Kuru Shoe Review & Giveaway: Aalto Chukka

Remember how last week I was rattling on about how you should be wary of Evil Materialism as it can be one of the triggers of Holiday Stress?

Well... er ... seeing as Crabby's Cavalcade of Commericialism is continuing yet again with more reviews and giveaways, I'd like to be a total hypocrite explain that what I really meant was: don't overdo it and add stress to what's supposed to be a joyous season by buying a bunch of over-priced and useless crap.

But, um, winning or accepting free healthy and wholesome fitness products, or purchasing them after you read a review on a credible health blog? Totally different story!

So wanna find out what the deal is with the Kuru Aalto Chukka's, and maybe win a pair?

Pre-existing Bias & Other Disclaimers: This is not my first Review of Kuru Shoes; I tried out a pair a couple of years ago. Since I'm choosing to review another pair, it's fair to assume it's not because I think this brand of shoe sucks.

In fact, of the pairs dragged out of the closet below, only the beige ones were comped. This means I spent my own money for Kuru's Three Whole Times.

Also, I get to keep the Chukkas.  But don't worry, none of this means I'll abandon all objectiveness--or crankiness.  As usual when I review something, I am incapable of sucking up to sponsors and always have a few nitpicks, even with products I happen to like.

First off, in case you're contemplating a pair other than the Chukkas, here's my take on Kuru Shoes generally.

Kuru Shoes: Pro's and Con's

Pro: Unusually Supportive and Comfortable Shoes.  If you're trying to find a pair of shoes and have foot issues like pronation, plantar fasciitis, etc, you may have encountered the frustrating trade-off between support and cushiness.  Supportive shoes feel rigid and unyielding and mean; cushy comfy easy-going shoes feel floppy, insubstantial, and un-serious.   The thing Kuru is great at is combining both structure and comfort in one shoe. (As an aside, I've had good luck with several of Kuru's women's shoes, but am finding the "Draft" model particularly helpful for my plantar-fasciitis. The Draft is a mule-style shoe with an open back, which helps me land more towards my forefoot, avoiding the hard heel-strike I naturally tend towards. Various cloggy alternatives I've looked at have too high a heel, and not enough fore-foot cushioning to work as well as the Drafts).

Pro: A Range of Styles and Wearable Outside the Gym.  Even though you can walk for miles and miles in a pair of Kuru's as though they were athletic shoes or hiking boots, they're a bit dressier and come in lots of different colors and styles.

Pro: Friendly Grassroots Company.  The people who work there are really nice and there's a whole active community of Kuru fans who are just as nutty about the shoes as I am. They have frequent contests and giveaways which you can check out the Kuru Facebook Page.

Con: Mail Order Only. This is the biggest drawback of Kuru's--you can't try 'em on or see what they look like in a store.  I've ordered some, not liked the way they looked IRL, and had to return them and get my money back... a bit of a hassle. On the other hand, I've bought several pair quite successfully this way.

Con: Pretty Please Kuru, Crabby Needs More Black Shoes!  Kuru's come in a lot of cool colors, but dang it, I have mostly black jackets and sweaters and need more black or dark gray shoes choices!  The "Insight" line has black, but the leather looked better on the web picture and kinda low-grade in appearance when they showed up at my door and sadly, I had to send 'em packing.  So hey, awesome Kuru folks, could you please make the "Draft" in black for women? And perhaps bring the black Halcyons that I loved which you stopped stocking?  'K thanks!

So now on to the new Kuru style:  the Aalto Chukka.

Aalto Chukka Specs

Price:  They retail for $104.97. (In my opinion, this ain't bad price for a good-for-you shoe, and is much less than most of the competition in this niche. But if you're used to buying for style and not for function, you may not be used to paying this much).

Technology:  Here's the part where I cut and paste directly from the website, 'cause what do I about PU foam and integrated arch support?

  • Super Soft suede leather upper
  • Custom Fit - anti-microbial sockliner custom molds to your feet
  • Heel Support - innovative sockliner includes a varus wedge with integrated arch support for a healthy stride
  • More Comfortable - premium sockliner features high-performance, low compression set PU foam for unprecedented custom molding comfort
  • Moisture wicking liner for breathability
  • Eco-conscious, naturally derived crepe sole rubber outsole provides a cushioned ride
  • Nature's Cushioning - KuruSole™ contoured footbed cups your heel as nature intended

How Do The Chukkas Look?

Website pictures can be misleading, so here's an pair of Aalto Chukkas caught on camera in the wild:

Because of the wide midfoot, they're perhaps somewhat chunkier in appearance than a traditional desert-boot type shoe, wouldn't you say? But they're more streamlined than most super-supportive shoes.

How do the Aalto Chukka's Fit and Feel?

The smidgin of extra width is the price you pay for the awesome supportive/cushy technology they build in to the footbed. And if you've got orthotics, you can slip 'em under the liner and get even more support. If you don't have orthotics, the shoes have support built in, and they custom mold to your feet. These Kuru folks are very clever in putting these babies together.

One difference I notice from other Kuru pairs is that the base feels a bit narrower, and the rubber soles aren't perhaps as sturdy for hiking as some of the other models. However, these are a great choice for urban/work environments where you're going to be on your feet all day.

Now On to the Giveaway!

Sorry, this is another US only one, darn it. But if you have a U.S. mailing address (or a handy friend or relative's address) you can enter by leaving a comment below. I believe either the Blue or the Sandstorm color are available but I need to double check.

Winner will be chosen by the Random Number Generator by end of day Sunday December 11th, and winner needs to check back by the end of the day Wednesday December 14th or they'll be another drawing.

Note: And hey, you can double your chances! The Fitbottomed Mama's are also having a Kuru giveaway and I believe there's a day or so left to enter.

Good luck!

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