Thursday, 5 March 2015

Vivobarefoot Gobe II Hopewell - Review

Unleashing Your Feet…

Purchasing shoes can be a tedious task for most men as we know what we like but always find it difficult to buy what we want. It’s a difficult compromise between what we want to wear and what we should wear, women have it easier than we do.
You have to have smart shoes for work if your in an office and they can’t be too garish in colour otherwise you look like you're having a midlife crises or slept in and didn't pay attention to what you put on your feet and either way your boss is going to frown at you and be worried.
You also have to consider the type of shoe you have on your feet, are they too dull or are the just hip enough to be down with the spotty teenager the boss hired last week that is making everyone around him look like sloths?

What you haven't considered is how your feet are going to be locked up under duress for the best part of your day all sweaty and cramped. Now for a second consider putting on a pair of stiff, closed in and unforgiving gloves on your hands… I know its unfathomable isn't it?
Your hands and feet are pretty much the same appendage in so many ways. Your feet drew the short straw and hands won the lottery. Every day when you nip to the loo or do some gardening etc you wash and dry your hands, you may even put a little hand cream on them to stop them from drying out (unless your a mans man and rugged and don't believe in that kind of stuff) but in most respects compared to your feet you pamper your hands.
So why do your feet have to suffer and not get the same treatment? Its because you don't interact with your feet on the same kind of level, they’re there at the bottom of your legs (you probably care more about your legs than your feet) doing the job they’re supposed to and most of the time they do a fine job.
What you may not know is your feet are just as sensitive as your hands and play a huge role in your wellbeing and probably more so than your spoilt rotten hands.
So why am I going on about this when I’m supposed to be telling you about the Vivobarefoot Gobe II Hopewell boots? Well if you take a look around Vivobarefoot’s website you’ll notice they aren't just in the business of selling you shoes or boots, they are trying to educate you about your feet and the correct treatment of them to ensure they are looked after and your health is positively affected.
Now before you stop reading and think this is some hippy-dippy shiznit it isn’t. Look into the studies being done now; in to the way in which we walk and run. Also consider this…

We have been walking and running for thousands of years with no shoes and in the history of man its only very recent that we have made shoes for our feet.
The shoe is a very modern invention in relative terms to our evolution and companies who make these shoes have been perpetrating a lie just to sell you these carefully constructed and supported cells for your feet. It’s such a shame really that we’ve allowed it to go on for so long. Squeezing our feed into ill fitting shoes with tiny toe boxes just for vanities sake.
However Vivobarefoot and a few other companies have been making efforts to let runners of the barefoot verity enjoy their sport but have the knowledge they have at least something on their feet to stop unwanted dog muck and glass etc coming into contact with what is our main means of getting about. There are some out there who feel even minimalist style shoes are an affront to mother natures gift. I don't see them as extremists I feel they are the purists of our group, I’m not 100% confident in going everywhere totally un-shod and so this is where the people at Vivobarefoot come in.
As I said they started out catering to the barefoot running crowd but even the sports person has down time from their activities and will have day jobs. So as an answer to this; shoes and boots have been designed to provide a barefoot experience with style and protection of regular shoes and boots. 
The Gobi in all the variations fit into this leisure/work boot. I was fortunate enough to be bought a pair by my fiancée for my birthday and I’m happy to report I love them. I could stop my review here declaring everyone should buy a pair and be happy and I’d be right but there are a few things you need to know first.

Not everyone is going to enjoy barefoot, and this is ok. Don't think you have to go barefoot all the time to get all the benefits. Like running barefoot you have to gradually move towards this way of living. If you jump in feet first (pun intended) you may do one of a few things, either hurt yourself and put yourself off barefoot and have your mind made up for you or just find your always uncomfortable and after a few weeks give it up as a bad job and go back to supportive shoes.
Don’t think the benefits of barefoot living are instant, it takes time to strengthen your feet and for them and your legs and in some ways the rest of your body and mind to adapt to not having any support. Also you may get some burning of the heels and forefoot. Don't worry though this is normal as you transition from a heel strike (every step taken your heel hitting the ground first) to a mid to forefoot strike.
You’ll read all over the internet that barefoot is a cure for all ills foot, leg and back related but this isn't entirely true, what is true is that if you have injuries or RSI problems in your feet, legs or back this could be from your shoes and going barefoot will ease this eventually, I’d also recommend you keep up any medical checkups if you have severe problems as you don't want to make anything worse.

Anyway the Gobi are a series of boots made to facilitate a barefoot lifestyle but while maintaining a look of normal boots. Depending on what you plan to use them for they will perform admirably and if cared for should last a long time. They are well put together and the sole provide enough grip on most surfaces, I’ve yet to test them on wet polished surfaces where they might slip (manhole covers, train station walkways etc) but like any other shoes you’ll get used to it, unlike other shoes however is the tactile feedback these give to your feet, you’ll feel a lot more of the whatever it is your walking on and this will feed your brain with the much needed information to help you walk safely.

The leather on the Hopewell version I have is fantastic and after a few wears is holding up nicely and starting to soften in the places where my feet bend. They’re also surprisingly warm for a minimalist shoe and I’m hoping when the warmer weather arrives I wont have an overheating problem. As you can see from the photo above they’re very flexible and will bend to your will and ways.
Like all Vivobarefoot shoes/boots there is no heel so the sole is flat from back to front with a very small and in some peoples eyes blasphemous arch., but it is only very slight and isn't in anyway a support. Also like other minimalist shoes they have a lovely wide toe box to allow your toes to splay. I ordered a size 11 as I have some running shoes from Vivobarefoot and they are size 10 which with socks are a little on the smaller side. As with any shoes consider the width and length but also consider your toes splayed out not cramped and bunched up.

Also on the leather front as well as softening up they should develop a nice patina with age and will look good with smart jeans or chinos.
So bare in mind the slow start to barefoot living if you're new to it and enjoy a nice pare of Gobi’s. I’ve heard the sued ones feel lovely against bare feet so I maybe adding a pair to my growing collection over the year. I know the review has seemed a little preachy on the pros of going BF but I think shoes and boots like this may be the starting point for a lot of people who don't do BF running.

  • Comfy (if you know what to expect)
  • Good construction
  • easy to remove insole

  • Small arch
  • slightly tighter fit than other Vivobarefoot shoes/boots