I have a bit of history when it comes to barefoot minimalist running shoes.
My first pair of ‘minimalist’ shoes was the Merrell Embark Glove GTX. I wore through those when traveling extensively around South America and inconsistently running, eventually ripping the upper. After the Merrells, I moved on to a pair of Vivobarefoot trail runners. They had incredible traction and deep lugs, which I promptly burned through in Russia, Mongolia and China.
To be honest, I never really ‘fell in love’ with any of my minimalist shoes. Sure, they were ‘natural’ but they weren’t the most comfortable nor the most visually appealing.
I’ve now moved onto the Skora Core minimalist running / lifestyle shoes. While I won’t say they met all of my qualms with minimalist barefoot shoes, after testing them out extensively, I will say that they are some of the best minimal shoes I’ve tried on.
Here are my thoughts on the shoes after around 2 months of testing and some running:
- Versatile, perfect for running and everyday wear
- Minimalist, zero drop
- Water resistant
- Lightweight and packable
- Good traction
- Goatskin leather exterior
- Very reflective
- Easy to clean
When you’re looking for travel shoes, it’s extremely important to get something versatile. Shoes can be heavy and take up a lot of space in your bags. The more versatile your shoes are, the less shoes you’ll need to take. The fewer shoes you take, the lighter your bags get.
While traveling around the world for 2 years, I took 2 pairs of shoes: (1) a pair of trail running shoes (2) a pair of sandals. You can read more about my travel shoe rationale here.
Maybe if I did it again, I would take 3, but the point is, I had to make that one pair of trail running shoes work for every occasion. From dining at a Michelin Star restaurant to hiking the Lares Trek in Peru, I wore those shoes. They weren’t exactly appropriate for the restaurant, but I wore them anyways. The Skora Cores would have looked a whole lot better in that situation.
Versatility and Aesthetics:
With the Cores, you have a lot of options. The Cores are undoubtedly activewear shoes, but the leather exterior gives them a classy feel. You can wear these shoes with shorts, jeans, travel pants, and I’ve even worn them with cuffed chinos. The Skora Cores are running and lifestyle shoes, but even if you aren’t a runner, they’re still a good option. They’re low profile and don’t have the glaring neons and pastels that most running shoes have.
The bottom line is this: You’ll be able to wear these shoes for most if not all of the occasions you’ll come across when traveling.
Prior to wearing the Skora Cores, I don’t think I had ever seen, nor known about any leather running shoes. The leather gives the shoes a lifestyle look and is surprisingly good for running. The shoes are made of goat leather, which is soft and flexible. Leather in itself is water resistant as well, a helpful quality for travelers. Leather is also more durable than mesh.
One of the first issues I imagined leather running shoes to have was a lack of breathability. While these shoes aren’t as breathable as my completely mesh Saucony Kinvaras, they still are very breathable. There are several holes on the upper and sides of the Cores which give your feet lots of ventilation.
While the Cores aren’t made specifically for trail running, I ran a bit off road, and the Cores were fine. The lugs on the soles provide enough traction for impromptu adventures or short hikes.
Almost at every side, these shoes are covered with a reflective coating which will make you more visible if you’re running or walking at night.
Adjusting to Minimalist Footwear:
The Skora Cores are minimalist shoes. Minimalist, or barefoot shoes usually have minimal cushion, are zero drop (see diagram below), have a natural fit and are meant to help you walk and run more naturally, as if you were barefoot.
Prior to running in and wearing the Skora Cores, I had a bit of experience with minimalist footwear, so switching to the Cores wasn’t a massive change, but it was still something I needed to take slow.
Evelin, a Skora ambassador recommends taking time time when adjusting to minimalist footwear:
Starting out by spending more time barefoot or walking around in the thinner, less cushioned shoes is a great start. We recommend a slow transition, gradually adding time spent in the shoes.
You can read more about transitioning to zero drop running on her blog, EvelinRuns.com
I’ve noticed when running with barefoot running shoes, it’s really important to land mid foot instead of with your heel first. With the Cores, I’ve been consciously trying to take smaller but more frequent strides. Running in the Cores has so far been a light and more natural experience compared to my other shoes.
For the non-runners out there, you won’t need to change your walking style, although you may feel a difference when moving from normal shoes to the Cores.
Comfort and Fit:
I’m a size 9 for most shoe companies (including Keen, Nike, Timberland and Saucony) and I’m a size 9 in Skora as well. The Skora Cores fit true to size. There’s enough room in the toe box for me to move my toes around naturally. These shoes almost have a ‘second sock’ fit.
You can wear the Cores with or without socks, although usually I wear them with my Injinji toe socks. The Cores also have a removable insole. If you’d like, you can run with or without the insole, the insoles giving the shoes a bit more cushion.
Skora Cores have an asymmetrical lacing system, which is a bit off to the side of the foot, not straight down the middle. While I wouldn’t say this made a huge difference, I did feel it was a more natural and logical place to locate the laces.
After getting used to the minimal feel, I’ve felt the Cores have been really comfortable. The Cores are a bit more cushioned than some of my other minimalist shoes, like the Vivobarefoot Gobi II boots, and honestly, I think it has the perfect amount – just enough for the natural ground feel, but not too much where it’s chunky and no longer natural.
If you’re not into minimalist footwear, you probably won’t like these shoes. Other than that, I haven’t come across any major issues with the Cores, but I’ll update this post if I ever do.
The Skora Cores are great shoes for everyday wear. They can be worn for running, to the gym, around the city and even while globetrotting. They’re lightweight and won’t take up much space in your suitcase.
The Cores come at retail $150, which is reasonable, especially for a pair of shoes made of leather.
Skora Core Ratings
Where To Get These Shoes:
- You can find the Cores on SkoraRunning.com (Right now Skora is doing a promo where you’ll get a Skora Buff for free with every order!)
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.
The Skora Core shoes were provided for this review. As always, this Skora Core review contains only my honest views and opinions. 🙂 Find out more about me and this site here. Some links found in this review are affiliate links, meaning we get commission if you decide to make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.