How to Make Minimalist Running/Climbing Shoes at Home

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Introduction: How to Make Minimalist Running/Climbing Shoes at Home

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I took up running these past few years as an extra hobby to allow me some thinking time away from the computer and all my camera gear. I looked into purchasing some of these minimalist shoes both for running as well as for a water shoe for fishing but found that my local stores didn't carry any in stock, and buying shoes online can be risky for fitting purposes. Why not make some myself then?

I didn't believe that spray rubber would work very well at first and assumed that I would have to use the liquid paint-on variety that comes in a tin to achieve a good coating on the fabric, but after testing the spray rubber for myself I didn't even bother with any other method. It works excellent. The rubber is more durable than expected, and after about a quarter mile on very sharp gravel I noticed no wear at all.

One issue that I do have with the shoes is that some of the rubber solvent absorbed into the fabric outside the spray area, carrying trace amounts of rubber with it. This was due to my impatience in adding too much rubber in the first coat which wet the fabric too much and caused unsightly stains that you can see on top of the toes in the video, and also caused a little bit of extra stiffness in those areas. This should be an avoidable issue by simply going a little more slowly until there is a good rubber surface established over the absorbent fabric. There shouldn't be much to worry about after the first coat or two is added.

One other very minor improvement I would make in my next pair of shoes is to make the heel more narrow while spraying on the rubber. While I shaped the socks fairly accurately to the natural shape of my feet, I would have preferred the heel to be a little narrower so that it was a snugger fit. That's mostly a matter of preference and doesn't contribute one way or the other toward function.

Items used for this project:

  • Divided Toe Socks
  • Spray Rubber
  • Plastic Grocery Bags
  • Coat Rack (Or anything else that can hold the socks upright - two sticks would do fine)
  • Fan (For both ventilation as well as increasing solvent drying time)

2 People Made This Project!

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66 Comments

Extraordinary!

I can not wait to create my own running shoes. Thanks so much for sharing. =)

I just LOVE this. I had a pair of Vibrams that I wore out. They cost so much and this is exactly what I have been looking for. Brilliant.

anyone try these as climbing shoes?

What is the brand of spray on rubber you used?

For an even better fit you could take a plaster cast of your feet and replace the plastic bags with that. That way you could have several pairs made specifically for you.

There's an added benefit for those who MUST wear orthotics as molded and prescribed by a podiatrist. I had the opportunity to try a pair of commercial (and admittedly very expensive ... I agree) shoes like this and we decided to experiment with using my orthotics in them. While my particular orthotics wouldn't allow me to get my pinky toe set in the shoe properly (because my orthotics are hella-weird), we were able to determine that placing orthotics in the shoes WAS possible.

So, for those of you who would love to have these shoes AND have to wear orthotics, don't give up hope!!! It's completely possible and making your own (though because of the nature of mine won't probably work), trying this instructable might be WELL worth your effort! How awesome is it that you could wear your orthotics "glued" to your feet while still retaining that feeling of being barefoot! Wish I could do that, but alas, I personally can't.

what about shoegoo or shoegoo 2

Thanks sooo much. Barefoot shoes cost so much, and this seems really nice. I'm gonna try it, but I'll probably just use some wide socks so that there is room enough for my toes to fit naturally, since I hate how 5 fingers feel when they are stiff. Do you think I could use that doughy kind of scilicone? It's used sometimes for making soles on crocheted shose.

I imagine silicone would wear out pretty quickly, but it's worth a try.