I was very excited to receive the ZEMgear Cinch as I have been looking for a road running shoe for months, and the Cinch seemed perfect for my needs. The Cinch Round Toe has hit the mark. I love this shoe not only for the comfort while running on the road but also for its versatility.

The Cinch is just one model in the ZEMgear trans-seasonal line. While the Cinch is only offered in men and women’s sizes, ZEMgear also has the Hero and the Apex which are offered for children and adults. All shoes in this line are constructed with a multi-seasonal goal in mind; expanding the wear time into colder and wetter conditions.

How They’re Built

ZEMgear Cinch
  • The Cinch are available in both Round and Split Toe design. This is an excellent feature, making the shoe more customizable.
  • The uppers are made of a ThermoPrene fabric which extends the seasonal wear time. The shoes are considered multi-seasonal and have a thermal lining that adds some extra warmth.
  • The Cinch also has ZEMgear VersaTech Stability bands. These bands help to cradle the foot during lateral movement.
  • The Phylon and Gecko grip rubber outsole are combined with the Poron Performance cushioning insole. These two together create a very comfortable sole without inhibiting the foot’s ability to connect with the ground.
  • A thin lacing system which adds to the stability of the shoe. The shoes already fit like a glove, but the laces add the opportunity to cinch them up a bit more to create a closer fit.
  • Zero heel rise, minimal sole, and a nice wide toe box.

When should I wear my ZEMgear Cinch?

The biggest advantage to these shoes is the freedom to wear them through multiple seasons. Currently, we have about a foot of snow on the ground, and I can still wear my Cinch when I go running. I have enough traction in the snow and enough warmth. I have found that they get a little wet while running, but I do not typically feel this on my feet. If placed by the fire, they dry quickly enough for the next outing. They dry time can be a little too long if they are wet through and you don’t have a drying system (like a fire or special heater). They are not going to keep your feet as warm as a heavy pair of boots, but coupled with a pair of wool socks, they do the job for me. If you intend to wear the Cinch through the winter with wool socks, I recommend that you order an extra size up. I typically wear a size 7.5 and so ordered a size 8. The size 8 is perfect when worn with a thin pair of running socks, but the shoes are a little tighter than I would like when I wear them with my wool socks. I would not recommend wearing the Cinch in the summer. I wore them a few days in the summertime and found my feet sweating and very uncomfortable.

ZEMgear Cinch - Outsole

The Cinch is perfect for around the town, road running, easy hikes, or even some cool Ninja Warrior moves downtown. The Cinch is not made for rugged terrain or trail running.

Tabi (Split) Toe Vs. Round Toe

In terms of style and design, I prefer the split toe. Comfort and minimal feel are more important, and these features were more dominant in the round toe. I was hopeful that the Tabi shoes would fit, simply because I like the minimalist support behind split toe shoes, but my feet are too wide. ZemGear does advertise that their Tabi shoes are meant for a narrower foot. In shoe sizing, it can be difficult to determine whether you are a narrow or a wide width. I found these two websites very helpful in determining my foot width.

ZEMgear Cinch - Split Toe

While the two websites do not agree, they do give tips on how to measure your foot to determine whether or not you have a narrow, standard, or wide foot. My foot measures 3.4 inches across the widest part. In the Split Toe, my pinkie toe was squished, almost to the point of overlapping. This is my only complaint about the Tabi design. The fabric is soft and stretchy so there is no rubbing between the big toe and the rest of the toes. My foot was snug enough inside the shoe so there was no sliding when running downhill. Still, I could not get used to my littlest toe not having the space it needed. I found myself hyper-focused on that toe while running. I would like to see ZEMgear offer the Tabi design for a wider foot.

ZEMgear Cinch - Round Toe

While I like the design of the split toe, I opt for the round toe more often because they fit better. They have a nice wide toe box that allows my toes to spread out as if I am barefoot. I love a shoe that leaves zero pressure on my toes. I can focus on the energy of running rather than the constraints of my toes.

ZEMgear has a genius product with the Cinch (and their entire trans-seasonal line). It is exciting to see a multi-seasonal minimalist shoe offered for men, women, and children.