After seeing a barrage of ever-changing styles over the past few years, we've become sort of numb to the weirdness of barefoot shoes. But, every once in a while, a manufacturer manages to introduce a design that shocks and awes. The barefoot-leguano that we spotted at the recent ISPO sports show is one such design. Sort of a Swiss Protection Sock with a mild Reebok ATV-style bubble sole, these shoes aim to fill that lessening void between full shoes and bare piggies.

Like other barefoot designers, leguano contends that nature created us to run barefoot through fields, forests and beaches. Then, as he tends to do, man screwed it all up by creating big, thick-soled, cushioned shoes, condemning our feet to centuries of inactivity and dumbing down. As leguano sees it, that dumbing has left modern feet unfit to meet the stresses of running fully barefoot.

Leguano believes the solution to the modern footwear dilemma is to strip the feet of all that excess material while maintaining basic protection. In this way, our feet will be free to enjoy the benefits of barefoot running without tearing, breaking, scarring and otherwise crumbling beneath us.

The barefoot-leguano "shoe" combines a wool-poly-cotton-elastane sock upper with a sole made from Lifolit PVC. Leguano describes the sole as "studded," but it looks more like bubble wrap to us. The company claims that the design gives the foot a free and natural range of motion, enabling all the appropriate muscles to become involved in the running process. In effect, it encourages a more balanced and natural running stride, decreases the chance for injury, and increases stamina and speed.

Frankly, we remain skeptical of all those claims, but a couple of others really resonate. Thanks to the conforming sock upper, leguano barefooters are unlikely to experience stones spitting and lodging inside, which will eliminate one of the annoyances of running/walking. Leguana also says that the textured sole is structured to provide a massaging effect on the feet, which sure sounds better than the fiery ache that your feet could be tortured with during a run.

Leguano-barefoots are available in a variety of colors for €79 (US$105). "Laguinitas" are a smaller version designed for children – just in case you want to empower the bullies at your child's elementary school.

Source: leguano GmbH