Hands down, this is one of the best looking sandals I have ever laid my eyes on. The lightweight, split-toe sandals look like something we should be wearing in the future. Finding them in Thailand felt like finding gold and I couldn’t wait to try them on. It was a good thing we didn’t pack beach shoes and planned to get them on our trip there.
These sandals are made to feel like you are walking barefoot. In fact, all shoes made by Vivobarefoot follow that mantra as they believe your foot has all the technology to thrive that is a result of millions of years of evolution. I don’t know much about that or argue against it, however recently I met a guy that walks around everywhere barefoot, by choice. He marvelled at how minimalistic they look and said he actually liked them.
The Vivobarefoot Achilles II sandals soles are puncture resistant despite being so thin, 3mm to be exact, and you know they patented that technology. The combination of plastics used to make this sandal do not only look good, but they also serve a functional role of resisting oils with the TPU and being a little eco friendly with the PU as it is organic based. Vivobarefoot even go as far as claiming that their product and processes are Vegan, which simply means they didn’t use any leather or animals in the product.
“Vivobarefoot even go as far as claiming that their product and processes are Vegan…”
While I am not entirely convinced that the eco-benefits are actually valid, in that their processes to make the plastics might actually be worse for the environment, I do know a well made product when I see one and this is one. Real world use has shown little to say otherwise.
I can’t help but wonder what first person who invented shoes would think of these sandals. Putting them on the first time feels weird as you have to adjust to the Samurai like, split-toe slit that most shoes don’t have. After you are over that sensation and your feet get used to them, they really do feel like you are walking barefoot. I love the look of the underfoot hexagonal grips, which you surprisingly don’t feel while walking. They look like they have in them some sort of eco promise, borrowing the shape from nature to reinforce barefoot walking in your perception. It’s clever design.
“I love the look of the underfoot hexagonal grips, which you surprisingly don’t feel while walking.”
You can take off the straps and also use them as slippers making them quite multipurpose or adjustable to your preference. You can use them walking on a trail, beach side walks/runs or urban exploration. There are very few sandals that I actually feel comfortable running in without them feeling like they will fall off. While looking good is their strong point, it’s good to discover they hold up on the functional side of things. I love these sandals.
The Vivobarefoot Achilles II sandals aren’t without their share of problems. My girlfriend, who has flat feet, found them highly uncomfortable when we were walking in suburban areas of Melbourne. She seemed perfectly fine however, when we were walking at the beach or on non concrete or hard surfaces. As for me, I did find them a little uncomfortable to wear on concrete as well, as you generally need better heal support as per my training when I worked at a warehouse.
When wearing them at the beach or park, sand and other particles got lodged in them quite easily causing some discomfort. For beach use you might want to wear them without the straps so it is easier to dislodge sand. For parks and trails, particles that were trapped in them were usually bigger in size and therefore easier to remove.
These sandals are definitely not the type you want to wear in winter. That meant when we got back to frosty Melbourne we had to pack them away until it was spring time again. When sunnier weather does come around for you to wear them, the straps and plastic that goes over your big toe do take some getting used to but not too long.
Vivobarefoot Achilles II sandals
The Vivobarefoot Achilles II sandals fulfil a fashion aesthetic while still being somewhat sporty and functional. I am a little sad I actually haven’t got enough opportunities to wear them since we got back. They are a fantastic looking and feeling pair of sandals that are perfect for the beach or trails. All other conditions will find you choosing a different pair to wear. I applaud Vivobarefoot for being eco aware in making them, however I think they could have done more to make them sustainably.
I am a sucker for anything that looks futuristic and anything ninja or samurai like just bring the inner kid out of me. All the technology that make them prick or poke resistant, as well as excellent craftsmanship, just speak to the inner geek in me. As a result, I am more readily willing to make them work or overlook altogether all of the shortcomings they have. For some that might not be enough to turn a blind eye but for those of you like me would enjoy them just because they are cool. Incidentally, I also got them because they would make for a cool review. This product is just made better and I hope to see more and more evolution in this space.
Click to enlarge.