For a long time i had been intrigued by the growing trend of barefoot running. Seeing people prance about in local parks with the five toed variety of barefoot footwear made me chuckle (the business man on the tube wearing them made me laugh loudly, in public), but then after finding my way to an article about the benefits of barefoot footwear i started sit up and listen. I fancied giving barefoot running a go, but I’m not a runner. Previously I’d found the task of running quite monotonous and boring but with a growing gut, an impending expedition and a bit of spare time I thought I might as well give it a go (again). So i bought some cheap trainers and began running, and to my surprise I started to enjoy it. So much so that I decided I should give barefoot running ago.
In my quest for a new pair of running shoes that were minimalist/barefoot shoes (trail running shoes specifically) I stumbled across Vivobarefoot and their range of hiking boots. I’d already heard of Vivobarefoot and new that they were one of the most raved about brands making minimalist or ‘barefoot’ footwear. Knowing that I had my upcoming expedition that featured a fair bit of walking I was intrigued to learn more about Vivobarefoot’s Off Road Hi walking boots, and to see if they would be suitable for such a walk. So I dropped them an email and they loved the idea of my expedition. A couple of days later I received 3 pairs of footwear through the post.
I started wearing the shoes – which featured a pair of trail runners, a pair of hiking boots and a pair of casual boots – straight away and have worn them ever since. My other footwear might as well be donated charity as they have become pretty darn redundant. It did take a while to walk again as you pretty much have to learn to walk again when walking ‘barefoot’. I wear my “barefoots”, everywhere. Whether it’s nipping to the supermarket, going for a meal, seeing a film or going for a short walk; in fact the only time I haven’t worn them was for a wedding and that was only because I didn’t have a pair that would match my suit.
So, a little about my first impressions of the Vivobarefoot Off Road Hi Mens; the footwear I plan to wear for Walk Serbia. Straight out the box the shoe looks good. I know this isn’t the most important thing but I always like to go for a good looking hiking boot and these fit the bill. The Off Road Hi comes in either brown or black. I went for the black. As soon I sank my foot into the boot it felt pretty darn good. Usually there is a ‘breaking in’ period for any boots but these feel broken in from the start.
I must admit that taking your first step in a minimalist boot is a bit strange. I immediately noticed the difference between these and my regular boots. You feel more in touch with the ground your walking over due to the 3mm thick sole which you’d think would be an issue but the 5mm lugs on the sole give you protection from any pointy objects that may you may step on.
The boot itself is extremely lightweight but also fairly sturdy. It features high ankle support (like any good walking boot), plus enough flexibility when walking for it to feel natural to be wearing them. They do claim to be waterproof with ‘a waterproof inner sock’ but after quickly testing the boots in a small puddle I did have a wet sock after 20 seconds. This was however on one foot so it could mean that one boot is leaking slightly (something I’ll have to address before I start in Serbia) or that I have one very sweaty foot. If it is a slight leak, it’s nothing a little waterproofing product can’t handle.
The lightweight boot means that I have a little less weight to carry when walking (something that is always important) and so far they haven’t steered me wrong. But I haven’t done a walk of great length in them yet so how I they will be during Walk Serbia I’m not too sure. I am very confident in the boots or else I wouldn’t be taking them, but the real test of how good the boot is will be during the expedition.
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