Reviewed by Ciaran and Shauna
Have you been hearing a lot about minimalism lately? I read about using less in our lives, our homes, technology and I have been reading a lot about minimalist footwear. Because of this, we decided to try Vivobarefoot who say science shows how we have evolved wearing nothing or next to nothing on our feet but in the last hundred or so years we have drastically changed that. We let our feet do the talking and were surprised with the results.
+VERY lightweight yet durable
+Feel very premium quality
+Cool different style/design
+They have great kids range too. Minimalist shoes could be very important for foot health in kids
-You pay a small premium for them but they are still good value
-The Tracker FG suede outer scratches quite easily but some say that adds to the look
The three pillars Vivobarefoot build their shoes around are;
- Wide and stable
- Flexible yet strong
- Thin for sensory
They aim to let your foot get back to its roots and get strong like our ancestors before we padded and strapped in our feet each day. For men and women who force their feet into tight dress shoes for work each day, these wider and more flexible shoes are what you should be wearing every other moment you can to let your foot go back to its original shape. I tried it and loved the freedom my feet felt in the shoes. It’s actually quite difficult to go back to dress shoes after using these.
I tried the men’s Tracker FG (Firm Ground) which is perfect for hiking or even general wear as they are lightweight and comfortable. They replaced my old hiking boots which weigh a tonne and I immediately felt the weight benefit when taking my first steps in them. The minimalist sole wasn’t hard to get used to at all and unless you were walking on very small sharp rocks like a fireroad I don’t think you would have any issue with their boots. The Tracker FG also comes in a female version which I assume is of similar quality.
The shoes are made from a leather upper with a waterproof membrane underneath which gives great water protection yet excellent breathability. I think the wide fit helps in this respect as in my old tight boots I’m used to having hot and sweaty feet back in the car after a long walk. If you are a total minimalist you can remove the light thermal insole but I like it and it uses technology that means it keeps you warm in very cold conditions even though it’s so thin at 3.5mm.
They are a firm ground shoe designed for moderately wet conditions so I would get my old boots out when facing a downpour but for hiking 8 months of the year and general everyday use I think these would be perfect.
Shauna also tried their female Fulham boot. “This Chelsea-style boot will go well with most outfits, and these are the best fitting and most stylish I’ve tried yet. They are truly ‘barefoot’ shoes with a thin insole for some warmth during colder weather. This is useful as it adds extra cushioning while walking on hard paths around the city, while still maintaining that barefoot feel. The only issue is that the snug fit requires you to wear thinner socks and the boots alone don’t provide a lot of heat. So if you can in the colder months, add chunkier socks to your routine!
The leather is soft and supple, and very durable. For all you style conscious ladies, the boots have a sleek look that hits just on the ankle. This means they can go with any trouser – I prefer a rolled-up jean because if you have these boots, you want to show them off. My feet are happy each time I wear these boots!”
Vivobarefoot actually makes a wide range of shoes including everyday trainers, runners, trail, boots and sandals. They even have a vegan range that uses algae biomass, corn and natural rubber and they try to repurpose materials in their shoes to help the environment. It’s all very admirable and shows how we can be mindful of the fashion we buy. There are super green alternatives out there that don’t compromise one bit on performance or style. Quite the contrary they actually look and feel better.
We gave these months of testing and were very happy with the results. For the Tracker FG I would certainly give it FIVE stars. Shauna gave the Fulham Boot FOUR stars. We are both very interested in trying more in their range.
If you are into walking a lot then you might want to check out our Fitbit Versa 2 Special Edition review here