If you are going to practice barefoot running style, why do you need a full running shoe, even if it is minimalist? The new Freeheel Running Pads do away with the traditional running shoe concept, protecting only the ball of your foot as you pound out miles on the trail.
Conceived by a small leather manufacturer in Bavaria, Germany, the Freeheel Running Pads look like a leather flip flop with the back half cut off. A simple toe strap, together with a velcro strap across the top of your foot, keep the pad in place as you run.
The purpose of the running pads is to protect your foot only where you need it, otherwise keeping weight and size to a minimum. Your toes get to move freely, much like Vibram Five Fingers, but without having to jam your toes into separate little pockets.
Freeheel Running Pads aim to take running footwear back to its roots by completely freeing up your heel, similar in concept to tele skiing and snowshoeing. I am not quite sure I get this argument, as your heel is pretty much free to move in the more minimalist shoes, but having a completely bare heel will definitely discourage you from heel striking.
With no upper, the running pads will enable your foot to breathe better than any other minimalist footwear. Rain, mud, rocks, and even snow may get inside the pad but will immediately fall out again. You could probably wear socks in the winter when it is really cold outside, though the leather will help insulate your foot from the ground.
The Freeheel Running Pads come in three different sizes to match your forefoot width: small, medium, large. No adjustment is required for foot length.
No details yet on pricing but if interested, you can leave your email on the Freeheel Running Pads website and the company will notify you when the pads are ready to ship.