Fila Skele-toes Bay Runner Review

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.


5 thoughts on “Fila Skele-toes Bay Runner Review

  1. Would you recommend skele-toes when running at like track and field meets because when I first saw then I wondered if they were just for hiking and other stuff like that

    1. Thanks for your question. You could use them at track meets, however, I have only used them for speed workouts on the track, not for competition. For competition on any track event less than 3 miles I would recommend track spikes. this is especially important for shorter sprint events. The longer the distance the less important the traction provided by track spikes (especially indoor on the tracks with the sharper corners).
      If you are running 5k or longer these would be appropriate for track competition.

  2. As someone who pretty much lives in toe-shoes, I can honestly say the Bay Runner is miles ahead in terms of all-day comfort. It is my preferred shoe for in-door and outdoor on-trail activities. It is very light and offers just the right shock absorption.

    As far going off-trail I will suggest the Fila Skeletoes Running Shoes those have better shock absorption and between-toe protection. Nothing gives a you weirder feeling than having something go through between your toes. It feels like more like a conventional shoe because of its weight and thickness. If just has better control and feel

    As far as the Vibrams go, I am doing my best to learn to like it. Someone stole my Bay Runners and need to buy new ones. To Vibrams credit, it really does feel like being barefoot. Its almost like a foot glove. Think of a mechanics work glove but for the feet. It gives you the best kinesthetic awareness.

  3. I have the older model of this shoe, same color and laces.
    I am very particular when it comes to shoes which is why I have about 40 pairs most of which I can’t stand.

    1. First, for a real runner and not a 12 minute per mile or slower plodder, I think these Fila’s with the laces are better.
    2. I had a lot of forefoot problems with regular shoes which were immediately eliminated with these shoes. It is probably the toe locks combined with the laces. The pressure points on my foot are different with these shoes.
    3. I have worn these shoes in fast 10 mile runs, short fast speed work and races and am shocked at how great they are – no blisters, no foot problems whatsoever as though I don’t even have feet I’m so comfortable.
    4. I do not like stretchy shoe laces of any sort especially bungee laces and the bungee laces have a tendency to rip pretty quick. So I cut the bungy laces out and replaced them with regular shoe laces. The first eyelet hole by the toe is a little difficult to get the lace in and I could only get in a thinner shoe lace as I strongly prefer very thick shoe laces so they don’t rip out the eyelet holes. So far it’s OK.
    5. The shoes look so flimsy that I am somewhat paranoid that they are going to fall apart right in the middle of my run but so far they are pretty good.
    6. I need to have my feet perfectly comfortable if I am to do hard fast track runs becasue the pressures are 10 times greater then those of 12 minute or slower per mile plodders. So I have been using these shoes for a lot of my high speed runs.
    7. Because there is not much heel on these shoes, it might be good to break into them gradually to get your achilles tendens used to being more stretched out.
    8. Light weight shoes help improve your running with a faster turnover and these are about 6 ounces so that is pretty good.

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