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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)

 
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Cool

paleogirl1 month ago

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.

eagle262411 month ago

what about shoegoo or shoegoo 2

Fatimamusa1 month ago

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.

NightHawkInLight (author)  Fatimamusa1 month ago
I imagine silicone would wear out pretty quickly, but it's worth a try.
bcelik11 month ago

Wow, great idea! Would liquid latex work? Please help! How would I help to harden it

HollyHarken1 month ago

Would the dipping plastic work? I have that. I like the idea of putting a plastic bag on my foot first and then the sock as I feel it would eliminate all of the stuffing and shaping. Then I could step into a pan of dipping plastic to make the "shoes". I have a pair of Vibram's that I like very much. I used to wear very expensive shoe orthodics. Going barefoot has helped me a great deal. I highly recommend it. I am now going barefoot inside the house all year. It took a while to toughen up my legs, ankles & feet, but it was worth it in the end. Though lately, as I've gained some unwanted weight from medication issues, it has caused an old skiing knee injury to spring back up:(

NightHawkInLight (author)  HollyHarken1 month ago
I was going to try the dipping type plasti-dip the way you describe because I didn't believe the spray rubber would work very well at bonding to the fabric. I never did try it though because the spray rubber ended up exceeding my expectations, making any other method redundant for me to attempt. It might work for you.

Wow, that's a great idea. I think it beats buying $250 Z-coils. HollyHarkin, I'm going to give that a try. BTW, I like NightHawkinLight's idea too.

keyguy131 month ago

Just to clarify: There are no real scientific studies that show these shoes hurt your feet. The lawsuit involving Vibram settling is because they claimed the shoes could help your feet versus regular shoes and they didn't have any scientific proof for the claims. Running barefoot style requires months and sometimes years of training in changing how your foot strikes the ground. However, if you are a toddler who has never worn regular shoes, you don't need to worry about it. If you think about it, it makes no sense to say that running barefoot can destroy your foot. We were all born to run naturally barefoot. Running with supported and cushioned shoes is what is unnatural and we all learn an unnatural way to run with them. I personally had no end to knee problems training for my first half marathon in my Nike Vomeros. I must have put 300+ miles on them. I thought I was not going to be able to run anymore after the first half marathon. I read about barefoot style and bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. It took me a year and two half marathons to get used to them but now I won't run any other way. Decide for yourself though, as it takes a lot of patience and training to change into a fore/mid strike stride. Hope this helps those on the fence.

keyguy131 month ago

Just to clarify: There are no real scientific studies that show these shoes hurt your feet. The lawsuit involving Vibram settling is because they claimed the shoes could help your feet versus regular shoes and they didn't have any scientific proof for the claims. Running barefoot style requires months and sometimes years of training in changing how your foot strikes the ground. However, if you are a toddler who has never worn regular shoes, you don't need to worry about it. If you think about it, it makes no sense to say that running barefoot can destroy your foot. We were all born to run naturally barefoot. Running with supported and cushioned shoes is what is unnatural and we all learn an unnatural way to run with them. I personally had no end to knee problems training for my first half marathon in my Nike Vomeros. I must have put 300+ miles on them. I thought I was not going to be able to run anymore after the first half marathon. I read about barefoot style and bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. It took me a year and two half marathons to get used to them but now I won't run any other way. Decide for yourself though, as it takes a lot of patience and training to change into a fore/mid strike stride. Hope this helps those on the fence.

Ben, ingenious use of household items! Would this same technique work for making gardening gloves? I was thinking that you could use latex gloves to protect your hands from the rubber spray while conforming the glove for a better fit.

Thanks for sharing,
-KTC
t_parkour1 month ago
I'm a freerunner and I love training barefoot or in minimalist shoes, so I might have to try this sometime! Thanks!
tonygz881 month ago

Great instructable, very creative. But about the minimalist type shoes, here is one article someone asked for about how they are bad for you.

http://www.vox.com/2014/5/9/5695290/science-americ...

I myself purchased some several years ago to try it out. I followed the guide books for switching to those types of shoes by implementing it into my running routine. I am in the Army and run 30 miles a week on my own time outside of PT, so in fairly good shape and suffered lower extremity/lower back damage from these types of shoes.

So personally I don't recommend them. Test subjects show bone marrow inflammation and foot damage. I got this information from several articles. Anyone that purchased them official from a company is due a partial refund apparently. So take care of your feet, you only get to destroy them once. I am disabled for the rest of my life from exercise related injuries, even after surgeries, and its not fun being a athlete that is in pain 24/7.

NightHawkInLight (author)  tonygz881 month ago

Thank you for the personal account and info. Minimalist running certainly is a controversial topic. It seems the bottom line is that not everyone's body is made to conform to the same things and it really takes a professional to make observations regarding what will be healthy for each individual.

So Flint Lockwood's Spray on shoes do exist!

Very nice idea!

Kweek1 month ago
SumGie1 month ago

Minimalist... I don't think that word means what you think it means. Moccasins are minimalist... just wrap some wet leather around your foot and wear it while it dries and you're done.

It is a pretty interesting way to make custom fitted toe shoes, though.

Would be nice for activities like martial arts, too, as you need flexible footwear for that.

Idea for your next set: use one of the other instructibles on here to make a plaster mold of your feet... and put the socks on that to spray them instead of filling them with bags. That way the result will be form fitted to your actual feet.

Kweek SumGie1 month ago

That would break bones. Pretty sure that was a method torture.

NightHawkInLight (author)  SumGie1 month ago

Minimalist in this sense is referring to the thickness of the material that separates your foot from the ground.

OIC.

Ok, I can see that.

I'm not sure moccasins are really as simple as wrapping wet leather around your feet. The last set of instructions that I saw included some sewing too. I think the simplest type of shoes to make I've seen were viking turnshoes, with hardly any (if any, I can't quite remember the details) stitching.

Making an exact, plaster mould of your feet sounds like a better way to make the shoe fit. I really like this shoe idea, but I don't think I'll be trying it as I tend to go barefoot anyway and don't know where I could get spray-rubber

antioch1 month ago

Oooh, nice one! But the idea that many harmful substances can be found in spray-on rubber alerted my just as I googled for sources to buy some online. Many are not required to be declared and listed. The thought of toxins leaking into the widened pores of my feet inside the humid tightness of that rubber glove is not a nice one and while the use of plastic bags in the creation is of course sensible but what else could we do to lessen health risks?

NightHawkInLight (author)  antioch1 month ago
I don't think it should be much of an issue once the rubber has solidified, but if you're concerned about it you could flip the socks inside out and glue/stitch in a fabric liner.

Thanks!

FlipLucky1 month ago
Not to downvote the instructable, which is good, but studies have shown that these kind of shoes are actually destroying your foot, instead of helping while running. For other projects, like just using them as extra protection innthr house, , great idea.

Can you provide the source or even a link to those studies? Thanks in advance!

Spuddi1 month ago
We're can you get the spray on rubber
mamaRoxc Spuddi1 month ago
You can also buy it at an auto store, such as Pep Boys [that's where I got my can]
NightHawkInLight (author)  Spuddi1 month ago

Most any hardware store or supermarket.

sehrgut1 month ago
Videos aren't real Instructables. Take the time to actually lay out the steps with written instructions.
NightHawkInLight (author)  sehrgut1 month ago

Who are you to say what constitutes an Instructable? Try making a video up to my standards and then tell me which is more time consuming.

I think most people are used to the step by step photo/written instructions format. The video is great and I appreciate the effort that went into it.

flagged. Be nice. I think the video is excellent.

kd7eir1 month ago

Very innovative idea. Thank you for sharing!

cristoph1 month ago
How many coats does it need
SteveSi1 month ago

Whilst the rubber is still tacky, could I stick on a shaped thick rubber sheet to give my feet more protection?

NightHawkInLight (author)  SteveSi1 month ago

Maybe. I'm not sure if the rubber would be adhesive enough to hold to rubber sheet but it's worth trying. If it doesn't hold you can just glue the two together. Cyanoacrylate super glue works very well for bonding rubber together.

vladivastok1 month ago

WAN'T TOGIVE IT A TRY. HAVE BEEN BAREFOOT RUNNING FORSOME TIME NOW. THE QUESTION IS , HAVE YOU HADA CHANCE TO TRY THEM OUT IN INCLEMENT WEATHER CONDITIONS? THANK'S [ VLAD ]

NightHawkInLight (author)  vladivastok1 month ago

I haven't, but they should dry very quickly.

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