Thursday, October 18, 2012

SKORA BASE Real Review

The SKORA BASE in black and red

The clever people at SKORA appear to have a penchant for using all caps in their brand and product names. This is difficult for me to ignore and somewhat of a dilemma.

I'm of the mindset that the use of all caps is for logos, advertisements, and expressing anger in text across the internet. Every other example just demonstrates bad etiquette. So, one side of my pedantic brain wants to type the company name as a proper noun — Skora.

On the other hand, the empathetic side of my mind feels compelled to honor the branding desires of the company, thereby following their lead in always using capital letters for SKORA and their products, in this case the BASE.

Many of you will agree, I think, that using all caps in online discourse is tantamount to shouting. So, every time I see SKORA in the middle of a perfectly normal sentence, like this one; I imagine that the company's name is being emphasized rather frantically. Recall, if you can, those Sega game commercials in which the speaker grinds out the word "Sega" as if he'd just downed two cups of coffee, a Red Bull, and several sticks of beef jerky.

This is SkoraAlso, given the hard "r" sound and dual-syllabic structure, the word SKORA is quite similar in vocal action to, oh, say, Sparta. Thus, I imagine Gerard Butler fiercely shouting the word in that famous scene from 300 just before kicking that dude into a giant hole.

Is this good marketing? Clearly. SKORA's use of all caps inspired me to contemplate the brand name far more than necessary. And, the fact that the word's mere appearance conjures up aural and visual memories in my mind is definitely a good way to make an impression with minimal effort. That's real branding, folks! (Not that I know anything about branding)

I'm harping on the SKORA brand presentation, because the company's attention to detail should not go unnoticed. Their two shoe models, the leather FORM and mesh BASE are fairly unique. And, the company shares a lot of specifics about the manufacturing and design processes that mirror their Real Running philosophy.

Now, you've likely read a review of one of the SKORA shoes already, most likely the rather costly FORM. If not, it would be worthwhile to acquaint yourself with this perspective on both the FORM and the BASE. You'll get a good sense of the back story and see some interesting remarks in the comments section.

Back to BASE(ics)

Skora Base profile
Cool Fact: SKORA is Polish for skin. Thus, the Polish founder and CEO David Sypniewski took inspiration from the word to define the idea that the shoes are meant to fit like a second skin.

A 9mm stack height (13mm with the removable sockliner) and zero differential between the heel and forefoot certainly places this shoe on the minimal side of the marketing spectrum.

The midsole (black portion of sole you see pictured) is a rather dense foamy stuff. I guess it's EVA. But, it's not as soft and squishy as the usual EVA midsole material.

The outsole (red and blue pieces pictured here) are made of a dense, high-abrasion rubber that seems to be highly durable.

Skora Base

The rounded heel is a nice touch. Although, it can feel a little unstable while walking around in the shoe at first (good thing it's made for running!). This is probably why SKORA added more of that red outsole material to the heel of the shoe. It looks like extra weight to me. And, I'd be curious to know what the BASE would be like with some of that shaved off.

Skora Base insole

The removable OrthoLite® sockliner has little bubble things to "increase biofeedback". It is not too thick, as far as sockliners go. In fact, it's kind of dense for a sockliner. So, wearing the BASE with the sockliner inside is a very different experience compared to wearing the shoes without the liner. The shoe is very comfortable either way. And, if you prefer to run without socks, I don't think you'd be disappointed here.

Personally, I like the BASE without the sockliner inserted. It's even more flexible and relays a much higher degree of ground feel. It's fantastic, really!

Unfortunately, removing the sockliner means there's more space within the shoe. And, for me, that extra space is difficult to eliminate with the strapping system that secures the shoe to my foot. So, I'm left with a somewhat sloppy-floppy feeling when I take out the sockliner. If only there were a securing mechanism that allowed for a more precise shoe fit.

So, I wear the BASE with the sockliners. And, the dense sole in conjunction with the stack height makes the BASE's proprioceptive potential similar to that of the Merrell Road Glove. That's a really good thing, in my opinion. I get a sense of exceptional protection while detecting a decent amount of ground feel.

Mind you, the BASE definitely does not fit like the Road Glove. The latter offers a slightly wider toe box while the midfoot and heel are more fitted. Also, the BASE fits on the large side of standard. So, while I wear a size 12 Road Glove, I have plenty of room in a size 11.5 BASE.

Skora Base insole

Speaking of Fit

The REALFIT™ last on which the BASE and FORM are built is SKORA's version of an anatomical design. And, I'd say it passes for that. The toe box is wide-ish and probably allows for sufficient toe splay for people with a medium to narrow forefoot. Runners with exceptionally wide feet might find the toe box to be a bit pinchy, though.

The last curves somewhat dramatically on the lateral side, which gives the shoe something of an odd, banana-like profile from above. This profile is due, in part, to the extra body afforded by the upper. The actual last has a more foot-shaped appearance when you look at it from below.

Despite the seemingly obtuse profile curve to the last, I find that it works quite well for my foot shape. Unlike some shoe lasts that pinch the smallest toes, the SKORA BASE allows for plenty of room without having too much room there.

Skora Base

There is a slight curve under the arch area, especially with the sockliner in place. But, this is a very minimal structural element. And, I don't think it's worth noticing, really.

A pronounced toe spring is perceivable by most in the BASE's construction. But, I didn't find it to be conspicuous while running.

The counterless heel cup is pretty generous. There is a velcro strap at the back of the heel to enable a custom fit in this area. So, if the heel cup girth is too generous for you, the nifty strap may be helpful.

The x-strap system in lieu of shoe laces undoubtedly offers many runners relief when they do not feel like tying laces. I'm sure this innovative use of straps is awesome for triathletes when changing shoes during a race.

However, the x-strap system causes a conundrum for me. Due to the straps' limited cinching capacity, my low-volume feet are not substantial enough to enjoy a snug fit with the sockliners removed. This is disappointing, because I definitely prefer the BASE without sockliners.

Even with the sockliners in place, I must secure the straps as tightly as possible in order to obtain a secure fit. Obviously, this problem is not necessarily a fault of the shoe, but just a peculiarity of my foot.

Personally, I've decided that I just don't appreciate straps in place of laces on my running shoes. The BASE has helped me finalize this opinion. The Altra Adam's straps demonstrate the same shortcomings I've described here. So, running shoe designers, please, give up on the straps. They suck (for people with feet like mine, anyway).

Skora Base

Getting Real

Let's remind ourselves that SKORA's Run Real slogan is meant to describe the company's focus on creating shoes that "allow the human body to function as naturally and efficiently as possible". I'm usually skeptical of marketing verbiage like that. So, I've paid close attention to how well the BASE facilitates a midfoot strike.

After a few months with the BASE, I can honestly say that SKORA's shoe design makes learning and practicing a midfoot or forefoot strike simple. That combination of a zero-drop sole with the unique design of the outsole helps make it obvious to your body when your form gets sloppy. Again, I'll liken the BASE to the Merrell Road Glove here.

Skora Base

So, running in the BASE is essentially a pleasure. If my feet fit into the straps better, or if there were laces, I could wear this shoe for every run over appropriate terrain. But, as it fits me now, I'll probably just wear it for runs up to an hour or so. I have other road shoes that fit snugly enough to take on longer runs.

As for performance, the BASE serves well for all sorts of training activity. It feels fast enough for speedwork and comfortable enough for standard training runs.

The outsole works really well on pavement and gravel trails, of course. It could serve you well enough on technical trails if the BASE is all you have. (Plenty of accomplished runners have proven the BASE's potential over all sorts of trails) But, I'd pick a more trail-specific shoe over the BASE if I had a choice.

Should You Try It?

If I haven't totally put you off with any of the characteristics described above, then of course you should try the BASE. It's a great shoe overall.

And, at $110 with free shipping from the SKORA store, the BASE is as easy to virtually try as anything you'd find at RunningWarehouse or Zappos. It might just be your perfect shoe. I'll be anxious to see what SKORA has lined up for next season.

Thanks for reading!
Product provided by SKORA.


  1. This logo style vs. "real word" style issue came up all the time in my years at a certain "magazine about shopping." We—which is to say I—decreed that these names are proper nouns, and as such they are to be written as proper nouns. That is, title case. Not all caps or all lowercase or a single capped letter in the middle. And certainly no made-up punctuation anywhere.

    Editorial style is not the same as logo style. Writing proper nouns as they are intended to be rendered is a subtle way of proving you aren't in the pocket of Big Shoe or Giant Handbag.

    Also, if you scan through a company's PR material and related whatnots, you'll probably discover that even they aren't consistent with how they present these things. And why? Because logo style runs counter to linguistic logic.

    With that out of the way, I will now read your feelings regarding the Skora Base.

  2. Y'know, Form and Base are real words, not acronyms, so there's really no good reason for the all-caps treatment. Same goes for Skora. All caps just plain sucks in running text.

    Nice-looking shoe though. I like it better than the Form.

  3. Good to read you're back! How are you? Hmmm - I AM kind of thinking I would like a neutral shoe to start practising some midfoot striking with but do you think the SKORA would be a good starting place? Will probably wait with buying till I get to the US sometime soon because all of these shoes cost twice the price in the UK.

    PS I've moved to wordpress - I'm now at

  4. S.K.O.R.A - Silly Korean Outrageous Rhythmic Anthem. It's the GANGNAM Style shoe. Giddy up.

    Great review, as usual.

  5. I love the color of those! I have the Base in all blue. Absolutely love the shoe! I found your blog through them on their facebook page! I'm glad I did. You have a lot of great reviews on here.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! The blue Base looks fantastic in the pictures I've seen. It's a great shoe in any color, though.
      Thanks for reading!

  6. Skora was founded by a Polish guy in the Pacific Northwest, you can expect quality craftsmanship :)



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