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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Somnio Nada: a "barefoot" shoe review

Somnio sent me a pair of the new Nadas, free-for-nothin' (as my father in law says), and here, my friends, is my review.
First of all, about the Nadas: I thought the name was cleverly Spanish. You know, nada = nothing. But actually it's a pun on "not a shoe". Ah! I like puns! These are very, very, light shoes with very, very little stability or padding. They are a minimalist, "barefoot" type shoe. They only weight 3.5 ounces, which I love!
So, the looks: Pretty cute. But they're meant to be unisex and I daresay guys would be offended by the glitter laces.

The fit: The nada runs large as running shoes go, which means you should order the size you actually wear in a regular shoe. My pair are size 8.5-9 womens/7-7.5 men's. In regular shoes, I wear a women's 8.5-9; in running shoes I wear a women's 9.5 or a men's 8.5. The Nada's toe box is wide (which you will need as you will be spreading your toes as you land) and the shoe features diagonal stitching and a seamless upper for an easily adjustable fit. 
Compared to Saucony Triumph (men's)

The function: You will definitely run like you're barefoot in this shoe because there is minimal sole and a "zero drop" (ie, the heel isn't elevated). However, the sole is actually very durable and protects the foot well.  I consider it a good thing that I had to keep reminding myself to think about the shoe when I was running: I kept forgetting about them, and isn't that what you want in a minimalist shoe?
After about 30 miles
There are two things I like about this particular barefoot-type shoe:
1. Because it actually has a normal sole, it is possible to spread your landing across the midfoot. Since I have a high arch, my plain old bare foot couldn't land in the middle, so more stress was concentrated on the forefoot.
2. The fit is much easier, simpler, and more comfortable than other barefoot shoes. By this I mean Vibrams. The Vibram toe-shoe fit is complicated (sizing varies based on style and is unrelated to any other sizing pattern) and if you're feet aren't actually shaped like pizza slices with perfectly spaced toes, you won't get a good fit. My feet are weird.
Please don't laugh at my feet. I am illustrating that with my deformed pinky toe Vibrams do not fit.
It's quite easy to adjust the laces on the Nadas to get a pretty snug fit no matter the width of your foot...or the weirdness of your toes.
The Nadas come with a kind of funny dvd of foot and leg exercises meant to prepare one for barefoot running, but I'll just tell you that you should start slow and be prepared for sore calves.
The value: Price is comparable to other minimalist shoes ($80). The shoe may appear flimsy because there is NO stitching on the upper at all, just bonding, but they're tough. I attempted to beat them up and failed.Well-constructed.
The bad: The bright red insole of the Nadas bleeds. I've worn them about ten times and all my socks turned pink. Just FYI.
The summary: I'd buy them over other minimalist shoes. They're a shoe you don't have to think about - they protect your sole and that's about all. When you're trying to run more naturally, you don't want your shoes to be a distraction (weird stitching, funny fit, shoes is falling off, toes feel like they're in a torture device...etc). The Nada's won't be. You'll think you're barefoot.
***Editor's note: I drafted this post several weeks ago but I've gotten more use out of the shoes since then. I found that if I simply ignored my gait and ran like I always do I felt the best. The furthest I've worn these shoes for is 8 miles, and I promise I actually felt great afterward. Definitely work up to that distance, though. Bottom line is, the more I wear the Nadas the more I love them, and I will definitely be buying another pair when these die. ***


  1. Dude, how can I get people to just send me shoes?!

  2. They're new so I think they're accepting "fit testers" or something.

  3. The Nadas are great and, even though a man, the glitter laces didn't bother me.

  4. New (free) shoes! Time to give the shoe-Gu a rest ;)

    I tend to let my racing flats = "minimalist" shoes. Not sure if they are technically the same?