Monthly Archives: December 2011

Gift from VIVOBAREFOOT

The holidays arrived a little early for me! VIVOBAREFOOT sent me a beautiful gift that I wanted to share because it’s so neat! They sent specially made VIVOBAREFOOT cookies from Eleni’s New York, a hard copy of Lee Saxby’s Proprioception: Making Sense of Barefoot Running, and a thoughtful card. Thanks Michelle and Lizzie, you’re the best and I wish you both a happy New Year to come!

And the cookies are VERY yummy!

Hiking with the Dogs

My family decided to have a bit of a snow day yesterday. We drove out to Bragg Creek with the idea that we’d do some snow shoeing. Turns out that the snow wasn’t all that deep out there and most of the trails had been groomed. We decided to hike with just our boots instead.

Again, I had the dilemma of which boots to bring. I decided to bring my old pair of hiking boots from the pre-minimalist footwear days. I don’t have a pair of minimalist boots that would work well with snow shoes. I think it’s one of those few times when you probably want a rigid sole beneath your foot.

It was the first walk I think I’ve done in conventional footwear in over three years! Here are some observations I made:

  • I missed feeling the ground
  • The boots were surprisingly wide enough for my feet
  • My feet were warm the whole time
  • They are so heavy!
  • Walking on snow and soft ground wasn’t so bad
  • Walking on asphalt felt like I was walking on a wedge despite the miniscule heel rise the boots have
  • There are times when a conventional shoe isn’t a bad idea (ie, snow shoeing)

Here are some pics from the hike. Snow days are great! :)

Take 1: With dogs

Take 2: Without dogs

Icy Neo Trails

It’s often a dilemma for me to pick which shoes to wear for a walk with the dogs (I know, such a rough dilemma to have but, believe me, I’m grateful at this point because it wasn’t always this way). The other day, we went for a walk and it had snowed quite a bit and was icy on all the sidewalks and paths. I chose to wear the Neo Trails and am so grateful I did for this particular walk.

We ended up walking along the snow covered paths around our neighbourhood and it was beautiful. We decided to cut across the frozen creek to the other side instead of walking all the way down to the bridge and back. The creek is usually QUITE frozen by this time of year. Apparently, this is not the case this year.

Much to my surprise, one of my steps made my foot fall through the ice into the water below. Thankfully the creek is not deep this time of year and there was only enough water to go up to my ankle (the rest was frozen).

This post is about how grateful I am that the upper in the Neo Trail is hydrophobic. Most of the cold creek water beaded away from my foot and didn’t soak it through. The only part of me that got wet was just above the throat of the shoe. Had I not been wearing water resistant footwear, I might have been in big trouble getting home in the cold and snow with a soaking wet foot. Because most of my foot was dry, I easily made it home before the cold set in too deep in my ankle.

In addition to their fantastic water repellant properties, they also have incredible grip in the snow and they’re warm enough for temperatures down to -10C (with socks, of course).

Can you tell which shoe fell through the ice?

VIVOBAREFOOT Boxing Boot Review

A Comfortable and Fashionable Boot for Any Woman
It’s always wonderful when a new product fills a previously empty gap in the minimalist footwear market. Some time ago, Living Barefoot reviewed the Dundan boot by VIVOBAREFOOT but it was sadly discontinued. They’ve introduced back to their line-up a similar model but with some improvements to make the Boxing Boot an even better product! It offers great looks, barefoot feel, and comfort in an as yet little represented minimalist boot.

Comfort
These are amazingly comfortable boots. The leather is soft and flexible and the inside of the boot has no unnecessary bulk, which I find is sometimes the case with boots. The leather itself isn’t very thick and there is a thin layer of black material between it and your feet, but the boot is still warm enough for mild winter conditions with little insulation. They are extremely easy to get on and off with the zipper along the side, which is hugely appreciated, and the laces still allow for a customizable fit to the top of the boot. The zipper also allows this fit to remain the same every time you put them on, no need to unlace and retie every time you want to wear them.

Width
There is more than enough width for even wide feet. If you have narrow feet, you can tighten them with the laces in the upper to keep your feet from moving around inside. These boots are the best of both worlds and will probably fit just about any width of foot.

Sole/Flex
The sole is VIVOBAREFOOT’s rubber hex sole and is 4.5 mm thick. It is incredibly flexible in all directions. This was unexpected in a boot because the structure required for a boot design usually limits the ability of the sole to flex but this is not the case with the Boxing Boot. It is a stellar combination of flexibility and structure.

Weight
Each size EU 38 Boxing Boot weighs 9 ounces or 255 grams. This is not considered a light weight for a minimalist shoe but it’s not a shoe, it’s a boot. There is obviously much more material involved in their design and construction. That said, because of the way the boots attach to the foot and the balance of the weight, they definitely do not feel heavy while wearing them, even while hiking in the snow.

Support/Insole
Like all VIVOBAREFOOT products, there is no arch support designed into the shape of the product. There is a removable 5 mm press EVA insole. The press EVA insole is denser than their previous versions so only adds a little cushioning underfoot. As well as providing a small amount of cushioning, if you want to wear these boots in cold temperatures, the insole is an excellent feature to protect your feet from the cold of frozen ground. If you want better ground feel and don’t have to worry about frozen ground, the insole comes out easily.

Barefoot Feel
The boot is so flexible that ground feel is great. There is about 2.5 mm of grip depth so small rocks won’t be felt if they fall within the hex shapes but ground contours are easily felt because the outsole bends around them with such ease.

Grip
The rubber outsole provides sufficient traction for indoor surfaces and the rubber hex design has more than enough grip on slippery snow. Finally there are more comfortable minimalist boot products for Canadian winter!

Quality of Materials/Manufacturing
The quality of the materials and manufacturing are both excellent. There are no defects in the review pair. The pull-up leather and triexta/polyester lining appear to be good quality materials suitable for this type of footwear. VIVOBAREFOOT always has high quality outsoles and the Boxing Boot is no exception.

Water Resistance
Walking in ankle-high snow has not been a problem in the Boxing Boot and my feet have stayed warm and dry. If you were to stand in water passed the bottom of the zipper, some water might leak in but I haven’t experienced it personally.

Sizing
The Boxing Boot fits true to size. I generally fit a size women’s U.S. 8 or EU 38 and the size 38 review pair fits me perfectly in length and width. I did have the opportunity to try the size 39 and it was too big for sure. Keep this in mind if you are familiar with VIVOBAREFOOT products (I fit a size 39 in the Evo, Neo, and Neo Trail).

Price
The Boxing Boot retails on the VIVOBAREFOOT website for $175 USD. This is a good price for such a high quality leather boot and definitely worth the value compared to similar products in the conventional footwear market.

Style
I think these boots are beautiful and fashionable. Their design is simple and classic and would look good with any casual and even some dress pants. These are a great option for work appropriate footwear if you need a boot for snowy, cold weather.

Break-in Period
These boots do not need a break-in period as they are comfortable right out of the box. However, I have noticed the leather of the upper has softened and begun to conform to the shape of my feet. This just makes them even more comfortable than when they were brand new.

Shoe care
Although not necessary, I would recommend applying a good quality leather footwear protector before venturing out into snowy, wet conditions. If you’ve invested the money to buy them, you’re probably going to want to keep them looking great and lasting a long time, which a leather protector will do for your boots.

Warmth
Due to the relatively thin leather and liner, I wouldn’t recommend them for extremely cold weather conditions (-30C or colder). They are comfortable to wear at freezing with only a thin pair of socks. If you want to wear them in temperatures considerably below freezing, I would recommend a thick pair of socks. Your level of comfort depends on how used to the cold you are and the thickness of the socks you choose to wear. Thankfully, the boots are wide enough to comfortably accommodate thick layers within.

Uses
These boots are stylish enough to be worn with just about any pant or legging. They are cool enough to wear in warmer temperatures and warm enough for colder temperatures (to a point). They are suitable for walking in dry, wet, or snowy conditions. They are comfortable enough for short or long walks and are incredibly easy to get on and off. I’m having a hard time thinking of casual uses you couldn’t wear these boots.

Summary
VIVOBAREFOOT has introduced some truly stellar minimalist products this year and the Boxing Boot is another to add to the list. They are a versatile, comfortable, stylish, all-weather boot suitable for any casual wear or adventure. They have the added quality of being great for winter conditions as well, a niche that is poorly represented at this point in the minimalist market. I’m impressed yet again at VIVOBAREFOOT’s understanding of the minimalist market and not only listen to customer’s desires but also develop products that fulfill their needs.

For more information about the Boxing Boot, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

 

Invisible Shoe Connect and Contact Review

I previously reviewed the original Invisible Shoes’ do-it-yourself huarache sandal kit, made with 4 mm Cherry Vibram outsole material, enjoyed them quite a bit and found them fun and easy to make. When Invisible Shoes asked if Iwould review their new outsoles that they designed especially for barefoot running sandals, I was excited about the opportunity. The Invisible Shoes 4 mm Connect and 6 mm Contact outsoles with FeelTrue™ rubber, designed and made specifically for their use, are excellent additions to the barefoot running sandal market and, in my opinion, the most comfortable ones yet!

This review is written for both the Connect and the Contact as the pre-cut shapes are the same, the only difference is the thickness of the rubber. The sandals arrived pre-punched and pre-laced so all I had to do was lace them on my feet and head outside!

Comfort
These are the most comfortable huaraches I’ve wear tested yet. What makes them more comfortable than other huarache running sandals I’ve tried? A few details that have been overlooked in other models: First, the footbed is naked rubber and slightly textured to allow good grip of your foot to the sole material. Second, the holes for the laces on the sides of the shoes are set away from the foot so the laces don’t rub uncomfortably against the sides of your ankles. Third, the heel area is slightly cupped and the toe area has a slight upward angle, which both serve to allow the sole material to hug your foot but doesn’t impede their natural movement. These don’t flop around at all; they hold their shape very well. Although I can still somewhat feel the knot under my toes with the 4 mm Connect, I couldn’t feel it at all with the 6mm Contact.

As mentioned in my previous review, a big comfort issue with the huaraches is how to tie them properly. There are many ways to tie huaraches and the most comfortable way is undoubtedly a personal preference. I would recommend trying a few different ways to tie them and decide what works best for you.

Weight
Each approximately size 8 women’s Connect weighs 3 ounces or 85 grams and each Contact weighs 4.25 ounces or 120 grams. These measurements were taken with the whole length of the lace included. They are still some of the lightest minimalist shoes we’ve tested and feel practically weightless.

Sole / Flex
The rubber sole is essentially the shoe—with a little lace to hold it to your foot. Both the 4 mm and 6 mm rubber soling material is extremely flexible and bends in every direction imaginable. The 6 mm requires slightly more pressure to bend compared to the 4 mm but it is hardly noticeable.

Support / Insole
As there is no rigid structure to this sandal, there is absolutely no support. There is also no insole included with either the Connect or Contact and the texturized rubber footbed is extremely comfortable and grippy.

Barefoot Feel
The barefoot feel of these huaraches is simply phenomenal. Because there is just a lace holding the sole material to your foot, your foot is absolutely free to act in the same way it would if you were completely barefoot; toes and bones splay naturally and foot muscles function normally. The sole is thin enough that you can also feel every ground contour that you step on. Only the sharpest edges are muted more in the 6 mm Contact compared to the 4 mm Connect.

Grip
The dual chevron-shaped tread pattern of the new outsole material is fantastically grippy on every man-made surface I tested them on and more than adequate on dry natural surfaces. Anything you’d do barefoot, you could do with these Invisible Shoes and have adequate traction.

Breathability
As there is no fabric upper to this sandal, breathability is not an issue as your foot is open to the air all the time.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
This is where the new Invisible Shoes outsole material excels! The attention to detail with these simple sandals is phenomenal. The rubber is clearly high quality and durable, and the lace is the perfect diameter and material for their purpose, not only soft against the skin and easy to tie, but they will not stretch or change shape when wet. The holes for the laces in the sides of the outsole are reinforced and elevated from ground level to improve the longevity of the holes and the lace. The brand logos and motto etched into the outsole make the product the most professional looking huarache sandal I’ve seen yet. It is clear that extensive thought went into the details of creating this unique outsole material.

Water Resistance
As there is no upper to the Invisible Shoes, they are obviously not water resistant. However, water will run off the shoes as easily as it runs onto them.

Sizing
Sizing is very simple with the new pre-cut Connect and Contact outsoles: measure your foot and choose a corresponding foot length when you order. If they are not quite the right shape for you, you can trim the top as needed. There are no worries about ordering the right size, it doesn’t get more simple!

Price
The Connect is priced at $25 USD and the Contact at $30 USD on the Invisible Shoes website. These are some of the least expensive minimalist shoes on the market. At these prices, they are a phenomenal value.

Style
The Invisible Shoe style is as simple as it gets for sandals. There are nine colors of laces to choose from on the website. In addition, the way you lace your own huaraches can be as stylish as you want to make it.

Break-in Period
Once the sandals are made, the laces will not stretch and the sole will not change shape so there is no break-in period. You may need some time to get used to the feeling of the lace between your toes but that’s more of an individual tolerance issue.

Shoe care
There is no need to treat the lace or the sole with any type of pre-wear care. To clean them, scrub them in the sink and then let them air dry. There is no cause for worry about getting the laces wet because they do not stretch either wet or dry.

Warmth
The only downside to these running sandals would be their warmth. They are as suitable to cold temperatures as bare feet but would provide minimal protection from cold ground. On the upside, you can wear toe socks with them for a little added warmth.

With/Without Socks
Invisible Shoes can be worn with or without socks, as long as they are toe socks. The laces may need to be loosened to accommodate for the extra material surrounding your foot but I found that the slip-on style of lacing that I use did not require to be relaced for additional room. I found that the lace between my toes was less of a problem, in the beginning, when I wore toe socks with the huaraches.

Summary
There is no other shoe in the minimalist footwear industry as truly minimalist as the huarache. It just doesn’t get simpler than a piece of sole material cut to the size of your foot and a lace to tie it on. The Invisible Shoe huarache running sandals were great when all there was was a do-it-yourself kit. The new 4 mm Connect and 6 mm Contact blow all other huarache running sandals out of the water. Their attention to detail, comfort, durability, and especially price, are second to none. They are as close to being barefoot as you can possibly get with a shoe with only the slightest width of rubber protection on the soles of your feet. The choice between 4 mm and 6 mm allows you to customize your ground feel as well. Your feet are free to move in the most natural way with no fabric upper to impede or constrict foot movement in any way. Invisible Shoes has clearly done their homework in the development of these two new fantastic products and it shows!

To purchase these shoes, visit the Invisible Shoe website at http://www.invisible.com. The site is full of information on the modern take on huaraches including detailed written and video instructions on how to make your own running sandals.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info