New Minimalist Shoe – The ‘Nada’ by Somnio

To me, the “Nada” sounds like the name of a fake product from one of those Saturday Night Live commercials.

I can imagine the marketing meeting now…”Well, we can’t call it the ‘Nothing,’ guys, because who wants to pay for nothing?  I know, how about we just use the Spanish word?  Then ‘nothing’ will seem seductive and spicy and awesome!”

So the name is kind of dumb, but then again, a lot of their names are funny (Hot Sauce?), so maybe it’s a joke.

Regardless, Somnio won me over on the Nada.  How?

With (a) some really nice packaging, (b) a DVD “owner’s manual” with exercises and a plan to help make the transition to minimalist running gradual, safe and painless, and (c) a pair of shoes that truly delivers on achieving a balance somewhere between practicality and barefoot running.

I decided that a video review would be more helpful than a written one, so here you go!  I used the Vibram Five Fingers and Brooks Green Silence to give some context.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

(And just to be clear, Somnio sent me these shoes for free to review on my site. I think I’m supposed to tell you that so I don’t get locked up.)

Thanks to Somnio for sending me the shoes to review.  Check out the Nada at Somnio’s website if you’d like to learn more — you can even apply to be a tester for their stuff!

P.S. Let me know what you think about video posts so I can decide whether to do more of them.  Yay or nay?



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  1. Cal_runner says:

    Hi Matt,

    I have never heard of Somnio, either. I have been thinking about trying minimalistic shoes and I like this particular shoe. It looks well-constructed and seems like it would make for a great minimalistic shoe while still looking ‘normal’.
    I thought a video review was very appropriate (yay) and you did a great job. My only comment would be for you to practice a little before actually making the video. That would make it more streamlined and you may feel more comfortable making a video review in the future.

    • Thanks Cal_runner. I agree that a little more practice would be good… but then again I don’t want it to be scripted. Maybe just more video experience will help.

  2. Matt,

    Great post and I really liked the video review. I’ve been interested in the Nada for some time now. I need a shoe with slightly more substance than the VFFs, but still less than most racing flats. I prefer zero drop. These may fit the bill! I like the Merrell Trail Glove (trails) and the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 (roads/track/treadmill).

    Couple of comments about the review–text and video. I think the video was great, but most people don’t want 11 minutes–try to keep it around 5-7 minutes (extra details could be in the text of the post). Give us more details–I want to know the actual weight of the three shoes (love your comparison to the VFF and Green Silence), heel to toe drop, midsole height, protection, cushioning, toe box width, etc. Even if you don’t have the full specs, a comparison to the other 2 shoes would give us needed context. Also, what type of terrain and speed were you testing the Nada in (sounded like road with a little dirt/grass shoulder running) and how does that compare to the VFF and Green Silence typical runs?

    Thanks for the review! It was good seeing your face and hearing your voice. Ideally, it would be AWESOME to see you RUN in the three shoes. I’m curious how your stride would change. A 1-minute video of each shoe in action?


    • Great idea about actually running in the three different shoes. I wonder if a normal-speed video camera can pick up the difference in your footstrike and stride?

  3. Glad I’m not the only one who stubbornly insists on mispronouncing “Vibram.” I love shoe reviews and want to get into a more minimal shoe, but I’m curse with 3-4E feet. To date no one makes a minimal or reduced shoe in wide, so all these shoes I want to try — Brook’s Greensilence, NB’s Minimus, Saucony’s Peregrine — won’t fit me.

    • Chris Van Dyke,

      You might be able to fit into the Merrell Trail Glove–it’s the widest forefoot shoe I’ve encountered for running. A little “clown shoe” looking. The NB Minimus is much narrower than the Trail Glove. Still, with a 3-4E foot, it may not work for you. You can find the Merrell “barefoot collection” in many retail stores–running, outdoor, etc.

  4. Great video Matt, maybe a little green but experience takes time.
    For my own preference I like standard tests across the board so I can compare each test subject and rate accordingly. Perhaps more specifications would be good too.
    Good to see and hear you Matt, looking forward to the next one then what – a cooking show?

    • A cooking show, hmm…I actually did like doing cooking videos. Only problem with that is I’d need to convince my wife to stand there with the camera. Stay tuned though!

  5. Way to go on your first video post! I enjoyed it, and I think I would echo the comments above. As you do more of them, if you want to, I think you’ll become more comfortable. I find that format useful for things like shoe reviews, like you said.

    In the fall I worked with a running coach who advocated a mid-foot strike, and it’s made a huge difference for me. The transition wasn’t easy and it took a long time. Getting myself in shape to do 180 steps per minute was actually the hardest part. But now I feel more in control of my running; I don’t get injured unless I’m doing something wrong, and when I do, I have a better sense of how to fix my movements to address the problem.

    Before working with a coach, I wore Saucony Omnia shoes, and I’ve since switched to Brooks, and I prefer them. I’ve thought about buying some minimalist shoes, but for now I have a one-pair-at-a-time budget. I really appreciate your review; if and when I do buy a pair of minimal shoes, I will consider the Nadas.

    And you’re definitely right that the name sounds like a fake commercial from SNL.

    • I’ve found exactly the same thing with 180 steps-per-minute. Hard to get used to, but once you do it feels much better and you’re so much less injury-prone. And of course, it leads to a midfoot strike.

  6. Congrats on the video post! Video is definitely a better medium for something tactile and kinetic like this. Plus it gives us a chance to really see and hear you, which is nice. Kind of another shade of personality, you know?

    I think you’ve got some solid feedback above. The only thing I’d add is that I find it important to caption or transcribe video (I’m sure Susan would agree). Hearing impairment notwithstanding, I couldn’t listen to the video until I got home from work and I’m sure others are in similar situations.

    Great review, and nice work with the new medium! 🙂

  7. That’s good work. I would just say please don’t lose the informalness (I don’t think that’s a word) by overscripting. Yeah sure, know what you need to say and maybe bring the time down a little (I was fine with the 11min), but I think your casual and natural presentation is a big positive. I like to be talked to not talked at if you know what I mean. Putting yourself on video isn’t easy, well done mate.

    • I think you make a great point, Mike, and that’s what I was going for here. I think with more practice it’ll look slightly more polished, as the others have suggested, and then we’ll all be happy. 🙂

  8. brent patterson says:

    I liked the video post. Some information such as the room in the toe box and the top of foot just don’t come across as well in print. As to your delivery, while you might not be offered any news anchor positions, I really like the personal touch. Sometimes in a printed product review it can be too polished and turn into an ad. Here, the viewer gets a truer idea for your feelings on the shoe. thanks for the work.

  9. Thanks for the review, it’s good to have a review that uses other well known brands and models as a benchmark. I run in the Green Silence and love their soft and light feel, but it was easy to see from the video how much more minimal the Somnio’s are. I could tell you were a little nervous with your first video review – try to keep the product more slowly with your hands, at times it was difficult to see the shoe. A useful review.

  10. Maggie Vining says:

    I am not a runner, but I teach aerobics. I am also vegan and in search of vegan shoes and was wondering how the Nadas were made. For example, is any part of the shoe made of leather, wool or other animal products or is it all synthetic or natural materials?

    • Maggie, I haven’t read anything about this for the Somnio’s, but from what I can tell by looking at it, none of the upper seems like leather or wool. But this is something I’m new to thinking about, so you’d be best off asking the company. The Green Silence is a great eco-friendly shoe, if that motivates you at all.

  11. like the video, and your comparison of the shoes! i’d echo chris’ comments above about length and details 🙂

  12. Dan Evans says:

    Hi Matt,

    I like the video blog, and second the thoughtful suggestions which were made. I will add one more, and that is to use a wireless lapel mike for your sound.

    About what a video blog can do: I manage a US e-comm site with about 25,000 visitors a month. Our top three traffic sources are existing customers, Google organic, and Google Adwords. A video blog where we run a small ad is our fourth largest source of traffic — ahead of Yahoo and Bing organic and ahead of Facebook and everything else. This video blog is in Australia (sending us primarily US customers).

    Best Regards,

  13. Hey Matt! I love the video post format. I remember your other video post where you were cooking in your kitchen. You show and talk about things that can’t easily be conveyed by text. Plus it’s fun to see the person behind the words. So my vote is Yes.
    I’d add that in a world of sound bites and shortening attention spans I’m good with the length. Hopefully people can focus for 10 minutes on one thing.
    I also really like the casual personal review format. If I want a product marketing review I’ll pick up any magazine with “The Newest Best 7 Trail Shoes” article. Or the product website.
    The ITBS issues I was having (that you gave me some great advice on) turns out to be partially from different leg lengths so I’m out of luck for the 5Fingers but the Nadas sound like a good way to get around that.

  14. I can’t watch video at work, so it would be nice to see a short written summary at the end of the post. Myabe just plusses and minuses and how they compare to the Vibrams and Brooks.

  15. Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful review. I’m always looking for new shoes to try out and it’s great to have a site that you can trust to give you their opinions.

    I’m currently switching it up between Vibrams and Green Silence (the second of which I ordered after reading your interview with Scott!), so I’ll add these to the queue.

  16. the_1006 says:


    I’d be interested in your thoughts for the best minimalist trail running training shoe.


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