Regular readers of my blog will know that over the last several months I have been transitioning to wearing minimalist footwear. This started back in June of 2011 in an effort to combat decades of shin splint pain when running. After switching to a pair Merrell Trail Gloves and a forefoot striking pattern, my shin splints were a thing of the past – say hello to calf pain :)
After switching to a zero-drop minimalist style shoe for all of my running, I began looking at the options for minimalist shoes for backpacking and for casual day-to-day wear. Changing back and forth between minimalist shoes and ‘normal’ shoes was beginning to play havoc on my feet, legs, and back.
Late in 2011, I stumbled upon a relatively new manufacturer in the minimalist footwear market that had a pair of shoes that really caught my eye – Kigo Footwear. I came across some photos of their men’s Drive shoes, a simplistic design in a style that appealed to me. I got a pair (size 9.5) and started wearing them as my indoors shoes. Before I knew it I was wearing them all the time, with jeans, with shorts, inside and outside – I loved them, and still do.
So I was very excited when I was recently contacted by PlanetShoes.com (they had noticed that I loved the Drives) and asked if I would like to try a relatively new (to me) model of the Kigo men’s line-up called the Edge. That’s what I will be talking about in more detail here with this review.
Let me start by saying that several of the Kigo shoe styles are not gender specific, they are unisex and can be worn by men or women – my wife had taken to wearing my Drives on too many occasions, so I had to get her some of her own. I received a pair of Edge shoes in men’s size 10.5.
The Kigo Edge shoes are an everyday minimalist recreational slip-on shoe. They feel and look very much like what you would think of as a more traditional water shoe. I would not consider these as a minimalist running shoe because of the narrow toebox.
Specifications (measured not listed):
- Sole Thickness: 1.5 - 2 mm
- Insole Thickness: 1 mm
- Heel rise/differential: 3 mm
- Midsole: 1.5 mm
- Weight: 7.4 oz (one shoe - men’s US 10.5)
- Flexibility: Fairly Flexible (in the midsole)
- Toebox: Regular/narrow
- MSRP: $69
The first thing I noticed about the Edges was how comfortable they are to wear, once you get them on. I say that because the stretchy full upper and foot hole of the Edge made it a little tricky to get the shoe on my foot, they didn’t simply slip-on with ease, but once they were on, they felt great. I should mention that I have very flat feet which means I tend to need wider fitting shoes in order to avoid them flexing open at the midsole as I walk. The Edge is not a particularly wide shoe but the snug fit and minimal amount of stretch in the upper avoided this from happening.
The toebox on the Edge is what I would consider to be ‘standard’. It is definitely not a narrow toebox like my Inov-8 trail hiking shoes, and it is not wide or spacious – it’s regular. I would personally like to see the next versions of the Kigo shoes have a more anatomically shaped toebox to allow for some toe splay.
The design of the upper shows several quite large seams running the length of the shoe, however none of them can be felt from the inside of the shoe even when worn without socks, the construction is outstanding. A note on sizing; unlike my Kigo Drive shoes, the Edges run small by about ½ to 1 full shoe size. If you are going to order a pair of Kigo Edge shoes, make sure you order them one full shoe size larger than you normally wear.
I wasn’t a big fan of the toe bumpers to begin with, they gave the shoes a much more feminine appearance than I had expected, but it must be something peculiar about the viewing angle from above, because from the side and in the mirror I really love the way these look. Of course the toe bumpers provide an enormous amount of additional toe protection on a pair of shoes that feel practically non-existent, so I’m grateful for them.
The uppers are made using pretty remarkable innovation called CYCLEPET which uses post-consumer PET plastic bottles to create an energy-conserving fabric that is flexible, breathable and both water and stain resistant.
I’ve been wearing the Edges for quite some time now and I’ve noticed that these are not the most flexible of minimalist shoes that I have worn. That doesn’t mean that they are stiff in any way or that they are bad, quite the contrary. The Edges are really only flexible in the midsole and are firmer toward the toe and heel of the shoe. As you can see in the photographs, the Edges flex at the midsole with ease, but the toe and heel sections are surprisingly firm – although they do not feel firm on my feet.
I’ve had no issues with the grip or traction of my Kigo Edges. The outsole is made of a hard plastic with a deeply cut non-slip grooving that looks very much like a fingerprint – well to me it does. I was surprised to hear that the outsoles of the Edges makes a ‘hard’ sound on the hardwood floors of our kitchen, I had expected the outsole to make a softer, more rubbery sound. It is not a particularly soft sole, but it seems to provide ample traction in dry and wet conditions.
Hiking and Camping
I have not worn the Edges on the trail nor have I carried them as a pair of camp shoes. While I think that they would perform well in both situations, they’re just too nice to go getting all nasty and dirty. I had intended them to be a great pair of camp shoes, and maybe in the summer they will be, but for now I’m enjoying wearing them as my everyday casual shoes.
I work from home and although I ties to a desk for most of the day, I'm constantly moving around and multitasking. I’ve been wearing the Edges as a pair of slippers in the morning and for walking the dog. Then they pretty much stay on my feet throughout the day and out and about.
I recently forgot which shoes I had on and wore the Edges out in a pretty big rain storm. To my complete surprise my feet stayed dry and the uppers were not soaked. Gotta love that!
I don't find these particularly comfortable as a long distance walking shoe. I've tried wearing them a few times on longer walks with my dog and have ended up with the soles of my feet aching. I’ve been working on improving the arches of my feet by wearing Barefoot Science inserts in my ‘normal’ shoes, so this may in fact be a matter of my feet not being accustomed to such a flat soled shoe for longer walks.
As I mentioned previously, I don’t think the Kigo Edges are well suited for use as a running shoe, at least not for me. I would need a much wider toebox for them to be comfortable to run in and would like a more tactile and softer outsole, such as a Vibram sole. If I had to make a short dash while wearing these I’m confident I could do so with no problem at all, I just wouldn’t pick these for a Saturday morning 6-mile run along the trail.
Despite being a minimal shoe, the outsole of the Edges is pretty substantial. I’ve always been very light on my shoes, so I expect the Edges to last me a very long time before they get worn out. Combine that with the amazing CYCLEPET technology of the upper material and you have one tough pair of slip-on shoes. As with all shoes that are designed to be worn with or without socks, I worry about the long-term stink factor. I’m hoping that the breathability of the upper and anti-microbial EVA insole will help to combat this. If not I’ll be throwing them in the washing machine.
The Kigo Edge is a sleek and stylish casual minimalist slip-on shoe for everyday wear. The sole is quite hard and minimizes the ‘feel’ of the ground compared to other Kigo models like the Drives. The Edges are not suited as a minimalist running shoe, in my opinion, because of the harder sole and narrow toebox. They may not be best suited for hardcore barefoot runners, but as an everyday, good looking and comfortable minimalist shoe – they’re great.
I would love to see Kigo apply all of the lessons they have learned to developing a minimalist running shoe. They’ve managed to get a lot of things right in a very short period of time. With a wider toebox and a few other minor modifications they could have a killer minimalist running shoe on their hands – and I hope that they do!
Disclosure: PlanetShoes.com provided Brian's Backpacking Blog with a complementary pair of shoes for the purpose of this review.
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