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Softstar Adult DASH RunAmoc Review

This is one of our favorite strict minimalist shoes, and it looks nice enough for casual wear
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $140 List
Pros:  Soft and supple uppers, simple design, thin sole, durable materials
Cons:  Less secure fit for aggressive or uneven terrain
Manufacturer:   Softstar Shoes
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 10, 2020
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Performance - 30% 8
  • Barefoot Accuracy - 25% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Traction - 15% 5
  • Versatility - 10% 5
  • Durability - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The SoftStar DASH RunAmoc is a joy to wear and wins a Top Pick Award for Simplicity. The buttery-soft, responsibly sourced leather uppers are an impressive balance of suppleness and durability, and the wide toe box allows toes to splay wide. The thin 5mm Vibram Omniflex sole is flexible enough to move with minimal resistance while providing a stiffer platform that blunts sharp rocks better than most soles of this thickness. Don't be fooled by the casual appearance of these shoes, they are up for an impressive variety of activities, from casual to athletic, bringing fun and joy to the feet in many environments.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Casual, simple, and comfortable, these supple shoes are unique and impressive in a variety of ways.

Performance Comparison


Testing the DASH RunAmoc was pure joy.
Testing the DASH RunAmoc was pure joy.

Performance


The DASH RunAmoc does not look like performance footwear. It looks more like a casual shoe or even a bowling shoe. In the minimalist category of shoes, however, it checks a lot of the boxes in our performance field tests. The standout feature that makes this pair shine as minimalist running shoes is the buttery soft and supple upper materials. SoftStar uses premium, responsibly-sourced leather for the uppers, which, not surprisingly, provides a pleasantly natural feel. It conforms well to almost any foot, which may be very appealing to anyone who struggles with shoe fit and blisters on their upper feet. It also allows the toes to raise, a critical component of barefoot running technique that we look for in all of our minimalist footwear. With adequately strengthened feet, raising your toes prior to a fore- or mid-foot landing pre-tensions the plantar fascia for landing, thereby providing a critical component of your body's natural shock-absorbing mechanics.


Keep in mind that the lacing system on the DASH RunAmoc is very minimal, so the shoe may not feel as secure on uneven terrain. Fit can make a difference here, where wider or higher volume feet that fill out more space in the shoe may get more of a secure fit than lower volume feet. Fortunately, SoftStar offers these in regular, wide, and narrow widths. The less restricting lacing makes the feel of the shoes excellent, but it does mean your foot can shift around on the footbed. The flat sole and footbed ensure a very simple and close-to-barefoot performance. The wide toe box additionally makes the shoe feel roomy and non-restricting, even with a relatively close fit.

The DASH is at home in a variety of terrain types.
The DASH is at home in a variety of terrain types.

The thin, 5mm Omniflex sole from Vibram is also one of our favorites. This is top-notch minimalist design: only one material, the whole way through, providing consistent flex and a zero-drop platform. The feet are free to move as naturally as possible when shod. The firmness of the rubber blunts sharper terrain features, like gravel and rocks, making these a great pair of shoes for those who want to feel most things underfoot — except pokey sharp things.

All of this means that this shoe is a great companion on casual walks where you want to enjoy our time on your feet (isn't that most of the time?), but also for running focused on form at a slower pace. We found that these shoes gave us the same "feetback" that we get when running completely barefoot. We learned that the skin irritation we feel after walking or running barefoot has to do with our gait mechanics. And when we learned this (or were reminded of it), we then were able to focus on balancing our stride to be gentler, and ultimately, much more efficient. Very empowering.

Before you blame the shoes for your foot issues, make sure you have adequately strengthened your feet over time, and consider learning more about what your feet are telling you. Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof is a good place to start.

Barefoot Accuracy


The RunAmoc is perhaps one of the most accurate-to-barefoot shoes we have tested. The simple design and use of natural leather uppers seems to be the driver of this accuracy. This sounds great, of course, but note that it does have a pitfall, as mentioned above — you may get some hard "feetback" about your gait or running economy, which you're going to have to troubleshoot and may have to work on some strengthening or running mechanics. The up-side? The learning. Learning is cool.


As for the checklist of items that make these shoes feel almost like walking without shoes, let's check:
  • Zero drop from heel-to-toe? Check.
  • Sole made of one material? Yep.
  • Soft and flexible sole? Reasonably.
  • Thin sole, less than 10mm thick? Yep, just 5mm from heel-to-toe.
  • Non-restricting but secure lacing? Fairly secure, very non-restricting.
  • No arch support? Check.
  • Breathable uppers? Natural leather, fairly so!
  • Straight axis, no in-flared shape or curve? Check.
  • No forefoot concavity? Check.
  • Wide toe box? So lovely.

When we inspected the sole of the DASH RunAmoc in our bend-and-twist tests, we found the Vibram Ominflex 5mm sole to be on the stiffer side for its minimal thickness, but this may be precisely what you're looking for. These shoes blunted sharp gravel and rocks better than other soles of a similar thickness, so they may be a go-to for those of you wanting a little more blunting of sharp surfaces without requiring a thicker sole underfoot.

The Vibram Omniflex sole provides a consistent and reliable rotation throughout the length of the sole.
The Vibram Omniflex 5 mm sole on the DASH RunAmoc feels stiffer than other soles of similar thickness--which can be nice for those who want to go as minimal as possible but still want protection from sharper objects like the dreaded large  angular gravel.

Weight


At just 12.5 ounces for a size 9U, The RunAmoc is on the lighter side of shoes in the minimalist category. They are not made of particularly lightweight materials — the sole is quite sturdy, and the leather uppers are not some specialized ultralight fabric. But the minimal design and simplicity keep these shoes at a remarkably lightweight, especially for the durability they offer.


Traction


The Omniflex 5mm sole has a zig-zag pattern with deep enough grooves to grip off-road and a smooth enough surface for running on wet roads.


The stiffness of the rubber blunts sharp surfaces better than soles of similar thickness, but this comes at a small cost to ground feel. With softer and more supple soles, your feet are able to grip the ground easier through the shoe. The Omniflex sole is just thick enough that it doesn't quite offer that kind of dexterity. You can bend and flex the sole easily, but any gripping toe motions will not transfer through the sole of the shoe.

We love the new Omniflex sole from Vibram  used in the SoftStar DASH RunAmoc.
We love the new Omniflex sole from Vibram, used in the SoftStar DASH RunAmoc.

Versatility


The DASH RunAmoc are highly versatile with a lean toward casual footwear. These are a great pair of simple running flats for even or smooth terrain, notably trails and gravel paths. They are easily dressed up for a day around town as well. We particularly enjoy the minimalist design as it allows us to move our feet and keep them strong without making it obvious by actually walking around barefoot.


Durability


The sleek, elegant look of the RunAmoc did not immediately flag these shoes as an impressively durable option. And the smooth and supple leather makes them look more like dress shoes than running shoes. However, we have observed these shoes through a year of rigorous use, through many seasons, and it took that amount of time for the leather at the toe to finally split and separate from the sole. When you put these shoes on, you can see that there is more strain at the toe when you lift your toes.


We do not want SoftStar to change this, however, because it is unique to have a truly flat pair of shoes. Minimalist footwear aims to eliminate toe-spring (that curve from the sole underfoot to the tip of the toes purported to "spring" you forward, but which actually weakens your toes), and most shoes still have some gentle upward curve. The DASH RunAmoc, however, is impeccably flat.

Over time  the strain seen here between the leather and the sole as you lift your toes will add up and cause this seam to fail. But in our experience with these shoes  it takes as much as a year of frequent  hard  all-weather running.
Over time, the strain seen here between the leather and the sole as you lift your toes will add up and cause this seam to fail. But in our experience with these shoes, it takes as much as a year of frequent, hard, all-weather running.

Value


The DASH RunAmoc are an excellent value for a variety of reasons. The first is the durability — these shoes hold up to a lot of miles due to the simple, durable materials and excellent quality control. They are also a shoe that can be dressed up but will keep up with you on more rigorous outings, from urban parkour to trail running. If we were to have only one shoe, this is the closest thing to it.

Conclusion


The SoftStar DASH RunAmoc is an excellent minimalist running and casual shoe that takes home a Top Pick Award for its brilliant simplicity. It looks nice enough for a day around town, yet is burly enough to log a lot of miles running on- and off-road. We loved donning these shoes on rest days around town — they look good and feel good due to the soft, supple leather uppers, and the feet can move freely, which feels great when you tire yourself out and really don't feel like putting on shoes at all. The minimal feel also ensures you enjoy adventuring even on milder terrain, as your feet will still get stimulation on smoother surfaces. And finally, the slightly stiffer sole, compared to other 5mm soles we've tested, allows you to tackle sharper surfaces with a little more confidence, such as angular gravel paths or trails with those annoying intermittent and irregular gravel sections. Overall, an excellent shoe from SoftStar in Oregon!

The DASH RunAmoc are fun on trails  around town  and almost anywhere we want to take them.
The DASH RunAmoc are fun on trails, around town, and almost anywhere we want to take them.

Lyra Pierotti