Skinners are a revolutionary sock shoe. Based in the Czech Republic and made in Europe they have been a runaway success story in the minimal footwear space thanks to an impressive product and two incredibly successful Kickstarter launches. In 2019 I was fortunate to try and review the first iteration of the Skinners product which I found quite impressive. A few years on from this and the Skinners 2.0 product has now arrived and I’m grateful to be given a pair to try and review again.
The Skinners 2.0 has raised over US $1 Million on Kickstarter giving the brand the ability to take this product to the masses. With an original goal of $40 000 this is a remarkable outcome and testament to the original Skinners product and its success.
There are a number of claims by Skinners regarding improvements from 1.0 to 2.0 and my goal here is to try, test and report on whether these claims are valid.
The first change with Skinners 2.0 is the introduction of an insole, which was absent from 1.0. With 1.0 I was relatively impressed with the running performance, after some trepidation I used the 1.0 over a variety of terrains and enjoyed the ground feel and natural feeling. What they did lack was any protection from sharp rocks or objects. The insole in the 2.0 is very minimal and doesn’t take away from any of the minimal aspects of the sockshoe. It does add a small amount to the responsiveness when running particularly over a solid road surface.
Over a more natural terrain the insole does give the addition of some protection. While not adding a large leap in protection. The insole doesn’t turn these into a suitable trail shoe, especially for rocky terrain. They are certainly suitable for hard packed gravel, sand, grass or road surfaces and the insole gives good protection and overall a better running feel. The addition of the insole takes nothing away from the natural barefoot experience you’ll feel. You’ll still get fantastic ground feel and very minimal position. This is a welcome addition on the Skinners 2.0.
Wide toe box
Skinners 2.0 feature a wider toe box than its predecessor. A wide toe box is a completely necessary in minimal footwear allowing the foot to move naturally and splay when the foot lands. Originally, I was happy with the toe box width in the 1.0 addition so the 2.0 advertising a wider toe box was another welcome addition.
My initial thoughts of the 2.0 were that the toe box didn’t feel much wider, the sockshoe still fitted quite sung on the forefoot and the foot still had ample room to move inside. Once running this was still my overall feeling. While the toe box is wide and allows the feet to splay on landing the width doesn’t super generous. Having said all this the width in the forefoot is ample and the feet are comfortable and move naturally through every phase of the running gait. Perhaps Skinners could have gone even further with 2.0
One of the few aspects of the Skinners 1.0 I disliked was they quickly developed an odour once sweated in. This was amplified with running in hot conditions as they were quite hot on the feet and promoted further sweat. They were regular visitors to the washing machine.
With Skinners 2.0 I tested during some hot conditions and they still make the feet quite hot. I don’t know if this is avoidable in sockshoes as the material is required to be relatively thick to give durability. The 2.0 is an improved product when it comes to odour development. While they still did develop an odour over time this took much longer, and the odour was much softer. The change in material to the ‘Stretchknit’ fabric is an improvement for the odour of the Skinners 2.0. This is one of the highlights of the 2.0. They are a much more comfortable product for longer with the new anti-odour fabric.
Skinners report an increase in lifespan from 1.0 to 2.0 of 20%. Going from a claimed 650km to 800km in the new model. This is achieved through a larger sole area, moving to 3mm crumble free sole, more protection on the sides of the foot and more pronounced moisture wicking properties on the 2.0 sockshoe.
If the entire lifespan of your Skinners 2.0 is running over variable terrain I don’t believe you’ll get lifespan of 800km. If used for a variety of activity with much of the time walking in the outdoors this is possible. If you achieved half this claimed mileage for running, you’d still be up with the normal lifespan of a traditional pair of running shoes, again with double the price.
The new additions to the Skinners 2.0 certainly add to the durability. The 3mm crumble free sole is a significant improvement on the previous sole material and in my experience has much slower wear. My experience so far has been running only, and over a variety of terrain however most likely on road where I see them perform best. The protection on the sides is a good addition for more technical terrains especially if you are required to change direction often. The moisture wicking is also a positive addition as the foot stays dryer through wet conditions. I believe this helps both the durability and the odour potential of the Skinners 2.0
Overall, I believe you’ll get the claimed 20% increase in lifespan and the steps that Skinner have taken to improve this aspect of the product is probably the greatest leap forward in the product.
While this isn’t a claim from Skinners it makes sense for a running review to focus on the running performance of the footwear. Overall, I believe this is a great leap forward for Skinners for a running product. The introduction of the insole and the thicker more durable sole gives this product a real relevance in the minimal footwear space.
They are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and responsive enough to run without any foot discomfort over most distances. I believe they are at their best on the road or a hard-packed surface. They are my go-to footwear for rocky trails or uneven surfaces where a bit more stability and rigidness is called for. They have found a place within my minimal footwear rotation where I use them regularly for one of my easier workouts on the road.
The success of Skinners has been very impressive and the biggest reason for this is the product. The Skinners 1.0 was a very good product, it was innovative and found a place in the minimal footwear niche. Ahead of it’s time it had some small areas to improve and Skinners have done a great job in addressing these with 2.0.
If you enjoyed running in the 1.0 the 2.0 will be more comfortable. Will give you a better running experience mainly due to the insole. It will last longer and wear slower and you’ll find them more user friendly and need to wash less. This is a very good footwear product that will be another runaway success in the adventure world and very suitable in the minimal footwear niche.