For frequent travelers and minimalist footwear enthusiasts, finding the perfect pair of shoes is a constant struggle. Finding a comfortable pair of footwear that looks good, packs small, and is ready for everything from an impromptu outdoor adventure to a night on the town is the goal – but hunting for that “do it all shoe” can feel like chasing unicorns sometimes. The Softstar Dash Runamoc and Primal Runamoc are here to break that hunt.
These minimalist, all leather shoes are simultaneously, casually stylish, comfortable, and ready for a day on the trail, while rolling up smaller than a coffee mug.
After wearing the Softstar Runamoc, they’ve become my go to single travel shoe – keeping my pack (and feet) light and keeping me ready for hours of exploring on my feet.
Read on to discover a great travel shoe in this Softstar Dash Runamoc and Primal Runamoc Review
Note: This article contains affiliate links
CONTENTS OF THIS SOFTSTARS RUNAMOC REVIEW
QUICK REVIEW OF THE SOFTSTAR RUNAMOC
- Overview Of the Softstar Dash Runamoc
- Specs of the Softstar Dash Runamoc & Primal Runamoc
- PROS | CONS
- Quick Verdict on the Softstars Runamoc
- My Experience with the Runamoc
- Highlights & Features
- Comfort, Fit, and Feel of the Runamoc
- Aesthetics and Style
- Travel Readiness
- Options, Customizations, and Variations
- Shoe Comparison: Vivobarefoot Ra II, Xero Hana
- About Softstars Shoes
- The Verdict on The Softstars Dash Runamoc
The first type of minimalist footwear eliminates the bulk, slimming down fabric uppers and soles, to create a flexible, packable shoe that is perfect for travelers.
The second meaning of minimalist footwear is a type of shoe that recreates the positive benefits of being barefoot – flexible enough to allow your foot movement in all directions, light enough to be unnoticeable, and a flat sole (referred to as zero heel to toe drop). The result is a shoe that doesn’t restrict and ultimately encourages full range of movement of the feet and the tiny joints within, the ankles, and all of those tiny supportive muscles in the feet and ankles that keep us upright.
Remarkably, the Softstars Runamoc, both the Dash Runamoc and the Primal Runamoc, fully live up to both ideas for minimalist footwear – perfect for travel, and recreating a “barefoot” (or minimalist) footwear experience.
During my travel stints, I wander with a single backpack small enough to carry onto a plane – often referred to as “onebagging.” Within that bag I need to fit everything for a full set of adventures – trekking, motorbiking, getting in a run around the park, and evenings on the town. With such a small amount of space and such a wide range of activities good minimalist footwear is perfect because it takes up very little room in your pack and helps you perform and stay comfortable through it all.
The Softstar Runamoc is absolutely a great minimalist shoe, whether you’re a traveler looking for a functional, packable shoe that looks and feels good – the Softstar Dash Runamoc is solid – or a barefoot shoe enthusiast that lives an active lifestyle – the Softstar Primal Runamoc, with a wider toe box and toe cap for durability.
I’ve been traveling and nomading ful time since 2017, and I switched to minimalist footwear since 2009 (first the 5 fingers, now the New Balance Minimus) so I sit right in the middle of the happy camps of travel and the minimalist footwear lifestyle. Though I do have chunkier shoes for rucking and multi-day trekking at high altitudes, my “one bag” for all adventures always has minimalist footwear – sandals, minimalist boots, and a packable, walkable pair of shoes that actually look good. The Softstars Runamoc is my latest everyday wear travel and minimalist shoe – and I love it.
Take a supple Vibrams sole that has just the right amount of flexibility, cushion, and traction (~5mm to ~10mm), give it a slightly wider than normal toe box (for natural foot splay when stepping). Then, use the inspiration of classic Oxford’s to shape the uppers – expect use buttery soft and flexible leather for the uppers that are stitched by hand. That is the Softstar Dash Runamoc.
Over the time I’ve owned the Dash Runamoc, when I’m not reaching for boots or surfing, the Dash has been my preferred shoe – especially for nights out.
On the daily, they are extremely comfortable. The soft uppers and sole require no break in to feel their best and mold to your foot naturally. The Vibram soles are perfect, delivering the right amount of flexibility and ground feel to be freeing, but enough that walking on concrete for extended periods isn’t a torturous experience.
I own the Vivobarefoot Ra II, which has the same wide tow box Oxford style, leather uppers, and minimalist design, and the Dash Runamoc feels hands dowm 200% better – partly because of their choice to go with a supple Vibrams sole (Vibram’s is extremely difficult to beat) and partly because the uppers feel so much more comfortable. Whereas I’d often debate whether to bring the Vivobarefoot or something that felt more natural, bringing the Dash Runamoc is a no brainer.
The Vibram outsole feels so good, I’d have no problem wearing these for miles during free walking tours – keep in mind, I am used to minimalist footwear. However, I can’t make that same statement about the Vivobarefoot Ra II’s
The highlight for a travel shoe – the Softstar Dash Runamocs look good. Honestly, they look better than any other intentionally minimalist shoe I’ve tried. The Oxford style, neutral and minimalist aesthetic, and leather make these something you could easily wear at the office with chinos.
On my nights out, the Dash Runamocs go equally well with dark Chinos as they do with my Unbound Merino Everyday Shorts and in either case I’d pass the dress code for a nice beach club, or a nice restarurant with the Chinos.
Last, these shoes pack down to nearly nothing. My laptop is honestly thicker than these shoes collapsed
Bottom line on the quick overview for travelers: If you’re a traveler with a preference for leather shoes that look good and you’re comfortable with minimalist footwear, the quality, comfort, and function of the Dash Runamoc will astound you – and I highly recommend them.
Bottom line for barefoot footwear enthusiasts: If you’re looking for an office worthy (and happy hour worthy) stylish and minimalist shoe that comfortably mimics barefoot wear in concrete jungles, this is it. The lightweight, and sole flex, capture the best traits of minimalist footwear while still looking good enough that most people won’t know the difference.
However – if you’re a barefoot shoe enthusiast aiming for a shoe to run and hike in, I still recommend the dash for running, but check out the Primal Runamoc delivering more of the same function, with better tread, thicker sole options (2mm to 9mm megagip), a wider toe box, and a toe cap for protection when hiking and running in “all terrain mode”
OVERVIEW OF THE SOFTSTAR PRIMAL RUNAMOC
In my experience, the Dash Runamoc has been a great travel shoe – packable, stylish, and comfortable, with the soft leather uppers and 5mm Vibram outsole being the major pluses of this shoe.
However, if you’re walking miles on rocky trail and scrambling up rocks, those adventures might destroy this casual shoe. The Dash Runamoc is great for mild trails, but for rougher adventures, the Primal Runamoc is the perfect upgrade.
The Primal Runamoc adds a rubber toe cap over the leather, protecting the most commonly damaged part of the shoe on trails.
The Primal Runamoc also upgrades the sole, from the minimalist 5mm Vibram outsole to a still minimalist but more comfortable 6.5mm outsole and adds a 3.5mm midsole for comfort on those rocky trails.
Last, the Primal Runamoc has the option of a wider toe box, for those with wide feet – this delivers just enough extra room for the natural foot splay that happens when walking barefoot, and a little room for the foot swelling that happens on hikes.
All in all, you get the same packability, comfort, and function as the Dash Runamoc, with a little more durability, trail appropriateness, and room for the toes for those with broader feet
I am personally opting for the Dash Runamoc as I love their stylish and minimalist aesthetic and fit for daily wear, and pairing them with a dedicated minimalist travel boot for more “exciting” trails and multi-day treks.
- Material: Leather Uppers
- Soles: Vibram sole, varies from 2mm to 5mm, or bull hide sole
- Heel toe Drop: Zero drop
- Weight: 5 ounces to 9 ounces (depending on sole choice)
SPECS OF THE SOFTSTAR PRIMAL RUNAMOC
- Material: Leather Uppers
- Soles: Vibram sole, varies from 5mm to 6.5mm + 3.5mm midsole
- Heel toe Drop: Zero drop
- Weight: 5 ounces to 9 ounces (depending on sole choice)
- Minimalist footwear and barefoot enthusiasts
Packs down smaller than any shoe I’ve worn
Minimalist soles require adapting to – if you haven’t worn minimalist soles before
Extremely soft leather uppers mold to feet
Looks good enough for the office or a nice night out
Sole options allow you to choose very minimalist (2mm) or balanced (5mm to 9.5mm)
SOFTSTARS RUNAMOC QUICK RATING
For the niche of lightweight travelers, onebaggers, minimalists, and barefoot enthusiasts, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better casual wear minimalist shoe than the Softstar Runamocs. Comfortable, high quality, and stylish, these are an easy choice as a lightweight or packable travel shoe
VALUE: At $150 these shoes aren’t cheap, but considering they are handmade from extremely high quality leather and can be re-soled, for minimalists these shoes are worth the price
MATERIALS: Buttery soft leather uppers that mold to your feet, and a comfortable, fitting Vibram sole add up to top notch materials 5/5
CONSTRUCTION: The level
DESIGN, AESTHETIC, AND FUNCTION: In the class of minimalist casual and Oxford style shoes, these shoes manage to look very good and better than the rest, due to cut, and the way the materials lay, beating out the Vivobarefoot Ra II in looks 5/5
DURABILITY | RELIABILITY: No issues in months of use. Long term reliability TBD
Read on to discover more about my experience with the Softstars Runamoc.
Or, visit Softstars online to see the Runamoc options before they sell out.
QUICK VERDICT ON THE SOFSTARS RUNAMOC
For travelers looking for a smart looking, packable, and comfortable shoe, you’ll be hard pressed to find better than the Softstars Dash Runamoc. High quality materials, hand made, and crafted for wandering in mind. This is a fantastic, minimalist travel shoe
I’ve been on the hunt for a versatile, travel friendly minimalist shoe that does well for days of walking a new city (or trail) but is stylish enough for happy hour and a nice restaurant in Paris – so I was excited to find the Softstars Runamoc line.
At first glance, the Runamoc fitted exactly what I needed – lightweight, packable, and a classically stylish look.
The Softstars Runamoc, Dash and Primal, are both great minimalist shoes fitting travel and casual daily wear (the Dash), as well as rougher adventures that a rubber toe cap and wider toe box suit (the Primal)
But beyond that they’re far better than expected. The Softsars shoes are advertised as healthy, with soft uppers that move with your toes and a just roomy enough toe box that allow for comfortable natural foot movement.
The Softstars shoes line then adds the option of a variety of minimalist, and flexible yet adequately cushioned soles – 5mm Vibram rubber to start (the one I picked), and the “mega grip,” trekking ready 6.5mm outsole and 3.5mm midsole for the Primal Mega Grip.
Last, the fact that each pair is handmade, adding that quality check and attention to detail that make the difference between a good shoe and a great shoe.
So, how did the Runamoc experience live up to the expectations once they popped out of the box?
Fantastically. The Dash Runamoc quickly became my go to shoe daily and at night.
My first impression of the Dash Runamoc was – simple, stylish, and soft, in a great way.
The leather uppers are so buttery soft and immediately feel good on the skin and flex with the foot, while giving a look I associate with classy casual Italian leather loafers. In other words – great quality.
The 5mm Vibram outsole is a perfect choice. The sole delivers a good amount of cushioning, comfortable enough for walking on concrete, but is soft enough that it flexes naturally with your feet.
A good comparison on the sole and uppers feel is the Vivobarefoot Ra II, which has a comparable shape, design, leather uppers, and minimalist sole (created by Vivobarefoot, not Vibram). The Softstar Dash Runamoc all around felt better – the Vibrams soles on the Dash were more flexible and moved better with my foot, ultimately being more comfortable, the uppers were softer, flexed with my foot better, and felt higher quality. Last, the cut of the toe on the Runamoc looks more natural – less like a clown shoe.
I already liked the Runamoc, but the Dash Runamoc outdid the best looking casual minimalist shoe on the market (the Vivobarefoot Ra II) in comfort and style right out of the box. Impressive.
Over the next few weeks of wear the Runamoc hardly broke in – the soles and uppers were so soft from the start that there wasn’t much further they could break in.
Through miles of walking, on trails, on concrete sidewalks, and in daily the Runamoc stayed comfortable (wearing no socks, of course) for a barefoot shoe. Of course, this is dependent on how comfortable you are wearing minimalist shoes – without ankle support, arch support, or a heel toe drop. I first switched to working out in the Vibrams Five Fingers in 2009 and have since switched to the New Balance Minimus as my workout shoe, so walking for 10 hours in minimalist shoes feels natural for me, as long as the soles are adequately flexible and have enough “give” to compensate for concrete. The 5mm Vibram outsole performs just enough.
Aesthetics and Style
Right now, I’m on Bali where flip flops are the standard – so if you wear “nice” shoes out on the town, someone generally. On the first night wearing the Runamocs, with a pair of the Unbound Merino Everyday Shorts I got compliments, and comments that the shoes looked “classy,” “minimalist,” and “comfortable.” All three comments being positive and spot on.
Wearing the shoes with chinos, my Outlier Futureworks or my staple Levi’s 511 commuter trousers looked just as good and nice enough for an upscale degustation menu at the fanciest restaurant in Bali, where a “smart casual” is the minimum and its one of the few places on Bali that people wear dinner jackets.
The bottom line: These shoes look just as good as they are comfortable, thanks to subtle cues – the leather quality, sole shape, toe box shape – that its hard to capture in a picture, making these easily the best looking “casual” Oxford style minimalist shoe
Daily Wear of the Dash Runamoc
One of the best aspects of this shoe is not only that its minimalist and looks good, but it is actually good for daily wear, staying comfortable, and even suitable for trail hikes (as long as you’re not kicking rocks and scree). The leather on these shoes is so soft that I’m not sure I trust their durability in scrambling up rocks without scratching holes in the, and I wouldn’t want to waste such a good shoe on that – I’d instead opt for the rubber toe cap protected Primal Runamoc with its beefier sole.
However, I love the sleek, stylish, and minimalist look of the Dash Runamoc that my perfect travel shoe kit will likely include the Dash Runamoc for daily and nightly wear, and a slightly beefier, dedicated minimalist hiking boot like the Lems Boulder Boot or the GORUCK Jedburgh.
However, if I wanted a do it all option – comfortable and nice enough for daily wear, and durable enough for trail hikes – I would opt for the Softar Primal Runamoc for its extra 5mm of outsole – for rocky trails – and protected toe – for kicking rocks and scrambling up hill sides.
Bottom line on daily wear: For a minimalist shoe, its hard to get better, and more comfortable, for daily wear than the Softsar Runamoc
- Soft, supple leather
- A glove like feel
- Free foot movement – wide toe box, soft, supple leathers, supple “barefoot” Vibram sole
- A healthy shoe
- Impressive quality and handmade
- Wide selection of flexible (and trusted) Vibrams outsoles – 2mm, 5mm, 6mm megagrip + 3.5mm midsole
- High quality and made in the USA in Oregon by outdoorsy and adventurous types
- Ability to customize your shoe – size, cut, color and soles, the “elves” will custom make any variation you want
CATEGORY BY CATEGORY REVIEW OF THE RUNAMOC
Finding a good shoe, for travel, hiking, or daily wear, depends on the small details that matter to you. Here, will break down the Runamoc in each area that makes a good shoe – so you can decide if its best for you
In the uppers, sole, and lacing system, the Runamoc can be best described as “soft, flexing with your foot, and sticking to your foot through every step.”
Some shoes feel separated from your foot with each step, too stiff to flex, or too lose to stay put. By contrast the Runamoc feels closer to a moccasin, softly hugging your foot through ever step while adding that rubber for just enough cushion on concrete and hard trail.
The soft leathers breath as much any other leather shoe, however, beware that in hot climates your feet will sweat in these a little bit – so if you are planning on a full day of walking in Sri Lankan or tropical heat, pack a thin pair of wool ankle socks for moisture management. However, I haven’t found the breathability to be a deterring issue, even in the Bali heat and thin wool socks would solved the problem if walking miles in the heat.
The Runamoc takes the versatile look of classic Oxford style shoes and packs them into a barefoot box – and do a good job. Whereas the problem with most barefoot shoes is the “clown shoe” look, the extremely soft leather uppers feel like they allow enough extra flexibility and room to move in the toe box that “extra extra” room isn’t necessary. The result is the function of a barefoot shoe with an understated look.
For wearing – these shoes look good and suitable in any situation you would wear black on black canvas shoes (such as Chuck Taylors) in and then some. The all leather uppers lend themselves to Chinos, casual slacks, and smart casual environments easily.
The low cut of the and for fitting shape make these just as wearable with shorts too – essentially making these an “anytime, anywhere” shoe from a style and aesthetics standpoint.
Bottom Line: My favorite part about the Runamoc is the aesthetic – a minimalist, packable shoe that’s solidly stylish.
A good travel shoe performs in as many environments as possible (walking around a city, hiking, drinks out), packs down small to take up minimal space in your pack, and ideally looks good along the way.
I’ve already shared how comfortable these shoes are in virtually every circumstance (by minimalist shoe standards), and how they look good enough for a picnic in the park or an upscale restaurant – and they perform just as well as a packable shoe.
The perk of these shoes being “minimalist” and flexible, is they pack down to nearly nothing. Laid flat, together the shoes stack less than an inch high (~2 centimeters to be exact). If you don’t plan on packing flat, the flexible soles allow these shoes to roll up small enough to fit into a coffee mug.
Bottom Line: These shoes are stylish and functional enough to be your only shoe, and small enough to pack into the tight corners of your bag – making them a perfect travel shoe option
Extremely soft leather uppers and a flexible sole have the downside question of “durability.” One can’t reasonably expect a pair of shoes to last forever, especially when made with supple materials.
However there is an upside – the Vibram outsoles are known to get hundreds of miles before the tread life runs out. My older New Balance Minimus shoes had a similar sole and generally lasted 18 months with workouts and running daily, so I would expect the same from these.
A plus of the Runamoc is that these shoes can be resoled with Vibrams soles that are easily purchased online, and the leather uppers will last as long as you take care of them. In my opinion, due to the softness of the leather, I would expect much durability from the toe if you are scraping and scratching rocks. However, if you are wearing these shoes in daily life, you will be able to resole them indefinitely.
The stitching that holds these shoes together was performed by hand, appears to be high quality and made to last, and can easily be repaired over time as these age.
The Bottom Line: If you take care of the uppers and don’t drag them over sand paper and rocks, you will get hundreds of miles out of these shoes – and you can resole them to extend the life as long as the leather lasts. A great part of these shoes is the ability to repair them and get years out of their life, as long as the leathers are taken care of
At $150, the Softsar Runamoc isn’t cheap – but I’d argue that you get every dollar worth of your money and a quality shoe in return, and that is actually the going rate for a casual wear friendly minimalist shoe, with the Vivobarefoot Ra II going for $150 as well. However with the Softstar Runamoc, you get more for your money.
- Customizable: Each pair of shoes is made to order
- Higher quality, sustainable and humanely sourced leather uppers
- Made in the USA
The “handmade” nature adds a noticeable level of quality and craftmanship that I’ve come to love. Each pair of Softstars shoes takes between 42 and 93 specific steps, incorporating traditional moccasin construction techniques, to create the shoe. That kind of attention doesn’t come cheap and, I’ve learned, is worth the money.
Each pair of shoes is made to order, allowing the adaption of colors, sizes and shape combinations for individual customers.
The materials, especially the soft leather uppers, are very high quality too. In an era of “cheaper is better,” all of Softsars materials are humanely and sustainably sourced (leather, sheepskin, and bull hide) for a better, longer lasting product with less negative impact.
All of this justifies the higher price tag that is standard with barefoot shoes.
Last, you can keep these shoes longer than its parts will last. Stitching can be restitched and soles can be replaced by a good cobbler, so these shoes are an investment that you can take care of and enjoy long after the initial pair of soles wear out.
The “elves” at Softstars have done an excellent job creating a product tailored to the needs of their customers, and the “Primal” Runamoc is an example of that.
The Dash Runamoc is a perfect daily wear shoe, suitable for the office, daily adventures and beyond, but I would feel guilty subjecting such a nice shoe to the abuses of trekking for weeks. So, Softstars created the Primal Runamoc.
The Primal Runamoc takes the great shoe that the Dash is, adds a wider and roomer toe box for natural foot splay and natural foot swelling that happens over a day of hiking.
Then, the Primal Runamoc adds a rubber toe cap, protecting the part of shoes that tend to wear out first when hiking on rough trails.
Last, the Primal Runamoc adds a beefier, yet still minimalist sole – from the 5mm on the Dash Runamoc to a 6.5mm Vibram outsole + 3.5mm midsole – to keep these shoes comfortable and healthy on jagged rocky trail.
So, if you like the look and feel of the Dash Runamoc but want a single packable shoe for your harcore outdoor adventures too, opt for the Softstar Primal Runamoc
The Vivobarefoot Ra II is the closest comparable shoe, costing exactly the same price and delivering a similar look. However, I prefer the Dash Runamoc over the Vivobarefoot Ra.
The Runamoc’s leathers are softer, feel better, and move better with the feet.
The Runamoc’s 5mm Vibram Outsole flexes and moves better than Vivobarefoot’s 4mm proprietary outsole and feels more comfortable. I enjoy wearing the Dash Runamoc all day on any terrain, whereas in the Vivobarefoot I fully felt the concrete beneath my feet while the tread wasn’t friendly to walking on trails and hiking. The Runamoc’s sole is more comfortable as well as more versatile while still delivering the best attributes of minimalist footwear
Xero Shoes, another notable minimalist footwear creator offers a close comparable with the Xero Hana, which is intended to be a casual wear minimalist shoe. However, the Dash Runamoc outdoes the Xero Hana as well.
The Dash Runamoc’s style is more versatile – more suitable for the office and generally more stylish.
Second, users of the Xero Hana noted clearly that it wasn’t a shoe conducive to trails and hiking, whereas I’d be comfortable wearing the Runamoc on everything except extremely rocky trail.
All in all, the Xero Hana is a casual, citywear minimalist shoe while the Runamoc does it all
The Softstar team playfully brands themselves as the “Softstar Elves” (as you’ll see when you receive your shoes), likely due to their caring and playful “Santa’s Workshop” style approach to making your shoes.
All Softstar shoes are made by hand (by the elves) at their workshop in Oregon USA and have been since 1985.
Every single pair of shoes are made to order and, as you’ll see if you browse their site, they do all kinds of custom adaptions – size, color, shape, etc.
THE VERDICT ON THE SOFTSTARS DASH RUNAMOC: ALL AROUND AWESOME + HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDN
An excellent minimalist and travel-friendly shoe that I highly recommend. Stylish enough for any occasion, comfortable enough for urban adventures and light trails. Take care of the uppers and you’ll have an excellent, packable shoe perfect for all of your travels.
For hard core hikers that are looking for minimalist boots to pack as well, if you plan to hike the Himilayas or Patagonian back country, I highly recommend considering the Lems Boulder Boot and the GORUCK Jedburgh Boot. These more supportive boots are perfect to pair with the Dash Runamoc to have a footwear kit that keeps you ready for anything.
For day hikes with minimal weight, the Lems Boulder boot is great, comfortable, and will stand up to more abuse than the Dash Runamoc, and packs small too.
For weighted hikes and multi-day treks, the sturdier yet still versatile GORUCK Jedburgh Boot is excellent to pair with the Dash Runamoc