Monthly Archives: October 2011

VIVOBAREFOOT Evos Coming to their Inevitable End

I am sad to say that my VIVOBAREFOOT Evos are starting to fail. Although, I have to say that I am VERY happy with how well they’ve lasted and performed over the year and half that I’ve owned them.

These have been my go-to shoes ever since they arrived in the mail. Because I write reviews for Living Barefoot, I get a lot of shoes in the mail, some are winners and some definitely are not. The Evos quickly became my favourite pair of minimalist footwear for errands, walking the dogs, and most especially running. I even wore them on several hikes in the mountains. They are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I have EVER worn. I don’t know how many kilometres I’ve put on them but quite a few of them have been in rocky, rooty, muddy, thorny, and downright difficult conditions for any shoe, let alone a minimalist shoe.

How are they failing, you might ask? The mesh on the upper is starting to rip and become holey. I hit a rock pretty hard once recently with the very top of the shoe (I was surprised and grateful I didn’t break a toe on that one) and it tore the mesh open there as well. I’m totally impressed that the TPU cage is holding fast so I’ll probably continue to wear them despite my pinky toes starting to poke through the mesh on the sides.

The sole is holding up well also. These are my favourite road running shoes as well and the sole, although definitely showing wear, still has a lot of life in them yet.

Despite their beginning to fail, I know that if I had abused a pair of conventional shoes this way, they probably would have failed a long time ago. I have other minimalist footwear whose uppers have not lasted so well so long. And I have other minimalist shoes whose soles have not lasted so well with far fewer kilometres on them than these. These Evos have been well-loved and brutally abused (at least compared to any pair of shoes that I have ever owned).

Because I love them so much, I’ll probably keep wearing them but I think it’s time to buy another pair soon…

Here are some pics of my beloved and abused year and half-old Evos:


Beloved Injinjis

I have loved Injinji Toe Socks since I received my first pair as a race souvenir at a 5 Peaks race several years ago. Since then, I’ve been slowly growing my collection and have come to realize I wear them probably over 95% of the time now. Why would I write about toe socks on a ‘barefoot alternative blog’? Because I think they are a healthy product for our feet as they allow absolute freedom of ALL the toes. I find whenever I wear regular socks now, my toes feel squished and constricted. I wiggle my toes a lot and stretch them out after standing for a long time (which I do a lot because I have a standing desk to work at) so love that I can stretch all my toes out as far as they can go when wearing Injinjis.

A friend recently asked me what kind she should buy so I thought I’d write a post about the different kinds I have so she can decide which pair (or pairs) will work best for her. What better way to do that than with pictures? So here are some pictures and captions of the different models of Injinjis I have. Keep in mind, these socks aren’t new and are well loved. :)

Performance Series Original Weight Mini-Crew Black. Just above the ankle, mid-weight toe sock great for running and hiking in minimalist shoes or just wearing around the house.
Outdoor Series Mini-Crew Slate. Wool toe socks which are the thickest and warmest Injinjis I have. They are quite warm around the house but don’t fit well in tight shoes. They are great for cooler temperature walks or hikes with boots or a wider shoe. The wool doesn’t conform to the feet as well as the synthetic material does but they are definitely not itchy against the skin.
Performance Series Eco Mini-Crew Rainbow Black. These have become my favourite Injinjis, mostly because of their colours. :) They are mid-weight synthetic socks but come in funky rainbow colours. They are the same thickness as the Original Weight Mini-Crew Black toe socks above so are also great for running and hiking but mostly I wear them for more casual outings as I don’t want them to get stained with dirt.
Performance Series Lightweight No-Show Grey. The thinnest and smallest of my Injinjis. They really don’t show much while wearing any minimalist shoe. Because they are so thin, they fit very well in tighter shoes. They probably won’t last as long as the mid-weight socks, however, and don’t provide that much warmth, which isn’t really the point of them. They are a thin interface between your skin and your shoes and do a great job preventing blisters.
Performance Series Lightweight Mini-Crew Black. I’ve folded down the top edge in the picture to show that, if you want, you can have Injinjis that don’t show any brand markings, not that Injinjis’ are obtrusive in any way. Still a thin interface between your skin and your shoes but won’t show any stains.
Performance Series Lightweight Mini-Crew Grey. I ran a muddy trail with these and, although they performed beautifully, I haven’t quite gotten the dirt stain out of them yet. These have become my go-to toe socks for trail running. :)
Performance Series Lightweight Crew Black. These fit great under boots! A thin interface between your skin and your footwear that go up mid-calf. I wear these a lot with my motorcycle boots.

That’s my current collection. They are all well-loved and worn much.

When do I go back to wearing conventional socks? The only time I’ve found I wear regular socks is riding my motorcycle when it’s cold (between 0-5C). Because Injinjis have separate toe pockets, they’re like gloves for your feet. Regular socks are like mittens; they keep the heat in a little better and the warmth evenly distributed across your toes. Although I can wiggle my toes in my motorcycle boots, the lack of activity doesn’t allow me to create enough body heat to keep my toes warm enough in such cold weather with separate toe pockets. But my toes are definitely NOT as happy in regular socks as they are in toe socks!

NUUN Addiction

Back in May, whilst in New York for the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program, my dear and lovely friend Barefoot Angie Bee introduced me to NUUN. I’ve been hopelessly addicted ever since.

To begin the tale, I should probably talk about what happened in New York. At the time, Angie was a regional rep for NUUN so had brought a bunch of samples to share with the attendees of the coaching program. I was a little skeptical at first because I had only ever tried Gatorade powder in water and I liked that quite a bit at the time. The day before the coaching program started, Angie and a friend of ours from VIVOBAREFOOT had a lovely day touring New York City. We walked all over Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge, sight-seeing all day long. It was a gorgeous day and we all had a great time. We finished the day with dinner at a Brooklyn Pub, which was great, until we all got home. All three of us had a touch of food poisoning. The next day, the first day of the coaching program, Angie and I were still feeling the previous night’s effects and I didn’t think I could keep any kind of breakfast in. Angie suggested I try some of the NUUN she brought so I could at least get in some electrolytes.

So I tried it.

And it was wonderful.

I don’t even remember what flavour it was but it tasted great and it stayed in. My belly actually stopped hurting. And I was hooked. I drank NUUN in my water the rest of the trip. And now I drink a lot of NUUN at home, too, and especially when I exercise.

Here are some things I’ve learned about NUUN since my initial hit in New York:

  • I enjoy all the flavours I’ve tried and my favourite is probably Strawberry Lemonade
  • Kona Cola is the only flavour with caffeine (that I know of and that I’ve tried) and it tastes a lot like Coke but without the sugar
  • I drink a lot of NUUN while travelling to stay hydrated and have taken it on every trip I’ve been on since New York
  • It’s super easy to pack in their little tubes and (if I remember) easy to mix and match flavours in one tube
  • I’m convinced that drinking NUUN keeps me from getting ‘travel headaches’ (which I used to get a lot and was probably due to being dehydrated in an effort to keep from having to find a bathroom in a strange place)
  • While drinking straight water at home, I often find it goes right through me and I have to pee every 20 minutes (I know, a bit of TMI) but if I add some NUUN to my water, over-peeing issues resolve immediately (they’re probably due to some kind of electrolyte imbalance, I think)
  • I LOVE that NUUN has no sugar! Not only can I drink it all the time without worrying about calories but I don’t have to worry about washing my water bottle out with soap every time I drink it because it doesn’t grow bacteria (this is especially nice when travelling where I’ve found international water alone can make my bottle smelly after only a couple of days)
  • If I have NUUN available while exercising, I tend to drink A LOT (because it tastes so good) so for short hikes or run, I”ll leave the NUUN in the car and bring water so I don’t run out on the course
  • I like NUUN so much better than Gatorade now because I can control how many calories I take in separately from my water and electrolytes
  • I don’t have any sorbitol issues but have found that some people can have sorbitol intolerance problems (which are apparently no fun at all)

I am grateful to Angie every day that she introduced me to NUUN (thank you so much, Angie!). If you haven’t tried it and want to, it’s available at a number of sport-related stores or online, of course.

NUUN flavours I’ve tried

Long Time No Post Update

I dislike leaving blog posting for over a month but I have spent the last month writing a lot for Living Barefoot and quite a bit of coaching for Living Barefoot Coaching. On to the details…

I’ve been trying to catch up on writing shoe reviews for Living Barefoot. With the increased popularity of minimalist shoes, Al and I found ourselves somewhat swamped (but in a totally good way) with shoe reviews this summer and fall. In the last month, I’ve written four reviews (which will all be going online in the next couple of weeks) and I still have four to go. Then another three shoes are currently in the mail for fall reviews. It’s been a bit of a hectic writing schedule. I love that there is so much choice in the minimalist shoe market now. What a change from two years ago!

Living Barefoot Coaching is picking up as well. I’ve spent the last four Fridays coaching at Dynastream Innovations Inc. in Cochrane with Natural Running Lunch & Learn sessions. They’ve been so much fun and I’ve learned a lot. I really do believe that ‘You teach what you want to learn’ and with every client I coach or every presentation I give, I’m learning something, too. The people at Dynastream have all been great sports and I hope to continue coaching some of the wonderful people I met there.

In other coaching news, I’ve started ‘running’ form check-in runs with past clients. We start with a couple warm-up exercises and then head out on my favourite nearby trail, through the Cochrane Ranche. We focus on form on the way out and usually run to the 180 BPM cadence beeping out of the metronome. On the way back, we just have fun and enjoy the scenery.

Here are a couple pics of yesterday’s group run:

Warming up

Heading out on the trail

In other coaching news, I’ll be attending the 5 Peaks Central Alberta Mountain Equipment Co-op Night on November 6 from 6-8 PM. I’m hoping to have a lovely poster presentation (which is this weekend’s assignment to get finished) and have more of a Q&A type of set-up then a formal talk. So if you’re in the Calgary area and want to see what Living Barefoot Coaching is about in addition to learning something about the biomechanics of running, come on down to MEC November 6.

On to some catch-up blog posting…

Paperfeet Grippy Review

Minimalist Footwear that’s more ART than Footwear
The first time I tried on a pair of Paperfeet, I decided not to review them on the grounds that my safety was more important than a properly wear-tested review; they were so slippery on every surface I tried them on, I was fearful of falling. Thankfully, Al reviewed a pair of the original Paperfeet (found here), and my somewhat guilty conscious was assuaged because I felt that Living Barefoot readers deserved a review of the product. Paperfeet has since come out with a ‘Grippy’ version with recycled rubber on the wear points for added grip. I now feel like they are safe enough for me to wear. But do I want to? Read on…

Comfort
These ‘shoes’ are not comfortable. Although the recycled billboard vinyl is not rough, the edges are sharp against the skin. Every time they flex, I can feel the edges dig into my feet. Although they are quite minimal for footwear, they are not ‘shoes’ so much as art for your feet, and function about as well.

Width
Paperfeet are as wide as you want to make them. They have Velcro strips along the top, ankle, and heel tabs for easy adjusting.

Sole
In addition to the billboard material, there are sole pods made of recycled rubber for added grip. These pods add much needed traction to the vinyl.  They are close to 1 mm in thickness.

Flex
This footwear is as flexible as any durable vinyl. They are, of course, extremely portable. They can be folded up and put in a pocket. The soling rubber pods aren’t as flexible as the vinyl but do flex considerably, providing great ground feel. 

Weight
Paperfeet are incredibly light weighing in at 1 ¼ ounces or just over 34 grams. Their weight is practically imperceptible on the feet—if only the edges were as well.

Support / Insole
There is no support or insole included with your one-of-kind Paperfeet.

Barefoot Feel
If you’re looking for phenomenal ground feel, Paperfeet will undoubtedly deliver. The vinyl and rubber soling pods are incredibly thin and flexible allowing your feet to feel everything you step on, without the worry of cutting yourself on anything sharp.

Grip
This is where Grippy Paperfeet surpass the Original Paperfeet in function: the grip on these is more than adequate for man-made or natural surfaces. I wouldn’t want to run downhill in them, but walking on flat ground has more than enough traction. 

Breathability
Although the vinyl obviously doesn’t breathe, there is plenty of air access through the sandal design. Your feet will not be wanting for breathability in these art pieces.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The soling rubber pieces add durability to the vinyl at the heel and forefoot. The vinyl is previously used billboard material so is recycling a material that has fulfilled its primary function. As to quality of the materials, I’m sure they’re both good. As to qualifying as footwear material, that’s up to how much art you like in your footwear. The construction is of the hand-made variety and the unfinished look reflects this.

Water Resistance
The billboard material is waterproof. If you need a pair of footwear for unexpected downpours while barefooting and then want to put them back in a pocket, they just need a little shake and all the water will roll right off.

Sizing
There is sizing information on the Paperfeet website to help you with ordering the correct size. The footwear is somewhat adjustable with the Velcro straps so the website suggests finding “your closest fit” which is as easy as measuring the length of your feet and picking the appropriate size.

Price
I could not find a price for the Grippy Paperfeet on the company’s website so I don’t know how much they cost. But I can say that it wouldn’t matter what they cost, I wouldn’t buy them. There are plenty of comfortable, minimal, stylish, portable options for minimalist footwear on the market now and I would sooner buy a pair of functional footwear than artistic footwear that hurt my feet.

Style
Despite every pair of Paperfeet being one-of-a-kind, these are art for your feet and not functional footwear, and I don’t like the style. I do not find them attractive in any way and it wouldn’t matter what colours the billboard material came in.

Shoe care
If they got dirty, Paperfeet can be easily wiped with a wet cloth for cleaning.

Warmth
Like any open-air sandal, this footwear is not warm. The temperature of the ground is also easily transmitted through the material. These are for warm temperatures only.

Uses
I can’t think of an activity that I would want to do in these sandals. If you are usually barefoot and need a footwear option for sanitary or social reasons that was easily portable, waterproof, and still gave good ground feel, you might want a pair of Paperfeet. If you wanted comfort out of said pair of shoes, you might want to try another minimalist option.

Summary
Grippy Paperfeet are one of those footwear inventions that are more art than shoes. They are not comfortable and definitely not attractive (to me, at least). However, they are waterproof, easily packable, grippy, and one-of-a-kind. Personally, I prefer comfort and function over fashion and individuality in my footwear. For more information, take a look at the Paperfeet website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info