What You Need To Know
- Weighs 8.9 oz. (255 g.) for a US M9 / US W10.5
- Have we ever seen a laceless trail shoe before?
- The T/r is a Cinderella story, but only cause it’s a tough fit
- Never thought we’d complain about noise pollution from a shoe
- Available now for $290
TAYLOR: There’s an underground communication chamber where we reviewers share deep secrets and inside stories. Only the most conversation-worthy content gets shared. Whether it’s new gear or the occasional yaboyscottjurek post, the BITR Trail Crew message thread is where it’s at, folks. Our latest muse is a new one, the Naked T/r. We didn’t know if it was a spoof or an actual shoe being brought to market. No shoelaces? On a trail shoe? Yeah, right. Nonetheless, we were all intrigued.
Here’s a brand-new shoe from a company that knows the trail and trail runners well. Their constant pursuit is to make gear that’s as minimal and practical as possible — hence the name Naked. The Naked T/r brings laceless technology to the table that’s meant to go fast on terrain that’s hard to traverse at a slow pace. This racing shoe comes in at 9.9 oz. for a US M10.5 and has a traditional racing fit, a TPU upper, a carbon plate, and a Vibram outsole. So, it has the specs, but the paper doesn’t always tell the whole story.
ALEX: When I opened the box, my first thought was, “Where’s the rest!? They forgot to send the rest!” After searching the box for shoe guts and coming up with what I would later learn was a shoe horn (more on this later), I realized that they had sent it all. Next, I flexed the shoe, and a horrible sound filled the air. And it all went downhill from there.
TAYLOR: Although this section will be pretty skinny compared to what’s to follow, I want to clarify that I like the shoe more than I don’t.
Let’s cut to the chase. The Naked T/r feels frickin’ fast on technical terrain. One of the reasons is that the overall fit is exceptionally secure. Once you saddle up that shoe horn and pop your foot in, there’s little to no wiggle room. My “average” foot filled the space to a borderline appropriate level. I’d describe it as just a little more than snug. From the toes through the midfoot, it’s snug and tightens up even more in the heel. Form-fitting is a good way to describe it, and it’s straight from Naked’s description. It felt similar to a racing ski boot or an aggressive mountaineering boot. If you’re okay with those, this might be a good fit for you too.
The laceless technology, knit booty, and internal Agility Cage make the upper so snug. All three give a nice amount of structure to the upper. My foot locked into place partly due to the stitched-in sock liner. The TPU upper will not stretch and will give a consistent upper fit for the life of the shoe. This all makes for a solid barrier against debris too.
The underfoot feel was surprisingly very protective. There’s no way around the fact that it’s firm. Cue flashbacks to the S/Lab Sense series with minimal cushion or stack (26mm to 21mm — 5mm drop) but a fine density of EVA for laying down some speed on technical single track. A full-length carbon plate adds some more rigidity and underfoot protection. It’s a combo that gives a sense of connection with the ground with a high level of protection — even to a greater degree than the S/Lab Sense series. For me, this was the most confidence-boosting component of the Naked T/r.
If Vibram is part of the recipe, you’ll find it under the good section. Megagrip Litebase was the outsole of choice, and a good one at that. A plethora of 3.5mm gravel bike-like knobs grip any surface really, really well. The outsole makes this a rather versatile shoe for fast trail terrain.
Overall, I think durability is something to consider when buying this shoe. I feel that its integrity will hold true for more miles than a typical trail shoe.
ALEX: Naked went for it with the T/r. They boldly went where no shoe company has before, breaking tradition in design, materials, and construction. They were bold, and that was good. That is all I got.
Okay, fine. One more potentially good thing is the fit of the shoe. Naked seemingly took a one-size-fits-one approach when implementing their laceless technology. If you happen to be THE ONE, it will fit like a (stiff plastic) glove, and maybe all of Naked’s dreams will come true for you.Shop Naked T/r – Unisex
TAYLOR: The Naked T/r is certainly a tech-forward shoe. I give it props for going where no company has gone so far. Naked Sports Innovations nailed some of its marks — but definitely not all of them.
This is a somewhat limited shoe. First, I know it’s been done already, but this is not your “ultra-racing” shoe. If your foot is not the slim and trim type, this will get pretty harsh after an hour or so in the saddle. My foot fit and felt mostly good, but it was still constricted in the forefoot and especially in the heel/Achilles. It’s a bummer that this shoe isn’t slightly more accommodating because it could appeal to a much wider audience. Instead, it will fit very few in a way they are 100% confident to utilize on race day.
Another note on the overall fit is that it does run long. Order down at least a half size. Although, that could cause some other issues. Naked does well at stating if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. Send it back to resize.
Like many modern race shoes, the carbon plate is an integral piece of the Naked T/r. Don’t buy this product for its claims of propulsion. There’s much more to the equation if you want a proper propulsive shoe. It does offer some solid lightweight protection, but it’s just a very expensive rock plate.
I never run with headphones because I like hearing my breathing and footsteps. I thought differently when running in the Naked T/r, though. Crinkle. Crinkle. Crinkle. It was the equivalent of a child following you with a tiny plastic water bottle in both hands… but on your feet. Simply annoying.
Lastly, the price point makes this a hard buy. At $290, I’d urge you to consider at least trying on a pair of Speedlands.
ALEX: Did you know that noise pollution is an actual public health issue? This shoe makes a horrible crinkling noise that cannot be ignored with every. Single. Step. That’s not the sound of leaves crunching under your feet on that beautiful fall day, that’s the sound of all that TPU ripstop nylon flexing and bending. Imagine the sound of running down the trail in rain boots. From one public health expert to another (too soon? too late?), I can assure you it’s problematic for us all. Skip these because you care about your neighbor.
My foot was not the one. First of all, the Naked T/r is frustratingly hard to get on. There’s a pull tab in the front and not in the back of the sock-like upper. Enter the shoe horn, which comes with every pair. I was immediately annoyed that I had to use a device to get my shoe on, but I wanted to give it a chance. Within a few minutes of my run, I kicked some debris up that made its way into the knitted cuff of the shoe and, not thinking, took the shoe off. Lo and behold, the shoe horn was safely at home, and getting the shoe back on was no easy task.
My foot felt lost in this shoe. It felt too long, and there was a lack of underfoot support. Again, the rain boot analogy comes to mind. On climbs and descents alike, my foot did not feel stable or supported and was moving all over inside the shoe. While the Vibram outsole has plenty of good grip and traction, the poor fit undid any of this benefit. I wasn’t going to be making any fast movements in the Naked T/r.
Due to the rigidity of the upper, the shoe has hard flex points at the toe and front of the ankle that were uncomfortable just a few steps into the run. The shoe also features “bolsters” in the front of the ankle and heel to secure the fit, and I hate them. My Achilles tendon felt like it was being squeezed by my great aunt, who used to squeeze my 5-year-old round little face every time she saw me. No one liked that crap then, and no one likes it now. In all seriousness, shoes that put pressure on these two areas are 100% of the time a no go for me.
The carbon fiber plate was lost on me. The shoe felt stiff and dead. Between the poor fit and bolsters, my feet felt like the ball in a pinball game, so I may have been distracted.
A final note on that TPU nylon upper: it might be durable, but it is HOT in addition to being noisy. There are tiny pinholes on the top of the shoe that are inadequate for the big gulps of air that my feet like to take mid-run.
This shoe is $290. Until Kilian Jornet starts sauna training his feet or training theory evolves to the point where there is data to support the suffocation of feet on the run, this price tag is way too high.Shop Naked T/r – Unisex
Naked T/r Conclusion
TAYLOR: Here’s a classic example of “if the slipper fits.” As Alex has alluded to, this one only has the chance to be a solid shoe if it fits. Personally, it was good for shorter, faster technical runs. I feel the Naked T/r could have a lot of potential with a few adjustments (mostly to fit). As is, it’s a tough sell when comparing performance to the price point. Because of the narrow fit and overall firm feel, it’s just not what many are looking for. I know I’m in a minority that enjoys this feeling from time to time — but only occasionally.
ALEX: This shoe had the comfort level of running naked under a Gore-Tex rain shell. No one does that (by choice). Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-one sizing was not executed with my foot in mind, so the shoe felt unstable and uncomfortable. It isn’t easy to get on (and off) and is not breathable. The high-performance sports car-inspired bolsters added pressure in all the wrong spots. I guess I’m more of a Dodge Caravan kinda gal… Hoka Bondi, anyone?
You can pick up the Naked T/r for $290 from the Naked Sports Innovations website by using the shop link below.Shop Naked T/r – Unisex
Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultrarunner living in Estes Park, CO, with his wife and daughter. He and his wife both love running the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. When not running, Taylor is a Kindergarten/1st grade teacher, running coach, and youth leader for his church.