Friday, January 2, 2015

Look out Nike and Adidas! Carson Footwear Iguana Racer 10/10 Review

8/24/2015 Update!!:  I am now a Carson Footwear ambassador, and couldn't be happier... these shoes are incredible, and more styles are available! If you have question about Carson Footwear, email or message me!

Ok... one more shoe review before I kick off 2015 with the "Happy and Healthy 2015" post!  Hard to believe the year is already gone.  Anyway, today I'm excited to review a new shoe company in Milwaukie, OR...   yes, the land of Nike and Adidas..

Carson Footwear Iguana Racer 10/10
If you've been following, you know that I love start-up shoe/sandal companies.. especially those with a focus on "Made in the USA", like Carson Footwear is.  So I was honored to be able to beta test the Iguana Racers this fall/winter.

So what makes Carson unique? Well.. besides the rad iguana print?   First of all, I have to say that they are hands down some of the most comfortable shoes I've put on my feet! Much like the Run Amoc Dash-lites from Softstar.. these shoes feel like putting on your favorite slippers for the evening...   soft, supportive (but not overly structured), with just the right fit.

Ok... before I get into the details, here are the specs on the 10/10:

  • 10mm stack height, and a true zero drop (see below)
  • 9.6 oz (at time of testing for a size 10)
  • Polyurethane (PU) sole (versus typical EVA)
  • 100% USA made and 99% raw materials from the USA

So.. the stack height is really nice..  not as thick as many shoes I have, but also not ultra thin.  Carson Footwear as arrived at that sweet spot for stack height found in many trail running sandals (i.e. Earthrunners, Luna, etc..).  Carson Footwear notes that the Iguana Racer 10/10 was "built for trail runners who have discovered the benefits of barefoot running but want just a bit more than a sandal".

From that perspective, they are right on. The true zero drop and stack height gives these trail runners the feel of a responsive sandal, but with a super comfortable upper for added protection.  The PU sole is really cool as well. As you can see above, they are very flexible, and what is great is that they twist just as easily as they bend.  This makes for a responsive shoe with a level of proprioception that belies its stack height. 

The tread pattern is not super aggressive, but it performs well.  I think that the combination of the flexibility in the sole, as well as the slight "tacky" feel of the PU, they combine to provide some good traction when needed, without picking up a lot of build up.  My only suggestion in this area would be the possible addition of a thin (1 mm nylon) rock plate, much like what is in the Merrell Trail Glove 2, or the VFF Spyridon.   That is not to say that the protection on the Iguana's isn't good...  the 10 mm stack height does well to minimize a lot of the trail sting, but like most minimalist shoes, you have to pay attention to foot placement.  I think a rock plate would come in handy for those missteps.. especially in ultra distance runs when form falls apart :-)  

As I noted earlier, the upper is really soft, and comfortable, and so far proving to be pretty durable as well.  I like the wide tongue and the way they feel when lacing up as well.  What is interesting is that although these come in at 9.6 oz, they feel lighter on my feet when running, compared to shoes that weigh an ounce or more less. I think much has to do with the weight distribution in the design, and the overall feel.   Again, when you are 30 lbs over weight, what's an ounce here or there?  These make me feel light and airy!  :-)   Actually, owner Everett Carson said it best in an email to me today..  " I just love the way they get out of the way...and the run becomes about the run not the SHOE!!" Well said! 

As for durability, we will see how they hold up (I have 60 trail miles on them and they still look new), but Everett Carson is working towards 1,000 miles on his test pair by February..   I think the PU sole and quality construction will make these very long wear trail runners.

Besides trail running, I also put the 10/10's to the test running an aid station at the Human Potential Running Series Indian Creek Fifties race this last fall.  Running an aid station?  How hard is that?  Well, in this case I ended up logging over 11 miles, including hand trucking in all the gear (with a lot of help of course), and 40 gallons of water up some steep climbs...  so yeah, I put a lot of strain on these shoes, and they performed well! 

Finally today, I put them through one more run.. this time a 5 miler in a lot of fresh snow we got yesterday...   traction was decent, and the shoe remained flexible, even when cold.  Finally, the shoe itself was surprisingly warm, considering the breath-ability of the upper...  had no issues at all.  It was around 20, so I'm guessing I'll feel it when it gets to single digits, but we shall see.

Ok... so how do you get your hands on some Iguana Racer 10/10's?  Well this guy, Everett Carson (an avid trail runner of course, all around good guy, and founder of Carson Footwear), is going to launch the Carson Footwear website on 1/15/15 and start taking orders... better yet, whole sizes will be available for $60 a pair (retail will be $100), so this is a great time to grab some!

ALSO... I will be putting up my Happy and Healthy 2015 in the next day or so, which will feature a lot of great companies I've worked with in 2014, and you'll be able to enter to win a pair of Iguana Racer 10/10's as well!   So stay tuned!

As always, if you have any questions/comments, or if I forgot to mention anything, leave them below, or on the Barefoot Inclined Facebook page..    Thanks!

Happy trails!



  1. nice! I want these shoes....they look super comfy, and I love the iguana print, looks very cool.

  2. Great review! I've logged a few miles in Carson Iguanas myself (~100) and couldn't agree more with everything you said. I love these shoes!

  3. great review Jeff. Very very interesting but that logo...yikes. But hey, if the shoe delivers then it's all good :)

    1. Yep.. I could care less about the logo, or the print/color of the shoe... I just want it to work :-) and these WORK.. :-)

  4. Great review! Those look awesome...I like all of the features AND how they look. And you know looks are important to me! :)

  5. Jeff great review, We live in Placerville and train on the WS100 trail. Who cares about looks, after the first few miles they will be sierra foothills brown. I'll be ordering my pair on the 15th.

  6. Do you have recommendations on choosing right size for these shoes? (For example Altra Superior is recommended to buy 1/2 size bigger...

  7. I am a mens 9.5 - should I order a 9 or a 10? Also, any idea on their return policy? Thanks!

    1. Hi Michael... here is what Everett had to say about your size.. "because the shoe is so flexible I would say go smaller so 9.5 in nike would be a 9 in ours (9) 1418" Also, if you need a different size, I believe Carson will allow a return/exchange of unworn shoes (other than to try on) and they would cover shipping. Hope that helps!

  8. How's the t toe box? Wide or narrow? How true is the sizing? Is a 10 a 10? Should you order a bit bigger?

    1. Wide... not super wide like some shoes I've run in, but wider than your average non minimalist shoe. Plus the upper is soft and flexible which helps with toe splay. I wear a 10 and sometimes my Morton's toe can bump the end, but I found that these in a 10 fit just right, so I would say a 10 is a 10 :-)

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