Not many people know this about me, but I am a “barefooter”. What does this mean? Well, I like go barefoot all of time, summer, spring, fall and winter. One of my favorite pastimes, aside from walking my dog along the Ajax lake shore, is to go barefoot trail running and hiking. And I mean barefoot, shoeless, without foot protection, not even minimalist footwear!
During three of seasons here in Canada, I can enjoy the freedom of barefooting just about anywhere, but when it comes to our cold and snowy winters, well that’s another story. With the cold and snow comes essential minimalist footwear.
Footskins Moccasin Boots:
The first pair of boots that I got after I went barefoot, the Men’s Walking Boots with Canoe Sole from Footskins, were bought after an exhaustive online search for winter barefoot boots. There were several other prospects, but these seemed to be the ruggedest and better made. They are custom made to the size and shape of your foot for the best fit. And because I wanted them for winter, I asked if they could be fbricated with a sheep skin lining.
These boots are frakking amazing to wear. The fit is great and the sole is nice and thin. The sheep skin lining makes these feel like walking in a little bit of heaven.
There are only 2 drawbacks with these boots. The first is that they suck in wet weather. If the snow is wet or melting, the leather sole sucks up the water and your feet get wet; Not a comfortable feeling. The second is personal. I have overly sweaty feet when confined for too long in a shoe box, and because the sheep skin shed moisture, the soles of my feet get water logged like your finger tips when swimming too long. In order to be comfortable wearing these moccasins for long periods, I must wear socks. 🙁
VivoBarefoot Hiking Boot:
When I was getting ready to go on my trek through Patagonia last November (2011), I needed to get myself a new pair of hiking type boots. My old Scarpa Boots wouldn’t cut it with my barefootedness. They have rock hard solid soles and a very constrictive box. I couldn’t even begin trying to wear them again so I gave them away.
Luckily for me, ViviBarefoot came out with a new trail running/hiking series of shoes at the time when I was starting my search for an appropriate barefoot boot. They had a high upper that would keep out snow (going over a mountain pass and glacier walks as well as Canadian winters) and a nice kick ass looking tread. And that tread was only 3 milometers thick, so there was going to be some good foot flextion.
There are only 2 main issues I have with these boots. The first is that they are not water proof. My feet got very wet trudging through deep wet snow while hiking the ‘O’ circuit of the Torres del Paine in Chile. The second is not really a fault of vivibarefoot, however, if you wish to wear these in a cold climate, you will need to purchase a a felt liner. Because the ground is cold and the sole is so thin, the bottoms of your feet will become quite cold quickly. I purchased a cheap felt insole and it mabe a world of difference.