Monthly Archives: May 2012

VIVOBAREFOOT Achilles Review

Quick Details
Price: $55.00 USD
Width: Average to wide
Sole Thickness: 3.0 mm
Drop: Zero
Weight: 4 ½ ounces (125 grams) without strap, Strap adds 3/8 ounces (10 grams)
Insole: None included
Sizing: S, M, L, XL for Men and Ladies; True to suggested sizes on the website
Category: Minimalist Sandal

A modern running sandal with plenty or proprioception
With it’s unique design, the Achilles is definitely a sandal with a style all its own and, in the minimalist functioning category, it scores high marks with plenty of proprioception.

Comfort & Fit
How comfortable you find the Achilles is going to depend on a number of factors including how used you are to material between your toes, how tough the bottoms of your feet are, and the size of your toes in general. I’m not used to having shoe material between my toes as I don’t wear flip flops (ever!), I have tender feet, and I have very short, stubby toes; therefore, I don’t find the Achilles very comfortable to wear for long periods. The toe bridge rubs the skin between my toes rather uncomfortably because I’m not used to hard material being there (despite being a habitual toe sock wearer) and my toes are so short that the bridge wedges between my toes rather than the end of the sandal resting against the ends of my toes. After about half an hour of wear, the skin on the bottom of my feet can feel every edge of the hexagon pattern of the footbed. Keep in mind, I am a self-proclaimed tenderfoot and this is not going to be the case for everyone. That said, if I found them more comfortable, I am certain that I’d think they were one of the best minimalist products on the market.

Although the product comes in small, medium, large, and x-large sizing, the website has suggestions for number sizing and these appear to be accurate and true to size. You may wish to ensure that the strap is going to be long enough for your feet and instep height as this proved to be an issue for me with the review pair.

I highly recommend you try these on before you buy them. The Achilles is such a unique design that it would be a very good idea to try these on and know that they are going to work for you and your feet.

Barefoot Feel & Function
With a mere 3.0 mm between your feet and the ground and an extremely flexible outsole material, the Achilles has amazing ground feel. Few minimalist shoes have been this great in this department! They weigh less than 5 ounces, which is well below the average minimalist shoe. And despite being a sandal, they still have good grip on man-made and natural surfaces with a raised hexagon grip pattern. Functionally, these are a super minimalist footwear option.

Upper Qualities
The upper is an integrated upper/outsole 3D design made of TPU with a softer PU footbed. TPU is a common material for VIVOBAREFOOT probably because of its high abrasion resistance, good flexibility over a wide range of temperatures, and resilience to staining and solvents making a suitably durable shoe material. The softer PU footbed gives some cushioning and allows for a textured material underfoot for grip and water elimination. The Achilles design and choice of materials is kind of ingenious in the footwear market. There design maximizes air flow to your feet, is water resistant for amphibious adventures, and super easy to care for because a quick rinse will clean them right up.

The removable strap is made of a durable, thick nylon material, which should last a long time. The hook and loop system allows for a personalized fit and the padded heel rest is a nice touch for added comfort.

Sole Qualities
The TPU outsole and PU footbed have a total thickness of a scant 3.0 mm. Both materials are patterned with VIVOBAREFOOT’s trademark hexagon design, although each with a purpose-appropriate texture. The plastics used are extremely flexible, lending to excellent ground feel. There is no arch support of any kind in the design of this sandal.

Overall Quality
The choice of materials is undeniably durable in quality. The manufacturing of the integrated upper/outsole is also of high quality. The removable strap, however, included a defect in the review pair. One strap was 17 cm and the other was 16.5 cm. This may not seem like a lot but the shorter strap did not have enough length for the hook and loop closure system to stay attached. Upon notifying the company, they send a replacement pair right away which had equal length straps.

Style
The Achilles definitely has a style all their own; I haven’t seen anything like them in the minimalist or conventional footwear markets. It’s the kind of style you either love or hate. Whichever side of that fence you land on, they do come in a variety of colorways to persuade you including black, white, grey/crimson, and grey/mint. If you don’t like the look of them with the strap, it’s easily removed for a completely different look.

Uses
The Achilles is equally at home walking on a beach or running through creek crossings. They are a versatile casual walking sandal or road and light trail running sandal. The strap keeps the back end of the sandal firmly in place while running and the toe bridge adds extra hold in the front end. With the strap, they look a little more rugged than casual and without it, they look like a futuristic flip flop (that you don’t have to curl your toes to keep in place).

Value
At $55 USD, they are extremely competitively priced. Their versatility alone justifies the value. If you plan on running in them, where else are you going to find a pair of durable shoes for under $60?

Summary
There are few truly minimalist women’s sandals on the market with decent ground feel if you’re looking for more than a piece of rubber underfoot and the Achilles delivers with plenty of proprioception. Although I don’t find them that comfortable for my feet for long periods, that doesn’t mean they won’t be my go-to, slip-on sandals for short trips this spring and summer. They’re more than comfortable enough for quick trips to the store, lunch with a friend, or other places you wouldn’t want to go barefoot and want to wear a light, airy sandal. They are well worth their price in versatility and durability. If you love their unique style, which reminds me of a futuristic flip flop, they’re well worth a try. I do, however, highly recommend trying them on before you buy them so you know they work for you and your feet.

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

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

Running Data

I haven’t run with any kind of running technology for a LONG time. I stopped wearing a heart-rate monitor, timer, watch, etc. because I found they got in the way of having fun while running. I wasn’t training for any races and didn’t have any running goals in mind other than to practice good form all the time and to have as much fun as possible. Today, I think I found that running with tech can help maintain good form and be fun, too.

I ran today with a Garmin FR60 for the first time. While running, I had the display show heart rate (just to see where my fitness is at), timer (to establish a baseline for one of my most common short run routes), and cadence (for an accurate assessment of where my rhythm skill is at). I decided to run today with no walk breaks to see how my heart reacted and how long this run takes me now, which I’ll compare to later in the season.

I discovered that my heart rate slowly creeps up during my run. I think intermittent walk breaks might help keep it lower throughout my run but I can test that now to see if that is actually the case.

I also discovered that my cadence is around 88-90 BPM (one foot) on flat and uphill, which is pretty good. The optimum cadence would be 90 so I’m happy at 88-90 for a first time out. My cadence goes up (to 103) going downhill, which is exactly what I would expect to see.

Overall, I’m happy with the results of my first run with running data. I do have some goals in mind for this summer of running longer and slightly faster while maintaining good form and being injury-free. Maybe the FR60 can be an added tool for me to accomplish those goals. I don’t plan on running with it every time but seeing the results of my run was pretty cool and fun for me.

If you’re interested, I downloaded the data and saved an image of the summary (you can click on it to view it larger).