Over the last few months, I’ve fallen in love with barefoot footwear and I’ve had an opportunity to try out multiple types and brands. So I figured I’d put together a short comparison to help future generations to decide on what they should get.
The article contains and compares these shoes:
- (Sockshoes) Skinners 2.0
- (Sandals) Bosky Shoes Superlight
- (Sandals) Bosky Shoes Bare
- (Sandals) Xero Genesis 21
- (Sneakers) Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III All Weather Charcoal
- (Five fingers something) Vibram KSO
- (Five fingers sneakers) Vibram KSO EVO
Skinners were my entry point to the barefoot world. I’ve saw their campaing on Indiegogo, saw a czech name (I’m czech, too), so I decided to support it and then, several months later, I got them and I’ve feel in love with them.
Sizing: My foot size is EU 43, so I got the L size, but upon receiving it and walking with them a bit, I’ve discovered that they’re too loose for some more serious walking. As I’ve already used them outside, I couldn’t swap them for smaller size, but I got two so I at least swapped the second, yet unused pair. It turned out to be quite okay for me as I ended up using the smaller M size for outdoors and the larger L size for indoors, where them being a bit looser actually adds on comfort.
Weather/ventilation: Skinners are awesome, it’s almost like you’re really barefoot, just with added protection. But they have a significant problem – they are not well ventilated. The sole is basically half around your feet, so that doesn’t ventilate at all, and the top knitted part is not very permeable either. This makes your foot hot, sweaty and really stinky on warm days. So I can’t really recommend them during summer. You can mitigate the problem a little by wearing socks inside them and by using their removable insoles. But the socks make your feet even warmer. And I don’t really like the insole, it doesn’t sit well and moves around a bit plus my foot usually gets on the edge of it which is annoying (plus it reduces the barefoot feeling).
So on colder days, these are a very good option. Also you can just pack them in your bag anywhere you go, making them awesome backup shoes. But during summer, I won’t be using these.
Bosky shoes are czech, hand-made huarache style sandals. To be honest, I haven’t been using them much as I’ve found more favourite shoes for me. But if it gets really, really hot outside, I’ll probably start using them.
Sole: Originally, I’ve got the Superlight version of them, however their sole was so thick I’d say it steps out of the “bare” category. The Bare version has a thinner sole, but you still don’t feel the ground as much. I’d say it’s about the same as Vivobarefoot.
Adjusting: The sandals attach to your feet using this system of straps, which takes quite some time and effort to adjust to fit right. But after you go through that, they’re decent sandals, I’d say. It takes a bit to get into them though, it’s not like you slide into them.
These sandals I tried very briefly. I didn’t like them so I passed them along. They look somewhat weird on your feet and the cord system for attaching is less comfortable than what Bosky has, and it holds worse I’d say.
These are the most conventional shoes of the bunch. They have wider toe box and flexible sole, but you wouldn’t necessarily guess they’re barefoot from their look.
Sole: The sole is relatively thick, you don’t feel the ground much. I’d say on the level of Bosky Bare. Thanks to the wide toe box, your foot has some space to move around in them, which makes them not that suitable for running (they’re not intended for that anyway).
Weather: What’s nice about them that they can be impregnated and such, making them the only suitable shoes from the list for when it’s wet/raining.
Putting on: You put these on like your normal shoes. However there is a problem that the laces kinda suck. They’re quite stiff, which results in quite laborious tightening; and they don’t hold the knot, like, at all. I have to make a double know each time, otherwise they get loose instantly.
Vibrams were my last shoes from the list I’ve got to test out and they’re hands down my favourite shoes now (together with KSO EVO). I love the feeling of each finger having its own deparment. When walking through grass, you can feel the straws going between your fingers.
Sole: The sole is just not thin thin as Skinners, but thin enough for me to really enjoy walking in them. They grip the feet well, which makes them work nice when running.
Weather: The fabric on the top is permeable, so they’re doing quite ok even when it’s hot outside. But when you step into a puddle or walk through something wet, you get immediately wet.
Putting on: When putting the shoes on, there’s the added effort of having to fit each finger into its own pouch. However after doing it a few times, you’ll get used to it and it’ll be quick. Their velcro tightening mechanism is very practical and makes the tightening easy and quick.
Basically more socially acceptable version of the KSO version. These shoes are awesome and are my daily driver now. They are more even more minimalist than the original KSOs – more flexible sole, more permeable fabric. These are on a similar level of minimalism to Skinners in terms of how light flexible they are, while looking almost like standard shoes.
The pouches for the fingers are more spacious than with the KSO – the original model had distinctive spacing between the toe pouches, while this one has them side by side. I didn’t find the smaller pouches a problem with KSO, maybe I like it a little bit better.
Sole: Sole is a bit more flexible than with KSO, but I’d say it has a very similar ground feel.
Weather: These shoes are even more permeable than the original KSOs, so they handle hot days quite well. Haven’t had the opportunity to test them out on cold days though, but I’ve heard some guys are even running with them in snow. The original KSOs had the sole wrap more around your foot though, the EVOs have more fabric. This means that they’re more prone to getting dirty (especially when you don’t have the black version, like me), so when I’d go to nature or so, I’d take the original KSOs.
Putting on: Vibram got rid of the fast velcro tightening system, which looked a bit weird, but was very practical and quick to tighten. These have laces with a lock mechanism so you don’t have to make knots, but it still takes some time to tighten. Plus original the KSOs have this lug on the back which you can slide your finger into and help yourself with putting them on. EVOs don’t have that.
|Skinners 2.0|| Vivobarefoot|
|Sole/ground feel||1 – You can’t go much thinner than that||3 – Don’t feel the ground much||3 – Don’t feel the ground much||2 – Very good||2 – Very good|
|Putting on||1 – You just slide them on||3 – Release, tighten, double know||2 – Takes some effort to slide into||2 – Gotta fit in these finger pouches||3 – Fit in finger pouches, tighten|
|Wet/water||3 – Ground is wet, you are wet||1 – Can use in “all weather”||2 – Duh, it’s sandals||3 – Ground is wet, you are wet||3 – Ground is wet, you are wet|
|Heat||4 – Sweats, stinks||3 – Permeable, but not as much||1 – Duh, it’s sandals||2.1 – Very permeable||2 – Very permeable|
|Comfort||2 – Quite comfy||3 – Standard||3 – Somewhat decent||1 – Ohh yeah baby||1 – Ohh yeah baby|
|Running||2 – Be careful what you step on||3 – Not that suitable||3 – Not that suitable||1 – No probs||1 – No probs|
|Design||1 – Atypical, but cool||3 – Looks like normal shoes||3 – Atypical sandals, a bit like flip flops||2 – A little bit extravagant||1 – Atypical, but cool|
|Price||1 – $$||3 – $$$$||1 – $$||2 – $$$||2 – $$$|
|Additional perks||Very compact,|
|Czech-made||Them fingers!||Them fingers!|
|My personal ranking||#2||#3||#3||#1.05||#1|
- My go to shoes: Vibram KSO EVO
- When going to nature: Vibram KSO
- When I need to go outside just for a few minutes: Skinners
- When it’s wet/raining outside: Vivobarefoot All Weather
- When it’s really, really hot: Bosky Bare
- What I pack in my bag when going somewhere: Skinners