Sunday, September 16, 2012

From the magic of Elves... Softstar Runamoc Dash Lite Review

Ok... let me just start with... I'm in love!  Yes.. in case my wife is reading this one... I do love you the most... but as far a minimalist shoes go? I may have found a close second!

So.. what shoes are these?  They are the Runamoc Dash Lites from Softstar Shoes.  For those of you that are familiar with Runamoc's.. you may know exactly what I'm talking about.  If you aren't familiar, hang tight while I provide a little background on the company, and a detailed review of these great shoes.

First of all, Softstar shoes are handmade in Corvallis, OR where elves have been handcrafting shoes since 1984.  After close examination of the Runamoc's, you can truly see and feel the quality of the construction and the materials.  

The Dash Lite's come with the option of 2mm street sole, or a 5mm trail sole.  I chose the 5mm, since I try to spend as much time as I can somewhere on a rocky trail in the deep dark woods.  

The soles are a very flexible Vibram sole (same tread pattern as on the Bedrock Earthquake huaraches), and on top sits a leather insole of about 2mm I would estimate. 

The uppers are made of an ultra soft, ultra light perforated leather, with a very roomy toebox.  The lacing is a simple straight-up 3-eyelet design, with a wide tongue.  They are easy to lace up, and are very comfortable all around, with or without socks.

What is most amazing about these shoes is how much they feel like a pair of super comfy slippers that you simply don't want to take off.

Oh.. here are the specifics on these as noted on the website:


  • Zero drop sole between toe and heel.
  • Ventilated leather uppers keep feet cool with quick-dry properties.
  • Wide toe box - so your toes can grip, spread & splay away!
  • Lightweight - between 5.6 oz to 8.7 oz depending on the type of sole you choose and how big your paws are.
  • Designed and made in Oregon using 100% made-in USA raw materials.

Ok... so, quality materials, great minimalist styling and features...   but when it comes down to it, performance is key right?  Before I get into my impressions of how they performed, let me preface it with a quick story about how I first heard about Runamocs...   I first came across them on Donald Buraglio's blog, Running and Rambling.  I have a lot of respect Donald as a blogger/reviewer, and a runner.  So.. Donald ran the Leadville 100 this year, in this very shoe. Amazing....  103 miles and 36 hours in the same shoes...  (he kept them on after his 28.5 hour finish time because they weren't bothering him).  So... need I even say anymore about performance? I think the Leadville 100 speaks for itself!  Anyway, if you want to read his epic story... check it out here..  its worth a read!

But of course, I can't just take the Runamoc's performance at Leadville as gospel, so I had to log some miles in them myself.  Granted, I didn't run 103 miles..  but I got around 40 in them... and no, not in one go.  My long run in them above was around 9 miles, and much of it strewn with foot bruising rocks like the ones above.

First of all, my feet were amazingly comfortable in all my runs.  The best way I can describe it is having the flexibility and freedom of a good running huarache, but with a super comfortable and soft fit around the feet, and no strap between the toes.

Also, even with only a ~7mm cushion above the ground, these truly felt like I was getting more protection that I would in my Trail Gloves which are thicker.  Not sure exactly what was going on there, but I wasn't going to complain... I'm going to chalk it up to more elf magic!

Another way I can tell when I really like a shoe is how often I reach for them.  Lately, I've had several shoes arrive at the same time, and in order to be diligent about providing good reviews, I need to log miles in each of them.  BUT, for those runs where I wasn't worrying about reviewing, I gladly reached for the Runamoc's... right now that is a good indicator of my thoughts about them!

Ok ok... by now you are thinking I am just totally infatuated and blinded from anything negative to say right? If so, you are probably close, however I did have one slight annoyance in these shoes.  Due to the perforated styling of the leather upper, I found that I would pick up small particles of dirt/rocks in looser terrain.  They would manage to work their way into the shoe, and unlike a huarache, I couldn't take a few strides to fling them out.  However, the perforations are small enough that what did get in there wasn't a real problem, I just noticed it a bit.  I'm going to have to ask Donald if he had this problem, and how often he stopped to clear them out.   I'll let you know what I find out.

Our little town from the top of the trail run

So.... for the moment, these are my favorite non-huarache trail runners...  and who knows? They may hold that position for some time.

Ok... if you are sold and want to try a pair... good news!  This same model is now on sale at Softstar for $77.60 (compared to $97 regular).  That is a great deal on terrific minimalist shoes.  Even at the regular price, Runamoc's are priced competitively in the minimalist running market, and even more so when you considered the hand-crafted quality and proven performance.

Again, as I always note, please let me know if you have any questions/comments/feedback..  I live for comments!

As always, thanks for tuning in... and please continue to stay tuned as I have a great giveaway coming soon for any trail running coffee lovers!

Happy trails!


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  1. I have had my Run-a-moc Dash Lites for a little over a year now and it is the only shoe that I wear! I have the 2 mil vibram and they are still going strong! What is neat is that after a while they have molded themselves to the anatomy of my foot! I can't tell enough people about them! Running is amazing. Hiking is amazing. Even daily wear is amazing and I am often on my feet for 8-10 hours! Love them! I do agree though they get little bits of sand and all....but you get used to it. LOL

    Cheers Friend!

    Irmo, SC

    1. I believe it! These have moved to the top of my list as far as runners go... .. I think I can go in them this winter too... except when the snow is deep :-)

  2. Nice post. You are pretty awesome at this blogging thing. I haven't been keeping up with every one. But I totally enjoy reading them when I do! I learn something every time. Thanks.


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