zinetic pocket slippers

Back in early 2009, I was really getting into the whole barefoot running idea, but I couldn’t find a good source for the Vibram FiveFingers and thought the alternatives were too expensive for what they were.

Then I happened across these things called Zinetic Pocket Slippers in the Nashbar catalog. The green ones in size XXL were on closeout for $6.99, so I figured what the heck, let me see what these are like.

(Nashbar said XXL was for sizes 11-12, which would be my size. But the official website lists XXL for sizes 12-13, which would be a tad big for me. It turned out to be another example of Nashbar sizing charts leading me to purchase the wrong size, but for the price, I can’t complain.)

To jump ahead a little bit, I liked the slippers enough to order another pair in my size. I found some black ones on eBay, in size XL, for a total of $29.

This was funny because the XL sticker on the packaging said “shoe size 9-10,” which is the third discrepancy in sizing I found!! They felt tight at first, but I got used to them real quick. So my size 11-12 feet were right at home in these slippers.

Zinetic Pocket Slippers Overview

These are slippers, not running shoes, and they’re designed for wearing around the cabin or campsite. For example, after a long day of hiking, you could slip into these when you lounge around.

(I however, decided to buy these for not only lounging around, but also for barefoot-style hiking and running. We’ll get to that later…)

About the shoes themselves, they have a flexible rubber sole, canvas body, and mesh on top. They are very light and flexible – they can even be rolled up and put into an included travel bag for easy transport.

In general, they look like a very cool shoe for barefoot enthusiasts.

zinetic pocket slippers

Using the Zinetic Pocket Slippers for Barefoot Running

Let me start by reemphasizing that these are slippers, and they’re meant to be used as slippers, for leisure activities like lounging around the campground. For light activities like that, they are awesome. If that’s all you want them for, go ahead and quit reading the review and go buy a pair.

But I am not satisfied with that, so I’m going to talk about using these slippers for hiking and running.

First, what makes a good shoe for barefoot-style running? I am looking for something with a thin, flexible sole, light weight construction, tight enough to stay on my feet, and not too expensive.

Now I’ll rate these slippers on all those attributes…

The sole – The sole is thin and flexible for the entire length of the shoe. It’s thin enough that you can feel rocks and objects as you pass over them, but not thin enough that rocks will be cutting your feet. I’d call that a good proprioceptive feel.

I wore one pair of these slippers for at least six months without the sole wearing through. That’s quite durable! The sole got pretty thin though, which made walking on gravel kind of painful.

Traction – When new, this shoe has some pretty good traction. It’s surprisingly good considering how thin and plain the sole is.

I’ve run on wet rock with these, and they grip flawlessly. It was scary at first because you don’t think they’ll grip, but they do.

Of course, the traction disappears fairly quickly as the sole begins to wear. Eventually it gets thin and slick, which means be careful!

Shoe construction – The construction of the Zinetic slipper is pretty simple. Above the rubber sole, you have a canvas supper around your foot, then mesh on top.

That keeps things lightweight and flexible, and provides just enough durability to make sure the upper lasts as long as the sole. The canvas comes up above the toes just far enough to protect from sticks jabbing you and tiny pebbles falling between your toes.

All in all, the shoe does not take away from your natural foot flexing.

Comfort – The slippers are pretty comfy with or without socks. Sometimes I wear thin cycling socks with these to prevent heel blisters, considering the potential for heel rub.

But do realize that if you wear these all day and you’re not used to being barefoot, your feet will be hurting! They don’t provide any cushion or support!

Stay on feet while running? – If you get the right size and run calmly, it’s possible. There are no straps, so it’s not perfect. The heel will slip off occasionally, but shoe stays on your foot for a little while like that, giving you time to readjust.

Just be prepared if you’ll be running in these, because yes, the heel will most likely slip off a few times. These aren’t aggressive sneakers!!

Sizing – Sizing is tough. If you want to run in these, you need a perfect fit, but it’s unlikely you’ll get the perfect fit. Size XL fits me the best, but it’s not perfect. XXL is supposed to be my size, but it is too big and only stays on when I wear thick wool socks.

So it depends on the size chart you look at, but you should probably order a size smaller than you think you need.

How to Convert Zinetic Pocket Slippers into Running Shoes

zinetic slippers laced for running

It got to the point where my Saucony Bullets had finally bit the dust. Two pairs demolished in under a year!

I needed some new, lightweight shoes, but I just didn’t know what to buy. I didn’t want any more Saucony Bullets, and I didn’t want to spend $150 on specialty “barefoot style” running shoes that are probably less durable.

What did I do to tide myself over?

Well, I had an extra pair of Zinetic slippers that were still in one piece, but wouldn’t stay on my feet. (They were a little big, so the heels just kept falling down.) So I converted them into usable running shoes!

zinetic slippers laced for running

1. First, I used a paper hole punch to punch two holes in each shoe. One hole on each side of the heel, which ended up being about an inch apart. It doesn’t have to be exact.

You could also use an awl to poke a hole or even use scissors to cut slits in the heel if you wanted. Use whatever tool is closest to you at the time!

2. Then I ran a shoelace through the holes. Technically, I used half a shoe lace per shoe, but you get the idea.

A full shoelace would be too long, so just take a spare shoelace and cut it in half for this project. Note that when I cut the shoe lace in half, I cauterized the cut part with a match, which melted it together to prevent fraying.

3. Then I looped the shoelace around in front of my ankle and simply tied a knot like I’d do with any other shoe.

Cinched lightly, these slippers are good for jogging. For sprinting, I cinch it down tight and the slippers don’t move!

All in all, it took about five minutes to do, and they work like a charm!

Now this has me thinking about going back to wearing Zinetic slippers more often. I might even try to rig up a set using elastic shoe laces (like Yankz or Speed Laces.) That would be really slick.

My Big Problem with Zinetic Pocket Slippers

As much as I liked my first two pairs of Zinetic slippers, I ran into a problem with my third pair!

See, my first two pairs of Zinetic slippers were made with a tough canvas material. My third pair was a soft, flimsy, stretchy fabric. That leads to multiple problems…

First, it’s going to rip apart in no time. There is no way that stretchy fabric is as tough as the canvas.

Second, the slippers won’t stay on my feet! The material is so stretchy, it makes the size XL too big!! Seriously, I can’t even walk in my latest pair without them falling off my feet!

With this fabric, I would probably be able to fit into a smaller size.

It really sucks, because while I just opened this pair in April 2010, I had purchased them in late 2009, just a few months after my first purchase. (I was doing the whole “if you find something you like, buy multiple backups because you never know when they’ll change something for the worse” plan. But even then I was too late!)

The material is soft and nice, so I wouldn’t mind getting another pair like that, but I bet if I ordered another pair in the smaller size, I’d end up getting a pair of canvas slippers which would then be too small for me!!

My final verdict is…

These are awesome if you get the right size in the canvas material. The other material is comfortable, but probably less durable and less likely to stay on your foot.

I really loved wearing these slippers (I started wearing them everywhere,) but it’s hard for me to recommend them. I doubt you can find them locally, so you’ll have to order online. Then you’ll probably have to order multiple pairs to get the right size, and that’s if one of the few sizes available will fit you properly!

Zinetic pocket slippers are great if you get some that fit you, but if you have trouble getting the right ones, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Official website: www.PocketSlippers.com

Product Review Details
Company: Zinetic
Product: Zinetic Pocket Slippers
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Date last updated: 2010-06-14
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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6 Comments
  1. I love your views on minimalist running in a realistic manner. Real basic shoes that promote a natural stride on a low budget. I followed your advice on the saucony bullet and LOVE them except for the fact that they are slightly narrow for my feet. Any suggestions as to another option? I love the feel of that shoe, but it’s squishing my toes. Was hoping you might know of an equivalent that comes in wider sizes. Thanks in advance.

    Brian

    • @Brian

      I’m not really sure. I don’t see many old school track shoes like that that are wider. I wish I knew though because I would be wearing them!

      What I like about the Zinetic slippers is how supple the upper is, so it is less constricting on a wider foot.

  2. hi there, i appreciate your review of the z running slipper.. i have been searching this last year for ‘a sock with a sole on it’ to run in.. something cheap & easy that gives the feel of barefoot running w some protection so i can get lots of miles in. after spending so much time & money shopping for shoes & time after time being dissatisfied with my purchases, i have started running barefoot until i can find something that will allow me to do high miles at a relatively fast pace without too much foot damage. have you found anything of the sort? just stumbled across your website so if i’m missing something obvious just let me know =) thanks for your feedback & helpful product reviews!

  3. @Rebecca

    There are quite a few options these days. Check out Sockwa, they might fit your needs.

  4. Where do you buy these things?

    • @Chase

      Unfortunately I don’t think you can buy them anywhere anymore! The company probably went out of business. I’m not seeing a company website or any online stores with these in stock. Not even eBay!

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