While there used to be a clear distinction between ‘Barefoot’ and Minimalist running shoes, the lines are being blurred. Shoe companies, such as Skechers, are taking aspects of both in developing their latest lines, particularly related to Trail Running. Barefoot shoes, led by Vibram Five Fingers, typically have almost no cushioning and a zero drop from heel to toe, forcing a more forward midfoot or frontfoot strike. The lack of any significant outsole makes running on rugged terrain more difficult. Minimalist running shoes, such as the Brooks PureCadence, offer some cushioning underfoot, but with a 4-8 mm heel that encourage a more midfoot strike. With Skechers GObionic Trail, you now have the option of either a more traditional Minimalist 4 mm drop from heel to toe, or ‘Barefoot’ 0 mm by taking out the insole, yet have the durable outsole protection you need off-road.
Skechers has previously released the hybrid GObionic running shoe in 2012, labeled as ultra-minimal. It is a good transition shoe as you move further and further towards true ‘Barefoot’. It already has the ‘Barefoot’ 0 mm heel to toe drop, but provides cushioning through a proprietary injection-moulded compound in the sole called Resalyte. Stripped down from the Skechers GOrun range to create an ultralight running shoe, the GObionic weighs only 6 ounces (approximately 170 grams) for the Men’s US Size 9. The difficulty with GObionic, however, is when running off-road on rugged, uneven terrain. The GObionic outsole has deep flex grooves that pick up gravel or small rocks and needed a redesign for better grip on trails.
The Skechers GObionic Trail is the answer. The outsole is now made out of Resagrip, a new Skechers’ proprietary compound intended to be durable, flexible and lightweight. The flex grooves have also been redesigned to avoid collecting debris. In addition, the GObionic Trail has a diffusion plate in the sole to disperse pressure on rough terrain. And the wider toe box of the GObionic has been retained to allow the toes to splay while running, adding to your balance. As noted previously, you also have an option for the heel to toe drop, with either 4 mm with the OrthoLite insole in place (whose anti-microbial properties allow you to run without socks), or 0 mm taken out.
The GObionic Trail running shoes are being released in the US in mid-2013 and should be available in Australia and New Zealand after that. As a price indication, the current GObionic shoes retail for A$149.95.
Skechers is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by the Accent Group, who also handle shoe brands such as Dr. Martens and Timberland, and run the Skechers, Vans and Platypus retail stores across the two countries.