Monthly Archives: November 2010

First Completely Barefoot Run of the Season

I decided to run indoors on the track today as -20C (not including the wind chill) is a tad chilly for me to run in (I’ve done it but it’s not the most enjoyable experience). And if I run on the track, it’s always completely barefoot.

Some observations I noticed while running today:

• There is a huge difference in the temperature of the floor between the walls beside windows and those that are not
• Random dirt on the track (it must have needed sweeping) did not stick to my feet this year
• I needed a few walking breaks to give my foot muscles a break (I ended up doing 3 X 10 and 1s). They are obviously not as strong as at the end of last winter
• Thirty minutes was enough for my first time running barefoot this year
• My form could use some improvement as I ended up with a hotspot on one big toe and another small one on the outside edge of the ball of the same foot (it’s probably my form and not being careful enough rounding the corners, which were all in the same direction)
• You really can’t push off at all with no shoes (which I was observing everybody else doing in their shoes)
• Running really fast barefoot (or as fast as I can go) is more like flying than running because your feet are in the air much more than they are on the ground (as opposed to my usual plod-along but comfortable pace)
• I can’t wait to do it again :)

Winter Wonderland in Brooklyn Boots

Snow! Glorious Snow! (This is a good attitude to have when you live in Canada and the white stuff is around for a good six months of the year and can fall in any month of the year :) ).

We’ve had almost a foot of snow where I live and my new Vivo Barefoot Brooklyn boots could not have arrived at a better time. I wore them outside for the first time yesterday in approximately 6 inches of snow and today in about a foot. They are fabulous! If you need a warm winter boot that grips well on snow and ice, still lets you feel the ground contours, and has absolutely no positive heel, then these will work out well for you!

My previous minimalist winter boot options, the Vivo Barefoot Dundan boots and Feelmax Kuuva boots, both have the same problem: their soles are too thin to prevent the frozen ground coldness from coming through to the inside of the boot, which results in frozen feet. This is NOT a problem with the Brooklyn Vivo Barefoot Off-road sole, which has an outsole thickness of 5 mm (2.5 mm sole base and 2.5 mm grip depth). Standing on ice and frozen ground was not a problem for me with only a thin pair of socks. I have left the removable insole in for now but I’ll be testing the boots without it as well. Today it was -17C and my feet were toasty warm the whole time.

The boots are almost knee-high and the shaft of the boot has a faux shearling lining for warmth. My calves weren’t cold at all in today’s frigid temperatures (and there’s no need to worry about wind chill).

If you’re thinking of buying a pair, the Terra Plana website says that the Brooklyn is running TWO full sizes short and they are NOT exaggerating. I generally wear size US 8/EU 38, most of my Vivo Barefoot shoes are US 9/EU 39, and the Brooklyns are US 10/EU 40 and they fit well at that size.

I will be writing a long review of the Brooklyn boots for Living Barefoot, but until then, here are some pics of me in the snow with the boots.


First Run in Evo IIs

There’s nothing more motivational (for me at least) than that first run in a new pair of minimalist shoes. My new Evo IIs arrived on Saturday and today I got to go for my first run in them. I adore the Evo I and have been looking forward to the warmer version of them, the Evo II, for months now.

It was just as I imagined it would be: perfect. The Evo IIs fit almost exactly the same as the Evo I. They are a tiny bit more snug so I loosened the laces on them a little bit. They are MUCH warmer. Even when I wear socks, I can feel a draft with the Evo I. There is no such draft with the Evo II with the addition of the microfiber liner. The ground feel is phenomenal, the grip is great, and the fit is fantastic.

I can’t wait to try them out in the coming snow (this week’s forecast for my area is snow every day for the next five days). I’ll write about running in them in snow as soon I get out in it.

Until the long review is posted on the Living Barefoot site (in about a month), here’s a sneak peak at some pictures.



Luna (Original) Sandal Review

I am very pleased to review the Original Luna Sandal, an huarache running sandal made in the Pacific Northwest, USA by a company started by Barefoot Ted McDonald. The Luna is as minimal a shoe as it comes, made of simply some sole material and lace in either leather or hemp. The Luna production sandal represents the results of years of experience and experiments gathered from both Barefoot Ted’s customers over the years as well as ancient designs.

Comfort
The Luna sandal is as comfortable as your huarache tying skills can manage. It does take some practice to get the lace tying just the right tightness for your comfort level. If you use the slip-on tying method, like I do, once you get the perfect fit, you can leave them tied and easily slip them on and off. Having the three lace holes in the sole material in the right place is very important to the comfort of the sandal, therefore, the correct size is paramount.

The copper brown suede top feels soft and provides some grip against the bottom of my foot. I do find it a more enjoyable feeling than simply plain rubber underfoot.

I tried both the leather and the hemp laces and found the hemp laces to be more comfortable. Although the leather laced Luna was not quite the correct size for me, I did find that the rectangularly shaped leather lace, although not rough, was not as comfortable as the round hemp lace. The hemp lace is also much easier to tie. I could not feel the knot underfoot with either the leather or the hemp lace.

I find that running in the Lunas is more comfortable for me than walking. I’ve never worn flip flops so am not used to having a lace between my toes. Although I am used to the feeling now while walking, it did take some time and I can still occasionally feel the lace depending on how gingerly I’m walking. That being said, I can’t feel any of the laces while running; it’s like they aren’t even there and the sole floats against the bottom of my foot without feeling the lace at all.

Weight
Each approximately women’s size 9 Luna Sandal weighs 3 ¼ ounces or 92 grams. This is one of the lightest shoes we’ve reviewed and feels practically nonexistent.

Flex / Sole
The production model Luna Sandal is currently made with 6 mm Vibram neoprene sole with or without a suede leather top. Although it is highly flexible in every direction, it is thick enough to maintain its flat structure while wearing. There is little possibility of the top of the sole folding under your toes, for example, while walking or running as they do maintain their shape.

Support / Insole
There is no insole included with the Luna, just the 6 mm Vibram sole material. As there is no upper, there is no foot support either.

Barefoot Feel
Although the sole is thicker than most of the minimalist footwear we’ve reviewed, because of the lack of an upper, the sole is absolutely free to conform to whatever surface you’re stepping on. You will not feel every tiny pebble you walk on, but the barefoot feel is more than adequate for minimalist footwear.

Grip
On natural dry terrain, the Luna Sandals grip very well but on smooth man-made surfaces, I did find them a little bit slippery, particularly on tile. I did not test their grip in wet conditions.

Breathability
No shoe with an upper can beat the breathability of this sandal. While walking or running, depending on how tight you’ve tied them, there is even air flow between your foot and the sole material.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of manufacturing is impeccable: the pre-made holes are perfect, the edges of the suede top perfectly match those of the sole, and the lace is already tied in a flattened knot when the shoes arrive. In terms of materials, Vibram produces excellent sole material and the hemp and leather laces are tremendously sturdy. There are no imperfections in the copper suede top either.

Sizing
Sizing is incredibly important for the Luna Sandals even though it might appear that because there is no upper, correct sizing might not be crucial. The lace holes must be in the correct location for your feet in order for the Lunas to be comfortable. According to the size chart on the Luna Sandal website, I should be a women’s size 9, however, this size of sandal was too small for me as the holes were in the wrong location for my feet. I was sent a custom pair based on my footprint and the laces fit much better as the holes matched up with my feet better. The width of the production pair was fine for me as well. Although sizing was an issue for me, I was given tremendous customer service by both Barefoot Ted and Jules Smuin and the problem was easily solved.

Price
The Luna comes in a variety of options including the Original Luna Sandal with a naked top for $49.94, with an added Copper Brown Suede Top for $64.95, with a naked top with both the leather and hemp laces for $54.95, or with an added Copper Brown Suede Top with both the leather and hemp laces for $69.95 (all prices in USD). Despite how much I enjoy the Luna Sandals, I think the price is a little expensive for the product. There are not many pieces to the product and the manufacturing consists of gluing the suede to the rubber, punching some holes, and tying and flattening the knot on the bottom. There is no stitching or other involved manufacturing in their construction. They are made through small-scale, sustainable production, however, which is probably the biggest contributing factor to their price.

Style
Although I can only comment on the copper brown suede top Luna Sandal, I think they look great for a leather-bottomed sandal. You can lace them any way you want, which can contribute to an individual’s own style. The leather laces look great contrasted against skin even though they may be harder to tie and the hemp laces contribute a more rugged style. I like how the leather looks so much that I did not want to change its look by testing the Lunas through mud or puddles. I plan on wearing them for many casual outings during warm summer months.

Break-in Period
The only break-in period is how long it takes you to learn how to tie them comfortably around your foot or ankle. After considerably extended wear, the rubber may curl up around the edges of your feet (according to pictures on the Luna Sandals website of Barefoot Ted’s ‘well-worn’ sandals) for an even more customized feel and the suede leather will flatten out.

Shoe care
There is no need to protect the suede leather if you don’t want and to wash them, I would put them in a sink and scrub them with a soft brush under running or standing water.

Uses
The Luna Sandal is a great casual, warm-weather sandal for walking or running. Personally, I love them for running and find them incredibly comfortable as they feel hardly there while using a mid- to forefoot running strike. If you use the slip-on method of tying, they are very easy to slip on and forget you’re wearing anything on your feet.

Summary
The production Luna Sandals are the fruits of Barefoot Ted’s many years of experience and experimenting with huarache sandals. He has made an excellent, all-purpose, warm-weather sandal and an incredible running sandal. If you like barely-there sandals with a great barefoot feel, these are the sandals for you.

To purchase these shoes, visit the Luna Sandals website at http://www.lunasandals.com.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

Vibram FiveFingers Trek Review

Review of Vibram FiveFingers Women’s Trek Shoe
We are very pleased to review the Women’s Trek, it was a long time in coming and an example of how much Vibram values the input and requests of their customers. The Trek sole is the most rugged of the Vibram FiveFingers’ line and is designed for trekking and trail running, and in these activities they perform phenomenally. They were a long anticipated and very welcome addition to my minimalist shoe collection.

Comfort
Regarding the fit of the Trek, they fit much looser than other VFF products, which allows them to work really well with socks. There are absolutely no tight spots anywhere around my feet. That being said, I have experienced hotspots on the bottoms of my feet, specifically the bottoms of my big toes, because the shoes do move around a bit while running on rugged terrain and the friction of repetitive slipping inside the big toe pockets eventually leads to a blister. This is probably a question of my toes being too small for the big toe pockets and would probably not affect everyone. The VFF design is made in such a way as to accommodate as many foot shapes as possible and this is one aspect of my feet not being ‘average’ in this dimension. Despite the hotspots, I still love the comfort of these shoes. I appreciate the extra room because of the activities that I do in these shoes, specifically a lot of trail running, when my feet tend to swell after long distances. These shoes really are ideal and extremely comfortable on rocky terrain, which very few minimalist shoes can claim.

Regarding the feel of the Trek against my skin, the leather footbed and sock liner inside the upper feel soft and practically seam-free. Although my hands can feel seams on the inside of the upper, specifically within the toe pockets, my feet definitely do not. I do wear socks for the most part when I run with the Treks, though, and have not spent much time in them sockless.

Weight
Each size W39 Trek weighs just under 5 ounces, or 140 grams. Although this is the heaviest of the VFFs that I own, they are far from heavy as a minimalist shoe. Even after relatively long runs, I do not feel the weight of these shoes on my feet.

Flex / Sole
The sole is comprised of a 4 mm EVA midsole, which offers plating protection from stone bruising, and a 4 mm Vibram performance rubber outsole with considerable lugs (for a minimalist shoe) to improve traction on rugged terrain. Although it is not as flexible as the KSO and other VFF models’ soles, it is still quite flexible when bent in any direction. The total 8 mm sole is the thickest sole I’ve tried on a minimalist shoe but considering the rocky terrain that I’ve run on with them, I do not have a problem with the thickness in the least. I have experienced stone bruising while running on trails in my KSOs and after running on the same trails and gravel roads in the Treks, I have never experienced a similar problem. The 4 mm midsole definitely does its job protecting the foot arch from stone bruising.

I must admit that the first time I tried the Treks on, I did feel noticeably higher off the ground than in any other of my minimalist shoes. However, his was on concrete, once I stepped onto a trail, this feeling disappeared.

Support / Insole
Like all other VFF models, the Trek has no arch support designed into its shape. Although the midsole is contoured like the shape of the medial longitudinal arch of the foot, it does not provide any support.

There is no removable insole included with this shoe but the footbed is soft, smooth kangaroo leather and feels wonderful.

Barefoot Feel
The 8 mm sole does sacrifice some barefoot feel. However, this shoe is designed for trail running; on rugged terrain at speed, the barefoot feel that it does have is adequate and I wouldn’t want any more than what the Treks offer for this activity.

Grip
The grip of the Treks is fantastic. They have amazing traction on rocks, gravel, sand, grass, and of course concrete, both wet and dry as well as going uphill, downhill, or on flat. In the mud, they have pretty good traction as well, especially on tacky mud. On deep slippery mud, they perform well as long as the slippery part is not more than 4 mm deep, deeper than that, and the lugs won’t hold. I have extreme confidence in the grip of the Treks because of the design of the cleated rubber outsole.

Breathability
The Treks feature outstanding breathability because of the grain of the kangaroo leather used to make the upper.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the manufacturing on this pair of Treks is impeccable: the seams and gluing are all perfect. The quality of the kangaroo leather upper and the Vibram sole are outstanding and I know these shoes are going to last a long time.

Water Resistance
Like all currently available VFFs, the Treks are not water proof. If you stand in a puddle deeper than the 8 mm sole, water is going to seep in through the toe pockets.

Sizing
The sizing of the Treks is the same as the KSO. If you are not familiar with VFF sizing, there is a useful size conversion chart on the Vibram website. As mentioned before, I think the Treks are wider than the KSOs and offer more room on the inside of the shoe but the length is the same. In terms of conventional sizing, I wear a size US 8 conventional shoe and the size W39 fits me well.

Price
The Treks are offered on the Vibram website for $125 and for a leather, rugged trail running shoe, this is a good value.

Style
If you like the toe pocket design of the VFF line, the Treks look fantastic with their suede leather upper and smooth leather strap. I have read many reports of customers wearing them to work because their style is most versatile. I think the full-foot leather upper looks great and because they come in all neutral colors, of black and dark brown, they go well with almost any colored outfit.

Break-in Period
As with all the VFF products, there is no break-in period for the Treks. If they don’t fit well when they are brand new, they likely will not fit well in the future, making initial fit very important.

Shoe care
The Treks do not need to be leather-protected before use but if you wanted to, I doubt that it would damage the material. They can be machine washed and air dried for cleaning.

Warmth
Because the Treks are a full-footed leather shoe, they can be worn in cooler temperatures than the other VFF models. Also, because the sole is 8 mm thick, you could walk or stand on frozen ground for much longer than most minimalist shoes with thinner soles. This is a definite plus in the winter months. For added warmth, socks fit comfortably in these shoes (provided they have toe pockets as well) because of their wider design.

Uses
The Treks are designed for light trekking, trail running, and travel according to the Vibram website. I think they are great for any activity requiring a full-footed shoe. Although the lugs will wear faster on concrete surfaces than trail, their neutral colored styling makes these shoes ideal for casual wear as well.

Keep in mind while trail running, however, that although they are absolutely fabulous on rocky terrain, on grass and other vegetation, you will be picking up green debris between your toes.

Summary
The Women’s KSO Treks are another fantastic product from Vibram FiveFingers. I would like to thank Vibram for listening to their customers and making this shoe in smaller sizes that were not originally intended. There are few minimalist shoe options currently on the market designed for trail running and these shoe fill that niche most excellently. In addition to trail running, these stylish shoes can be used for other more casual activities as well (as long as you don’t mind the added attention of the toe pockets, but that is an issue for all the VFF line-up). I waited a long time to try the KSO Treks and they did not disappoint.

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