Review: Soft Star (Leather Mocs)

Soft Star Shoes

Review, originally posted 2008-06-18 on tjepster.com

Style: Men’s & women’s
Sample Size: EU43 / UK9 / US10
Design: Soft Star Shoes (USA)
Country of production: USA
Weight per shoe*: 165 gr. (5.82 oz.)
Thickness of sole*: 6 mm. (0.236 in.)
Upper material: Leather
Insole: Sheepskin
Outsole: Leather & T-Rex (rubberized non-slip surface)
Price: $78 (around €50 or £40)

*Weight and thickness are always measured without insole when possible (since I usually recommend losing the insole, thus making the shoe more minimal). The weight is found using electronic scales from OBH that weigh down to 1 gram. The thickness is measured with a one-handed bar clamp. Thickness and especially weight are of course dependent on shoe size (See above). NB. Soft Star shoes have no removable insole.

The Product

After reviewing the Feelmax shoes I was really interested in testing a pair of “real” moccasins. I searched the internet and one day I stumbled upon the company Soft Star Shoes. The info on the site leaves no doubt that the company is all about promoting natural shoes that support a healthy and unconstrained development of the foot. The target group is mainly babies and toddlers – or more precisely adults who are interested in buying healthy footwear for their young ones. However, Soft Star also offers moccasins for the adults themselves, which is nice. Many companies make healthy footwear for children, because everybody wants to give life a good start, but very often the products aren’t available for adults. This makes sense, though, because the adult world is much more critical, hard to please or perhaps just too conforming in many ways. Still, there are people who are interested in continuing the healthy development through adulthood as well.

Soft Star Leather Moccasins

The marketing approach of Soft Star is of course influenced by the young target group. It is in fact highly skilled elves from Köln in Germany who make the shoes overnight. They have found their sanctuary in the Soft Star workshop where they manufacture moccasins in exchange for pints of ale and fudge brownies. Let’s not ruin the story but instead note that the shoes are in fact handcrafted in Oregon, USA, by a very family oriented company. Whether the cordwainers are elves or not won’t be challenged.

Top View of Soft Star Leather Moccasins

The good thing about the elves in Oregon is that they let you design the exact shoe style you want. For instance you can choose a suede or a leather upper and combine it with a rubber sole or just a rubber sole coating. The possibilities are many and you can choose color as well. There are also pre-designed shoes though, and originally I went for the Grippy Suede Roo, but the owner of Soft Star, Tricia, suggested the more durable and water repellent leather upper instead, and I ended up with a Smooth Leather Grippy Roo that I had to design myself. This designing was a brilliant experience, and I was thrilled with the concept. The fact that you can design your own shoes makes you able to put your own minimal shoe ideas into action. The Smooth Leather Grippy Roo fitted my objective completely. The T-Rex rubberized layer is not really a sole – it just ads more durability to the leather bottom without weighing as much as a rubber sole would. But if you are more into protection you can just choose a rubber sole. And if you don’t want an extra sole layer at all you can stick to the leather or suede fabric.

Soles of Soft Star Leather Moccasins

Regarding looks I kept them pretty neutral. Brown and black. It was hard to decide the colors though, because this option was a great deal of fun. The many options that Soft Star Shoes offer overall is part of the whole buying experience. It makes both the company and the products unique. I would definitely let some of my money go towards this aspect of the shoes.

The shoes arrived in a white cardboard box. Nothing special about it – neither on the in- or outside. But the simple packaging fits the moccasins well. Simplicity is seen as a bonus, and this viewpoint I completely agree with. Besides the moccasins the box included a note with care tips and info on health benefits and a leaflet that promotes the company.

Unboxing Soft Star Leather Moccasins

The moccasins themselves are very slipper-like. They look mostly like something you would wear indoors, but the company promotes them as outdoor footwear as well (In the next section you can find out how they worked as such). The leather is very elastic and so is the T-Rex sole. You can practically mold the shoes in your hands. The shoes weigh 165 grams (5.82 oz.) each (size EU43 / US10 / UK9 – I went with a smaller shoe size this time). The insole is made of sheepskin and the total sole thickness is 6 mm. (0.236 in.) – when being pressed down a bit by the bar clamp. The shoes are secured to your foot with an elastic band that also secures the leather back to the leather front. It’s a very interesting detail that makes you a bit nervous regarding the durability of the shoes. If the elastic band breaks they are useless as running shoes.

Elastic Band on Soft Star Leather Moccasins

Overall the shoes look very different, which is due to the round edges and the lack of details in the leather. It takes some time getting used to and they may not fit every wardrobe out there.

Use

After trying the shoes on the looks became less important. The shape is simply perfect. There’s enough room for your toes, your Achilles Tendon can work unhindered due to the low rear profile and the sheepskin is amazing. They are very, very comfortable but still very minimalistic. And after getting used to watching them on your feet, you actually start liking the looks as well. If you want them to be completely neutral you can just order them black/black, though.

Heels of Soft Star Leather Moccasins

The sole is perhaps a bit thick (6 mm. / 0.236 in.) compared to some of the other reviewed shoes, but it’s definitely not criminal. And the sheepskin does offers something quite different. To make an indirect reference to another company designing minimal shoes at the moment the sheepskin feels a lot like being barefoot on grass. It bends, turns and struggles but still feels very soft underneath your feet. It’s like touching the ground a bit differently each time. I thought it would flatten as the sheepskin wore out, but the insole proofed itself to be very strong. It still had its “living” structure after 100 km. (62.1 miles) of running.

Insoles of Soft Star Leather Moccasins

Finally, the sheepskin simply feels very nice underneath your feet overall. I thought it was impossible before I found these shoes to combine minimalism with such a comfortable sole. But it actually works. It’s not clumsy in any way at all, because your feet sink into the sheepskin when you run and thus the sole feels a lot thinner than it is. A cool experience that I didn’t expect. Also the sheepskin tends to keep moisture away from your feet. After a long run your feet are still quite dry. If you’re not into animal fabrics Soft Star does have some vegan alternatives, though.

Soft Star Leather Moccasins

The comfort is a nice aspect if you use the shoes for long walks. Because the sole is still flat and very flexible you can easily use them for Fox Walking if you want to. And since you don’t sink as deeply into the sheepskin when walking they work quite well for heel strike walking too.

Overall the Soft Star moccasins are great minimal shoes in practice. They are very lightweight, and their flexibility is perfect. The elastic band doesn’t annoy your ankles and the shoes don’t fall of your feet. They feel a bit loose at times, and I was very glad that I ordered a size smaller than normally. This did hurt one of my toes in the beginning, but the leather adapted perfectly to the shape of my feet, so quickly there was enough room for this toe as well.

Flexibility of Soft Star Leather Moccasins

Regarding durability the elastic band never gave up. It is still in perfect shape, and by closer inspection the quality of the band itself seems quite good, though it’s still just an elastic band. The leather is also very durable. I know this for a fact, since the outsole has leather wrapped around the sides. This leather was as much in contact with the surface as the T-Rex sole, but it never came apart. The T-Rex sole itself was also very durable and after 100 km. (62.1 miles) of use some of the tiny rubber tips had disappeared, but besides that the sole was in perfect shape. So even though these moccasins are handcrafted and not intended for running they work perfectly and last very long – even when running on asphalt (which is my main running surface).

Sole Wear on Soft Star Leather Moccasins
T-Rex and leather sole after 100 km. of running (62.1 miles)

When it came to water repellence the leather surprised me. I know leather has some nice abilities, but I didn’t expect the shoes to perform this well. Water could only pass through the small gap between the back and the front of the shoe. Even the sole joints kept water away.

Conclusion

[Rated: 6/10 Toes]

Soft Star moccasins were exactly what I hoped they would be. They proofed to me that simple is good. I find it incredible that so few and basic materials can make up a durable, comfortable and highly usable shoe. Where motion controlling running shoes let marketing influence the design to a degree where it’s just funny and clumsy, a company like Soft Star keeps its shoes so simple that the consumers themselves can design them. It’s just so far away from other companies’ approaches that it’s bound to be a success. The many options offered put the ball in the consumer’s hands and actually make it fun to buy shoes.

The moccasins work perfectly for running and walking and the sheepskin insole offers a completely new barefoot experience. Soft Star shoes are minimal but full of potential and thus fit my philosophy perfectly. It’s hard to criticize them, because I could just have designed them differently, so the fault would be mine. They do look very different though, and even though the design can be altered it would be cool if there were more adult styles. Perhaps a moccasin with laces and a more conforming look could convince anxious adults to go minimal.

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Author:Tue

a shoe reviewer interested in minimalistic footwear that allows the body to move naturally and injury-free.

32 Responses to “Review: Soft Star (Leather Mocs)”

  1. tundra
    April 24, 2009 at 6:18 am #

    OK, just ordered a pair. Ordered my regular size, hope I don’t regret it.

    Do you wear socks with them? What do you do in the winter? Besides live in Florida I mean?

  2. admin
    April 24, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    @tundra, Great choice! Soft Stars are what I run in, ordered mine without the sheepskin. If you’re in colder climates, socks would probably be a must. Tue’s from Denmark and I (David) reside in Florida.

  3. tundra
    April 24, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    Florida, huh, and here I thought I was being funny. I was just wondering how these would work on slush/snow.
    Luckily I don’t have to think about it for 6 months.

  4. VerMeer
    April 28, 2009 at 6:39 am #

    You should also check out Sketchers Flexxers. If you remove the thick insole and replace it with a thin one (costs about 3 bucks) , they are excellent “barefoot-simulators”, on par with the Vivos but for half the price!

  5. C
    May 20, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    If you want real moccasins made the traditional way, try http://www.russellmoccasin.com/shoes_moccasins/moc_camp.html with the all purpose vibram (flat) sole. These are expensive, but I’d love to see a review of them here.

  6. Keimpe
    May 23, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    I’m fascinated by your reviews, and from what I gather these shoes seem to be your favorites.

    I’d like to try them myself. Just to make sure I will order the right ones. Are these the exact ones you ordered?
    http://www.softstarshoes.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=56

    (with T-rex sole, right)?

    Thanks!
    Keimpe

  7. May 23, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    @Keimpe, those are the ones. Tue ordered his pair with the sheepskin innersoles — I ordered my pair without. Simply enter ‘no sheepskin’ in the comments on your order or call Tim at SoftStar and let him know you want a simple ‘leather only with t-rex sole’ like the one for BarefootRunner from FL.

  8. Keimpe
    May 24, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Thanks! I’m on my way to the order form….

  9. Aaron
    May 26, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Looking at the stitching that holds the elastic band in place, I think you could easily replace it if it ever wears out. For now I’m just ordering a pair for casual and work wear, but before next winter sets in I’m definitely getting another for running if they repel water as well as you say they do.

  10. tundra
    June 15, 2009 at 4:39 am #

    Been running in a pair of Soft Star Ramblers, slightly different than the Roos, since the beginning of May. In fact I wear them almost exclusively now when I’m not barefoot or in sandals. Under normal (dry) conditions they are fantastic.
    The Soft Star people will do repairs so the elastic, which seems very sturdy, shouldn’t be a concern.
    My ONLY complaint is that the Ramblers, designed as an outdoor shoe, have no kind of water resistance on a practical basis. I don’t see how the Roos could be any better. Dewy grass, shallow puddles, rainy weather, you will have wet feet and socks and toes stained from the leather dye. A problem for me because I go out in any weather and I’ve grown to hate my hiking boots and old running shoes, but I also hate squishy feet.
    So I am still searching for a barefoot alternative shoe for winter weather and wet days.
    But the Soft Star is an AWESOME shoe. My feet and calves thank me for them every day.

  11. July 18, 2009 at 6:02 am #

    I recieved my pair of Soft Star Mocs two days ago. They are fantastic. I look forward to wearing them next week in London. I still prefer to walk and run barefoot :)

    In fact, I recently ran and walked all over London on a recent work trip—-I got lots of funny looks, which was quite entertaining. But I was surprised at how little glass and debris there was on London city streets (I was mostly in Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith, Chiswick and also Kensington—-Hyde Park and Holland Park are lovely barefoot running spots).

    …But the Soft Star folks make a really nice product and they are really nice people.

    So go buy a pair!

  12. July 18, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    My Soft Star suede soled mocs are great, but I will still go barefoot when at all possible—which is hopefully every day!

  13. nlymant
    August 10, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    these are great looking mocs. But for the price you can get a book on moc construction, a moose hide big enough for several pair (depending on style and size) and sinew. get a not-too-pretty sheepskin on the cheap and a jar of “sole in a jar” to keep your soles from wearing too quickly and you’re good to go for a while! Moose is nice – breathes well, wears well, feels good wet, and washes. They are not really great for big sucking mud holes, and in real cold I trade mine in for Stegers, but they are great for everything else.

  14. salmon
    October 25, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    this stuuf is so cool, is only on USA,, in other country this product is not produce

  15. November 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    I would buy them but I just can’t get over the way they look. I know it’s me not the shoe.

  16. Tim Cunningham
    January 5, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    I have so far run about 50 miles in my pair of soft shoes (smooth leather Rambler with the sticky roo sole). I ordered them with a lace instead of elastic, so I am not worried about that. I also got the sheepskin because these are my cold weather running shoes. In warm weather, I barefoot on pavement, but have a hard time doing so on crushed stone that appears on the trails I frequent. So I may use these in warm weather as well (because my VFFs are really stinky). I prefer to go barefoot, but also prefer trail running to “running with cars” but I don’t like the the constant pain of a couple miles a day of crushed stone! I did purchase the expensive waterproofing sold by Soft Star, ($14) but it seems to have worked well, and I have used the mocs in rain and snow. The construction would have you believe that water is going to come in the sides, but so far that has been minimal. I wear socks when the temperature falls below freezing, and since I often run at night, this seems to be every night for the last few weeks. These mocs are really great for feeling the ground under your foot, yet still keeping your toes toasty. There’s almost no construction to them and the soles are quite thin. I like them a lot better than my VFFs.

  17. January 16, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    Since mid-November I have been running and walking in my Soft Star Moccasins, and I am totally sold on them . They are not ideal for rain and snow, but for cold days they keep my feet warm (when combined with some good socks) and I get a close-to-barefoot feel, which keeps my achilles tendons, knees and back happier. I look forward to warmer weather and running in the grass at Centennial Park here in Nashville, but until then, I will pulling on the Soft Star Mocs and running in the semi-cold of the mid South.

  18. Cessi
    January 28, 2010 at 4:35 am #

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone out there has tried the Soft Star Ramblers with the Vibram rubber sole and how that compares to the T-rex sole in terms of feel, durability, waterproofing, etc?

  19. January 28, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    @Tundra, how do you like the Vibram sole on the Ramblers? How thick is it?

  20. John
    April 7, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Great review. You wrote that you got a size smaller than you usually do. Did you measure your feet and decide on a size or did you just choose a size smaller than you usually have in shoes without measuring your feet?
    Thanks!

  21. Linda
    April 21, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    when your feet hurt from running, there is nothing like a pair of soft star mocs with fur inside, to soothe your little aches and pains, ice packs help too, but slip on a pair ,not too tight,get them loose,when you are hobbeling around and you’ll see how they soooothe your feet, and how your muscles in your feet will relax, and you’ll get your healing faster, so you can get to the next level , in your running passion.I am talking about after you run, not to run in them, my favorite to run in are the EVOS by terra plana vivo barefoot running shoes.Get the EVOS 2 sizes bigger than normal, and you’ll be in love.I also like the 5 fingers, but not as much, as my toes like to feel eachother, but I hate tight shoes.

  22. Tim
    June 15, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    I’ve had my soft stars (same shoe author showcases) for about 8 months – mostly due to this review. For running on pavement (in Portland Oregon actually) they have been great. The only thing about them that I wish was better or an option, is some way to make them hold to your foot better. For flat city running on city streets – they work great. They are so comfortable however, it’d be nice to take them on hikes. They are not so great on hikes however.

    Since they fit you more or less like roomy socks, when going up and down inclines/declines, they slip and slide on your feet. So for extended runs/hikes on hills, they tend to slip and slide too much. That’s the only real beef. I’m looking for some traditional moccasins that are not too expensive, but that somewhat bind to your feet. That, to me, would be the ultimate moc for running. But for now, these puppies are doing the job

  23. itchyfeet0427
    July 10, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Has anyone tried the Minnetonka soft soled moccasins? They look pretty stylish (I have my eye on the women’s thunderbird), and was wondering if they were durable as well?

  24. t k
    August 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    I went hiking with some run a mocs a few weeks ago in rocky gravelly Lassen natl park and they were great. these have the vibrum soles, and I wear them everyday to work… I need a new pair so I can switch up during the week=)

  25. August 29, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    My VFFs have fallen apart in the last 2 weeks – first the big toe on one shoe then total devastation. I went to the VFF website, emailed about the problem – no response. Contacted the retailer – no help. Called the VFF headquarters and was told they would replace if (IF) I had the receipt. My bad……guess it’s ‘irresponsible’ of me to not have my receipt from last October. Soooooo, went to Barefoot Ted’s website and saw the Soft Star shoes. All these reviews have totally convinced me to give them a try! And anyone who thinks these are ugly has obviously not worn VFFs!!! And hopefully the smell is not as bad! I’ll review again once I have my new soft star mocs.

  26. September 9, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    So bestimmt.. Mr. Anderson! Sind Sie ein Mann, oder eine Amöbe?

  27. September 15, 2010 at 3:24 am #

    You…are…wonderful! This post is so great. I truly hope additional folks browse this and get what youre expressing, because let me tell you, its crucial stuff. I never would have thought about it this way unless I’d run into your web site. Thanks for posting it. I hope you’ve fantastic achievement.

  28. December 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    How ridiculous do these look? Seriously!

  29. Mark
    January 24, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Having read Born to Run Recently I became an instant convert to the barefoot running phenomena. I was training for a marathon, and both the physiology as well as the philosophy behind bafrefoot running seemed to make sense to me.

    And indeed as I took it up (having purchased some Soft Star moccs) I noticed a difference – much quicker than I thought I would. It was shortly after this that I was out running in my regular running shoes when I went over on my right ankle and ruptured the lingaments in it, I was devastated.

    As part of my recovery I decided that using some (ostensibly well reviewed) Soft Star moccasins would be a good way to build up the flexibility and strength I needed back in my ankle. Put quite simply, I wore them everywhere. I didn’t really do drills or exercises, I just worse them, everywhere. The result has been a mixture of bizarre and astonishing. I have new strength in all parts of my legs, but in my core also. I’m back to running now (albeit tentatively) and I feel fitter than ever. Once again, my legs feel far stronger, but in a way I struggle to define.

    The only thing I can put this down to is the moccs. Not exactly scientific I know – but it is the one thing I have done differently.

    The shoes themselves are incredibly durable. When I first received them I didn’t believe for a second (in spite of the reviews) that they would keep my feet dry in all weathers – yet they have. I have walked through rain storms and snow storms alike – and I assure all readers I am not exaggerating – and they kept my feet dry and warm. The only problem is the lack of grip – which in compacted snow is tantamount to leathal.

    The reactions from others is worth its weight in gold as well, they really do turn heads. But more importantly they’ve given my feet life again. In a kind of plato’s cave kind of way, my feet are now strengthening more every day and telling me more about the way I run, turning their back on the way they thought they were supposed to behave and feel.

    No matter what the sceptics say, barefoot running (responsibly and in a proportionate manner) can change the way you run and reform your fitness levels as a result. The Soft Star moccs have had a truely dramatic impact upon me.

    Suffice to say I’m a satisfied customer!!

  30. Rachel
    July 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Would anyone like to purchase my black Run Amoc Lites in size 9A (10 womens)?

    I wore them on one run. They are great shoes but are not going to work for me. I’d like to avoid the hassle of Ebay.

    They have 2mm street soles.

    They were $87. I’d like to sell them for $40 OBO. Email smokedsalmon@gmail.com.

  31. January 29, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    I’ll take traditional running shoes any day!

    • Cody R.
      February 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

      you’re missing out then

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