by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova
In the NBA world, athletes are subject to physical rigors that most laypeople cannot comprehend. For the elite basketball player, his/her body is his/her literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm (in the so-called real world) also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both NBAers and laypersons to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning—because after all, without having the vital fuel, guidelines and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the uniquely tuned creatures who we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.
The market is getting slowly filled with shoes that are starting to look more and more like the foot. Shapes are formed and more contoured, toes are formed, and rubber is slowly being retracted in favor of high-density foams. The minimalist movement is here, and Fila has chosen to take part. With previous incarnations such as the Skele-Toes and Skele-Toes 2.0, the new Fila Skele-Toes Voltage goes a few steps farther, becoming what I believe is the best articulated toe running shoe I’ve ever worn (thus far).
Via press release from Fila:
Fila USA announces the addition of a performance running shoe to the Skele-Toes articulated-toe minimalist footwear collection. Minimalist enthusiasts, who are wary of the transition from traditional running footwear, can now enjoy the best of both worlds with the introduction of the Fila Voltage. This style offers an ultra-lightweight (women’s 6 oz. and men’s 7.4 oz.) cushioned alternative to the articulated-toe minimalist running shoes currently in the market.
Recognizing the market’s move toward more natural foot movement in running shoes, Fila’s design team created performance running’s first articulated-toe cushioned running shoe. Delivering to retail in November, the Voltage includes individual toe slots that provide comfort, freedom of movement and natural stability. Similar to the rest of the styles in the Skele-Toes collection, this new style also incorporate the EZ-Slide feature, comprised of a single toe slot for the two smallest toes to improve ease of entry.
The engineered air mesh upper also utilizes lightweight high performance micro-suede inserts for added structure without impeding flexibility. The upper is constructed with a minimum of seams for added comfort. The Voltage has an integrated pull-tab at the heel and a bungee lacing system with a lace-lock feature to ensure a custom fit.
Fila’s sole design provides the maximum flexibility and ease of movement to allow the wearer to feel the contour of the ground with a more natural use of the toes. Fila utilized an injected SuperAction™ EVA midsole which was first used in Fila’s popular racing flats, the Fila Racer. Worn by elite and competitive runners all over the world, the SuperAction™ midsole is lightweight and durable enough to be exposed throughout the outsole. For added traction and durability, Fila’s design team added minimal amounts of EVER-GRIND™ rubber in the toe-off and heel-strike areas.
One great thing about the Voltage is that its lightweight in its package. It has a one-piece upper with additional overlays; a combination midsole-outsole foam forms the Voltage’s whole sole; it’s also contoured and features a distinguished foot shape, and as a bonus, there’s less rubber (just rubber outsole plugs in targeted areas).
The Voltage is a comfortable shoe as well. It has Nike Free-like sipes and articulated toes, which is a first in the combination of those features on a shoe of this type. The lining is seamless, and the EVA sole foam is soft; that it’s shaped like a foot only brings more comfort to the foot housed within it, and it can achieve as close to a custom fit as possible with the Voltage’s elastic cords take the place of actual laces, which would be typically used on the vast majority of other shoes.
The support of the Voltage is also present. The aforementioned one-piece upper makes use of synthetic medial and lateral overlays that are used to secure the shoe to the foot when the bungee cord is tightened; the last of the Voltage has a sort of natural contour design, and the hold of the cord is supreme when fastened and secured.
As I prefaced, the Voltage is the best articulated toe running shoe I’ve tested and worn, and collectively, most of the features of the shoe make for a very pleasant experience. I prefer the Voltage with toesocks, but regardless of that, it runs great on the treadmill and does pretty well on the concrete road. It feels very natural, not like a standard running shoe, that’s a great thing for me. Also, I changed my running stride over the past two years, but I no longer run with a heel-strike stride, as I’ve moved to the more anatomically healthy midfoot-forefoot strike for my running gait, but with the Voltage, having that kind of forefoot stride actually aids the Voltage – my legs and muscles got a great workout and made my legs work harder because they absorbed more stress and impact than my skeleton would with another form; the Voltage made it easy for me to maintain my stride.
And though there aren’t many weaknesses of the Voltage, there are a few that help the later and improved versions of this Voltage shoe in the future. One weakness was that the lockdown could’ve been better if the Voltage had another pair of eyelets for a better hold over the bridge of the foot, which would’ve minimized any minimal heel slip that I encountered. Also, the rubber outsole plugs are great, but more of them also would’ve been great along the lateral underside of the shoe for increased durability.
The Voltage is very wearable as a casual shoe, too. It’s attractive, it’s easy to wear. It’s also good to put on for activities inside or outside of the house and breathable, making for a great shoe that is a strong performer on the road and a joy to slip for casual wear.
The Skele-Toes Voltage is available exclusively at the Finish Line.
(For additional photos of the Fila Skele-Toes Voltage, go to Facebook.)
Sandy Dover is a published author, media consultant, and web & print magazine columnist in the world of publishing, while acting as a sports product evaluator and fitness/training advisor & journalist in the fitness industry (with the two worlds often colliding). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at About Me, Facebook and Twitter.