Monthly Archives: January 2011

Building a Better VIVOBAREFOOT Brooklyn Boot

Dear VIVOBAREFOOT designers,

I live in Alberta, Canada and have to cope with a great many days that are colder than -20C here in the winter. I’m so grateful that you make the Brooklyn boot as they are the only minimalist footwear I’ve found that is warm enough in this extreme cold. I’ve spent this winter almost exclusively wearing the Brooklyn boot for walking outside.

There are many features of this boot that I love: The off-road sole is fantastic for gripping on snow and every other surface I’ve tried (except smooth ice, which is understandable). The smooth leather is easy to snow-seal and does not show salt stains like suede does. The upper is waterproof, which is a must for slushy snow. The depth of the sole and thickness of the insole prevent all cold from the ground from transmitting to the feet. The sole is flexible enough to feel the contours of the hard-packed snow trails. The faux shearling lining is incredibly warm and keeps my shins and calves warm in -30C (and I have been out when it’s that cold, not including the windchill).

May I suggest two changes to make this boot even better?

1) It would be beneficial to the fit of the boot if it had laces and a zipper, similar to last year’s Dundan boot. Because the Brooklyn slips on and there is no way of customizing the fit, I find that my foot slides around in the boot when walking either uphill or downhill. It is most noticeable walking downhill as my toes get squished against the end of the boot, and after long walks, can be uncomfortable for quite a while. Laces would allow one to customize the fit around the ankles and calves, and prevent slipping. To preserve the waterproof feature, the tongue could be continuous with the upper part of the boot, like a fold, which would keep snow and water out. The zipper would make the boot easy to get on and off without affecting the fit of the boot each time the boot was taken off, and would be much easier to do up. It could be a waterproof zipper, like those included on waterproof rain jackets, in order to preserve the boot’s waterproof feature. It could also have a flap of material covering it on the inside of the boot to preserve the boot’s incredible insulating feature and prevent the zipper from touching the skin.

2) It would be great if the toe box could be a little wider, again similar to the Dundan last. I find that the toe box is smaller in the Brooklyn than the Dundan and can wiggle my toes less. It might be because of the added insulation in the Brooklyn, but thick socks definitely do not fit in the boot with the insole inside. A wider toe box would allow for thick socks and more toe wiggle room while the addition of the laces would keep the foot from moving around inside the roomier forefoot.

This is the first winter I’ve been able to comfortably walk outside in the extreme cold of the Canadian winter. Again, I’m very grateful for the Brooklyn boot and thank you for designing the best minimalist boot on the market to date.

Yours sincerely,

Tina



Barefoot Running at the Track

Today was another barefoot running day at the track. On days like today, meaning cold and windy, I wish I had a barefoot-appropriate treadmill but that hasn’t happened yet. So, I ran at the track today.

It started out like any barefoot run, waiting for my feet to warm up. I thought I’d run for half an hour because I haven’t run much in the last few weeks. But then something interesting happened: I saw a woman running passed me in VIVOBAREFOOT Evos! I was really impressed with a) her running form b) her running speed and c) her running shoes! I smiled a great big smile.

Then I saw another guy running in Evos!

Then I saw yet another guy running in Evos!

Three people all running in Evos at my small-town track! I was amazed.

The next time the last guy I saw in Evos came around the track, he stopped to talk with me on his walk break. He asked me why I ran barefoot and I replied, “Because running in running shoes hurts my back and running barefoot does not.” He then asked if I’d read Born to Run and I replied with something like, “I had it preordered before it came out.” We chatted about his Evos for a bit and he said his wife and son were both running in them (the other two people on the track at the time). He said he got the Evos from his daughter for Christmas because she runs a store in Calgary that sells them. He said he thinks they’re great and likes running in them. And then he was off running again.

A little while later, his wife was on a walk break so I talked to her for a bit. She also loves her Evos and finds running in them very comfortable. She told me all about their daughter’s store and about their son (who was running with them on the track). And then she was off running again.

It was so great to meet a family of Evo runners! And that they were curious about my barefoot running.

The store in Calgary, which I’m really interested in now, is called Riva’s Eco Store and sells not only shoes, but all kinds of non-toxic, environmentally friendly products. The owners “strive to provide products that are both healthy for the planet, and healthy to those that use them”. If you’re interested, here’s the link: http://rivasecostore.com. I think I’ll go visit the store one of these days on an upcoming trip into the city.

And my run turned out to be over 40 minutes long. It felt much shorter due to the engaging conversations. :)

VIVOBAREFOOT Evo II Review

I am very pleased to review the new Evo II running-specific shoe from Terra Plana’s VIVOBAREFOOT product line.  They are essentially the same as the Evo but made with a denser nylon mesh upper for increased water resistance and a microfiber lined interior for added comfort. They are spectacular minimalist running shoes made for colder temperatures and/or wet conditions. This review will be similar to the one written for the Evo but with additions to reflect the changes in the Evo II.

Comfort
The Evo IIs were instantly comfortable. The upper, made of a nylon mesh material surrounded by a TPU cage, is so flexible that it easily conforms to the shape of the wearer’s foot. There are no areas that bind or pinch. The inside of the Evo II is fully lined microfiber, which is extremely comfortable and soft against the skin. The seams are placed at angles such that they do not impede with the natural movement of your foot. None of the seams can be felt by the foot. There is also plenty of room in the toe box for the natural movement of your toes while walking or running, and the laces allows for a custom fit along the top of the foot. I found that the Evo II is slightly more snug than the original Evo; after I loosened the laces a bit, the fit was perfect and just as comfortable.

Weight
According to official Living Barefoot weight measurements (my kitchen scale), each women’s size EU 39 Evo II weighs 6 3/4 ounces without the insole and 7 ½ ounces with the insole; although this is heavier than some of the other minimalist footwear I’ve reviewed, I have never noticed the weight of these shoes while walking or running even on my longer excursions. They weigh less than an ounce more than the original Evo.

Flex / Sole
The sole of the Evo II is the VIVOBAREFOOT Performance Sole: a 4 mm, latex rubber and TPU abrasion resistant sole with even more flexibility than the regular 3 mm Duratex sole used in the other VIVOBAREFOOT shoes. It bends in such a way as to maximize flexibility in all directions to give your foot as much maneuverability as possible while wearing a shoe.

Support / Insole
There is no arch support of any kind in the shoe. The insole has no support in it either and is approximately 3–4 mm thick. The insole included is the Terra Plana-branded Poliyou insole made of 100% recycled memory foam. I prefer to wear my Evo IIs with the insole but that decision will be a personal preference based on how much cushioning you prefer and how strong your feet are.

Barefoot Feel
The barefoot feel of the Evo II surpasses that of even the other VIVOBAREFOOT models I have reviewed (the Kali and Lucy shoes, and the Dundan boots). Because the flexibility of the sole is so great, the barefoot feel is equally as phenomenal. There is a slight difference in the barefoot feel with and without the insole and it will be up to personal preference as to how each person wears theirs.

In extremely cold temperatures (less than -10C), the sole does feel a bit stiffer which reduces the barefoot feel somewhat as well as the flexibility of the sole. I do not know of a sole that does not react this way in extremely cold temperatures, however, including conventional shoe rubber soles.

Grip
The grip of the Evo IIs is different again from the other VIVOBAREFOOT products I have reviewed. The hexagon design is much larger in size and height, and they do not cover the entire bottom of the sole. There are two different types of rubber used, the coloured rubber being harder and more durable than the black. The grip feels secure on dry or wet terrain ranging from natural to man-made surfaces.

The grip of the Evo IIs on snow is more than adequate for a good barefoot style running form. They do not grip that well on ice, so extra care must be taken when running on smooth ice. I have yet to wear a pair minimalist shoes that does grip well on ice, however.

Breathability
The dense nylon mesh and microfiber lining still allow the upper considerable breathability. Even when running in warmer temperatures (15C), my feet did not feel sweaty. This is also important while running in colder temperatures because if your feet get sweaty and wet, then can get cold right away.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
Like all the VIVOBAREFOOT products I have tested, the quality of materials and manufacturing is excellent. There are no detailed manufacturing defects or errors in these shoes.

Water Resistance
The water resistance of these shoes has been greatly improved with the change in the density of the nylon mesh and fully lined microfiber interior. While running in shallow slush and snow, no water seeped in through the shoes. If you were to stand in 2-inch deep water for a while, your feet will probably get a little wet; so they are not completely waterproof.

Sizing
The Evo II is sized the same as the original Evo. I generally wear a size US 8/EU 38 and the Evo IIs I have are size US 9/EU 39. To compare to other VIVOBAREFOOT products, I wear a size EU 39 Lucy and Dundan, size EU 38 Kali, and size EU 40 Brooklyn.

Price
The Evo II is listed on the Terra Plana website for $160 USD. Although this may seem expensive for a minimalist shoe, it is similar in price to many running-specific shoes. This product is phenomenally constructed out of excellent materials and should last a long time.

Style
I love the style of the Evo II. It is a sleek looking running shoe. Although there has been speculation about the width of the Evo last, it is much wider than it appears and should be as comfortable for wide feet as for narrow.

Both the men’s and the women’s come in black mesh with yellow trim, and navy mesh with light blue trim.

Break-in Period
I did not find that I needed a break-in period for the Evo II as they were comfortable right out of the box. However, I did find that the upper softened after about a week of wear and is now even more flexible than when new.

Shoe Care
As there is no leather incorporated in this shoe, there is no pre-care required. When they get dirty, the shoe can be washed in the sink, scrubbed with a toothbrush, and air dried; as can the insole as it holds the most moisture and odours.

Environmentally Conscious
The Evo II is advertised on the Terra Plana website as 100% vegan. The Poliyou insole is also advertised as made of 100% recycled memory foam.

With/Without Socks
The full microfiber interior lining on the inside of the upper is so soft that the shoe can easily be worn without socks. They are also quite comfortable with socks. Because there are laces, you can customize the tightness of the fit to easily incorporate socks or not.

Varying Terrains
I have walked and run on concrete, asphalt, grass, dirt, shale, roots, rocks, sharp gravel, and both hard packed and soft snow and had no problems at all with any of these terrains. Although you can feel minute contour changes, I did not find sharp gravel to be painful to the soles of my feet even while running downhill. The sole does not grip well on ice, however, so extra care will need to be taken on ice-slick surfaces during the winter.

Inclines/Declines
Most minimalist shoes I’ve tested for running do not have laces and depend on the stretch of the materials to keep the shoe in place. The laces on the Evo II allow the shoe to be customized to the width of your feet, which makes inclines and declines comfortable with no slippage of the shoe. It truly feels like there isn’t a shoe on your foot at all whether running flat, up, or down.

Warmth
The Evo II dense nylon mesh and fully lined microfiber interior are fantastic for running in cold temperatures. I have run in them at -12C and had toasty warm feet the whole time. I’m sure that they can keep feet warm to temperatures as low as -15C. At colder temperatures than that, thick socks would be beneficial as well but the laces would have to be loosened to allow enough room. Their increased water resistance will also help in keeping feet warm if running in wet conditions.

Summary
Terra Plana has made another excellent product in the VIVOBAREFOOT Evo II. The dense nylon mesh and fully lined microfiber interior are significant improvements to the original Evo for running in colder temperatures or wet conditions. It is a phenomenal all-purpose shoe as well as an amazing running shoe. It is extremely comfortable with or without socks and form fits to your feet well because of the laces. The barefoot feel is outstanding and, while running, definitely promotes a midfoot strike. And, of course, the quality of the materials and manufacturing is superb. Although the price may put some people off from buying them, it is comparable to many running-specific shoes and should last much longer than their usually prescribed 500 miles. The Evo II is a stellar minimalist shoe and the fact that they were specifically designed for running, which they also feel fantastic for, makes them even better. I think they are phenomenal for cold temperatures and fill a desperately needed niche in the minimalist running shoe market.

For more information about the Evo II, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info