By Coach Mike Lotter
After 2 runs in my Fila Skele-Toes Bay Runners, mostly hilly, dirt/rock trails and fire roads, a little pavement, I am impressed and would buy them again. According to the label, this ‘Bay Runner‘ model is made for any terrain, and so far, I find that to be true. The Fila Skele-Toes Bay Runner Model feel fast, and according to my GPS, are fast.
The Fila Skele-Toes have minimal tread but great traction because of the toes getting involved. They’re great for picking one’s way through rocky sections of trails that are common and sometimes troublesome on Mt. Tam. The Skele-Toes Bay Runner make this aspect of trail running fun for me, like a dance.
Rock protection is excellent, as the Skele-Toes Bay Runner, though light and thin, have a tough sole. They also have, as the other Skele-Toes shoes have, a 4 toe design that encapsulates the 2 smallest toes together in one toe box. This ensures more protection from snagging or stubbing on objects along trails, of the pinkey toe (a problem for users of FiveFinger designs, at times).
The shoes look great but not too flashy, in a grey with yellow draw string cord for laces, but there are lots of colors to choose from. The Fila Skele-Toes Bay Runner are a true zero drop shoe. This means like all good “barefoot shoes” there is no heel rise.
Fila does produce a road version of Skele-Toes with a sole more similar to that of the Nike Free 5.0. They are light and fast and good on the track and on roads, however, unlike the Bay Runner model I do not recommend these other Skele-toe shoes for trails or dirt with any gravel because they pick up pebbles and store them annoyingly in the spaces between the panels of soft the sole. The ‘Bay Runner’ has no such problem and I have not found a terrain these shoes do not like.
I do not recommend either version of the the Fila Skelet-Toes for really long runs, although I’m sure some runners would have no difficulty doing trail ultras in the Bay Runner or a marathon in the road version.
I highly recommend the specialized socks such as Injinji socks be worn with the Skele-Toes, for any distance and especially longer runs. These shoes require socks for 2 reasons: they chafe toes a little, that can cause bloody blisters after only 5 miles without toe socks (my experience). Also, the shoes, like any shoes, will get stinky quickly without socks.
Last but not least is affordability of these shoes. I have seen the Fila Skele-Toes, both the Bay Runner and the road version for great prices at some discount stores. I got mine for only $36. Compared to the Vibram FiveFingers, or Merrell Trail Glove this is a steal.
Mike Lotter is an avid runner and and High School Track and Field Coach in Marin County California.