A few months ago I was reading through a thread on the Runner’s World Barefoot Running Forum about a pair of water shoes called the Nike Sneakerboat. I’ve seen water shoes/aqua socks suggested many times as a cheap form of minimalist running shoe (and a minimalist shoe should by definition be inexpensive if there’s less to it – unfortunately the opposite seems to more often be the case!!!), but it can be hard to find a pair that are aesthetically pleasing (if you care about that kind of thing), or that have laces that can be cinched up. The Nike Sneakerboat looked to meet both of these criteria, but unfortunately posters on that thread indicated that the shoe appeared to have been discontinued.
As I was rocking my 6-week old son to sleep earlier tonight, I was thumbing through an Eastbay catalog, and happened to notice that they were advertising a shoe called the Nike Sneakerboat II. Nike has apparently released a sequel to the original Sneakerboat, and it is now available through several on-line retailers (see links below). I have no idea how this shoe might perform as a minimalist running shoe, but I was tempted enough by its apparently flat, minimally cushioned sole (see picture above), it’s reasonably attractive design (it even has a flywire-like pattern similar to Nike running shoes), and its low price ($40-45.00 depending on the store) that I ordered a pair to try out. The shoe is also apparently environmentally friendly (which is a big plus in my book), being made out of recycled materials as indicated in the following description from the Eastbay product page:
“Whether you’re passionate about the environment or just want a comfy casual shoe to wear on the beach, the boat and beyond — look no further. The Nike Sneakerboat II is made with recycled materials, including the recycled-content mesh and neoprene upper and the recycled foam sockliner. It also has an OS44 sticky rubber sole with Regrind™ for great traction on wet surfaces. Wear it for the earth, wear it for the boat — or wear it for a cool summer style!“
It’s clear from the above description that Nike is not marketing this as a minimalist running shoe (maybe they should – we’ll see), but the Vibram Fivefingers also began their life as a water sports shoe, so who knows, maybe these will do the trick. Given that these are half the price of most Vibrams, and a third of the price of shoes like the remarkably expensive Terra Plana EVO ($160.00 for a minimalist shoe???), it would be great if they represented another alternative to what’s currently out there for minimalist runners. Check back here in a few weeks and I should hopefully have a preliminary review posted (if I don’t, it’s likely because my wife strangled me for bringing yet another pair of shoes into the house!). In the meantime, if you just can’t wait to try them yourself, here are a few links to where they can be purchased:
Purchase the Nike ACG Sneakerboat II at Eastbay.com (Eastbay mistakenly call these shoes the “Sneakboat” on their website, but gets it right in their print catalog).
Purchase the Nike ACG Sneakerboat II at Onlineshoes.com
Below are is a picture of the Sneakerboat II in all black, as well as a picture of the sole.