Leguanos – A Truly Minimalist Shoe
Calling the Leguanos shoes is almost a contradiction of terms as these are the closest thing to wearing socks while having the benefit of cushioning and protection.
In the most basic description the Leguanos are a sock on an outersole that is so flexible even the strength of the knit of the upper pulls the toe back towards the heel. The shoes are even sold rolled up and packaged in a square box; such is the flexibility and minimalist nature of this footwear.
The highly elasticated upper is firmly attached to a multi-domed highly flexible outer that provides a few, but extensive mm of protection and surprising cushioning.
There is virtually nothing else to describe in terms of the construction of these shoes as these are a minimalist’s version of a minimal shoe. A 20mm high extension of the rubberized outer is the only additional construction. For good or bad, this does mean that the foot never really feels as though it is located ‘in the shoe.’ This is not a problem when walking but when running my personal experience was a consistent concern that my foot would slip around off the outer and onto the sock upper. This never actually happened, and perhaps this is something one gains confidence with time and distance.
As there is nothing to the construction it’s best talking about the experience, which for me began with days of walking around the Middle East. I have favoured minimalist shoes for a considerable number of years (previously known as the lightest racers), and so adaption to this sort of shoe for walking is not too drastic a move and I found the Leguanos an amazingly protective feel, even on the crushed stone roads that typically interlink the massive tar highways around Dubai.
I had expected to feel the sharp impact of loose stones but this never happened when walking nor did I find the shoes tiring for the days of walking which extended to well over a week in Jordan.
I was less enthusiastic about venturing into running in these ‘modified’ socks but circumstances one night required me to break into a low intensity impromptu run of around 2km. Of course the immediate change was to land on the ball of my foot and I was instantly aware that I was in effect running in true barefoot style. Again I was caught unawares by the level of protection and this concern that the sock would ‘rotate’ under the drive of the foot on the ground. Certainly there was some movement within the shoe, but it was less challenging than I have expected, but this was a low intensity run.
Further runs have increased confidence levels, but not yet eliminated this concern although I have yet to put in a hard / fast surge on either the road, grass or treadmill. This is going to take time and a gradual progression of both surface and distance, which is something that a runner has to be exceptionally careful with, as these are truly barefoot running.
Do not mistake my comment: I am not saying these are not suitable for running – they are: but it will take time for each person to adapt to the extra muscle use, (and hence recovery), required for the shoes.
A major benefit of the shoes is that they are ideal for travelling and can be used for easy jogging, and even walking and in situations where casual wear is acceptable.