Kigo Drive Review

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Barefoot, Reviews, Running, Shoes
Tags: , , , , ,

Evening Puffins,

There is a major problem in the minimalist shoe community. Really, it’s not just in minimalist, I refuse to call em barefoot, shoes, but in shoes in general. However, it is more pronounced in minimalist shoes because they are well…less product. It’s called PRICE! Why am I paying 100+ simolians for less physical shoe than I can get from traditional Nike? This doesn’t make sense and quite honestly makes my head want to essplode. So, I’m always interested when a minimal shoe comes onto the market and is at a relatively speaking, lower price point than its traditionally branded cousins. Last time I checked we were still, kinda sorta, in a recession and I don’t much like having to take a benjamin out of my bath tub to go buy a pair of minimal shoes that I will probably only wear on wet/cold conditions which only happen for 2-3 months out of the year for me. Alas, I’m attracted to shiny new things and that attraction is stronger than my distaste for the expensive nature of minimalist shoes. What’s a puff to do amirite?

Anyway, Kigo contacted me a few weeks ago and asked, well I kind of put them on the spot thanks to twitter, if I would review a model of theirs for my blog. Being the shoe nerd that I am, and the price point being….We’ll send it to you for free, I couldn’t say no. Not too mention, I like their designs in theory. More on that later.  Being that this is a relatively newish company I thought I’d do a little background information for you. Something different for this review. So here we go.

Kigo

Stylish enough for everyday. Sturdy enough for athletics. Lightweight and flexible.

kigo is footwear for the barefoot lifestyle.

kigo was born on a mountainside at the end of a long day of skiing. Sore feet, tucked inside heavy boots stopped us from enjoying après ski. The day ended, but the plans were in place for a durable, lightweight shoe.

Since then, kigo footwear has worked with customers, doctors, biomechanics specialists, athletes and some other really sharp people to create stylish minimalist shoes that are good for the body and for the Earth.

As a company, we never lose sight of having fun and making a positive impact through our shoes. The tribe is growing, there is adventure to be had, and we’re glad you’re a part of it.

That is taken directly from Kigo’s site. I highlighted the part that I like the most about their site and their attitude toward the community. This alone makes me like them as a company, and for the most part, it isn’t a characteristic that is found in many companies today.

Anywho,

Kigo offers 4 different shoe models. It appears that they cater more to a feminine crowd. As they should, being that the company is founded by women. However, they offer one distinctly male model, the Edge, and their unisex model, the drive. The women’s styles are the flit and curve respectively.

Today we are going to talk about the drive. This is their unisex model. It’s marketed as their do anything outdoors shoe. For the most part, I’d argue that it fits that bill, but it doesn’t do anything stellarly. It’s a good all-around shoe if you need something that fits the typical minimalist bill. So enough with my nonsensical rambling and onto the review.

Sole

Lets talk about the sole of the shoe. It’s got a very unique design to it. Aesthetically it looks like a fingerprint. Kind of intuitive if you think about it. The sole is made of a material called plus foam which is an entirely recycled material that offers, in my opinion, groundfeel on par with my KSO (with the removable insole taken out). With the insole left in, the ground feel is muted to the level of the Bikila or my Luna Equus.

Something so thin yet so stiff.

The one thing I noticed right away is that the sole of the shoe is stiff. While this aids in ground feel, to an extent, it makes the entire shoe pretty rigid. That’s an uncommon trait in a minimalist shoe, but not something that greatly affects its all around performance. The grip of the sole, without a doubt, is the best that I have found in a non-trail minimalist shoe. I’ve been on some slick surfaces in these, can we say black ice please, and haven’t slipped or felt unsure of my footing one time. The grip of the shoe remains unchanged even when wet. I think it has to do with the fingerprint design, but that’s just my opinion. The width of the sole will cause problem for folks with wide feet. I find the width comfortable for walking around, but terribly narrow while running. This is due to the change in mechanics from walking to running, but I would NOT recommend these shoes for wide footed runners.

The shoe gains great flexibility by removing the insole.

Doesn't pass the ball test with the insole in the shoe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upper

This also highlights my issue with the lacing.

The upper of the drive looks like a high-tech water shoe. That’s the best way I can describe it. In fact, that seems to be what they were going for with the Drive. Aesthetically it’s not the best thing in the world to look at, but it’ll draw a lot fewer stares than your vibrams will. While I wouldn’t wear these with shorts, I do enjoy the look they have with a pair of jeans. They almost remind me of Chuck Taylors. This is great because they were one of my favorite shoe brands prior to going minimalist.

The material that the upper is made out of is a completely recycled material made by CYCLEPET. It’s a comfortable enough upper, and the few seems on the inside do not irritate at all. Lacing is done via a draw-string band that tightens the upper over the foot. It’s a cool idea and it works reasonably well. The one gripe that I have with it is the length of the bungee that they use. Granted my shoes were a bit too big length wise, I had to tighten the bungee ridiculously to get the shoe to feel secure on my foot. This left a lot of excess bungee hanging around the shoe and I had to get creative in my attempt to hide it and prevent myself from tripping on it as it flapped in the breeze. I’m sure a snip and re-melting together of the bungee to reduce length would be a viable option, but it is still something that needs to be addressed and taken into consideration.

Another important feature of the Drive, and again I think it is because it’s designed like a water shoe, is that it drains really quickly. I’ve submerged my foot on more than one occasion, and a few steps later it is only mildly damp. This is a great feature in a minimalist shoe because they are traditionally meant to be worn sockless. No one likes a wrinkly foot. These are my preferred shoes in wet conditions.

Now that you know what to expect outta the box, lets talk about the shoe once it’s on your foot.

Running

Here lies my biggest gripe with the Drive. It’s not a shoe that I like to run in. I’ve found that overly stiff soles make my running awkward and hapazard. The stiffness combined with the narrow width makes running in the shoes less than enjoyable. It’s not the worst shoe that I’ve run in, but it falls short of what I was hoping. This model is not booked as a running shoe and thus it doesn’t perform as one. I won’t be reaching for these for a run anytime soon. While some of you may see this as a weakness, I would argue that the shoes casual/leisure activity qualities outshine this weakness.

Casual

The drive is a great casual shoe. I’ve already mentioned my fondness for its chuck like qualities, but the shoe is my favorite shoe to wear with jeans. People don’t seem to notice them as much as they do my other minimal offerings, and that makes them top notch in my book. Sometimes you just don’t want to stick out in a crowd. These shoes provide that ability, and provide GREAT ground feel without the insole. I’ve even managed to get away with them at work. We have a strict no tennis shoe policy and I get away with my KSO, but these kind of have that tennis shoe look to em. So, they aren’t even noticed by the shoe police here at work. That’s great! If you are looking for a casual shoe with a more reasonable price point, you can’t go wrong with the Drives.

Leisure activities

I took these on a hike a few days ago in the Wichita Mountains. This is where the shoes really shine. Being an all-around shoe, and having the qualities of a water shoe, made hiking in them a rather enjoyable experience. The traction was better in wet conditions than my Minimus Trails provide, and that is pretty impressive if I do say so. The groundfeel was great over the rocky terrain, and the water crossings were a breeze thanks to the drainage and quick drying aspects of the upper. The one issue I did have was mainly due to the fit issue. Dust and tiny rocks managed to get in around the heel collar a fair amount. Not a major issue and probably one that would be corrected if the shoe was a proper fit. These will be my go to shoes for hiking or anything water related and I think that this characteristic and their success as a casual shoe far outweigh their short comings as a running shoe.

Price Point and DISCOUNT!!!!

While the Drive is the most expensive, at 91.00$, of the Kigo offerings, it is still cheaper than most other minimal shoes available on the market. The exceptions  being the huarache models.  The other shoes in the Kigo line-up run far below the typical cost of other minimal shoes and the entire line-up should be taken into consideration for those who want all around minimal shoes without having to break open their kid’s piggy bank. The Edge is particularly attractive for a business casual model that could pass in most offices as acceptable.

Also, Kigo has given me a discount code that can be entered at the end of checkout just after entering your payment information. This code is good for 20% off all products and is good through the entire month of January.

Simply enter KIGOPUFFIN during check out to cash in on this pretty sweet discount.

 

Here are a few more pictures as well:

While not really thick, it does mute the groundfeel and makes them stiff.

Not seamless with the insole removed. They don't rub though.

 

Final thoughts

I can’t say that the Drive is the end all be all to minimalist shoes, but what I can say is that Kigo is headed in the right direction from a casual/leisure perspective. This is a particularly lacking niche for minimal shoes and with a few tweaks Kigo will have a tremendous product on their hands. They provide excellent customer service, particularly Rachelle, who has been integral to helping me with questions and providing insight into the shoe’s design. I’m hoping that Kigo continues to put out quality footwear at an affordable price and that they remain true to themselves as a company.

Until next time,

Puff

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Comments
  1. kigogal says:

    Puff, you rock. This is extremely fair, perceptive and thorough. We really appreciate it, and are glad to have provided you with a solidly useful pair of shoes!

  2. […] you caught up to speed.           I’ve uploaded two new reviews. The first was of the Kigo Drive and the Luna Sandal Equus. I also declared my all out war on Moobs. Again, for those you not in […]

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