Review: Feiyue Ninja Shoe
Have you ever come home at the end of the day and thought, “I can’t wait to get these shoes off”? Have you ever been appalled at what you just paid for a new pair of sneakers? Are you a fan of minimalist footwear? Do you at least occasionally wear shoes?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, keep reading!
I like to go barefoot. I discovered many years ago after numerous sprainings that less distance between the ground and the sole of my foot means fewer turned ankles. Also, there is sensory pleasure in feeling the green grass between your toes and noticing temperature differentials with your feet. Alas, not all sensory input is pleasant. Sharp stones, dog poop, thorns (the dreaded ‘goathead’ here in New Mexico), and other caltrops await the unwary foot.
Thus, at least sometimes, donning footwear is a good idea. Problematically, most modern footwear has become too over-engineered. Various studies have demonstrated the biomechanical value of wearing shoes without stiff soles, built-up heels, and arch support.
Strongility is officially recommending Feiyue. The English translation of the Chinese word means something like ‘flying forward’. Clearly, this in itself is auspicious for an athletic shoe!
The Feiyue shoe is not a “purist” minimal shoe. While there is zero drop from heel to toe, the sole does have a bit of padding. However, my multi-faceted field tests have convinced me that such slight padding does not inordinately compromise groundfeel or balance. I have worn the Feiyue for: trail running, slacklining, treeclimbing, rappelling, precision parkour jumps, weightlifting, and work.
Feiyue shoes are definitely different from most modern athletic footwear. A lightweight canvas upper is glued to a minimally-padded, unstructured rubber sole. There is no arch support, there is no high-tech cushioning. The original chinese-made version is available in, to paraphrase Henry Ford, whatever color you want as long as you want white or black.
The sole is soft rubber which provides fantastic traction on dry surfaces.
Being soft, the sole does seem to wear quickly. Notice, I do not say “wear out” quickly. I have been wearing mine for about 2 months and while the sole shows evidence of wear, there is plenty of life left. I subject the poor things to a lot of stress, and notwithstanding, I expect they will last me for 8 months to a year.
Update, January 2016: Amazingly, my original Feiyue’s in ninja black are still going strong. I wore them just yesterday to a Big Head Todd and The Monsters concert!
The general build quality of the Feiyue is impressive.
There are not too many seams, the rubber shows no signs of detaching from the upper, and the laces have never come untied. The interior of the shoe is comfortable, I have not had any issues with friction or “hot spots” on my feet. The toe box is wider than similarly styled footwear (like Converse All-stars) which allows more room for the foot to spread out and relax. I wear these almost every day and never have felt constricted in them.
The Best Part
The riveting final fact about this piece of functional footwear is the price: they can be had for less than $20! I bought my first pair in Ninja Black from American Parkour, ordering a size 44 Euro, which according to their sizing chart should fit a size 11.
Although the 44/11 combo is usually what works for me, I found the Feiyue size 44 to be far too small. After a delightful e-mailed interchange with their outstanding customer service team, I was shipped out a pair of size 46 which fit me perfectly! I was impressed with the fact that APK responded to my e-mail, displayed a sense of humor and a dash of wit, and ultimately, treated me fairly and well.
I later bought a white pair from Amazon and have nothing bad to say about them either. The advantage to buying from American Parkour is that they have a more consistent selection of available sizes AND you can have the satisfaction of supporting “the little guy”!
- Durable (with possible exception of outsole)
- Good ground sensitivity
- Light and super flexible
- Slippery when wet
- Outsole may wear quickly