As you know may, or may not know, I’m one of the guys behind StandupPaddleUK. We review, test and trial equipment in the paddleboard/watersports industry.. And pretty much anything that can be used while out with your board!
As someone that paddles a lot of rivers and canals footwear is an absolute must. I know a lot of people are very keen on barefoot paddleboarding, which has its advantages when the weather is really hot but I always find myself trying to get out of waterways and more often than not the terrain is not favourable to bare feet. I started researching different types of footwear and qas generally pointed in the direction of a wet suit shoe or boot. I myself do use a Gul Powershoe but the problem with a wet suit shoe is they absolutely stink out your house and car!
This all led us into looking at amphibious footwear and the first company that I came across that produced something which not only looked cool but had a ton of technology behind it and is made by a sustainable company, Vivobarefoot.
In a different life I was a personal trainer so I’ve been well aware of the brand as I used to wear the footwear while working in the gym. However these amphibious shoes are completely different.. Minimal still, but different!
Now I must point out that these are solely being tested for general fit and in line with the use on a paddleboard. I’m not testing their performance for running/triathlons, the review is to show how well the shoe integrates with the day to day use of paddleboard. That being said these are being marketed as an Amphibious Swim/Run shoe so anyone outside of the paddleboarding arena will need to do a bit more research elsewhere if running is your niche.
Introducing the Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest Amphibious Shoe…
Straight out of the box: No plastic. Boom. Love that Vivo!
The make up of the shoe: The upper of the shoe have a very interesting pattern which I’m sure when in the water (mainly for swimming) provides some form of friction).
Quick draining mesh and recycled plastic PET ankle sock construction are designed to keep your feet comfortable between land and water.
The bio-based Bloom EVA midsole gives additional flotation! **Bloom is amazing FYA – it us formed into a performance foam made using algae biomass which cleans and restores the environment when harvested. The first sustainable alternative to the synthetic and petrochemical EVA foam!
How do they feel when they’re on: Bloody hell they’re difficult to get on.. I’m a UK8.5 / 9, so with a wet suit shoe I always size down because they’re stretchy. Out of the box I would say these are slightly smaller than ‘true to size’ and anyone with a wider feet should size up by one.
Now for me, these are very weird but also cool looking shoe. We’ve been sent the Zinc colourway but the shoes do come in three different colour options, these which are:
Sole of the shoes are very chunky and they have been manufactured with Michelin so you can almost guarantee that the sole is of the highest quality. *The level of grip that you get from these while on a paddleboard will be tested with an ‘on the water’ test*
There are no laces on these as they are a Speed Toggle. The ST is quite a thin lace system which I feel could be a little bit thicker but on the whole does a good job of tightening the upper. I’ve honestly worn these without tightening the ST as the fit was so snug to my feet.
Overall fit: I have found these, quite tight and fit very snuggly around the top of your foot. If you’ve broken a metatarsal before like me then you may feel that they rub on the top of your feet, however this may wear off once the shoe has been worn in. When walking around normally there are no issues, I found them to be quite comfortable without socks. The shoes essentially work straight out of the box with minimal adjustments and are also very fast drying is also helpful!
Currently retailing on Vivobarefoot’s website for £170. They do a cool 100 Day Trial which may be worth the option for some people. Click Here to read more about the 100 Day Trial!
As a footballer, well, an ex footballer, these reminded me and felt comparable to these…
Myself and Dale will be carrying out ‘on the water’ tests which will be video reviews on our IGTV. We really want to test out how well these handle on the paddleboard, getting in and out of water (specifically onto the sides of rivers or canals). I get the feeling they will be a great tool in our arsenal..
Remember that this is a minimal shoe and while we’re not talking about running it is advisable that if you are trying a minimal shoe for the first time that you seek advice from a professional.
Thanks to Vivobarefoot for allowing us the opportunity to test these out. Stay tuned for the ‘On the Water’ video review. Ciao, Darren.