No, not at all! According to industry figures, sales of minimalist shoes grew by 33 percent in 2012. But despite the huge continued growth, there has been a definitive shift in perspective about sparsely cushioned, low-to-the ground shoes with a barely-there feel. With the rise of more moderate alternatives, many runners have relegated uber-minimalist models to cross-training. — Brian Metzler
Here are 5 minimalist models worth taking a look at this spring:
1. Vibram SeeYa LS, $100
The latest model from the brand that started the rage, the SeeYa LS maintains the novelty of independent toe action but adds laces for more support and ease of getting them on and off.
2. Skora Phase, $110
This upstart brand hit a sweet spot with Phase, which offers a decidedly minimalist feel while still offering some semblance of underfoot protection via a blown rubber midsole/outsole. (8mm stack height; 7.2 oz.; 5.8 oz.)
3, Brooks Pure Drift, $100
The latest in the Pure Project line, the Pure Drift incorporate an anatomical shape, a split toe outsole and a low-to-the-ground sensation. It has a 4mm heel-toe offset, but a removable sockliner provides a true zero-drop platform. (12mm stack height; 5.6 oz.; 5.1 oz.)
4. New Balance 10v2 Road, $100
Although this is a sequel to the original Minimus Road 10 and maintains a 4mm heel-toe drop, it’s really a brand new model with less foam, a slightly slower profile and a wrap-your-foot-like-a-burrito tongue. (9mm-5mm; 6.1 oz.; 5.2 oz.)
5. Mizuno Wave Evo Levitas, $110
This zero-drop marvel has just a tad more cushioning and impact protection while still offering a low-to-the-ground feel and superior flexibility. (15mm stack height; 6.1 oz., 5.1 oz.)
RELATED: Spring 2013 Running Shoe Review
Is maximalism here to stay?
When fanatical Frenchman Nicolas Mermoud brought the first samples of Hoka One One shoes to the U.S. three years ago, runners were understandably skeptical. But even before the smart refinements of the last two seasons, it was clear the brand with the oversized midsole, widebody profile and rockered shape was onto something special. (The best evidence might be that numerous elite runners sponsored by other brands can be often be spotted running in Hokas.) Now with the stability of a big U.S. brand (Deckers Outdoor) and increased retail locations, it appears “maximalism” is making its mark as a real game-changer.
6. Hoka One One Bondi Speed, $170
With abundant cushioning and a shape that promotes forward propulsion, the lightweight Bondi Speed offers up a sublime combination of comfort, efficiency and energy return. A revised upper with a 4.5mm heel-toe offset, slimmer tongue and one-pull quick laces add to the heavenly mix. (9.5 oz.; 8.3 oz.)