Picture of $2 Running Shoes

Rather than pay a gym membership, it saves time and money to go running outside. Running barefoot, a lot of evidence shows, is how are bodies were meant to run. But I worry about broken glass and gravel, so I need something to protect my tender soles.

I bought some Vibram Five-Fingers that are a tad too small on my right foot, so they crush my toes. I have been running in socks recently but they wear out quickly. So I tried making some running shoes with socks and hot glue. It's ridiculous, but it works, and it was fast to make them.

Materials and tools:
Cardboard to cut foot shape out of
Sharpie to trace feet
Scissors and stapler to build foot molds
1 Pair of socks
About 9 sticks of high temperature hot glue
Camping stove or something else to melt glue
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper or wax paper to melt glue on

Takes about 15-30 minutes

Step 1: Making Cardboard Cutouts of Your Feet

Picture of Making Cardboard Cutouts of Your Feet
1. Trace your feet out on cardboard with a sharpie*
2. Cut the shapes out with scissors and even them out by stacking them on top of one another.

*I found out that I traced my heels a little too loosely, so the base of the heel of the sock was a little too broad for my feet. Trace the heels of your feet more tightly to achieve a better fit.
I have Just finished my DIY tabi.
tabi is the traditional ninja footwear, like a sock but more firm, less elastic and seperates the big toe from the other toes. I think It's better than a simple sock-in-glue becouse you have better feel of the ground and balance
Plus you can put on flip-flops!
Thanks so much!!
they were a mortal pair of black socks, alas! now they are ninja clothing!
also instead of gas stove, I use a hot air gun initially at 190 C (~380 F) but it was going slow so I cranked it up to 350 C (~660 F) to melt the glue in a disposable aluminium tray.
When I was finished with the "main" covering of the sole I did some finishing with the hot air on the sock at 400 C (~750 F) to quickly and locally achieve a smooth clean surface.

Yet i don't recoment going that far with the temp, becouse the glue fumes a little so you need good ventilation, plus one of the socks got charred at a couple of spots and it required some sewing...

Better luck next time

they are great, durable with amazing traction!!!
you sure get to fill a bit of a ninja even wearing them while doing the dishes!
a splosion (author)  Nical_Critical4 years ago
Cool thanks for the picture. They look much more attractive than mine.

Also, my glue hardly gets any traction whatsoever (this may be because the soles contain a high concentration of dirt and pebbles) What brand of glue did you use?
I don't know, I just asked for glue sticks, and I took 6 of them. there is a lot of glue left.
Perhaps you should try covering the glue sole with something else, like polystyrene or polyourethane...
I use them mainly indoors, that's why they will be looking good for a long time, plus I am still on a desinging phase. The more I wear them the more flaws I discover. When I will perfect the desing I will deal with durability...
a splosion (author)  Nical_Critical4 years ago
Picture or 'ible plz!
there's the picture! (I replied on mine instead of yours comment!! oops)
Reece_c1 month ago
if your five fingers are to short in the toes all you have to do is heat the rubber under the toes and slowly stretch them. for mine I used a the end of a scewdriver to push the toes out while I held a lighter underneath. it works great. just go slow and take care not to burn the fabric
Jkacin3 months ago
Are these legal for cross country? Also, I think that I'll use glow in the dark glue *0*
gluvit1 year ago
This is gtreat
Madeaj1 year ago

Nice! How did these hold up? Since they are so inexpensive to make I would imagine you could have new pair every few months. Have you tried silicone caulking dotted or smoothed on the bottom of socks?

I was wondering about using a shoe insert, the kind you buy and cut to fit your shoe that gives a bit of an arch, rather than using just flat cardboard. I live in Asia and this is rubber country. I'm sure I could score a piece of raw rubber. I'm wondering if I could melt it into a liquid and cover a shoe insert with a sock and then dip it in the liquid rubber. Awesome instructable. I'm going to play with this one.
a splosion (author)  gr8fldanielle2 years ago
The rationale behind barefoot running is that your feet don't need arch support. You'll notice that the fivefingers still conform to your arch in some fashion, but don't provide any structural support. It's worth a try! Go for it.

ps. one of my room mates in college was a materials engineering major and he kept a little rubber tree. I remember him making some rubber when it was about 4 feet tall and all he got from it was a little cherry sized ball of rubber. Pretty cool though!
thanks a splosion for your reply. I'm thinking that if not walking on something hard and flat like a road or concrete, then our feet naturally conform to the surface like the beach or forest floor. But I know if I wear shoes or even flip flops that are perfectly flat on the inside, my feet ache after being on a hard floor, even when shopping. I'm going to try them both; first without and the second with. Thinking about "painting" the hot glue around the very edges for a very clean look after the dipping process. .
Rubber is very prevalent here, I'm sure I could buy a sheet of it in raw form.
thanks again
Lorddrake2 years ago
There are products on the market (like plastidip) that require no heat to apply. A few coats of that may make a nice alternative material for the sole of the running sock.

my only question is how would something like plastidip stack up against the glue stick in terms of durability?

If anyone decides to give it a go before I manage to get to the store to buy a can .. let me know your results.
I just made myself a pair a few hours ago. I only used about 5 or so sticks (they were quite large though) but that's probably because my feet aren't that big. I also applied the glue directly onto the socks with a glue gun and was able to add a cool design. Overall, I'm quite pleased with them and I thank you for giving me the idea to make them in the first place.
N8Maher5 years ago
Cool idea! Please let us know how many miles you get from them before you have to recoat/replace the socks.
a splosion (author)  N8Maher5 years ago
Ok, I will have to keep a journal. Currently 1.5ish miles of running and a lot of walking ouside around the house (I sort of throw them on as sandals to take out the compost or go to the mailbox).
a splosion (author)  a splosion3 years ago
I'm guessing they lasted about 20 miles before developing some huge holes where the glue attaches to the sock.
wobbler4 years ago
I like it! I'm off to make some! Thanks for the ideas!
why not use epoxy?
I'm sure epoxy will just crack as it tends to set hard whereas glue sticks are flexible (and it's probably a lot more expensive than glue sticks).
LittleGrace4 years ago
I am totally doing this for my kids for Halloween. My daughter needs a pair of gray ankle high boots and so I am putting my gray socks over her shoes and using this technique to keep them from taring apart during the trick or treating. Such a great idea. Thanks!
a splosion (author)  LittleGrace4 years ago
Awesome! I'm really happy that you coming up with a new reason for this technique. Way to go!
kikiclint4 years ago
I am surprised that there is not an instructable for huaraches on the first page of related instructables. It is what I run in, when I use shoes.
morgan9995 years ago
Running on pavement barefoot is a really bad idea, unless your part of the .01% of the population who actually was blessed with perfect body mechanics and physiology. If you really must try 'barefoot running', do yourself a favor and stay on dirt or grass surfaces. Nothing evolved to run on pavement. Please be careful if you're going to try this! You must remember, too, that the people who used to 'run barefoot', grew up barefoot, too... we modern folk have not developed our bodies the same way they did.
All of the advise I have seen is to ease into barefoot running ultra slowly. You are exactly right that are bodies aren't developed the same way, which is why you should really ease into it for 6 months or so, so ligaments and tendons, bones and all those little weak muscles which make up your foot can get used to different motion. In the end though, I have noticed my form has improved and my joints don't hurt as bad after. You force your body to learn how to glide rather than bounce.
Actually i've been running barefoot on pavement for weeks now. It's definately more abrasive then grass or dirt but once your feet adjust it's easy.
I respectfully and totally disagree with you! After a few weeks of slow walking and running, I went from being unable to run more than 5 minutes in athletic shoes (b/c of knee pain) to running a 23'25" 5K yesterday, and putting over 500 total miles in my Vibram Five Fingers in 9 months. The surface has absolutely nothing to do with injury - before this, I tried every possible surface - track, grass, pavement, etc, with no difference. Only one's technique matters, and barefoot running (or with minimal protection like these socks, which are cool by the way) forces one to run correctly - allowing pronation, short, light, and relaxed steps, never landing on the heel. It's a myth that only 1% of humans can run without athletic shoes - the shoe companies have absolutely sold the West a bill of goods on that one! Our bodies are designed much better than that - they work well when used properly. The surface doesn't matter - our ancestors surely had to chase game for tens of thousands of years on hard-packed clay!
Do you think the soft ballet shoes would be suitable for walking/running in? I'm new to this whole "barefoot" running concept. Thanks. And I love the minimalist shoes in the instructable :) but my husband would probably not let me out in them, he's very fashion conscious.
Try the soft thin fabric shoes with thin rubber soles that some people buy to swim in?
Mtalus5 years ago
I've used hot melt to add material to the worn areas of my runnng shoes, but shoes from hot melt? Genius. I have to agree with some though and warn you to try to stick to dirt and grass lest you end up with knees like mine once gray hair catches you....or are my knees from running with shoes? Hmmmm.
Avoid deep grass when running semi barefoot. Especially where people walk or drive by alot. All that garbage goes straight to the grass, where it will stab your feet. Lots of drunks throwing glass where I live. I learned the hard way on my 3rd week of running barefoot and hit a thumb tack in the grass. The nice things is reflexes were sharpened, and I rolled my foot before it went too deep. Dirt is usually ok since you can see stuff in it.
Tinker L Mtalus4 years ago
Hmm, I wonder if Show Goo might hold up better than hot glue since it's made to repair shoe soles. Do the hot glue repairs hold up well?
Mtalus Tinker L4 years ago
Overall hotmelt has worked very well for me and lasts well but...
hot melt is hit and miss. It bonds well to some soles but not others. Surface prep doesn't seem to matter much, of course clean them well etc., but abrading and or heating first doesn't seem to matter much; it either sticks or it doesn't. Even within the same brand line some stick and others don't so it doesn't seem to be caused by sole material, just planetary alignment.
It's always been an issue of 'I have it here, I don't have to run to the store, and I don't have to wait for it to dry, so I'll try it.'
Dread7134 years ago
What you need to do when buying Vibrams is go to a store that sells them and get sized there. You buy the size that fits your bigger foot and the strap will adjust to fit both feet. If that store does not have the style/size/color you wanted, just get sized anyway and order online....my first pair I sized myself and crushed the toes on my right foot. Got sized and got a new pair that fits perfect.
native Americans used to dip their feet in latex
The "native north americans" would not likely have had access to latex or rubber trees of any kind... their traditional footwear was hide and usually deer. Misinformation is often worse than no information ;-)
fenris kdkos5 years ago
-kdkos - I hope you have learned something from this. Do your reading before you say someone else is misinformed. Disinformation is even worse than no information.
fenris kdkos5 years ago
Now look, I don't know whether Native Americans did this or not, but you are also misinformed. Latex comes from a lot of plants besides members of the Carica family (fig, rubber, banyan,...). The example that comes to mind - and that grows all over North America - is Lactuca canadensis, called variously horse lettuce, wild lettuce, opium lettuce, prickly lettuce. It is full of latex, as is also milkweed - you could easily get enough latex to coat the bottoms of your feet if you found a patch of either of these plants. And I bet if you did some reading, you'd find that many other common North American plants contain rubbery substances that would serve this purpose.
It was the Central and South Americans (from the first link on google). ""Indigenous people of South and Central America would use sap from rubber plants as foot coverings. They would dip their feet in the sap and after the sap hardened they would have a crude type of shoe. Later on in the 1800s, Charles Goodyear perfected the technique to vulcanize rubber and so began the many uses for rubber and latex goods, kinky and vanilla.""
That would be awfully painful. They didn't need their skin, because that would melt right off in any kind of heated rubber What source did you hear this from? I'm curious.
fenris marxdarx5 years ago
Who said anything about heat?
bpfh marxdarx5 years ago
Not all rubber has to be heated to be liquid :) Think of rubber from a rubber tree. Get the rubber from whatever local plant produces it, and dip your feet in that then let it dry for an instant rubber sole :)
That's interesting, could you possibly dig up a link for me? I tried googling it but I couldn't find anything.
Thank you! I couldn't find it anywhere on a search, I just came up with manufacturers' pages for rubber.
lycoris35 years ago
Like many comments previous, this reminds me of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs"'s spray on shoes. Now, as for the hot glue-covered socks, positively like them! The Vibrum Five-Fingers are a little too expensive for my budget right now, so with the toe-socks, a much cheaper alternitive. Thanks much for idea!
RaNDoMLeiGH5 years ago
Wow, this sounds like a lot of fun... except for the running part.
I know this is totally off subject, but I like your icon pic!
artcobain5 years ago
looks like the spray shoe from the movie "cloudy with a chance of meatballs" ^^
now that you point it out, it does! try mixing sparkly confeti in with the hot glue. Oh, and purple die! TA DA!!
boky24055 years ago
That's a great idea but I think the odd nail or piece of glass can penetrate through that.
Awesome idea!! Where would I go to find the sticks of high temperature hot glue??
A craft store should carry them.
thanks, i wasn't sure whether to get the type of glue for glue guns or glue sticks
Oh yeah, that would make a big difference. Glue gun type is what you want.
cool thanks a lot
kheick5 years ago
http://www.plastidip.com/home_solutions/Plasti_Dip might hold up better than wax. just a thought.
Isurvival5 years ago
Great idea!
BOFH_25 years ago
I understand that this is not always a choice for some but no matter what you wear try running on grassy areas. It reduces the shock on your joints and is a more forgiving.
Actually, one of the main reasons for "barefoot running" is that it is much easier on your joints than traditional running--even on asphalt. Since it forces you to run on your forefoot (because it really hurts to land on your heel, barefoot!), you use the natural shock absorbency of the the foot instead of transferring a shock from the heel up to the knees, etc.
Actually, your calf muscles will absorb the shock more than your feet do. I can confirm what a lot of other people have said. I've always had problems running, until I got some Fivefingers. I can run much more comfortably in them, regardless of surface. (though it took a couple weeks for my feet/legs to adapt) Another benefit that nobody seems to mention is stability. It's much harder to roll an ankle when your feet are on the ground, instead of having an inch of foam to act as a lever when you unexpectedly step on an uneven surface.
If you look at the structure of fast running animals like dogs and horses their feet are designed so their heel never touches the ground. I suspect our own heels evolved the way they did to walk efficiently and allow us to stand more stably, but forefoot and toe running is definitely kinder to your joints since it allows your muscles and tendons to work as shock absorbers.
The biggest problem with running shoes is that they add so much weight to the very end of a complicated set of bio-mechanics -- resulting in all kinds of control problems and excessive strain due to momentum and acceleration. So, the lighter... the better. This is a great low-cost solution to the weight problem and provides protection from abrasion.
sashen5 years ago
Or... you could try a pair of actual running sandals that will last you for months ... Check out Invisible Shoes (or search on here for huaraches running sandals)
a splosion (author)  sashen5 years ago
I actually made a pair out of felt that were a pain to throw on and take off. I really like how fast socks are. Have you bought a pair? Let me know how they are if you actually own a pair, but not if you also own the company that sells them.
bowmaster5 years ago
Cool. I may make a longer lasting version of these with this rubber.
love the idea...i was thinking for durability, use rtv glue on top (well bottom if you have them on) of the high temp hot glue. its also made to take a good beaten
espdp25 years ago
Spray On Shoes!!! From the movie "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs". Makes me want to try it.
a splosion (author) 5 years ago
I tried them out today.
My philosophy in life for justifying $$ spent: for every $1 that is spent, I must use / wear the item 1 time to get my money's worth. Even just wearing these three times is a return on your investment :)
$1/use is pretty expensive. I have some sandals I got for $8 at Ross and I have worn them nearly every day for 8 months ($8/240 days = 3 cents per use) and they are still going strong. I figure I can get at least another 6 month out of them before they start looking bad. On the other hand I don't run in them which would wear them out faster I am sure, but $1/ use still seems excessive.
I think that for anything one buys, if we could apply this philosophy (apart from food), we wouldn't have the crazy debt we have. Think of clothing. Designer shoes, etc. If I'm going to spend $100 on a pair of shoes, I hope to get 100 uses out of them. Then I look at second hand stores, where I get my values worth. It's just my own thing that keeps me on track. Part of the reason why I have NO DEBT in my life!
Though the food equivalent is to think of the no. of portions:cost ratio. I generally aim for under £1.50 per portion for home cooked food. And I buy most of my clothes from 2nd hand shops- more unique and much better value. I have plenty of debt though :(
PS If you only spent $8, think of the value you've gotten with those shoes! Not everybody thinks this way, unfortunately.
Jacquesy5 years ago
Primark value Plimsoles are cheap as chips and thin as socks also.
sharzz5 years ago
Can you re-shoot the photos nos 3 to 6 so they can be seen better please?
glohstr5 years ago
Couldn't hurt to have a pair of these stashed away someplace like your cars trunk or something. I might try and make a pair of these. Good idea. Thanks.
motleyjust5 years ago
Great idea! Thank you!
mspaeth5 years ago
Plasti-dip is not very durable, it tears easily once dried. I think shoe goo is a good idea. Nice instructable.
seconded. on all 3 counts!
I made a pair of hoof boots out of plasti-dip over foam. They worked for three weekends of excessive running around in a 48 hour outdoor larp. They are going strong, and have not failed at all. The plasti-dip coated foam swords I have had for a year for the larp are also just now showing signs of wear. Not the plasti-dip, but the foam underneath it. I think it depends on how many coats you are willing to do. I do at least 7 coats, sometimes up to ten depending on how smooth a finish I want with the paint on version.
dulciquilt5 years ago
someone else already mentioned the glue melting. That would be my main concern. If you can find the high heat glue sticks they might hold up better, but most of what they sell now is low heat . I had some small sculptures fall apart while they were exposed to sunlight after using low heat glue.
I think the long term problem is that the glue is not very elastic structurally, so when it receives an impact it moves slightly and does not spring back all the way like a rubber compound would. This means that areas that receive a lot of impact will have the glue gradually migrate away exposing more and more of the sock to abrasion.
macrumpton5 years ago
Great idea! I wonder if you could deal with the durability issue by gluing some inner tube rubber to the bottom of the sock instead of using the hot glue. I think contact cement would stick the rubber on pretty well.
eyepodd5 years ago
now this is a great idea! i agree about running in bare feet. now maby instead of useing hot glue. try going to any hardware store and buying Plasti dip which is spray on rubber. im not sure how well this would hold up you would have to do a few layers but it may hold up nicer than hot glue. there is also a rubberey substani guess you could call it. that is called liquid tape which is pretty much the same as the plasti dip but its not spray on. again im not sure how well it woill hold up but i will try this because its a great idea. thanks. !!! 5/5
BOFH_2 eyepodd5 years ago
With either one make sure to put something on your feet to make removal of these much easier.
There's also dippable original Plasti-Dip that can be painted on.
Hah, I was just about to click on the add comment link hen i noticed you got to Plasti-Dip already... However the dip/paint on stuff is still toxic :\
These things are only toxic until they dry thoroughly... what do you think your regular shoes are made of?
a splosion (author)  BOFH_25 years ago
You're right. Things like paint, glue, and rubber tool grip coating have solvents in them that are really good at dissolving things including in organic compounds like what you are made of. This stuff is toxic, please limit your exposure.
syco1235 years ago
I was once told, you can lean all you need to know about a man by looking at his shoes. It seems to be true.
Exocetid5 years ago
Very clever!
dkkim5 years ago
I worry a bit about the socks getting stinky and unsanitary over time. I wonder if this would be a good application for antibacterial socks (silver-impregnated, etc.) Maybe a longer-term issue.
Meragness5 years ago
very nice! i run in fivefingers too but they don't have a strap on top and it bothers me. i should glue one on!
dkkim Meragness5 years ago
You could also get one of the top-strap models, like the KSO. Overall, fantastic instructable. Very thought-provoking!
etzist5 years ago
Kilgore Trout, who is walking the rest of the way to Midland City because of the traffic on the Interstate, reaches Sugar Creek and has to wade across. At once, his feet are coated in the clear, plastic substance that coats the surface of the creek. It comes from the Barrytron plant, which is manufacturing a new anti-personnel bomb for the Air Force and unknowingly polluting the creek with its waste. The Maritimo Brothers Construction Company, which is gangster-controlled, is supposed to be disposing of the waste in an effective way, but really it is just running a sewer pipe directly from Barrytron to Sugar Creek. Kilgore exits the stream and imagines entering the lobby of the new Holiday Inn, leaving wet footprints so someone will scold him. But he leaves no footprints because his feet are "sheathed in plastic and the plastic was dry."
stimps etzist5 years ago
<3 <3 Love Vonnegut. =) I thought I was the only one who thought of this.
lucek5 years ago
I was planning a bit more of a complex project. I've done some silicon casting and thought that I could make some silicon shoes. would be a bit more than this but I think it'll be worth it.
genesp5 years ago
Awesome Idea. I just wanted to comment on the second part of the first step: "2. Cut the shapes out with scissors and even them out by stacking them on top of one another." This may not be necessary, many people have slight differences in the size of their feet (mine are 1/2 size different), so skipping the part where you even them out stacked on each other may make a better fit.
Brad I.5 years ago
I definitely think shoe goo would be more durable. It would also stick well to the socks. Great intructable!
Don't try running in Florida with those. The hot glue will melt to your feet. :-)
kenbob5 years ago
So i'm just thinking,,, what if you skipped the socks and coated your feet with Plasti-Dip;) ( this comment was intended as humor) seriously, since reading "Born to Run" i have been thinking about getting some "5 fingers" and this seems like a better trial option. great Instructible, thanks!
sgraber5 years ago
You might also try this: http://www.amazon.com/Rubberized-Plastic-Coating-Black-Coating/dp/B000VS2HMK
a splosion (author)  sgraber5 years ago
Oooh good find. I will try that if the glue doesn't hold up. Also want to find some more water friendly socks. Any ideas?
Whoops, you already had the toe-sock idea...
Yep. I run in Aquasocks. I've worn through one pair already, but my greatest find was at Target. They were $10. I take out the insole, and it is just thin rubber between the pavement and I. Just find a pair that fit snug, take out the insole, and TADA! A new pair of running shoes. I bought two pair to last me through winter. The Target ones look more like shoes too than the ones I bought at Dick's. Another idea, if you did the same as above with toe-socks, you have your own Vibrams... great idea!
You could use a PVC with small holes drilled along the outside and stretch the sock around it. Pull a vacuum on the inside of the PVC while it's in the glue and it'll suck in the glue through the holes. Maybe a tube of mesh would be better....
bustedit5 years ago
Try using Shoe Goo. It should be very flexible. http://www.eclecticproducts.com/shoegoo.htm
Kozz5 years ago
Forgive me, but your instructable reminded me of this recent comic, which you might find amusing: http://basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2010/8/18/how-to-get-the-most-from-your-shoes.html
jongscx Kozz5 years ago
Panel four sounds like my girlfriend and me arguing about the merits of aesthetics... "Who cares what it looks like if I can use it..." "Me... the one who has to look at you using it..."
Ah, that made my day. Especially the artist's comments about panel 4.