topic of a year-long argument between me and the P.E. teacher at her elementary school, who sat her out of class a few times for having “improper footwear”. During one phone conversation, when I asked the teacher why they weren’t acceptable, she replied that they weren’t athletic enough. When pressed, she clarified: you know, something with a heel and good support and cushioning. After a few back-and-forth exchanges, she was finally agreeable to let my daughter participate in P.E. class in the Oakys, but still directs occasional comments toward her like “maybe you should wear some regular sneakers next time.” Needless to say, it’s been a little bit frustrating.
A funny postscript to the whole story is that about a month ago, wearing the same Oakys that weren’t athletic enough for elementary school PE class, my daughter took second place among all first-graders in a city track meet. No, she didn’t bring her medal to school to show the teacher afterward … but the thought definitely crossed my mind.
The overall minimalist market for children continues to expand, with new entries from major players like Vibram and Merrell this spring, although they might be priced a bit too high ( FiveFingers for kids are $60 ) for cost-conscious shoppers right off the bat. Hopefully after they’ve been on the market for a year or so, or if they get updated in the near-term, this spring’s models will eventually become available at more affordable prices. In the meantime, the good news is that there are several good options out there if you’re willing to do a little bit of bargain shopping.
Healthy foot development is indeed a gift we can bestow upon our children, and fortunately, it appears to be one that’s becoming easier for parents to provide with each passing year.
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