Yearly Archives: 2010

VFF TrekSports at Home

Last week I ran in Arizona in my TrekSports, today I ran at home. I ran on the semi-hard packed snow trails around my neighbourhood, across the frozen creek, and on the slightly snow-covered asphalt path in the next neighbourhood. It was about -7C.

The grip of the TrekSports is PHENOMENAL on snow. It felt like my feet had teeth that bit into the snow. I had no trouble with traction on any of today’s snow, from hard-packed, to soft-packed, to loose fluffy snow. I walked some pretty steep uphill and downhill too and had no grip troubles.

I had decent traction on the frozen creek, too. Because the sun was shining, the smooth ice was a little tacky where it wasn’t covered in snow.

It took about 1 km for my toes to warm up. Until then, my feet were a little uncomfortable. Once I and my feet warmed up, the run was very comfortable.

When I finished the run, my feet were wet but I don’t know if it was from melted snow or sweaty feet. Either way, they weren’t cold even after walking the last 10 minutes of my run.

I think I need to run the trails more, my feet felt a little weaker than usual but I haven’t had much opportunity to run the trails since the snow fell. I’m looking forward to more of it now. I’m hoping for more (relatively) warm winter weather.

VFF TrekSports in Arizona

I recently returned from a vacation in Arizona. I was very fortunate to have received my new Vibram FiveFingers TrekSports just before I left. The trip was a wonderful opportunity to test them out.

I find the upper of the TrekSports, made of coconut fibre, more snug than the original Treks, made of kangaroo leather. The coconut fibre is quite stretchy while the kangaroo leather doesn’t stretch at all but has cutouts in it with stretchy elastic near the topline to make the shoes easier to get on. My foot doesn’t slide around inside the TrekSports at all because of the extra snugness and stretch in the material. Which is a big plus because I do tend to get blisters on my big toes wearing the Treks because my toes slip around inside the toe pockets. I was a little concerned that I couldn’t wear the TrekSports with socks but this turned out to not be a problem at all. They are quite comfortable with Injinji socks on.

I took a stroll in the desert in Tucson and was surprised at how well the sole of the TrekSports performed. I stepped on some pretty sharp and pointy cactus spines and nothing went through the sole. I even looked down once to find a piece of dead cactus stuck to the side of the shoe near my arch and I didn’t feel it.

The grip is phenomenal on rocky terrain. My feet didn’t slip at all on any of the desert surfaces I walked; either flat, downhill, or uphill.

The new padded heel cup is really comfortable. I think this is a great addition to this shoe compared to the original KSO.

I’m looking forward to comparing the TrekSports to my other VFFs. I’ll be writing a full review for Living Barefoot in the next month or so. Until then, here are some pics of them in the desert.


Barefoot Runners Society ‘Stomp of Approval’

If you haven’t already noticed the new addition to the right side of the blog, I was just approved for the Barefoot Runners Society’s (BRS)’Stomp of Approval’.

If you don’t know about the BRS , it is a great site with lots of barefoot and minimalist running information, tips, blogs, forums, and much more. It’s also a site where BRS Chapters across the U.S. and internationally are organized. I joined the International and Canada Chapters.

I highly recommend checking them out. Here’s the current link: http://www.barefootrunners.org/build2/.

(BTW, the tab for the ‘Stomp Roll’ or blogroll of other BRS-approved sites is located near the bottom of the page, in a row of tabs, just above current forum information.)

VIVOBAREFOOT Brooklyn Review

There are few truly minimalist footwear options currently on the market for cold, snowy, winter weather; the Brooklyn boot is definitely one of these few. The VIVOBAREFOOT Off-Road Sole, measuring 5 mm thick including 2.5 mm of grip, does a stellar job at both protecting your feet from frozen ground temperatures as well as providing enough traction for snowy terrain. The nearly knee-high, faux shearling lined, waterproof, and breathable boot is perfect for the snow and cold of northern winters.

Comfort
Upon initially putting on the Brooklyns, I thought they were a bit snug, but this feeling receded after a few minutes of wear. I did have to adjust the position of the faux shearling lining because it bunched a little at the top of my left foot; after the adjustment, I didn’t feel like the boots were tight at all.

They might be a little narrow for a wide foot but they fit my average width feet perfectly. Although it doesn’t affect their width, if you find that the boot is snug, you can remove the insole to give your foot more room. Doing so would sacrifice their cold weather insulation and some comfort. The footbed of the boot is nylon mesh with a seam running down the middle. The one time I wore the Brooklyns without the insole, I did notice the seam beneath my feet. I also noticed that the insole provides a tremendous amount of insulation from the cold ground.

At the top and back of the boot, there is an elastic segment allowing the top of the boot to fit snugly against your calves. Because they don’t have any tightening adjustments near the bottom of the boot around the foot itself (like laces), I find they are a bit loose in the heel. My heel, therefore, moves up and down in the boot. This is a trade-off for the lack of laces and personalized fitting adjustment. While walking, I don’t notice the movement of the boot off my heel but you can sometimes hear a clunky sound because the boot hits the ground before your foot; on snow, this isn’t really an issue. Also because of the lack of laces, I noticed that while walking at steep downhill angles, my toes can get pushed into the top of the boot. Despite the lack of laces, I do find the Brooklyn quite comfortable and have gone for over-an-hour hikes in the snow without any comfort issues.

Weight
Each size 40 boot with the insole weighs 15 ounces or 425 grams. Although this is the heaviest footwear I’ve reviewed to date, I don’t think the weight of these boots is a significant negative factor. They are a knee-high boot with considerable insulation for minimalist footwear, which contributes greatly to their suitability as great winter footwear. Even after walking over an hour on unevenly packed snow, I did not notice their weight on my feet. They hug my calves snugly so their weight is further reduced.

Flex / Sole
Even with the thicker VIVOBAREFOOT 5 mm Off-Road Sole, the sole is extremely flexible. The sole flexes easily around every uneven contour of packed snow trails. The sole is a latex rubber mixed with recycled woodchips with a TPU abrasion resistant sole. It has a 2.5 mm sole base and 2.5 mm grip.

Support / Insole
The insole included is the VIVOBAREFOOT branded Poliyou insole. It is breathable, wicks moisture, and absorbs odour with natural active carbon and inhibits fungus growth. Poliyou is made of 70% recycled material and is washable. It is removable and provides no support, and neither does the structure of the footbed.

Barefoot Feel
The flexibility of the sole provides decent barefoot feel. It is not as good as the 3 mm sole in other VIVOBAREFOOT shoes (e.g., the Aqua and Lucy) but it definitely does flex around uneven snow and the extra grip is an asset in slippery conditions.

Grip
The traction the Brooklyns have on snow is incredible and far better than the regular 3 mm VIVOBAREFOOT sole. I have complete trust in their traction on any surface except one: on smooth ice, the 2.5 mm grip depth doesn’t provide much traction. That being said, I do not have nor have I tried a pair of minimalist footwear that does have traction on ice.

Breathability
I was tremendously impressed with the breathability of these boots. After an hour of hiking on uneven snow, my feet were still dry. When I took the insole out, the top of the insole was dry and the bottom was soaking wet; it had wicked all the moisture away from my feet and against the footbed of the boot itself. The nylon mesh and faux shearling lining were also dry while my snow pants, on the other hand, were soaking wet on the inside. And after being soaking wet from hiking, the bottom of the insole and the inside of the boot do not smell any different than when they were new.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the materials is impeccable. The upper is made of pull up leather that is vegetable dyed with a natural, lived-in look. The faux shearling lining and nylon mesh are fantastic materials providing a well ventilated environment. The sole is made of latex rubber and recycled woodchips, which provide a good balance between grip and abrasion resistance.

The leather construction of the upper is excellent. The only imperfection in the boot is in the evenness of the pink paint around the top of the rubber sole and its junction with the leather, which is purely esthetic.

Water Resistance
Although I have not had the opportunity to walk in deep slush (as it has been too cold here for any significant amount of snow to melt), no snow or water from shallow slush has reached inside the boot. The rubber sole curves almost an inch around the sides of the boot and the upper is intact leather. The only place for water to seep in would be at the junction between the sole and the leather and I have not found any gaps nor had any snow or water come through.

Sizing
The Terra Plana website says ‘the Brooklyn is running TWO full sizes short’ and this is not an exaggeration. I wear a conventional size US8/EU38 and the size US10/EU40 fits me perfectly. To compare with other VIVOBAREFOOT products, I wear a size EU39 Lucy and Evo.

Price
The Brooklyn sells for $230.00 USD on the Terra Plana website. I looked online for prices of leather, knee-high, winter boots and I found that they range from $80–$300 depending on style and quality. Although the Brooklyn price falls on the high side of this range, they are a high-quality, great winter boot and in this case, you definitely do get what you pay for.

Style
For a winter boot, the Brooklyns look fantastic. For a knee-high leather boot, the Brooklyns also look fantastic. They have a simple yet elegant style and have the added bonus of functioning perfectly as a waterproof and breathable winter boot. They come in black (with a pink line along the bottom) and red brown (with a black line along the bottom).

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period for these boots. If they aren’t comfortable within the first five minutes, you might want a different size. The only difference in the boots after wearing them for many hours for many walks is the faux shearling lining is more compressed than when they were new.

Shoe Care
Because the Brooklyn upper is made of leather, it absolutely needs to be treated with leather protector before going out in the elements. I treated mine with a beeswax-based leather protector and they still look brand new. The insole can be hand washed if it develops a smell but it does contain a natural active carbon so developing a smell is unlikely and would take extensive wear.

Warmth
I’m totally amazed at how warm these boots are. With the insole in, I’ve been outside in -27C and still had toasty warm feet even with a single pair of thin socks. Without the insole, I’d say they’re good to about -10C but you will feel the cold of the ground beneath your feet. This is the only pair of minimalist footwear I have that can keep my feet warm in -20C, including last year’s VIVOBAREFOOT Dundan boot with the 3 mm Duratex sole. Most minimalist footwear has too thin a sole or not enough interior insulation (provided by the insole in the case of the Brooklyns), or both. The Brooklyns have just enough sole thickness and insulation without sacrificing flexibility in the sole or too much barefoot feel.

The breathability of these boots also contributes to their warmth. The fact that the insole, nylon mesh, and faux shearling lining all wick moisture away from your skin does an excellent job of keeping your feet warm and dry even if you get sweaty.

Uses
The Brooklyns are fantastic winter boots. Their warmth, breathability, grip, and style make them the perfect cold weather footwear on almost any terrain (smooth ice being the exception). They are a stylish knee-high boot for casual wear for almost any outdoor activity (ice fishing notwithstanding).

Summary
I’m incredibly impressed by the Brooklyn boot. Although their fit is not perfect due to the lack of laces or other tightening adjustment, they are outstanding as cold weather, minimalist footwear. They have amazing grip on snow, great flexibility, good barefoot feel, excellent breathability and warmth, and they look stylish, too. They might be on the high side for price but the Brooklyn is a high quality, leather knee-high boot with superb manufacturing. They are my primary outdoor footwear for the winter.

For more information about the Brooklyn boot, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

 

CMAJ Articles on Barefoot Running

The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently published two articles about barefoot running. The articles look at both sides of the issues and basically conclude that there is no research currently available that says running with high-heeled cushioned shoes or running with a barefoot style is beneficial or detrimental and agree that more research is needed.

Here are the articles (with links):

The rise of barefoot running


Low-tech running shoes in high demand

My favorite quote out of the two articles is one by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, “The key thing is not being barefoot, but using a barefoot style, and not colliding into the ground with your heels.”