Monthly Archives: October 2010

Vibram FiveFingers Performa Jane Review

I am very pleased to review the Performa Jane, a women’s specific Mary Jane-style indoor shoe with amazing barefoot feel. These shoes are very similar to the Performas that were released last year but the upper is made of both suede and smooth kangaroo leather and there is a strap across the top of the foot designed to hold the shoe in place instead of the elastic cord sewn into the edge of the upper like in the Performas. These shoes both look and feel amazing and are stylish enough to wear for almost any casual or active indoor use.

Comfort
The Performa Jane’s are phenomenally comfortable against the skin of your feet with luxuriously soft, smooth kangaroo leather. With the right fit, you can barely feel the shoes on your feet at all. They are extremely easy to slip on as the strap along the top is attached to the outside of the upper with a piece of Velcro and a very stretchy, short piece of elastic (the button on the top is just for decoration). Because of the design of the sole pods, you can’t really feel their edges under your feet. The only issue I have with these shoes is a small lump of material under the medial side of the heel pod where the edge of the strap, the bottom of the leather arch, and the heel pod all meet together. On occasion, it has felt like there’s a small lump under my foot in this spot. Other than that aspect of the construction design, I barely notice the shoes are on at all.

I was initially concerned with how well the back of the shoe would stay on my foot because there is no elastic sewn into the upper but once wearing them, this turned out to not be a problem at all. Because of where the strap is located on the top of my foot and the design of the quarter of the shoe, it stays on quite well and I have never felt it even slip down on my foot.

Weight
Each size W39 Performa Jane weighs 2 ¼ ounces or 62 grams. Even for a minimalist shoe, this is incredibly lightweight.

Flex / Sole
The sole is made up of 7 pieces of TC-1 rubber with bare suede kangaroo leather between the pods. The rubber is extremely thin and flexible in all directions.

Support / Insole
As there is just bare leather under the arch of the foot of the Performa Janes, they do not have any support in their design. There is no insole included with the shoe and the footbed is smooth kangaroo leather.

Barefoot Feel
The barefoot feel of the Performa Janes is amazing. The extremely flexible rubber sole under the forefoot and heel is so thin that you can feel every small contour of the ground and the leather under the arch is thinner than most socks.

Grip
On every indoor surface that I have tried, including concrete, tile, linoleum, carpet, granite, and wood, the sole grips wonderfully. The sole is designed with fingerprint-like grooves that grip even the smoothest of textures.

Breathability
Although kangaroo leather is incredibly breathable on its own as a material, the Performa Jane design has even better breathability because of countless small holes punched into the leather all around the upper. This design lends to a shoe that covers the foot, all be it minimally, with the best possible breathability.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
As with all VFF products that I’ve tested, the quality of both the materials and manufacturing are impeccable. The leather is definitely high-quality and the TC-1 rubber, although thin and flexible, will undoubtedly last a long time is used strictly for indoor use. Although I haven’t had them long, I’ve worn the Performa Janes under considerable load-bearing conditions and there are absolutely no signs of wear on them at all.

Sizing
The Performa Jane fits the same as the VFF Performa, Sprint, and Classic. If you haven’t tried on any of these products, Vibram has instructions on how to measure your feet for the best fit. In terms of conventional sizes, I wear a size US 8 shoe and the size W39 fits me perfectly.

Price
The Performa Jane is listed on the Vibram website at $110.00 USD. For a high-quality, comfortable, all-leather upper, indoor shoe with incredible versatility, this is an appropriate price.

Style
The style of the Performa Jane is nothing short of a driving glove for your foot. I think the added details of the small holes punched through the leather upper, the decorative button, and the smooth-against-suede leather upper is incredibly attractive. They are offered on the Vibram website in all black as well as cerise (a purplish plum color) leather and black sole pods.

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period required for these shoes. After wearing them quite often for six weeks under high-stress conditions, the leather has not stretched and they fit as comfortably now as when I first put them on.

Shoe care
The Performa Janes do not need to be treated with leather protector before wear but you could if you wanted to. If dirty, they can be machine washed and air dried. After six weeks of wearing these shoes to the gym, they smell exactly like they did when they came out of the box: like brand-new leather.

Uses
These shoes can be worn for practically any indoor activity and are stylish enough, in my opinion, to wear in an office setting. They are fantastic for any outfit or activity requiring a black flat.

Summary
Yet again, Vibram has produced a phenomenal product in the Performa Jane. They are a comfortable, high-quality, grippy, stylish leather flat with amazing barefoot feel. Although not recommended for outdoor use, they are the perfect black flat for just about any indoor activity.

To purchase these shoes, find a retailer on the Vibram FiveFingers website at https://www.vibramfivefingers.com or purchase them directly from the website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

Running in Luna Sandals

I’ve decided that running in Luna sandals is more comfortable for me than walking in Luna sandals. I’ve never worn flip flops and it has taken me a long time to get used to the hemp lace of the Lunas between my toes. That said, I couldn’t feel the laces at all when I was running in them. They are fabulous running footwear (when the weather’s warm).

Because they have no upper, your toes can splay as far as they need to. There’s plenty of breathability, too. There’s just enough thickness in the sole to allow for comfortable running even on gravel.

I think they look so great with the suede footbed that I couldn’t bring myself to wear them through the mud, even for the review for Living Barefoot (which is coming soon).

You really have to have strong feet to run in these for any length of time, however. The muscles in my feet were a little sore the next day. :)

Vibram FiveFingers Flow Review

Overall impression
The Flows are my favourite Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs) model to wear in cooler temperatures. Like all other VFF models, they are comfortable, form-fitting, and have amazing barefoot feel. The Flows are long-lasting and the grey upper/camo sole have a unique look to them (which does garner many comments from strangers). They are perfect for colder weather running as well as almost any kind of water sport.

Please keep in mind while viewing the pictures that these shoes are over a year old and have been well-loved and worn often.

Comfort
Like all FiveFingers, the Flow is a glove for your feet. They are extremely comfortable, as long as you have the correct size. The unique stitching, both on the upper and attaching the insole to the shoe, is different than the stitching on other VFF models and continues to allow for full freedom of movement of the feet. The two-strap design makes the fit easily customizable for loose or tight wear. Because the upper material is thicker than the KSOs, the toes can feel squished upon first trying them on, although the neoprene material does loosen with wear, and the squished feeling becomes less noticeable. As with the KSOs, I do forget that I’m wearing them after a few minutes.

Weight
Each size W39 Flow weighs 5 ½ ounces or 156 grams. They are the heaviest of my collection of FiveFingers (although I cannot compare them to a pair of Treks in my size). While wearing them, the weight is completely unnoticeable.

Flex / Sole
The sole of the Flow consists of a 2 mm EVA footbed, which provides extra thermal insulation and protection from rough terrain. I do notice a difference in ground feel between the Flows and KSOs where the Flows feel slightly thicker, a definite plus in colder temperatures or on cold ground. The sole is also flexible in all directions just like the other models of VFFs.

Support / Insole
There is no arch support in the Flow. The insole is a thin, slightly-cushy material that is stitched to the neoprene material of the upper. Even without socks, I cannot feel the stitches or any break in the smoothness of the interior of the shoe where the neoprene meets the insole. This insole is definitely thicker than that in the KSOs, which separates the foot from the ground a little further, thus protecting the feet a little more from both rough terrain and colder ground temperatures.

Barefoot Feel
Compared to other VFF models, there is slightly less barefoot feel because there is thicker material between your foot and the ground, which helps in cooler temperatures. Compared to conventional shoes, the Flow is phenomenal in its barefoot feel because of the extremely flexible and form fitting sole.

Breathability
The Flow upper is made of 1.2 mm neoprene, which is not breathable. If your feet sweat, they are definitely going to stay wet. This is a considerable drawback to this model in warmer temperatures, however, their intended purpose is for cooler temperatures where some of the other models might not be well suited. If your feet sweat in those cooler temperatures and then get cold, the dampness exacerbates the cold and your toes can get pretty uncomfortable.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
I definitely have no complaints about the quality of materials or manufacturing. My Flows are over a year old, have been well-loved and worn, and other than a few dirt stains on the strap, still look pretty new. All of the stitching has held up incredibly well and the neoprene itself still looks spectacular.

There is an extra covering of harder material on the big toe, on the in-step of the arch, and on the lateral side of the heel. I don’t know what this material is or its actual purpose, but I imagine that it is designed to help protect the neoprene upper material from wear. The part on the big toe even has a cut-out that allows for added flexibility, if you’re able to bend your toe that far up; a thoughtful detail on Vibram’s part.

Water Resistance
Although one might think that the Flows would be more water resistant than other VFF models, they are not. If you step in any kind of dampness that is over 2 mm in depth, your toes will get wet. Water seems to seep in between the sole and the neoprene along the edges of the toes first. It can be a bit shocking at first until the warmth of your feet warms up the water.

Grip
Unfortunately, the Flow loses points in the grip department. If there is any kind of snow or ice on the ground, the Flow slips all over the place. They are a fine shoe choice and have adequate grip for concrete, asphalt, grass, or trail as long as it is snow- and ice-free.

Sizing
I found that the same size of Flow that I wear in the KSO was too snug on my toes so I chose one size larger. The added room allows me to wear socks comfortably as well as being cosy without socks. I found that the Flows were initially pretty tight on the toes when they were brand new but have since loosened and I no longer feel any uncomfortable tightness there or anywhere else on my feet.

Price
The Flow costs $90 USD on the Vibram website. I think this is a reasonable price for this model considering how well it has held up to a year of wear as well as its continued long-lasting potential.

Style
I love the style of the Flows. If you want a more inconspicuous look, they currently also come in all black as well as the grey with the camo sole.  I have had more comments from strangers when wearing this model than any other VFF model I own, though, probably due to the yellow accents on the sole.

Break-in Period
The Flows don’t need a break-in period like conventional shoes but I found that the neoprene around the toes did loosen somewhat with frequent wear.

Shoe care
I have never treated my Flows with any kind of shoe protector. I have machine washed them many times with no problems at all. Although I usually wear socks with them, they still smell like they did when they were new when they come out of the wash.

Warmth
The 1.2 mm neoprene and added thickness of insole make the Flows the warmest of the VFFs. I wear them in temperatures ranging from -5 to 10C or 20 to 50F. Any colder than that and my feet get very cold (although my feet are generally cold and not hot), whereas any hotter than that and my feet sweat unpleasantly.

Uses
Vibram recommends the Flow model for cold weather running, light trekking, climbing, cayoneering, sailing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, and flats fishing. The recommended trend is obviously towards water sports for this model. They are my favourite colder temperatures running shoe. Anytime the outside temperatures range is in those mentioned above, I love to wear the form-fitting comfortableness for the Flow.

Summary
The Flow is a superb edition of the VFF line-up. Although their use may be limited to cooler temperatures, whether in the air or the water, they perform most excellently within their preferred temperature range. They are an incredible running shoe for cooler temperatures, as long as there is no snow or ice. They are no more water resistant than any other VFF model but they are much warmer than the KSOs. They are also comfortable both with and without socks. I am extremely happy with my Flows and am grateful for them any time I go running in cooler temperatures.

To purchase these shoes, visit the Vibram FiveFingers website at http://www.vibramfivefingers.com.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

Kigo Curv Review

I am very pleased to review the second generation of Kigo Footwear’s Mary Jane-style shoe: the Curv. There are a few improvements to the Curv compared to the first generation, the Star, but for the most part, they are the same comfortable shoes I’ve become accustomed to wearing as one of my favourite easy-to-slip-on, go-anywhere shoes.

The Differences between the Curv and the Star
The Star was the first women’s specific Kigo shoe released last year and the Curv is the updated version with a few improvements based on customer feedback. The most obvious difference between the Curv and the Star is the lack of hook on the toe cap of the shoe as well as there no longer being a detachable strap at the back of the shoe to fold up the shoe and attach in this folded position. This definitely changes the portability of this shoe as they can no longer be hooked closed and packed around. However, in the many months that I have worn the Stars, I never once folded, hooked, and packed them around. I don’t think it’s much of a loss to the shoe to no longer have this feature. In addition, it greatly enhances their esthetics. The hook on the top of the shoe was something I mentioned in the review of the Star as something you definitely had to get used to. It was removed from Kigo footwear to improve safety as the hook had the potential to get caught on low-lying objects and cause tripping.

The upper on the Curv is also made of a much stretchier material than the Star. This is especially noticeable in the stretch of the strap across the top of the foot. There is much more give to the material while putting them on.

In addition to the stretchier upper material, the upper has been made a little wider in the Curv. While the rubber sole appears to be the same, the material part of the upper does provide more room in the new shoe compared to the old. This is probably to allow for people with wider to feet to enjoy the new shoe.

For the remainder of the review, as the Curv is so similar to the Star, text used for the Star review that has not changed in the Curv will be repeated in this new review but in italics.

Comfort
The Curv is still an incredibly comfortable shoe. My feet and toes have plenty of wiggle room. The seams on the inside of the upper seem to be flatter and more comfortable in the new shoe as well. The insole, where the foot rests is slightly textured and very comfortable against my bare soles.

One aspect of the redesigned upper does somewhat affect the comfort of the shoe, but only while walking. I noticed that because the shoe is constructed slightly wider and the strap along the top is more stretchy, the heel of the shoe often came away from my foot while walking and would strike the ground before my foot hit the ground. This makes for a shoe-striking sound and feel with almost every step.  This would probably not be a problem for people with wider feet or higher arches as the shoe would fit more closely to the foot, as the Star does for me. As my feet are not that wide and my instep only moderately high, I did notice the sound and thought it worth mentioning.

Weight
Each size W9 Star weighs 6 ¼ ounces or 174 grams. This is slightly heavier than the Star but I honestly can’t tell a difference in weight if wearing one of each on different feet. While walking, they do not feed heavy.

Flex / Sole
The rubber sole is very flexible and can be bent in half, however, the heel of the rubber outsole does not bend at all. The forefoot and midfoot areas are quite flexible if bending upward but they do not flex much along their length.

The sole does have a positive heel, as the midfoot of the outsole is 1.5 mm and the heel of the shoe is 3.0 mm. I have an incredibly sensitive back to shoes with higher heels and I do not notice the raised heel in these shoes (and I haven’t walked in shoes with a raised heel in over two years).

Support / Insole
The contoured EVA insole is removable and treated to be anti-microbial. The insole is uniform in width along its entire length and is very comfortable to walk on. The insole has a slight cushion to it, which I only really felt under my toes and not under my arch. The shoe is not built with any arch support at all.

Barefoot Feel
The Kigos do not have a comparable barefoot feel to other minimalist footwear brands with thinner soles. The sole is definitely thicker than most minimalist footwear, reducing their barefoot feel. You can, however, feel some rocks underfoot. Although they don’t compare to most other minimalist footwear brands in this department (including Vibram and Vivo Barefoot), they are far better than the conventional shoe.

The barefoot feel can be improved by removing the insole from the shoe. I found that the shoe was much too loose on my foot and that the stitching on the footbed was too uncomfortable for me to walk around without the insole. I have no doubt that it can be done and that it would improve the barefoot feel but I can’t comment on this directly as I didn’t like the feeling and chose not to wear them as such.

Grip
I was pleasantly surprised at the grip these shoes have, even on wet surfaces. The bottom of the sole is patterned in a fingerprint design with deep grooves. I had no trouble on smooth, wet, marble surfaces, nor on any other slippery surface.

Breathability
The breathability of the Curv has not changed from the Star so I will include my original opinion. Kigo shoes are advertised as being made of CYCLEPET material, being lightweight, breathable, stretchy recycled textile, although I do not find the upper all that breathable.

The climate that I was in while testing the Stars  was around 30C or 86F in high humidity and these shoes, where they cover the foot, did not breathe well. My feet did get hot in these shoes under these conditions. I am happy to report, though, that even without the breathability, my shoes still don’t smell at all (and my feet were quite sweaty at times).

After six months of wear, the Stars still don’t smell at all and they have never been worn with socks.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The manufacturing and materials could probably still use some improvement, although the manufacturing is better than the original pair. There are still visible glue marks along the bottom of the upper where the sole meets the material in many places, but it is quite minimal and only visible really up close. The stitching is much improved, however, and there are no longer any sharp parts on any of the seams on the inside of the upper.

Although I have not worn the Curvs as much as I have worn the Stars, I do believe that the Curv will keep its shape and durability for quite some time. I am truly impressed by how well the Stars have stood up to all the wear I have put them through. They still look great.

Sizing
The sizing of the Kigo Curv definitely runs short. I am usually a size US 8 or EUR 38 but I found that the W9 is quite comfortable with plenty of room both along the length and even more room along the width compared to the Star. The Kigo website mentions that ‘the shape is like a traditional shoe, so if you like more room in the toe box, order one size up.’

Price
The Curv is sold on the Kigo Footwear website for $69.99 USD. For a versatile and comfortable shoe, that’s an acceptable price. However, the Star is currently being sold on the Kigo website for $49.99 USD (although they will be phased out as stock is sold out).

Style
Because the hook and Velcro-strap have been removed from the new design, the style of the Curv is so much better than that of the Star. The contrast stitching and simple design really appeals to me and they come in six different color combinations on the Kigo website.

Break-in Period
The upper material of the Curv will stretch with wear as well as become softer and more pliable; because of this, they became easier to put on. However, because the upper is made of a stretchy material, I had no problems getting these shoes on.

Shoe care
The upper material comes stain resistant using an EPA-approved water and stain resistance technique designed by Daikin and Dow called Unidyne TG-521 (a fluorochemicals/silicone composite used to treat fabrics). And because the sole is high-density rubber, the shoes do not require any kind of shoe protector treatment before wear.

Kigo shoes can be washed in a gentle washer with water only or wiped with a damp rag followed by drying in a cool drier or in the sunshine.

Uses
Kigo Curv can be used from anything to errands, shopping, commuting, driving, or just about any activity you would wear a casual, Mary Jane-style shoe.  They are probably not an appropriate shoe for running or hiking because of their open top, but for any activity that includes walking, the Curv is an incredibly comfortable shoe to wear.

Summary
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I like the Kigo Curv shoes. The comfort of these shoes is what truly makes them excellent shoes for any type of walking activity. I love the contrast stitching design and find the upper design stylish as well. I truly appreciate the grippiness of the sole, too, especially on wet or slippery surfaces. Although they do not have the best barefoot feel for a minimalist shoe, their other qualities more than make up for the thickness of the sole.

Kigo Footwear is advertised as eco-friendly so if that appeals to you in a product, you can check out the Kigo website for more information on how their footwear and business practices are friendly to the environment.

Kigo Footwear is a company that truly listens to their customer’s feedback. The redesign of the Curv compared to the Star proves that Kigo appreciates the opinions of their customers and are willing to go to great lengths to satisfy them.

To purchase these shoes, visit the Kigo footwear website at http://kigofootwear.com.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info