Friday, July 16, 2010


I decided that since I am essentially giving up on the idea of fighting every single business who objects to me being barefoot I should find some sort of compromise solution.  Today I went out and bought myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes which you may remember from an earlier Barefoot post and you can see in the picture below.

They feel very strange initially as I have never had a sock or shoe that wraps each toe individually before.  The soles are extremely thin and flexible so I can actually feel cracks in the sidewalk and the edges of paving stones quite clearly which is great because that sensation of knowing the ground I walk on was one of the big selling points of going barefoot for me.  The shoes succeed dramatically in some ways:

-I can walk on rocks and hot pavement without discomfort.
-I can go into stores without fear of harassment.
-The shoes are very light if I want to carry them.
-The shoes give the same stride and exercise benefits of actually being barefoot.

They aren't as good as actually being barefoot in many ways though.

-I can't feel the breeze on my feet.
-My feet get hot and sweaty just like any other shoe which does not occur while barefoot.

The new shoes end up being not so much a replacement for being barefoot as a compromise.  They are pleasant to walk in and solve all of the issues being barefoot has but they aren't quite the same.  In some ways it feels ridiculous that I had to go out and solve my issues with a consumer product considering my aversion to buying things I don't strictly need.  I always prefer to use things until they break before getting something to replace them but these new shoes do fill some particular niches where my current sandals utterly fail so I suppose I should just accept it and move on.

Apparently lots of other people feel the same way I do.  There are only two stores in Toronto that carry these shoes and they are sold out within a few days of getting a shipment in while constantly fielding calls from people asking when more will arrive.  I suppose I should enjoy being in on a new 'fashion' wave before it becomes mainstream - that may well be a first for me.


  1. Sky, you may have covered this option, but what about flip flops? I have a pair with rather thin soles, through which I can generally feel the shape of the ground (although maybe not a sidewalk crack). Otherwise, I'd say they fit your criteria to a tee. Not hot, no sweat, no stink, plenty of breeze. Also, as you prefer, no support. No burned soles, admittance everywhere, easy to carry. Not great for 4x4-ing, but I don't imagine you do much of that in the big city anyway.

  2. While I have 2 pairs of these contraptions - I mist admit, I succumbed to the novelty, I still find them to be an annoyance due to the aspects you pointed out: Muffled sensation of the actual environment and promotion of excess perspiration and foot odour (which in turn might result into the development of fungal infections, etc.)

    I only wear these things when I encounter one or more of the following situations:
    - Colder weather
    - Footwear is required for more than half-hour at a time
    - Footwear requirements due to risk of injury

    Otherwise, I much prefer to still go and arrive completely barefoot to my destination and produce a pair of flip-flops (which are easily carried in a pocket or a light bag) upon request at any given establishment. Once the footwear requirement has been fulfilled, the flip-flops can go back into "storage".

  3. I think my reason for not just getting a pair of flipflops is simply that I hate them. I had it suggested to me and thought about it myself, but I have never once found a pair of flipflops that is actually comfortable to wear and they are terrible for running, jumping, etc.

    They work as a very light, small answer to stores that require footwear but as an actual piece of functional footwear they aren't my style. That isn't to say that others might not like them - I don't have significant issues with flipflops aside from personal dislike.

  4. Your last two points (breeze & heat) are why I generally wear sports sandals or Geox shoes. The latter are especially great in contexts were men aren't supposed to be showing their toes for some reason.

    The fact that you find your latest footwear to be too warm means I won't even try them, because that's what I value most in our footwear.