Monthly Archives: January 2013

VIVOBAREFOOT Mary Jane Review

An attractive, work-appropriate, and comfortable casual everyday shoe
I occasionally lament that there are so few work-appropriate minimalist shoes that are comfortable for all day wear. I will lament no longer with the addition of the VIVOBAREFOOT Mary Jane to my minimalist collection. They are soft, stylish, slip-ons that will work for any casual or office outfit for an average to extra wide foot.

Quick Details
Price: $110
Width: Average to Extra Wide
Sole Thickness: 4.5 mm
Drop: Zero
Weight: 6 ounces or 170 grams
Insole: Removable, 5.0 mm, ½ ounce or 14 grams
Sizing: 35–40; Full sizes; Fits true to size
Category: Casual, Work Appropriate

Comfort & Fit
This is one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing to date. There are few shoes that are wide enough for my ample metatarsal splay and the Mary Jane has room to spare. There are no tight areas or rubbing anywhere and the heel cup is just the right size for me. The vamp is short enough to allow a full 90o bend in my toes, which I find to be a nice detail on an open shoe. The strap, which attaches with a long length of Velcro, keeps the shoe comfortably in place. In addition, the strap is also long enough to accommodate an extra high instep. As my instep is not extra high, the strap goes all the way to the floor to secure the shoe properly suggesting that a narrow width foot would not fit this shoe well. The shoe lining is soft Dri-lex® made with Sorona yarn, which is moisture-wicking and contains Aegis for bacteria control.

The 5.0 mm insole is removable and provides a nice amount of cushioning. If you need extra volume in the shoe, taking out the insole can accommodate for this. It is also washable in case of odour accumulation, which I have not experienced with the review pair. The footbed is soft and comfortable with an unobtrusive seam making the shoe quite suitable for its absence.

I generally fit a U.S. size 8 and the review pair of Mary Janes in size 39 fits me with a little room to spare. A size 38 would fit more snugly but I am happy with the extra room in the forefoot and toebox. The VIVOBAREFOOT website shoefitr says a size 38 would fit and in my experience, it has been pretty accurate in sizing.

Barefoot Feel & Function
The Hex Flex outsole does not provide the best proprioception compared to other VIVOBAREFOOT outsoles but it is quite flexible in design allowing for all but small pebbles to be felt. Removing the insole will increase proprioceptive feedback as well. Because the shoe upper is open and the last is made extra wide, the foot can function naturally inside the shoe.

Most of the 6-ounce weight is in the rubber outsole and is well-balanced across the length of the shoe. The rubber also provides a substantial amount of grip, even on wet surfaces, a rare feature in a women’s work appropriate shoe.

Upper Qualities
The upper is a high-quality, full grain leather. After several outings, including a standing-room only rock concert, there is not a single scuff and the shoes still look brand new. The heel quarter of the shoe is a material fabric rather than the leather, which I believe is to allow for a softer, more flexible, and accommodating feel than the leather would be. This probably also reduces the break-in period, which I found to be none required, because the heel area is comfortable right out of the box.

For improved longevity of the leather upper, you could treat them with a dress shoe leather protector but I have not chosen to do so with the review pair and they still look and smell brand new.

Sole Qualities
The 4.5 mm outsole is made with 20% recycled rubber content. After several long urban walks, there is only the slightest hint of wear in the heel area, which I had to look very closely to find. The hexagonal design provides plenty of flexibility in all directions throughout the length of the outsole. As with all VIVOBAREFOOT footwear, there is no arch support included in the design of the shoe.

Overall Quality
The quality of both the materials and manufacturing is impeccable. There are no flaws in the review pair. The leather upper and rubber outsole appear extremely durable and will likely last a long time. The only feature of this shoe that will fail to last is the painted on V logo on the back of the heel, which is purely esthetic and not a problem for me as it is hardly noticeable anyway.

Style
The Mary Jane is elegant and simplistic in design. The high-quality materials add to their style with an understated richness. I love their simple curves and functional comfort. They are currently available on the U.S. website in black and dark brown and on the U.K. website in an additional aubergine.

Uses
The Mary Jane is perfectly suited for any casual or urban use from long, lazy walks in the park to a professional office setting. Their colour options allow for a variety of palettes in addition to a ubiquitous black.

Value
At $110 USD, they are comparably priced for a high-quality, full leather, long-lasting mary jane-style casual women’s shoe. Their classic look and durability ensures many seasons of wear further justifying their price point.

Summary
The VIVOBAREFOOT Mary Jane is one of those shoes that you could wear for just about any casual setting. They are comfortable enough for long walks and stylish enough for office environs. They are the only shoe currently on the minimalist market that I would recommend for a wide or extra wide foot with their ample forefoot room. I love their simplistic elegance and outfit versatility. Their full grain leather quality is both durable and long-lasting ensuring many seasons of enjoyment.

For more information or to purchase the Mary Jane, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Swiss Protection Sock Review

By Guest Reviewer – Dave Gilbertson

 

Kevlar Toe Socks for the Outdoors
The Swiss Barefoot Company’s Swiss Protection Socks (SPS) have the feel of a thick pair of socks with the cut-protection from Kevlar and PVC in the sole. For the individual looking for the most barefoot feel, the SPS may be the item for you. To wear these out in public might look either really cool or kind of odd depending on the rest of your kit. If you don’t mind looking like you forgot to bring your shoes and really don’t care, read on!

Quick Details
Price: 59 EUR ($76 USD) plus shipping from Europe
Width: Stretch in fabric would accommodate narrow to wide feet
Sole Thickness: 2 mm (at the most)
Drop: Zero
Insole: Not applicable
Sizing: 38-39, 42-47
Category: Toe sock suitable for outdoors

Comfort & Fit
The SPS is a comfortable sock. The interior is soft and seamless with no bunching of material. The fit on my narrow foot was comfortably snug throughout the heel, mid-foot, and individual toes. The knitted material does have some circumferential stretch that I expect would accommodate a variety of foot widths. During vigorous movement I was surprised that there was very little migration of the sock.

Barefoot Feel & Function
I have pansy feet and for any surface but grass or sand I tend to pick my way barefoot down a pebble beach like it’s hot coals. In my experience, the sock mutes the edge off of the sharp edge of stones more than 50%. There is little by way of impact absorption and the sole is pliable so, there is good proprioceptive feel for my foot’s contact with the ground. It’s not likely that weight wise you’ll get much lighter than a sock or a more natural movement for your foot short of going barefoot.

Protection
The sole is 50% Kevlar, 32% polyester, 8% spandex, 10% cotton and the polyester nubbed sole is pliable and gives the most minimalist feel I’ve had to date. The SPS is as advertised: enough protection to walk or run for short distances on “soft ground including dirt roads, forest trails, sandy beach, gardens, water sports, board sports, swimming (average protective against shells, coral, rocks)”. The sole is a Kevlar blend in a weave which makes the socks puncture-resistant but NOT absolutely puncture-proof. Being a “Curious George”, I took a fork from the drawer to test the sole of the socks’ integrity. It took quite a push to get a small fraction of one tine of the fork through after testing multiple areas. I’d recommend not running on thorns or other pointy objects. There’s a small amount of protection via insulation from the ground or cold rocks. Don’t expect water resistance from a knitted item. The amount of protection is accurately demonstrated in the promotional video. The guy running on the rocks is still watching carefully where to place his feet!

Breathability
Breathability was excellent. Poor water resistance was expected as it is a knitted material.

Grip
Grip was good on snow, but I should have tested them in the daylight so that my neighbours could watch the lunatic running down the street in the frickin’ cold in just socks! There was good grip on grass, stones, concrete and asphalt, but mud is a problem for any footwear, or footless wear for that matter. Indoors, the socks nicely gripped the laminate floors, wood, tile and carpet.

Overall Quality
The materials and finish of the product appear to be excellent. I noted that the wear of the material is good over several weeks of use, but I can’t imagine them lasting as long as a Vibram FiveFingers-like product with a full rubber sole.

Style
Wearing these out in public might look odd, but if you’re in an unconventional mood, go with that feeling. Presently, the socks are available in a yellow/black blend, which is mentioned on the manufacturer’s website as a production limitation with the use of Kevlar because it is difficult to dye. However, in the latest newsletter from The Swiss Barefoot Company (link provided here), the manufacturer mentions that they are working on an all black version as well as some new colours, as a new Kevlar dyeing process has been discovered, which may be coming soon in 2013.

Uses
The SPSs are for use where you might encounter occasional glass or sharp edges but might otherwise go barefoot.

Value
It appears that the socks are only available from the company website and, although returns are possible, there is the hassle factor of not trying the product before purchase. The materials and the finished product are excellent, but at an advertised price of $76 CND, I feel the price is too much for a pair of socks.

Summary
The SPSs are no ordinary socks and appear to be well made. Despite the workmanship, I do question the long term durability of this product relative to similarly priced minimalist footwear. I feel the SPS would likely appeal to a small group of minimalist enthusiast with $76 burning a hole in their pocket.

For more information about the Swiss Protection Sock, you can check out The Swiss Barefoot Company’s website.

 

About the Author

Dave Gilbertson is an accomplished natural runner with extensive experience in minimalist footwear both while running and in daily life. Dave is a physiotherapist by day and an avid runner by night and weekend. He has podium-finished in his age group in many 5 Peaks Trail Running Series races as well as participated in multiple Sinisher 7 Relay teams.

Feelmax Osma 2 Review

Welcome back Feelmax with your new and improved designs!
Feelmax has had their share of difficulties in the last few years but are now back on the market with new and improved outsoles and designs. The Osma 2 is an updated version of the original with a new wider last and a brand new NatuRun™ rubber outsole that is much more durable with a great barefoot feel. I’m extremely pleased with the new shoe and I’ve worn it often for a variety of activities.

Quick Details
Price: $100 USD
Width: Narrow to Wide
Sole Thickness: 2.5 mm
Drop: Zero Drop
Weight: 4.75 ounces or 134 grams
Insole: Included, glued in but removable if really desired
Sizing: 36–46, full sizes, true to size
Category: Casual or Road/Light Trail Running

Comfort & Fit
The new Osma 2 is a joy to wear and extremely comfortable. All the materials that touch skin are luxuriously soft and there are no areas that bind or pinch. The heel cup was a bit stiff right out of the box but with just a few wears, it softened to just the right amount of comfort and structural stability. The convenient quick-lace system makes them super fast to put on and allows for enough adjustment for a narrow or wide foot. The shoe stays in place well and my foot doesn’t move around inside it. The toe box is large and square-shaped with plenty of room for my toes to wiggle around. The mesh material just above the toes is both airy and stretchy so my toes never feel constricted. I thoroughly enjoy wearing these shoes.

There is a very thin insole included in the shoe that is glued to the footbed at the top of the shoe. If you really wanted to, you could remove it. I find that the footbed beneath isn’t as soft as the insole so I have always worn this shoe with the insole included. The seams attaching the footbed to the upper are also a bit intrusive so the insole serves to protect the foot from these as well as wrap up the sides of the upper where the seam may be an issue.

Although I’ve noted in the Quick Details that the Osma 2 fits true to size, their European (EUR) sizing is a little different than I’m used to seeing. I generally fit a US size 8, and that is the size noted in the sample pair of shoes, however the EUR size noted is size 39. A number of manufacturers compare EUR size 38 to US size 8 (a simple rule I use is to drop the 3), but this is obviously not the case with Feelmax. This size does fit me perfectly, just be aware of the difference in EUR to US sizing when ordering for your size.

Barefoot Feel & Function
The new Osma 2 has fantastic ground feel! The 2.5 mm flexible rubber outsole allows you to feel the smallest pebbles without the worry of feeling too much from sharp edges as well as easily flexes over contours in the ground. With a weight under 150 grams, they truly feel barely there. The grip is fantastic on any dry man-made or natural surface. Although I wouldn’t recommend them as shoes to run in the mud, they are great for walks or runs in dry, warm weather on road or light trails.

Upper Qualities
The upper is made of Coolspacer mesh and Velukid suede. Although I’m sure these are great marketing terms, they don’t mean much to me. I do know that the mesh has great breathability and is stretchy, which I find increases comfort. The suede areas are a little stiffer, providing structural stability, looks good, and is easy to brush clean. These shoes are obviously not water resistant but they make a great warm weather, minimalist shoe. The shoe was comfortable right out of the box but I have found that the stiffer parts, where the suede is, have softened with wear. After two months of wear, the shoe still holds its shape, they seem more form-fitted to my feet. They are easy to clean with a little bit of brushing off (which I tested after wearing the Osma 2 after many hours of gardening). I wouldn’t recommend washing them in the washing machine very often, but I’m sure they’d survive if they got really dirty and needed some deeper cleaning.

Sole Qualities
The outsole is a “2.5 mm NatuRun™ special rubber compound” according to the Feelmax website. It has fantastic flexibility, great grip, and improved durability over the original Osma. There is no arch support, so your feet move naturally throughout your gait.

Overall Quality
This shoe is made with quality manufacturing with durable construction and material both in the upper and the outsole. All the seams are carefully sewn and are unobtrusive to natural foot movement. This shoe is going to last a long time.

Style
The Osma 2 has more of a sporty functional look rather than a classic casual look. The grey and red with black accents is clean-looking without being flashy. The shoe is much more foot-shaped than your regular pointy toe-boxed shoe but that’s what makes a good looking shoe to me.

Uses
This shoe is perfect for just about any dry, urban adventure whether it’s taking the dogs for a walk or picking up groceries. For running, functionally, they’re great but they won’t have a tight fit, if that’s something you prefer, because the quick-lace system is made with elastic material rather than an unyielding conventional lace. I wouldn’t recommend these shoes in the rain as your feet are going to get quite wet but the abundant breathability will keep your feet cool in hot weather.

Value
At $100 (plus shipping), they are priced in the mid-range of minimalist footwear. They are extremely comfortable, durable, and versatile shoes warranting their price.

Summary
The long-awaited arrival of the new Feelmax products was definitely worth it if the rest of the line is as excellent as the Osma 2. It has improved in many areas including the fit with extra width, durability with the new outsole, and breathability with the new upper materials while keeping their fantastic barefoot feel. I have spent a considerable amount of time in these shoes and they still look brand new after brushing some dirt off of them and they have form-fitted to my feet well.

For more information about Feelmax and this product, check out their website at http://feelmax.fi. To purchase the Osma 2 in North America, you can buy them at http://www.giftsfromfinland.com.

VIVOBAREFOOT Off Road Hi Review

A true minimalist boot with great ground feel and grip
It seems that whenever there is a missing product in the minimalist market, VIVOBAREFOOT notices the empty niche and fills it with a high quality offering borne of years of experience in the industry. The Off Road Hi is such a product. For years there has been a lack of truly minimalist boots that allow natural foot movement, ground feel, and traction on a variety of rugged terrain; the Off Road Hi fills that gap with a waterproof, breathable, zero drop boot with fantastic grip.

Quick Details
Price: $175
Width: Narrow to Average
Sole Thickness: 2.5 mm with 4.5 mm lugs
Drop: Zero
Weight: 12.5 ounces or 354 grams (without insole)
Insole: 3.0 mm, Removable, 3/8 ounces or 10 grams
Sizing: 35–47; Full sizes; Fits one size small (in Ladies)
Category: Hiking/Winter Boot

Comfort & Fit
Upon donning the Off Road Hi for the first time, I was struck with how comfortable the feel of the material and the overall fit really was. I remember buying hiking boots and them being so stiff and the material so rigid, my ankles could barely move, let alone my feet. These boots were quite flexible right out of the box and there was no binding or rubbing anywhere. The tongue and ankle cuff are wonderfully pillowed so when laced up all the way, even quite tightly, they are still very comfortable. The speed hook lacing allows for a personalized fit every time, whether you like a tight or loose fit. There are no obtrusive seams within the interior of the boot as well.

They only time they’ve ever been uncomfortable is when I kneel down and my toes bend 90o; the forefoot crease does squish my lateral toes. This is not a problem while walking or hiking, however. Over the past few months, they have broken in a bit and become softer with wear.

The width of the toe box is sufficient for my wide feet for walking. I do like my footwear to have extra room in the forefoot area and these boots have just enough but I do not consider them roomy. They would fit a narrow to average width foot very well and be borderline comfortable for a wide or extra wide foot.

The sizing is similar to VIVOBAREFOOT’s Performance line (e.g., the Evo or Lucy models), meaning they fit one size small. I generally fit a US size 8 and the Off Road Hi in size 39 fits me well. VIVOBAREFOOT has a new “shoefitr’ feature on their website that helps considerably in finding the right size.

The 3.0 mm insole is removable for better ground feel. I like the added insulation during colder temperatures so have left it in all winter.

Barefoot Feel & Function
For a pair of boots, the Off Road Hi has phenomenal ground feel. Compared to the Neo Trail, not as much, however, but they are built for different purposes. The outsole flexes around ground contours like rocks and hard snow allowing my feet to move and bend with the undulations in the ground. The traction security of the 4.5 mm lugs has been lovely this winter. They provide more than enough grip for anything but smooth ice. Hiking on rocky terrain was no problem at all, either.

Although not the lightest of minimal footwear at 12.5 ounces, for an over-the-ankle boot, they are sufficiently lightweight. Once securely tied, I have never noticed the weight of them. They are surprisingly easy to get on as well as the throat of the boot opens quite wide.

Upper Qualities
The upper is made of vegetable tanned and abrasion-resistant leather with rip stop nylon along the edge for added durability. After three months of winter-wear, they still look brand new with no scuff marks or visible wear. It is designed with a waterproof sock that has kept my feet dry in 3” of slush. The pillow-soft and insulated tongue is attached at the sides passed the ankle bones for improved water resistance in deeper wetness. The collar and lining are made of woven nylon and polyester. The breathable lining helps wick moisture from sweaty feet away improving overall warmth. With a thicker sock, my feet have been warm down to -20oC while walking. If standing, I recommend the Off Road Hi as comfortable footwear down to -10oC. Although quite flexible out of the box, after a season of wear, they have become softer and more flexible.

Sole Qualities
The rubber outsole is made with 4.5 mm multidirectional lugs that provide excellent traction on rough ground as well as ascents and descents. The outsole itself is 2.5 mm thick with VIVOBAREFOOT’s patented puncture-resistant construction. At the midfoot, there is an added inset of harder rubber that protects the sensitive arch from rocks and sharp edges but there is no rock plate included in the boot construction. The sole is quite flexible at the forefoot, less so at the midfoot, and not flexible in the heel area, naturally due to the high-top boot structure and design. There is no arch support included in the footbed or insole allowing your feet to move naturally.

Overall Quality
The quality of the materials and manufacturing is impeccable. There are no defects in the sample pair; every stitch and glue seam is perfect. The materials used are extremely high quality and chosen with care and experience placing more durable materials in high-wear and abrasion locations. After rugged Canadian winter wear, they still look brand new and will likely last several winters to come.

Style
The look of the Off Road Hi is as at home in the mountains as on an urban trail hike. Under pants, they look like rugged, casual footwear. Close up, their design includes a myriad of detailing that exhibits thoughtfulness in functionality including the little indented V’s in the speed lace locks, the sturdy pull tabs on the tongue and heel notch, and the colour-accented arch protection.

The Off Road Hi is currently available for both men and women in all black and additionally for men in a dark brown. The neutral colourways ensure versatility with outerwear.

Uses
This boot as well suited for snow, slush, and rain as it is for rocks, mud, and gravel. The abrasion resistant materials make them perfectly suited as a hiking boot in the mountains or crusty snow on a winter field. Their waterproof properties make them the perfect choice for walks in the spring rains, too.

Value
At $175 USD, the Off Road Hi is priced competitively for a high quality hiking or winter boot. Considering this boot can do both well, they are a great value. Their extreme durability in materials makes them an excellent value.

Summary
A high quality hiking/winter boot is a necessity for any outdoor enthusiast who lives near rugged terrain or in frigid seasonal temperatures. The Off Road Hi has been my choice of winter footwear the entire season and despite the crusty snow, wet slush, slick mud, and frigid temperatures, my feet have been warm and dry without the worry of slipping. This is the first winter I’ve had a boot that is both warm enough for a Canadian winter and provides enough traction to walk on anything the season has to offer here in Alberta. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed wearing the Off Road Hi with their great ground feel and comfortable construction, and I look forward to wearing them for many seasons and winters to come.

For more information or to purchase the Off Road Hi, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Feelmax Kuusaa Review

Comfortable as a slipper but with better durability
I think that minimal shoes should feel like slippers in terms of comfort, barefoot feel, and function. Sadly, most don’t live up to that standard. The Kuusaa, however, fits that description exactly. Everything about them feels like a slipper except their outsole is far more durable than your average household footwear.

Quick Details
Price: $80 USD
Width: Narrow to Wide
Sole Thickness: 1.3 mm
Drop: Zero Drop
Weight: 2.74 ounces or 80 grams
Insole: Included, glued in but removable if desired
Sizing: 36–46, full sizes, true to size
Category: Casual

Comfort & Fit
The Kuusaa is wonderfully comfortable to the skin and to wear in general. The upper material is soft and the seams against my skin are all flat. The square, roomy toe box is perfect for the shape of my feet. The insole is removable but without it, the shoe does have a ridged seam where the footbed attaches to the upper. If your foot is extra wide, this ridge might be underfoot, but if your foot is narrow to average, you probably would never feel it. The insole wraps up the inside edges of the shoe and with it in, I can’t feel the ridge at all. The elastic lace allows the shoe to be tightened to the foot without being binding. The shoes are easy to get on and off with the narrow piece of elastic upper on the top of the foot.

The only improvements I would make to this shoe would be to flatten out the ridge seam where the footbed attaches to the upper and to make the insole a little bit thicker for added structure. A flattened seam would make the shoe more comfortable overall for those with extra wide feet. I’ve found that because the insole is so thin, it does move around a bit inside the shoe; a thicker insole with more structure to it would stay in place better. They are minor details (to me anyway) and mentioned only to make a good product even better.

Although I’ve noted in the Quick Details that the Kuusaa fits true to size, their European (EUR) sizing is a little different than I’m used to seeing. I generally fit a US size 8, and that is the size noted in the sample pair of shoes, however the EUR size noted is size 39. A number of manufacturers compare EUR size 38 to US size 8 (a simple rule I use is to drop the 3), but this is obviously not the case with Feelmax. This size does fit me perfectly, just be aware of the difference in EUR to US sizing when ordering for your size.

Barefoot Feel & Function
The Kuusaa has phenomenal ground feel. The 1.3 mm rubber outsole is super flexible and feels more like a rubber sock underfoot than a shoe, not to mention their scant weight at under 100 grams. The texture to the rubber provides great traction on any dry man-made or natural surface. They would not grip at all well in mud but wet concrete is not a problem.

Upper Qualities
The upper is made mostly of a highly breathable mesh material and a little bit of leather around the edge near the outsole and up the heel for structural support. They feel slightly warmer than a pair of socks but with great ventilation. They are not at all water resistant because of the mesh material. The shoes were comfortable right out of the box and after several long walks with the dogs, they still hold their shape. If they get dirty, a damp cloth will get them looking new again but for ground in dirt, the occasional machine wash shouldn’t do any harm.

Sole Qualities
The 1.3 mm composite rubber outsole is made by Continental® tire company. Its flexibility feels more like material than it does rubber, thus providing their fantastic ground feel. There is no arch support in the footbed, making them feel a lot like socks.

Overall Quality
The quality of the material and manufacturing is excellent. There are no flaws in the sample pair. I think the upper will outlast the outsole, however. The outsole is only 1.3 mm thick so rigorous use will wear it through quicker than gentle use. For that reason, I wouldn’t expect them to last long if used as a running shoe.

Style
The Kuusaa functions like a comfortable slipper and looks like one, too. They certainly are not a dressy pair of casual shoes but their look works for walking the dogs or trips to the grocery store. The grey and red with black accents isn’t flashy but looks sharp and well put together.

Uses
If you need a comfortable pair of lightweight, easily packable shoes for emergencies or a shoe for quick trips to the store or walks around the block, the Kuusaa is the shoe for you. Although they could be used for running, I doubt the outsole would last long with such use.

Value
At $80 USD, they are priced in the low- to mid-range of the minimal market for casual wear. They aren’t the most versatile of minimal footwear in terms of use but I think they are worth the money if you’re looking for a super comfortable casual shoe with fantastic barefoot feel.

Summary
The best description for the Feelmax Kuusaa is a comfortable, casual shoe that feels more like a sock or slipper than a shoe. It has phenomenal barefoot feel and great grip, too. The upper is well ventilated with plenty of mesh that hugs your foot but doesn’t bind. Although I wouldn’t recommend them for running, for walking, there are few minimalist products that beat them in terms of comfort and ground feel.

For more information about Feelmax and this product, check out their website at http://feelmax.fi. To purchase the Kuusaa in North America, you can buy them at http://www.giftsfromfinland.com.