As a minimalist shoe reviewer, it is wonderful when we’re given the opportunity to review multiple products from the same manufacturer and extremely validating when the shoes improve over time. This is the case with Jambu products. The first Jambu shoe Living Barefoot reviewed was the Barefoot Vegan and I found it to be somewhat narrow in design and included a truly non-minimalist insole. The latest Jambu shoe provided for review has a much wider, more comfortable fit and the insole design has been updated and improved as well. The result is that the Jambu Bath-Barefoot is an attractive and comfortable leather casual sandal fit for any spring or summer urban adventure.
Have you ever wanted to be as close to barefoot as you could get but still have a little bit of cut-resistance for sole of your feet? The solution to that problem is the Swiss Protection Sock or Sockette (SPS), depending on the height of the sock you prefer. The SPS is a Kevlar-knit sock with a welded polyester bobble sole, for added grip suitable for most outdoor terrains. They feel as close to barefooting as you can get, because you’re not wearing a shoe, with just a bit of protection from sharp edges. They’re pretty much perfect for people who wish they could go barefoot but are afraid of getting cut or are working on toughening their tender soles.
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.
The VIVOBAREFOOT Legacy is an excellent all-purpose leather shoe with fantastic minimalist qualities and great grip. They are an exceptionally high-quality product that will last a long time. For a narrow or average width foot, they are just about perfect. For an extra wide foot, they may be a bit restrictive in the toe box. The Legacy is stylish enough for office wear while comfortable enough for urban adventures and equally suited for running on the road or light trails. The high-quality leather softens with minimal wear making them even more comfortable the more you use them.
VIVOBAREFOOT has grown over the past two years from an innovative company producing great footwear to an innovative company producing some of the best minimalist footwear available. The Aqua has evolved into a refined, stylish, versatile, and comfortable shoe. Another winner from VIVOBAREFOOT!
Overall the Fivefingers LS is a great looking, functional, fun, breathable, and comfortable Fivefingers option. It’s difficult to judge if the leather between the toes is an issue that is unique to our sample pair, or if the issue is more widespread. In an online search, I was unable to find anyone else who had the same complaint, but I must review the product as I experience it. As with all Fivefingers shoes, the best way to purchase them is to try them on first, or buy from a retailer who offers a good return option.
Comfort is a primary feature of shoes for me; if it’s not comfortable and functional, I’m not going to wear them. The Outdoor 10 is not a shoe I consider comfortable and I don’t intend on wearing them again. If the shoe were wider from top to bottom and there wasn’t a constricting band across the top length-wise and width-wise, I think this shoe would be much more comfortable. If you have a narrow foot and you find the shoe comfortable, this might be a footwear option if you’re looking for a water-resistant transition shoe for light trail or road running. The Outdoor 10 was built on the same foundation as the Minimus Trail, and as a first foray into minimalist shoes, it could have used some improvement. Thankfully, New Balance listened to consumer feedback and made significant improvements in their Minimus Zero line of shoes. For more information about this and other models, take a look at the New Balance website.
The Minimus Trail Zero is the best minimalist shoe NB has made to date and the best model so far of the big brand shoe companies’ forays into minimalist shoe design. I doubt this level of greatness could have been reached without the lessons learned from their original Minimus models released in previous seasons. The Minimus Trail Zero is beyond lightweight, exceptionally wide, fantastically flexible with great ground feel. The futuristic style and materials make for an eye-catching shoe. Although perhaps not well suited for extreme trail terrain, they work well on light trail and incredibly well on road. NB has reset the bar for minimalist running shoes and I can only hope the other big brand shoe companies take note and follow suit. Congratulations New Balance!
The Minimus Road Zero is far superior to its predecessor the Minimus Road but there is still some room for improvement in the width department. I would love to see this model offered in different widths as many New Balance models are and, if this becomes available in the future, I think this would be a very different review. If you have a narrow foot and are looking for a zero drop running shoe with a small amount of cushioning, compared to a conventional shoe, for those longer runs this may be the shoe for you. I don’t recommend them for those with wide feet.
Although not a true minimalist shoe, the NB 110 is a good transition trail running shoe, which can be used for those occasions where you might not want to feel all the rockiness of a rugged trail. They have a 4 mm heel rise for those not quite ready for a completely flat shoe. They are a little too inflexible and narrow in the midfoot for my liking but I can see how someone with a narrower foot needing a shoe for trail running might appreciate the design of the 110. They are definitely more stylish than your average running shoe and definitely built to last
We interview Lee Saxby and Asher Clark.
Asher Clark, the head designer at Terra Plana and Vivobarefoot, tells us about his career path, shoe design, and gives some hints about the product we can expect in the coming months and even years. Lee faces a challenging question about whether Vivobarefoot training clinics are a conflict of interest. We discuss recent Harvard study results and the effects these results have on both Lee and Asher’s work. See and Asher give their predictions for the future. Join us for this frank and interesting interview.
Review of the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila LS – The Evolution of Toe Shoes By Al Gauthier No other shoe company has developed such a loyal following or developed such an iconic brand as Vibram FiveFingers. They started with a few employees years ago and have turned into an incredible success with a large team [...]
The new VIVOBAREFOOT Lucy Lite has arrived and we wanted to share our first impressions with you. Here’s a shoe that looks and works great for both urban adventures and road running. The 3 mm sole transmits excellent ground feel while providing VIVOBAREFOOT’s safety inspiring puncture-resistant protection. And they [...]
Made from ultra-light materials, the Ultra feels as though it is barely there – a great feature for a true minimalist product. The included insert, combined with the hole-filled upper allows the wearer to use the ultra in situations that range from the wettest river crossing to the hottest desert day. You have complete control over the warmth and protection you need – all in one shoe. They wide, flat, and ultra flexible. They even have fantastic ground feel.
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.
The holidays have come early at Living Barefoot! New Balance has sent a collection of shoes from their upcoming Minimus line for review and we are happy to report that the company listened to feedback provided by their customers and worked hard to make improvements to their existing Minimus models—and it paid off! Here is a sneak peek of our first impressions of the new models.
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!
Sometimes, a good deal is just too good to pass up. The Deep See Beachwalker is one of those deals if you’re looking for a cheap yet comfortable, flexible, warm, water resistant, lightweight minimalist shoe with no heel rise and excellent ground feel. Again, what more could you ask for in a shoe that costs $20? They are more than durable enough to outlast some of their competition that costs 4–5 times as much. And I have no doubt that the company did not intend these shoes to be used as minimalist footwear, they just happen to fit the bill, and quite nicely at that. Deep See has a number of aqua shoes to choose from as well, which you can see from their catalogue. You can find the Beachwalker at Atmosphere, online, or probably at any diving shop near you.
Jambu is one of those shoe companies with great ideas, and even the occasional great execution, but the Birmingham Barefoot is not one of them. This shoe is not comfortable, not wide enough in the forefoot and too wide in the heel seat to accommodate most feet, doesn’t hold your foot in place, doesn’t have good ground feel, and has a slight heel rise in the outsole. They look great but, sadly, don’t feel as great as one would hope compared to their looks. I would recommend trying them on in a store before buying them and determining if the fit is one that you can live with. Jambu has several types of shoes in the Bare Feet Designs line, and although I liked the Barefoot Vegan, I do not like the Birmingham Barefoot. I still think that if you’re interested in Jambu products, they’re worth trying on and seeing if they work for you.
The Jaya is another excellent product by Vibram FiveFingers. Although this particular model doesn’t have the outstanding ground feel of some of the original VFF models, they are considerably more stylish than some with well-thought out details in colours and accents. They are incredibly lightweight and comfortable against the skin. They have some distracting qualities in the design of the sole, which are probably sacrificed due to increased durability and grip with the use of the TC1 rubber pads. If you like the toe pocket design of VFFs, you’ll probably like the improved esthetics and casual look of the Jaya.
Merrell’s Pace Glove shortcomings were not improved in the release of the Lithe Glove. As a minimalist shoe, the Lithe Gloves are too narrow to allow the foot to function naturally and the sole has a myriad of issues that make them uncomfortable to walk or run in. The upper isn’t even comfortable as the heel seat digs painfully in the back of my heel. The only things going for this shoe are its added warmth for cooler temperatures and excellent grip.
There’s a fine line between minimalism and adequate cold protection when it comes to footwear. Often you sacrifice great ground feel for sufficient insulation from the cold ground, not to mention style. In the Oetzi Troop Leather, you get the best of all these features in a comfortable, warm, water resistant, and stylish package. I love these boots and look forward to many winter walks with warm feet
VIVOBAREFOOT Just released the following statement: This is to announce that Terra Plana and VIVOBAREFOOT are going their separate ways. For the foreseeable future terraplana.com will be re-directed to vivobarefoot.com. Terra Plana created VIVOBAREFOOT in 2003, and over the years many iterations of the barefoot shoe revolution have been developed. Today the VIVOBAREFOOT patented, ultra-thin, [...]
Barefoot Banter – Episode 1 Episode 39 Originally released November 2nd 2011 Join us in this exciting new show format – our very first Barefoot Banter episode! A new and exciting addition to The Living Barefoot Show, Barefoot Banter is a casual sharing of ideas and important topics between [...]
The first time I tried on a pair of Paperfeet, I decided not to review them on the grounds that my safety was more important than a properly wear-tested review; they were so slippery on every surface I tried them on, I was fearful of falling. Thankfully, Al reviewed a pair of the original Paperfeet (found here), and my somewhat guilty conscious was assuaged because I felt that our readers deserved a review of the product. Paperfeet has since come out with a ‘Grippy’ version with recycled rubber on the wear points for added grip. I now feel like they are safe enough for me to wear. But do I want to? Read on…
It is very difficult to know where to place any shoe that falls into the transitional category. The New Balance Minimus is a high quality shoe that is on the right path towards a minimalist product but with key features missing all together. There is significant debate among manufacturers, researchers, and bloggers about the need or usefulness of a transitional product. Some feel they are an important step and may help to avoid injury; others believe they are a pointless product designed to pull more money out of the pockets of trend followers.
The GoLites Tara Lite is a shoe we have been asked to review by a number of our readers and so, while this is not a minimalist product to our definition, we are reviewing it specifically for our readers. The Tara Lites is a fascinating product whose purpose is one that we don’t understand. It is a performance product with some unique features, one in particular that has never been seen in an enclosed shoe to our knowledge. The shoe’s concept is that of a sandal with a “second skin stretch upper”. In other words, the shoe is based around a thong sandal, one that has an upper and a protective toe guard. A strapping system provides more refined fit. Is this a viable design? Read on…
The Minimus Trail is a good all-round shoe designed for light trail activity and everyday use. Designed for narrow to mid-width feet, the fit is snug yet the toes have ample room for natural movement. The strapping system desperately needs adjustment points for versatility, but so long as your foot feels snug and comfortable inside the Trail, these seem to be a good choice.
VIVOBAREFOOT has grown over the past two years from an innovative company producing great footwear to an innovative company producing some of the best minimalist footwear available. The quality, style, and comfort of these shoes is top-notch and indicative of the exciting things to come from VIVOBAREFOOT. These stylish business appropriate shoes not only tick all the boxes but do so with the refined quality of a company who really knows what they are doing and where they are going. If you suffer at work, don’t waste any time and get your feet into a pair of these great shoes! They are, after all, the only truly minimalist business appropriate men’s oxford. Finally someone has filled this niche, and filled it well. READ MORE…
Barefoot or Minimalist Running: Not as Simple as Ditching your Cushioned Shoes by Tina Dubois Barefoot and minimalist shoe running is gaining increasing attention from the media and runners alike but is it as simple as ditching your shoes completely or switching to a minimalist shoe with no [...]
Merrell Sonic Glove Shoe Review By Al Gauthier Interestingly, this shoe is almost identical to the Trail Glove except for a switch of the upper material and some small adjustments to the last. With a side-by-side comparison, and thorough testing, we could find few difference in the performance of the Sonic other than the waterproof nature of the Sonic’s upper [...]
Reebok International Ltd. has reportedly agreed to pay $25 million in refunds to consumers to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that the company falsely claimed that its toning shoes and other products strengthened muscles. What’s the take-home message from this? Understand why you buy the things you buy before you buy them! READ MORE…
Minimalist / barefoot shoes are now being made by most of the major performance brands. How do you know what is really a minimalist shoe and what is just marketing? There are 6 key features to look for. If the shoe you are looking at doesn’t have all 6, then it’s not a minimalist shoe.
Kigo has done a magnificent job of listening to customers and reinventing an already good product into an excellent product. These are excellent every day shoes with a wide last and a loose fit. They are well made and look great too. They provide good grip while providing good ground feel and natural movement with a thin and flexible sole. Rather than providing another technical performance product, Kigo has managed to make a shoe that is perfect for the everyday. Put on a pair of stylish Kigos. READ MORE
Damien was our first guest on The Living Barefoot Show in 2009! We welcome Damien back to see what he’s been up to – and he has been busy. Damien has started a review site called ToeSalad.com and continues to share his experiences on his personal blog. Damien loves the outdoors and joins us today to give us his perspective on proper barefoot technique while Hiking.
The Neo Trail is another phenomenal product by VIVOBAREFOOT. They are extremely comfortable (with or without socks), have fantastic ground feel, and incredible traction on all wet or dry trail conditions including mud, roots, dirt, and gravel. It’s obvious to me that extra thought went into the design of these shoes in the angles of the lugs, the choice of materials, and the added protection for the arch and toes. The hydrophobic properties of the upper are really going to be handy in wet, snowy winter conditions. They are durably made and comparably priced. If you’ve been craving a truly minimalist trail shoe with excellent grip, the Neo Trail delivers.
There are many wonderful minimalist products that are comfortable and functional that I would recommend above these shoes. It should be noted that when The Shu contacted us, we were very clear that we did not guarantee that we would provide a positive review. We gave them every opportunity to read our reviews to determine whether this product fit well in terms of the type of footwear we tend to recommend. We do not go looking for product to review poorly, but we are happy to review products at the request of a company that fit into the minimalist category. These shoes could be a great idea with a serious redesign. They would need to be shaped like a foot and have a better fit overall. A comfortable, ultra light and compact shoe would be great if function followed form.
When you have Danny Glover attending an awards ceremony in Fivefingers you know that your product has hit a new level of cool – as if that’s really news anymore! Still, these wonderful but funny looking shoes would have never made it into the public eye like this years ago so it’s great to see [...]
It will come as no surprise to all of you that New Balance is releasing a zero-drop version of the Minimus line of shoes called the Minimus Zero!. As New Balance says itself “Zero wouldn’t have been possible without the first round of NB Minimus product. “We definitely learned a lot in the process of [...]
In a surprise move Adidas has created their own version of “toe-shoes”. Looking similar to Vibram Fivefingers and Fila Skeletoes the Adidas adiPure is a 5-toed minimal shoe designed not for running but specifically for training in the gym. We love seeing what people come up with to get into the barefoot shoe / minimalist [...]
Episode 36 – The Living Barefoot Show – We Interview Caity McCardell Caity McCardell is an athlete and a fellow podcaster. She is also a blogger and best of all, she is a strong female voice to help balance out all those men who seem to dominate the barefoot world. [...]
The Moc3s have been one of those pleasantly surprising new discoveries and fun to wear and test footwear products. I’m blown away at the comfort and barefoot feel of these shoes. Not only are they a great option for casual outings but an incredible road or not-too-rough natural surface running shoe. I don’t know how it’s done but they have phenomenal breathability and yet your feet stay dry in wet conditions. They are not the best choice for heavy wet conditions or stream crossings but through wet grass, they keep feet dry. They have a competitive price for a running shoe and are a great value in the hand-made moccasin department. Soft Star has exceeded all my expectations with the new Moc3 design. For more information, take a look at the Soft Star Shoes website.
Kigo has made significant changes to the Flit design and continues to improve the product in terms of minimalist footwear function and fit. The new zero drop, thinner outsole, improved barefoot feel, wider toe box design, and improved strapping system make this shoe a superior product to their previous models and a superior product in the minimalist industry. My only suggestion for improvement for this shoe would be a different thread choice for the zig zag pattern along the edge to improve their comfort against the skin.
Special Event – Meet Tina Dubois in Las Vegas – Introduction to Natural Running Introduction to Natural Running Coming to Las Vegas! A two-hour clinic introducing natural running form for experienced and non-experienced runners. Whether you want to run completely barefoot or in minimalist footwear, this clinic will teach [...]
The Jambu Barefoot Vegan is an exciting new arrival to the casual women’s minimalist shoe market. It has incredibly unique styling with the criss-cross lacing and contrast stitching. When you remove the unnecessary and non-minimalistically designed insole, it has a slight positive heel but probably no more than 3 mm. It should fit a narrow or average width foot well but may be snug on a wide foot. They are tremendously breathable and perfectly suited for hot spring or summer urban adventures.
VIVOBAREFOOT has done it again. Minimalist shoes have been with us for a couple of years now, and yet in the last year VIVOBAREFOOT has put out some of the most innovative shoes I have ever seen. I could hardly be more impressed. The Ultra is yet another winner in a long line of innovations this year. Because of the unique insert, consider the width of your feet and how you plan on using the Ultra before buying. If the fit is right, the Ultra may become your go-to shoes. This is truly a shoe that can work in almost any situation.
Episode 33: We Interview Katherine Petrecca of New Balance This interview is an interesting inside look into the marketing and thought process behind the New Balance Minimus collection. Katherine lets the cat out of the bag about what’s to come in the Minimus collection. Find out why the [...]
VIVOBAREFOOT Achilles Review By Al Gauthier Review of the VIVOBAREFOOT Achilles Sandal – A split toe minimalist running sandal that will blow your socks off! We have always respected VIVOBAREFOOT not only for the high quality shoes they produce, but for the innovative, fashionable, and truly minimalist approach. [...]
VIVOBAREFOOT has been creating wonderful new products this year. As they fill virtually all the minimalist footwear gaps with business appropraite shoes like the Ra and the Hind, Performance Sandals like the Ultra and the Achilles they have now also added a lineup for Kids shoes. Few would argue that protecting your kids from deformed feet and [...]
Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 Review By Tina Dubois Review of the inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 – A Light-weight, Grip-galore, Minimal Off Trail Shoe This is the first Living Barefoot footwear review for the UK-based shoe company inov-8. The Bare-Grip 200 is designed as an off trail shoe, meaning across hills and [...]