Five years ago, I received an email from a company called SOCKWA (it was actually addressed to me by the Founder and CEO, David Zasloff – P.Eng.) inquiring as to whether I would consider testing the X8 model of their “bare minimalist” footwear. Due to my reputation as one of the foremost barefoot runners and barefoot running coaches in North America, David felt I might be a good candidate to test his latest line of minimalist footwear.During a follow-up Skype meeting, I found out that David started Sockwa in April, 2008 at a Ventura County, southern California, U.S.A. plant. He set out to make footwear that was lighter than the Vibram Five Fingers (mission accomplished!), durable, soft and flexible (again, mission accomplished!) AND better for the environment than the standard rubber-soled ‘coffins’ that saturate the running world (best yet – mission accomplished by using plastic as the base ingredient. It uses less resources and is a cleaner production process). He then added a suctioned effect on the sole (see photo below) for better grip on slippery surfaces like algae-covered rocks.As all of you know, I am barefoot 90% of the time (running, walking, playing sports) for at least 10 months of the Canadian year. That left 10% of the harshest weather during which time I had to cover off with SOMETHING. After our Skype meeting, I agreed to ‘test drive’ the Sockwa X8 in the toughest Canadian winter conditions and on a variety of rough, tough terrain. The goal was to give David feedback as to the efficacy of the Sockwa X8 away from the always pleasant weather of ‘SoCal’ (southern California).
I started by bringing the X8s on a training run in the Rattray Marsh area close to my home that included chewed up asphalt,rough-hewn gravel,sharp stone pathways,unfinished, sliver-infested wooden bridges rounded, rough-edged logsand the concrete laden, slippery algae covered shores of Lake Ontario (water temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit) Finally, I tested them in nasty winter conditions with my Barefoot Science inserts to better simulate me running full-on barefoot.
I reported back to David that my Sockwa X8s passed the rigorous testing protocol with flying colours! I can wrap them up into a ball (meaning my feet can move freely inside and respond better to different surfaces without risk of avoidable injury), run in them safely over virtually any surface and pack them up easily when traveling anywhere in the world. David continues to improve the Sockwa line of minimal footwear in an effort to appeal to a wider market. I for one pray that he can do this – without sacrificing the absolute brilliance of the X8 model.
I even told David that our Lake Ontario sunrises may not QUITE match his Ventura County sunsets BUT I bet him that there were no great Canadian swans in the Pacific Ocean (see below)!!(The above photo is of my swan buddy on Lake Ontario whom I beckon with a specific whistle at 6:30 most mornings. Interestingly, he always swims close to me – until he realizes I have NO food! This is why neighbours call me the ‘Swan Whisperer’!!)
Good on you, David, my special California friend! I look forward to assessing future models of the Sockwa line and seeing them on ALL of your feet sooner rather than later. They’re the closest you will come to running safely, efficiently and powerfully – the barefoot way!!!
What are you waiting for??!!!