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ZEM GEAR MINIMALIST SHOE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Posted Feb 22 2011 12:00am

Since I got my Zems about a month ago, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with them. I either deeply love them, or deeply hate them. Please note that this giveaway is for either the current model that I’ve reviewed here, or a newer model that will be released in the spring (and promises to address some of my concerns below).

Coolness Factor – A+

I love the look of the Zems. I especially like the split toe look, although it doesn’t seem to have any practical use other than looking quirky. I really like the colours and their general look.

Fit – F

My Zems don’t seem to fit me well at all. My size (standard shoe size) seems inhumanly narrow, causing the shoe soles to cut into my soles. The first time I wore them without socks, they opened up my skin so badly in under 5k that I couldn’t run for a week. The heel is also mismatched to mine (though they slip on nicely) and cause blisters. A larger size would likely be floppy at the toes, but not necessarily much wider.

Moisture Control – B+

As far as keeping my feet dry, the Zems are way ahead of my VFFs. Running in snow, the Zems are significantly dryer, and more comfortable.

Temperature Control – B

The Zems are quite warm. Depending on where and when you’re running, that can be good or bad. I found that in deep, freshly fallen snow, they were at their best. I didn’t feel cold even once sprinting through knee-high snow banks.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later when the snow started to thaw, and my feet felt like they were burning up. On my long run, I was looking for ice puddles to run through in order to try to bring down the temperature of my feet. I can’t even imagine wearing them in the spring or summer. I’ve never tried them on sand, but thoughts of hellfire and brimstone immediately come to mind.  Although I know people use them on sand, so I’m not sure how that works.

Durability – F

I wore my Zems twice on snowy trails, and twice on pavement. None of these runs were long. Afterwards, there was a penny-sized hole in the heel. A friend of mine who has had his Zems for a couple of weeks longer than I have says his are now disintegrated and unusable. The sole wears out extremely quickly, and I wouldn’t trust them on a long run.

Barefoot Simulation – A-

The Zems are quite flexible and closer to barefoot running than the VFFs. I find the VFFs provide much more shoe-like support, whereas the Zems feel like you’re closer to wearing nothing. They feel very much like compression socks.

The Prize

A choice between:

1. A free pair of Zems. Your choice of size/style/colour. Current model. Mailed to you immediately.

2. A free pair of Zem 360s (new model). Your choice of size/style/colour. To be mailed out this spring 2011 (probably around May).

The Zem 360 promises to be a better option to barefoot runners. They are not ready yet so I have not tried them myself. Here is a description of the product from the manufacturers:

The 360 is the feather-light star of ZEMs barefoot collection. The design weighs in at 2.5 oz and is equipped with a pliable but abrasion robust phylon outsole ideal for runners.

An updated tech band design contributes increased lateral hold and stability. The split toe pattern and the high ‘mold-ability’ of all materials used on the 360 create these amazing SoulSkins.

Features include:

  • Pliable, abrasion resistance phylon & gecko-grip rubber outsole with traction.
  • Original split-toe pattern for ultimate “grip-ability” and barefoot sensation.
  • Molding upper and sole materials create fit and protection.
  • Enhanced tech band design adds to lateral stability.
  • Ultimate light-weight protection.

Benefits:

  • Natural barefoot feeling during running and training.
  • Unobstructed sensory feed-back during all activities.
  • Strengthens natural arch and re-conditions feet.
  • Barefoot activities help alleviate stress related symptoms.

1. Do one of more of the following things. Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do, as I will count up the comments and choose a winner randomly using random.org .

2. Every separate thing you do will count as an entry. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.

3. The winner to this (and all the giveaways) will be announced on March 1st.

- Post a Facebook link to this giveaway.

- Tweet about this giveaway.

- Blog about this giveaway.

- Leave a separate comment on this post and tell me which Zem Gear product you would choose.

- “Like” Zem Gear on Facebook .

- Follow Zem Gear on Twitter @ZEMgear here .

- Subscribe to this blog (top left hand side)

- Follow me on Twitter @vanessaruns

- Add me on Facebook at

Good luck!

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