Monday, November 18, 2013

Boot up! Vivobarefoot Women's Ryder Boot Review

Vivobarefoot Ryder Boot

Wow.. can you believe it?  Not only a review post about something other than a minimalist running shoe or sandal, but a review for the ladies!

Now... don't get worried... I'm not cross dressing or anything like that.  Instead, I've asked Mrs. Barefoot Inclined to help me out by providing a review of the latest winter boot offering from Vivobarefoot.  So, at the risk of losing my blogging gig, I'm going to turn it over to her... enjoy the review!

A few weeks ago, I jokingly told Jeff that he needed to find me some minimalist boots (it IS boot season, after all!) because my current collection of boots is less than ideal for my new norm in the footwear area. 

Yes, it's true, Jeff has been quite successful at leading my conversion from a person with "good shoes" to a person with minimalist shoes.  About 10 years ago, my doctor referred me to a "good" shoe store in Seattle to provide me with orthotics and shoes that were good for my feet.  I proceeded to spend a lot of money, but really pared back my shoe selection to just shoes that were "good" for me.  Fast forward to late spring, 2012, when Jeff bought me a pair of kigo curv's .  I took them on vacation, walked all over San Francisco, and proceeded to really not want to wear any other shoes.  I bought a second pair in a different style.  

Then winter came and I went back to the "good" shoes and the boots, none of which were minimalist in any way.  Yes, my feet hurt at the end of the day.  Yes, I was wishing I was barefoot.  But no, I wasn't going to wear my kigos in the snow, thank you very much.  Last spring, I bought 2 more pairs of kigos, and at the end of the summer, I asked Jeff to find me some lace-up shoes that I could wear with socks as the weather turned colder.  He found some Vivobarefoot Neo's  for me that are perfect.  Then I started thinking about boots again.  Enter the request at the beginning of this post where I wanted Jeff to find me some minimalist boots.  He found them!  

Over the past couple weeks, I have been wearing these Vivobarefoot Ryder boots.  They are comfortable AND they look good!  Win-win!  I was a little concerned at first, but once I got my feet in them and started breaking them in, I knew I had a good match.  I really like the color, look and feel.  The materials (leather, organic waxed canvas, and Thinsulate) are comfortable and are softening as I wear the boots more.  The zippered opening is really helpful in allowing flexibility to get your foot in.  In my job, I spend a fair amount of time on my feet, and I'm still in no hurry to get these boots off at the end of the day.

Down sides from my perspective: a little tight on my calves, the lining buckles in the heel when pulling them on, no loops to grasp for better leverage.  I don't think I have especially large calves, but these boots are pretty snug.  There is a band of furry material around the top of the boot on the inside that I think contributes to the snugness.  However, in cold weather, I've noted this might serve a nice purpose, as below that, the boots are much looser.  So, the tightness at the calves helps to keep the cold air from going down into the boot and freezing my nicely spacious toe box.  One of the first times I put the boots on, the inner lining of the left boot buckled at the heel and it was impossible for me to get the boot on until I could get it pulled back up and hold it in place.  This is easier said than done, which is why I try not to take the boots off if I know I'm going to have to get them on again in short order.  In order to keep the heel from buckling, I've started holding the lining by way of the zippered opening.  

This does make me nervous, because I'm not sure how much stress holding the lining in this way causes.  I'm afraid it is going to rip one of these times.  This leads to my final issue: there are no loops to assist when pulling the boots on.  Like I said, the top part at the calves are snug, plus, with the furry lining, it is tough to get a grip on the top of the boot to pull them on.  But aside from this, I love these boots!

These boots come in dark brown (like mine) or black.  I wish they had gray, too!  I'd totally put those on my Christmas list!  Ok... handing this back over to Jeff for more of the nerdy stuff...  :-) 

Ok.. there you have it.. Thanks honey!   I of course feel compelled to give you a little more of the "nerdy" info.  Yes, these boots truly are minimalist...  they pass the flexibility test as you can see.

The sole is the standard Vivobarefoot road sole.. 3mm with an insert of around 3mm, making a stack height of around 6mm.  Super flexible, but enough insulation to keep out the cold.   For a full blown description and ordering info, just click HERE to get to Vivobarefoot's website.

As far as sizing goes, they run just slightly large, but not much.  We ended up ordering the same size she would normally wear, and the little extra room allows for thicker socks etc.

Hopefully this review has been helpful, but as always, if you have questions/comments/feedback for me or Mrs. Barefoot Inclined, just leave a comment below, or shoot me an email.

Thanks and happy trails!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Xero Shoes Sensori Venture Review and Giveaway!

I just have to say, those "Sharks" on the ABC Show "Shark Tank"  totally missed the boat last Spring when they turned down a great offer from Steven and Lena of Xero Shoes.   If you missed the episode, feel free to watch it right here below... but continue reading afterwards for my review of their latest offering and a chance to win a pair for yourself!

So... the Sharks missed out on benefiting from some great new products coming out from Xero Shoes, and in particular, the Sensori Venture huarache that was just released.

Ok.. if you aren't familiar with Xero Shoes (Formerly known as Invisible Shoes), they are a great company out of Boulder CO that make some really terrific running huaraches.  The Invisible Shoes 6mm Connects were the first minimalist shoe I ever ran in...  I did a review on them after they switched names, but basically it's the same sandal and you can read the review by clicking HERE.

I am so happy to finally be able to run a review on these, as I was fortunate to run in several iterations of this sandal over the last 6+ months as part of the wear testing/usability process.  But I couldn't say anything!! AND... stay tuned for some more cool stuff from Xero Shoes.. in particular if you want to run in cold weather/snow in your huaraches.... doh!  I've said too much already... :-)

The Contacts and Connects are terrific sandals (4mm and 6mm) and I know a lot of folks that have racked up some serious mileage in them.  Speaking of which, Xero Shoes provides a 5,000 mile warranty on their proprietary soles!

Ok.. before I tell you what's new, I can let you know what hasn't changed.  As I noted, the proprietary sole material produced by Xero Shoes is the same, as well as the sizing and shape.  The tread pattern is the same as well, however the Sensori Venture comes in a 5.5mm thickness.  While I like the 4mm Contacts, a sandal that is closer to 6mm provides a better sweet spot (in my opinion) between protection and ground feel/feedback.

So what's NEW?   Check this out:

First:  No more knot to tie, melt, and worry about wearing out!  The Sensori Venture features a counter sunk rubber toe post that should last as long as the sole.  Big plus here...

Here is the other side of the toe post... comprised of a comfortable flexible rubber.

Second:  Pre-tied lacing!  While I love learning different ways to tie loose corded huaraches, I generally end up dialing in the best fit I can, and then leaving them alone. These arrived almost exactly as I needed them.. took about 30 sec of and adjustment and done!  The Sensori Venture comes pre-laced with dual-corded lacing and easy to fit adjusters on each side.  Also note the two-tone color scheme.. pretty sweet :-)

Third:  Heel cup and silicon achilles strap.   I really like the silicone strap/tube as it is really comfortable and keeps the heel strap from slipping.  The heel cup is ok...  the intent was to keep out debris etc, but I think it really just adds more to the looks.  I don't have any issues with my heel slipping out or off in any of my huaraches.  In this case, I would have preferred a similar cup or ridge on the FRONT of the sandal to assist with steep downhills....   

Finally:  I really like the design of the side supports for the lacing.  It's been moved out and up from the sole to prevent any rubbing and I imagine may extend the life of the lacing hole at these points.  

So, how do they feel?  From a running perspective, I feel that all of the positives from the original Connects carries over to the Venture.  The foot bed traction, ground feel, and flexibility is terrific.  It did take me a little bit to get used to the toe post as it rubbed a little funny at first, but after a few minor adjustments and a few more miles in them, I've gotten used to the feel.  These still run a bit heavy compared to comparable soles on my other huaraches, but its a minor trade off as I know this rubber will wear much longer, and they are not any heavier than the 6mm Connects. 

So.. how do you get your hands on some of these?  You can click on the Xero Shoes banner up at the top left of this post to check them out.  They retail for $39.99 which still places these at the lower end of the pricing range for good running huaraches.  OR...  yes, you know what's coming next.  Enter to win!  Steven was kind enough to provide a pair of Sensori Ventures to a lucky Barefoot Inclined reader.  Enter via the Rafflecopter thingy below...  and good luck!

Contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Contest will run until 10PM MST, Tuesday November 19th, 2013. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Trails!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Back to where it all started... What I'm thankful for..

Ah yes... top of the Manitou Incline..    I took this sunrise photo this morning after making the climb to the top with my friend Matt.  I can't believe that I haven't been up there since last Spring! Such a great hike up, and run back down the trail.

I mean.. how could I have been skipping out one views like this?  Granted, you only get these after climbing a mile almost straight up... but what else would you be doing at 530 AM?  :-)  And I love that moment when climbing with a friend when all conversation suddenly stops... and the battle for oxygen begins!

Anyway, it felt so great to get back up there and also that lovely run back down Barr Trail...  I can't think of a better way to start a Friday and the month of November.

And speaking of November, each year I like to post a daily status from the first to Thanksgiving, just making note of something I'm thankful for.  And today, I'm thankful for my health and the mobility to get up to beautiful places like this....  one thing I will never take for granted.

Hope you have a terrific month, and be sure to remember what you are thankful for... and stay tuned for my Incline pics as I plan to get back into the regular rotation of getting up here!

And, for those of you not fortunate enough to get out to Colorado and experience the Incline, here is a goofy little video I made back just before I started blogging..  Includes a little from the Incline, and the run back down Barr Trail...

Happy Trails!