“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo Tolstoy
Although I agree with the Russian novelist in principle, he’s clearly never worn a pair of Gobi II’s in a plane, up a mountain, on a city tour, rug-cutting in a bar, sat down to a fine meal, or curled up in a chair reading Leo Tolstoy (in fairness, that last example would be considered a little egoic if he had). Are the Gobi II’s the perfect example of footwear for each of the scenarios mentioned above? Well, for me, as an itinerant traveller who’s constantly looking for new ways to minimise her luggage, they’re certainly ticking a hell of a lot of boxes for the title of ‘My Perfect All-Rounder’…am I the only one who gives awards to their clothes?
A bit of backstory about me. This June marks the second anniversary of me saying farewell to London, the city that housed me (for the want of a more accurate, dilapidated-sounding word) for nearly six years. Nowadays, I spend one month, every month living in a different city/town/farm in countries all over the world. While this is a thrilling and exciting lifestyle, it’s also really quite difficult to pack for, so if you tell me that there’s a way to compress four shoes into one, you’ve got my attention.
Vivobarefoot is a brand that’s trying to redefine how we think about and what we prioritise in good footwear. As mentioned on the Vivo website, the part of the brain dedicated to processing information from the feet is the same size as the part of the brain dedicated to processing information from the hands (i.e. a large bit). The natural shape of the foot is wide and flexible, if you obstruct the movement of the foot, the feedback system in the brain will get confused, often resulting in unskilled movement and pain. In order to combat interference, the Vivo brand aims to make their shoes as close an approximation to walking barefoot as possible. To do this, they’ve created footwear with a thin sole to allow for as much sensory feedback as possible, a wide base so that your anchor toe (big toe) remains straight and highly flexible designs so that your feet remain free to do all the things that they’ve cleverly evolved to do.
Vivo have a huge range of different outdoor, active and everyday shoes to suit your needs; however, MY needs were that of a shoe in which I could happily hike down a mountain in and then stroll straight into a nice restaurant. The Gobi II. A handsome shoe made up of naturally scarred and durable wild hide leather, an antibacterial removable cork insole, a highly moldable leather footbed and Vivo’s thinnest and most durable trademark non-marking TPU outsole. For anyone worried about how sharp rocks or stray nails might feel underfoot, rest assured that Vivo’s patented, ultra-thin sole is five times more puncture-resistant than a standard sole of the same thickness.
I’m a tall girl with fairly large feet, so after reading about Vivo’s wide base I was worried the Gobi II might leave me looking a little clown-like. I was pleasantly surprised to find that from nearly every angle the shoes were sleek, fitted and damn trendy (from above, they’re obviously less tapered than a traditional shoe but in the name of comfort – and science! – something’s gotta give). The shoes themselves are feather-light and surprisingly foldable for their classic desert boot shape. Upon first use they immediately feel more like wearing a sock than a shoe and after putting them through their paces (ha! Get it?), I’m yet to come across any new shoe issues (read: blisters).
After walking a mile in these newfangled barefoot shoes, ruminating over Tolstoy’s assertion about the hunt for perfection, I can happily say that ol’ Leo was wrong (in this instance at least); both I, and my feet, are feeling pretty darned content, bol’shoye spasibo vam!
You can bag yourself a pair of the Gobi II’s for £130 on the Vivobarefoot website.
Melanie Chenoweth has spent the last decade scouring the globe for the best in food, travel and adventure. She loves writing about bold flavours, beautiful views and new experiences.
Images courtesy of Vivobarefoot