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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > kigo footwear drive shoes > Test Report by Carol Crooker

February 29, 2012



NAME: Carol Crooker
EMAIL: cmcrooker AT gmail DOT com
AGE: 52
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

For 10 years, I backpacked about 30 days each year in Arizona and the western mountains on 3-6 day trips. Due to a job change two years ago, I now spend a little over 20 nights in the wild each year. I am a lightweight backpacker and packrafter.



Manufacturer photo.
Manufacturer: Kigo
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website:
Listed Weight: +/-4 oz (113 g) average per shoe weight
Measured Weight: 5.8 oz right/6.0 oz left (164/170 g)
Size tested: Men's 10.5/Women's 12
Color tested: black (grey also available)
Other details:
- Zero drop outsole,
- 2mm flexible outsole,
- Anatomical footprint,
- Zero toe spring,
- Adjustability via speed lacing,
- Low carbon output production via PLUS Compound Technologies,
- Post-consumer and recycled construction via CYCLEPET uppers and HD PLUS insoles and outsoles,
- Certified non-toxic dyes, glues and water/stain resistance.


The Drive shoes arrived wrapped in brown paper inside an envelope. I ordered the black color which in person appears to be brownish black. The website says the Drive runs true to size so I ordered a 10.5 men's which is my typical hiking shoe size. I tried them on and they seemed quite roomy. I tightened up the one pull elastic lacing system and was able to get a good fit. I loosened the shoes back up and found they fit fine with midweight wool socks as well. Satisfied that they fit, I took a closer look at the shoes.

The uppers are what I would call synthetic leather and are thicker than I had imagined for a 4 oz (113 g) shoe. I put the shoes on the scale and found them to be 50% heavier than claimed. That was disappointing since I was hoping for some really light camp shoes. The shoes have multiple stitch lines which gives them a little bit of style. They are unobtrusive enough that I should be able to wear them to work without attracting a lot of attention (not always the case with barefoot style shoes).

The rubber sole comes up to cover the toe and heel. The simple insole is removable. There is no change in thickness of the sole or insole. The heel is not raised (zero drop) and there is no arch support which is as I would expect from a barefoot style shoe.

I put the shoes back on and walked around the tile floors in my house. The Drive shoes felt a little like slippers with rubber soles. The soles are thin but should provide some protection from stones and the uppers are also thick enough that they should provide some protection from brush.


The Drive shoes are water and stain resistant. The instructions were clear, stating that the shoes could be wiped off with a damp cloth or run through the washing machine without detergent, then air dried.


I put on the Drive shoes with socks and took my dog for a walk around the block. I went slowly since I am new to barefoot style and have not developed my foot strength a lot and especially have not toughened my feet. The shoes stayed on my feet without a problem. They provided enough protection from the asphalt of the road that I didn't feel any grit or tiny pebbles I may have stepped on.


The shoes feel good on my feet and look OK.

Things I like so far:
- Unobtrusive appearance.
- Fit easily adjustable with one pull.
- Fit my bare feet and my feet with socks.

Things I don't like so far:
- Much heavier than listed on the website.



Near daily use over the last two months in the mornings before work and afternoons after work.

1 day: Wore all day at work. Stood up and walked around on carpet for about 5 hours. Spent the remaining time sitting.

4 days: Walked dog around block on asphalt.

2 days: Wore shopping on tile floors.

1 day: Bike ride around the neighborhood.


The Drive shoes look great with jeans.
I've been wearing the Drive shoes mainly as house shoes for the last 2 months. I will get a chance to try them on a backpacking trip during the next report phase. After decades of wearing house and outside shoes with arch support, I've been using the Drive shoes to strengthen my feet. My feet feel stronger but they are not ready for barefoot style running yet.

The Drive shoes have held up well. The soles show little wear and all the parts are undamaged even though a puppy enjoyed attacking the bungee cords while the shoes were on my feet.

The shoes slip on easily but I've learned I need to hold the tongue with one hand, otherwise the tongue gets pushed into the shoe as I slide my foot in. I haven't had to adjust the bungee since the first few times I wore the shoes.

I wore the shoes to work with jeans on a casual Friday. The Drive shoes looked "normal" and did not solicit any unwanted attention (unlike the barefoot style toe shoes my colleague wears). I still need more support for a day of standing on my feet, so I haven't worn the Drive shoes to work again. I have worn the Drive shoes for shopping and errands several times. The shoes were complimented as looking "very comfortable" on one occasion.

The shoes were comfortable when I wore them walking the dog around the block. The toe bumpers add some protection and the shoes stayed on my feet without any problems. My only complaint is that a crease is created across the toe area when the shoe flexes and the crease rubs my toes. I've had this happen with other shoes that are a bit long for me.

I wrote in my Initial Report that the shoes are 50% heavier than claimed. Rachelle from Kigo responds, "The weight we report is based on a EU37 sample size, and so a larger shoe will weigh more than reported. It is entirely our fault for not detailing size specific weights, but hopefully an ounce in one direction or another won't be tremendously detectible [sic] to the wearer." The shoes I am testing are a women's 12 which is about EU43.


The Drive shoes are flexible and provide a bit of protection for my soles and toes.

Things I like so far:
- Unobtrusive appearance.
- Fit easily adjustable with one pull.
- Fit my bare feet and my feet with socks.
- Tread shows little wear after 2 months of near daily wear on tile.

Things I don't like so far:
- My large size shoe will not fulfill my dream of a superlight camp shoe of only 4 oz (113 g).
- Top of shoe creases when flexed and irritates my toes.



Kigo Drives on the trail.
January 2-5, 2012, Reavis Ranch Loop in the Superstition Wilderness in central Arizona.
This was a 29 mile (47 km) lollipop (out and back with a loop) hike along a desert ridgeline and canyon stream. Elevation varied from 3500 -5600 feet (1070-1700 m).
The trip was sunny with temperatures from 80-35 degrees F (27-2 C). The trail began as a smooth dirt track, but included steep rocky sections, and a trailess rock hopping section along a canyon stream.

February 10-11, 2012, Garden Valley and February 24-25, 2012, Lost Dutchman Trail in the Superstition Wilderness in central Arizona.
These were two quick overnight trips from the First Water trailhead. Elevation was around 2300 feet (700 m).
Both trips were clear with temperatures from the mid 50s F (12 C) to about freezing. The trail was smooth dirt and rock with the first trip continuing further along the trail and including a very rocky section and a sandy wash.


During the first two months of testing, I wore the Drive shoes around the house almost daily and for a couple of forays out to walk the dog, go to work, and shop. I've worn shoes with arch support for years and wanted to improve my foot strength by wearing the Kigos. During the last two months of testing I tried the Drive shoes backpacking. I wore them for two, 40 minutes stretches backpacking on the Reavis Ranch Trail. The trail had a slight slant and was packed dirt that was sometimes strewn with rocks. I found that my pace slowed overall, more so in the smooth sections than the rocky sections. I normally step carefully in my trail runners when hiking over rocks and the same was true wearing the Kigos. I was surprised that I was slower and less comfortable in the Kigos on the smooth sections. Barefoot style shoes like the Drives are designed for a "natural" forefoot strike gait. I walk with my heel striking first and felt I needed to go slower than usual in the Drives on the smooth sections to protect my heels.

The other surprise was that I really felt why people want to hike barefoot style. After 40 minutes my feet were tingling pleasantly like they do after a massage. I felt connected to the trail walking in the Kigos. When I put my trailrunners back on they felt like stiff blocks separating me from the ground. The downside of the Kigos was that my feet felt more beat up than usual. I confirmed from this short trial that my feet are just not strong enough to wear the Drive shoes for any length of time while backpacking.

The Drives held the trail as well as my trail runners on the gentle downhill and uphill stretches I wore them on. They never felt like they would come off my feet. At one point I accidentally kicked a rock and the toe bumper kept me from hurting my foot. The bumper does not cover the sides of the shoes and my arches had a few slightly painful encounters with rocks when I didn't step carefully enough.

I wore the Drives in camp on the Reavis Ranch trip and my two overnighters. They were convenient to slip into when I got up in the night and I liked that they could serve as emergency hiking shoes. I stepped on a cholla cactus ball one dark night and was glad of the relatively thick sole. I never felt the cactus thorns even though I had to use tweezers to pull the ball off my shoe. Another night I swapped my trail runners for the Drive shoes because my feet were too cold in the Drives.

I have not washed the shoes and they still look good enough to wear to work. The soles have held up well, with a few tiny nicks from rocks on the trail.


I wasn't able to use the Drive shoes backpacking, but that is not a reflection on the shoes, but rather on my feet. My feet became stronger wearing the shoes at home but not strong enough for backpacking. The Drives worked well as camp shoes but are heavier than I'd like to carry for an extended trip.

Things I like:
- Unobtrusive appearance.
- Fit easily adjustable with one pull.
- Fit my bare feet and my feet with socks.
- Tread shows little wear.
- Pack flat.
- Sole thick enough to provide some protection from cactus.
- Easy to pull on.

Things I don't like:
- My large size shoe will not fulfill my dream of a superlight camp shoe of only 4 oz (113 g).
- Require two hands to pull on (one to keep tongue in place).


I plan to carry the Drive shoes on two- or three-day backpacking trips when I expect my hiking shoes to get soaked. I will continue to wear the Drive shoes around the house as "slippers" that I can wear to the mailbox.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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