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A few weeks ago our “house of movement” received a parcel containing two pairs of minimalistic shoes designed by the polish company “Magical shoes”. It was a pleasant surprise because barefoot living is an integral part of our lifestyle. We decided to start the test promptly. We used the shoes in different weather and environmental conditions to see if they can survive the challenges of our everyday life and training.
Betka, our dance and expressive movement expert, took the first pair. The second pair took Stefan – physiotherapist, movement riddles fan and barefoot living enthusiast ( even during snowy and cold Winter ).
This is a review of “Magical shoes” from our two different movement experts based on their experience.
In “W gruncie ruchu” approach we are encouraging our students and friends to live, train and play barefoot. Summer and Spring its great time to start your journey or enjoy the benefits of a barefoot lifestyle. However, during the winter and late autumn, the temperature drops significantly, and most of us including me, need good shoes.
Most of the sports footwear limits the movement of the feet while training and walking which decrease the overall comfort as well as affects our feet negatively ( poor muscle activation and movement control. ) In my search for a solution, based on my knowledge, education and years of experience, the barefoot shoes turned out to be an excellent choice to solve that problem.
A few weeks ago I received the “magical shoes” model: Bariball. I opened the box where I found a good looking product. I put them on straight away. My first impression was very positive. The grained cover that fills the interior of the shoe was very delicate and pleasant to touch. This is very important to me because I don’t like using socks when wearing barefoot style shoes. What is more, the rubber sole didn’t block the foot entirely from outside stimulus, and the length of the upper allowed the feet to move comfortably inside the shoe.
I tried them when training indoor and the freedom of movement was great. I had never worn such comfortable shoes. However, after finishing my training session with plyometrics and movement on all four, I discovered that front part of the rubber sole started to peel off. I know that Magical shoe is a hand-made product, so I contacted the producer, explained what happened and received a new pair within two weeks due to busy Christmas time. Normally, it would probably take few days.
Courier delivered new pair, one day before I went for few days to see my parents and explore the countryside. What a great environment to test my new shoes, I thought. This time the MS test was including climbing trees and movement exploration in the local forest. The upper of the shoe is made of natural leather mixed with synthetic material. The manufacturer doesn’t assure that shoe is water resistance. However, after testing the shoes in the wet and grassy forest, I was glad to discover that my feet stayed warm and dry.
You probably know that using shoes with a hard sole when moving across the uneven landscape is challenging and sometimes even dangerous. I was pleased to find out that the sole was very flexible and the optimal thickness gave me great freedom of movement and enjoyable sensory feedback interacting with the outdoor environment. I must say, the only thing I would improve is very smooth sole of the shoe which made climbing a bit tricky.
Training outdoor ( especially during winter ) is associated with risk of getting your shoes exposed to all sorts of dirt and mud. My last test involved a long walk across muddy and full of snow slash terrain towards the local lake to train cold water immersions and winter swim with “W gruncie ruchu” team. What a great chance to get them dirty. I wondered how can I bring them back to their earlier state when I was back home after my movement adventures. I decided to clean them in my favourite, easy way using warm water. I was very satisfied with the effect. Easy to clean and no sign of damage.
To sum up, MS shoes are great to use indoor and outdoor. They are very light and comfortable to use with a plenty of space for your feet and toes. Flexible, thin and puncture resistant sole keeps your feet safe and allows you to move with confidence regardless of the weather conditions.
My first impression of Shoes MS Kodiak from Autumn collection is very positive. They look nice and neat. The inside of the shoes is soft and comfortable. An inner insert of the shoe is well fitted and doesn’t move when walking, running or even jumping. The rubber sole is 5mm thick which is very optimal for me as a barefoot feeling enthusiast. The outer layer of the shoes is made from natural leather and synthetic material (probably suede). I noticed that the whole construction is super flexible too.
At first, I thought that the pair I ordered was too small, despite the fact that I carefully followed size guidelines on a producer website. However, after few days shoes stretched slightly and they fit my feet perfectly. Keep this in mind if you want to order yourself a pair.
In comparison to my previous shoes by some Finnish company, MS Kodiak performed well when using on urban sidewalks and significantly better when walking on grass and other soft surfaces. Five millimetres sole provides you with good protection against the multiple impacts and a great barefoot feeling when using in a city environment or challenging natural terrain.
I was very impressed by the outer layer of the shoe. My feet stayed warm and dry even during cold, sometimes wet winter weather. I do have to say; the sole provides very good thermal isolation even when walking on snow.
I used them in snowy conditions, sometimes even accidentally stepped into a puddle and I was pleased to find out that my feet remained warm and dry.
One day, I decided to take my tests to the next level. I put them on and took part in an outdoor class called “4 Seasons of Movement” run regardless of weather conditions, led by a good friend of mine, Marta. The weather wasn’t great. It was drizzling but even after 30min of training my feet stayed completely dry. Wow. However, after 2 hours of constant movement in wet grass I ended up with totally soaked feet. These shoes are not waterproof, but considering a simple and light design, they are remarkably water resistant.
On another occasion, together with “W gruncie ruchu” team, we went for winter swim and cold water immersion. My strategy after getting out of the water is putting the shoes on without the socks because it negatively impacts restoring normal blood circulation and it’s simply uncomfortable. So I put my shoes on and enjoyed nice and soft inside of the shoe, plenty space and good air circulation. As a result, my feet were warm in minutes, and I regained full range of motion very quickly thanks to the great flexibility of the sole and good sensory feedback when walking on continually changing forest ground.
A big thumb up for unexpected usefulness and practicality during my ice swimming training (which I love since last year when I started ).
Shortly after the swim, we went to the nearby forest to move, and practise play-fighting. MS Kodiak shoes dealt well with slightly damp forest ground. I enjoyed using them in this challenging environment.
Next day I went for a long 4h walk in the mountains. I enjoyed every step; feet stayed warmed and dry. I could feel the ground I was walking on and felt safe even when I accidentally stepped on some small sharp stones. It was a great walk; happy feet but shoes were completely covered in mud. I had to get them clean before I go to work next day, I thought. I decided to let them dry and deal with it in the morning. This turned out to be a good idea. I just needed simple shoe brush and warm water to get rid of all the mud which came off easily. Synthetic part of the shoes looked like brand new again, to clean the leather part I used damp cloth and detergent. I was happy with the overall effect. They were ready to use on Monday morning when I enjoyed a walk to work in one of the Warsaw exclusive hotels in my clean and comfy MK shoes.
Everyone who visited our “Movement house” knows that we have a nice big rope park in the garden which needs to be dismantled before the winter season. Luckily for us, it wasn’t raining recenly so we could start the whole process earlier. To do so, I had to climb up the tree to undo thick rope attached to the tree trunk ( 10 metres above the ground ). It was a great opportunity to test the grip of MK shoes.
The climb was easy, and I can say that the grip was really good. It felt safe to use MK shoes when climbing that tall tree. I did one more test balancing across thick birch branch which felt nice and easy despite smooth surface under my feet. In general, the grip is great. The elasticity of the sole combined with the proper adhesion of the rubber helps a lot with balancing on smooth and rugged surfaces, allowing you to move with confidence in the forest environment. The only time when I have noticed a lack of good grip was when I was visiting our local grocery shop ( tiles on the floor ) but still good enough to control your movement.
Ok, time for my personal opinion. I have tested many different models and designs of barefoot footwear including five fingers shoes. Personally, they are not very comfortable to use especially during summer time when you rather wear socks (special, bit pricey socks) what significantly reduce the amount of space you have inside the shoe. The other thing which I find very irritating is a situation when something gets stuck in between the toes ( stone, twigs etc. ). Trust me, really annoying and sometimes even painful feeling. Lastly, five finger shoes have only one toes size ( length and width ) which makes choosing the right size quite tricky, almost impossible.
If you choose MS Kodiak shoes, you won’t have to worry about all those things I mentioned above.
I enjoyed testing and using the MS Kodiak except one little easy to fix defect. After few training sessions in a wet environment, in some places, the sole started to peeling off slightly… Lucky, shoe design is simple, and this could be fixed easily by any good shoemaker.
To sum up. Shoes are very comfortable and warm even when is bit wet and cold. The grip is good and sole thickness is optimal to use in the city and natural terrain. Minimalistic but elegant design allows you to wear them with joggers when training as well with smart trousers if you work in the office.
Good footwear for everyone; ice swim enthusiasts, barefoot runners, fans of long walks and natural movement explorers like me.