As a Saucony ProGrid Kinvara groupie (I did actually sleep with my Kinvaras during the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay), I was quite excited when the Hattori was released. The Hattori is Saucony’s most minimalist shoe and an answer to Vibram’s FiveFingers. Unlike the FiveFingers, the Hattori fits more like a slipper (or mitten) than a glove. There are no individual holes for each toe and that makes finding a good fit quite a bit easier.
The shoes are fastened with two velcro straps – one secured over the ankle and the other behind. I’ve found the one behind the ankle tends to be loose. Perhaps my ankles are just bony, but its loose fit always makes me a bit nervous when I set out for a run. I know now that my nerves are unfounded as the front strap provides the snug fit I need.
Inside, the shoes feel surprisingly cushy. They really do feel like a familiar pair of slippers and I wouldn’t mind wearing them around the house all day. The hard impact cushioning placed strategically on the bottom of the shoe makes me a louder runner than I am in the Kinvaras but it does prevent the shoes from wearing out too quickly.
How minimalist are they? I’ll say this: The first time I ran barefoot on the beach, I was surprised to find a few blisters on the bottoms of my feet. The first time I ran in the Hattoris, I found blisters in the exact same spots. They give a true feel of the terrain without the pain one sometimes encounters. If I step on a sharp rock barefoot, my foot adjusts but it hurts. If I step on a sharp rock in the Hattoris, my foot adjusts and it doesn’t hurt.
The main negative I’ve encountered is the tendency for the Hattoris to rub the back of my heel raw. For whatever reason, this happens primarily on my right foot and only when I wear socks. I think it’s best not to wear socks with them. They are, after all supposed to bring you closer to the barefoot running experience. The only reason I’ve worn socks with them is because I was afraid of smelling them up. I have, however, found them remarkably easy to wash. During a run in the Chicago suburbs this summer, I was forced into a muddy ditch by an approaching car. When I got back to my hotel, I ran the Hattoris under the bathtub faucet to wash the mud away. Because of their aqua sock like construction, this worked like a charm. I set them on the balcony in the sun and they were dry and looking almost new in less than 3 hours.
Overall, the Saucony Hattori has a little less stability than I like. If you truly like the barefoot experience, then I think you’ll love the Hattori. There are certainly days that I like to slip them on and let my legs churn through a fast run, but I don’t think I’ll be breaking up with the Kinvara anytime soon!
***Disclaimer: The shoes were complimentary, but the opinions are solely mine.***