Minimalist / barefoot outdoor boots

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Tvividr

Forager
Jan 13, 2004
248
20
Norway
www.gjknives.com
I really like South African vellies, and find them quite comfy for every day use. There are several brands. I like the soft kudu skin ones. Used to use them barefoot as a kid and young man, but once I settled in Norway I started using socks too...
A friends dog ate half of my last pair, so I have to get new ones when I go back down, once this covid thingey is all over. At the moment I use my Courteney Safari boots when I am out and about. A bit on the heavy side due to the natural rubber soles, but ok once you get used to that. Very comfy too when they have been walked in.
 
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dwardo

Maker
Aug 30, 2006
6,310
324
44
Nr Chester
Barefoot Ramblings.

I have been in barefoot footwear in one form or another for the past three or four years.
Bar say the odd wedding/formal affair.. :) I am no expert this is simply my experience after a lot of hours.

The brands have been Vivo, Whitin and Vans with the odd other 0 drop thrown in.

Terrain wise its everything from pavement to woods to hills or a few days rock hopping fishin n snorkelling. There is also temperature to consider when going minimalist as there simply isnt the mass between your foot and a very cold planet.

I think there are a few things that are overlooked when thinking of dabbling in barefoot/0 drop.

Wear rate.
Barefoot shoes just cant be as hard-wearing as a traditional boot. There just isn't the mass/material in there to resist wear and tear. Yes uppers will last but lowers just wont wear as well.. With that in mind manufacturers are few and far between so prices are high, especially when it comes to a walking or outdoor style boot.

Insulation.
There isn't the insulation to keep you away from the earth in cold conditions. Yes you can add layers of socks and soles but then you are into a different size of boot and losing the bare feel foot quickly.

Foot conditioning.
Going bare foot will be a shock to the system if you are not used to it. I am not best sat to judge on this as I am a martial arts nerd so train in barefoot regularly,, but that is very different to your usual every day walk and or woods bimble. So add to that sharp stones under foot/arch, undulations, rocks, barnacles, just every day stuff really and it is a different longer game. Yes I have an advantage on this side but its still a learning curve.

Advantages.
I just cant go back to a big thick sole again. Dont get me wrong if we are into sub 0 conditions or hacking at a hill in cold weather then you just need to be further away from the earth lol.

You are lighter on your feet, faster to react when you slip (which you inevitably will - again learning curve) But that same feeling makes you drop your center and adjust faster when the whole foot can grip and sense the floor. When on uneven ground the grip is un paralleled as your feet can move around in a all panes.

Biomechanics.
The wear on your knees hips and ankles is spread through out your legs as you simply cant just thump heel/toe anymore. This means more care is needed in your gate and stride which helps to strengthen supporting muscles and ligaments.
Your feet are able to breath so much better than being crammed in to a boot.

Weight on foot.
They are a whole different weight class so moving is just easer.

Odd one but you also dont get as bogged down in mud due to softer rounder edges.

Disadvantages...........

Cost,
Crikey they are expensive as its simply not a mass-produced form of footwear. But it is getting there.

Durability.
Gotta admit although Vivo have great customer services their durability is poor. Very poor. I love the Tracker but they fall to bits in no time at all. Yes still taking into account the above wear restrictions on material they are still poor. Same with the Withins and the others really but the cost being the largest divider.

Cold weather.
9 or 10 months out of the year I am in my glued up Vivo trackers so cant complain to much here but you learn to sock up or keep you feet off the floor when sited.

Looks.
Marmite certainly but most would agree they are not your average shoe-shape. When you add a decent footbox space you are into noddy territory.,

hope that helps.
 
Sep 16, 2021
14
4
45
Dundee
Barefoot Ramblings.

I have been in barefoot footwear in one form or another for the past three or four years.
Bar say the odd wedding/formal affair.. :) I am no expert this is simply my experience after a lot of hours.

The brands have been Vivo, Whitin and Vans with the odd other 0 drop thrown in.

Terrain wise its everything from pavement to woods to hills or a few days rock hopping fishin n snorkelling. There is also temperature to consider when going minimalist as there simply isnt the mass between your foot and a very cold planet.

I think there are a few things that are overlooked when thinking of dabbling in barefoot/0 drop.

Wear rate.
Barefoot shoes just cant be as hard-wearing as a traditional boot. There just isn't the mass/material in there to resist wear and tear. Yes uppers will last but lowers just wont wear as well.. With that in mind manufacturers are few and far between so prices are high, especially when it comes to a walking or outdoor style boot.

Insulation.
There isn't the insulation to keep you away from the earth in cold conditions. Yes you can add layers of socks and soles but then you are into a different size of boot and losing the bare feel foot quickly.

Foot conditioning.
Going bare foot will be a shock to the system if you are not used to it. I am not best sat to judge on this as I am a martial arts nerd so train in barefoot regularly,, but that is very different to your usual every day walk and or woods bimble. So add to that sharp stones under foot/arch, undulations, rocks, barnacles, just every day stuff really and it is a different longer game. Yes I have an advantage on this side but its still a learning curve.

Advantages.
I just cant go back to a big thick sole again. Dont get me wrong if we are into sub 0 conditions or hacking at a hill in cold weather then you just need to be further away from the earth lol.

You are lighter on your feet, faster to react when you slip (which you inevitably will - again learning curve) But that same feeling makes you drop your center and adjust faster when the whole foot can grip and sense the floor. When on uneven ground the grip is un paralleled as your feet can move around in a all panes.

Biomechanics.
The wear on your knees hips and ankles is spread through out your legs as you simply cant just thump heel/toe anymore. This means more care is needed in your gate and stride which helps to strengthen supporting muscles and ligaments.
Your feet are able to breath so much better than being crammed in to a boot.

Weight on foot.
They are a whole different weight class so moving is just easer.

Odd one but you also dont get as bogged down in mud due to softer rounder edges.

Disadvantages...........

Cost,
Crikey they are expensive as its simply not a mass-produced form of footwear. But it is getting there.

Durability.
Gotta admit although Vivo have great customer services their durability is poor. Very poor. I love the Tracker but they fall to bits in no time at all. Yes still taking into account the above wear restrictions on material they are still poor. Same with the Withins and the others really but the cost being the largest divider.

Cold weather.
9 or 10 months out of the year I am in my glued up Vivo trackers so cant complain to much here but you learn to sock up or keep you feet off the floor when sited.

Looks.
Marmite certainly but most would agree they are not your average shoe-shape. When you add a decent footbox space you are into noddy territory.,

hope that helps.
Brilliant! Loads to consider there. It's handy hearing from people who have gone down this route already.
 
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Tipi

Full Member
Jun 14, 2006
188
39
Wondering Wizard, UK
xero shoes are another brand to look at. i like their very minimalist sandals, have lived in them over summer. have had a pair of their trail shoes, bit ugly and not as wide as vivo so sold them on. but seem farily well made. https://xeroshoes.co.uk/

otherwise i like the merrel vapor gloves lived in them most of the winter, but not in the woods. they fit like a moccasin though, almost like wearing slippers!
seem fairly durable, but the soles have worn a bit quicker than "normal shoes"

stick an ebay saved search with a make and your size and see what comes up if you don't want to spend loads.
vivo also do a 100 day money back guarantee and you can buy the returned ones here: https://www.revivo.com/

no affiliation other than a happy customer
 

DocG

Full Member
Dec 20, 2013
799
85
Moray
I've had some success with light, waxed leather desert boots (Clarks) + sealskin socks. Unfortunately, the sole has no grip. A local cobbler is looking at adding a vibram to the crepe, but he's not very optimistic + it could be expensive. I've bought the shoes on Ebay second hand at around £30 per pair. I wouldn't wear them for "proper" hiking but they're ok in the woods and the sealskins keep my feet dry and warm most of the time. I am fortunate that my feet are ok; I simply prefer softer shoes for wildlife watching and feeling the earth beneath me (sorry to sound pretentious).
 

Tony

White bear (Admin)
Admin
Apr 16, 2003
23,043
1
1,147
51
Wales
www.bushcraftuk.com
I'm a Xero shoes advocate, I wear them all year round. When it comes to wear on the sole they have a great warrantee, I wore through a pair within their 5000mile limit and so I've got 60% off my next pair, I'm just waiting for them to come into stock.

They are pricy, but I've picked up a few pairs in sales, I also picked up a winter boot in a sale that I've not worn yet, I'll be interested to see how they perform this winter, I hope we have a cold one!

Grip wise they've been great.

I did/do have some vivo barefoot's but they don't seem to last well compared to my Xero's.

I've also got Altra's which are zero drop but padded.
 

TLM

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 16, 2019
2,019
956
Vantaa, Finland
otherwise i like the merrel vapor gloves lived in them most of the winter, but not in the woods. they fit like a moccasin though, almost like wearing slippers!
seem fairly durable, but the soles have worn a bit quicker than "normal shoes"
I am wearing the same pair for the third year, soles are still OK but the upper seems to eat itself, that is apparently a known fault of Vaporglove3.
 
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bigbear

Full Member
May 1, 2008
954
123
Yorkshire
xero shoes are another brand to look at. i like their very minimalist sandals, have lived in them over summer. have had a pair of their trail shoes, bit ugly and not as wide as vivo so sold them on. but seem farily well made. https://xeroshoes.co.uk/

otherwise i like the merrel vapor gloves lived in them most of the winter, but not in the woods. they fit like a moccasin though, almost like wearing slippers!
seem fairly durable, but the soles have worn a bit quicker than "normal shoes"

stick an ebay saved search with a make and your size and see what comes up if you don't want to spend loads.
vivo also do a 100 day money back guarantee and you can buy the returned ones here: https://www.revivo.com/

no affiliation other than a happy customer
Thanks man, just got a pair, whats not to love ?
 

Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
784
990
Here There & Everywhere
Right, well, I took a punt and bought myself some barefoot shoes and they arrived today!
They were only £40 from Amazon:

I went with a cheap pair to see how I got on with them before spending lots of money.
They are stunningly comfortable and flexible.
Of course, I've only worn them around the garden so far because they only came today. But they'll get an outing this weekend.
Once I've had them a few months I will do a review, but first impressions are very favourable.
Here's a few pics of them on:

51558410569_f44334d2f0.jpg


51558410474_e1713df708.jpg


51557719556_2f9081857e.jpg
 
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