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Review: Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG Womens Hiking Boots

Vivobarefoot walking boots
 

Comfortable and grippy, this is a cosy, ground-hugging, waterproof walking boot for natural gait and barefoot-style movement, with improved sustainability/recycling credentials and freerange-sourced leather

For the body that’s keen to get back to nature, treat tired feet to natural movement and enhanced ground connection in the minimalist, comfortable and surprisingly stylish Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG all-season walking boot. Ideal for the wannabe Zola Budd of the hills and those who have some experience of barefoot walking and footwear.

Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG Womens Hiking Boots: The stats

Best for:Year round mid-altitude hiking
Weight:895g (UK size 7 pair)
Waterproof:Yes
Uppers:Leather
Outsole:Rubber compound with 4mm lugs
Eco-conscious:Recycled plastic membrane and liner, naturally scarred wildhide
Overall rating:

Features of the Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG Womens

Uppers

vivobarefoot Tracker Hiking BootsMade from renewable, naturally scarred wildhide (sourced on small, free-range farms), the soft but durable leather outer has a moleskin feel and appearance. Along with a water resistant outer treatment, recycled plastic breathable liner and recycled membrane for complete waterproofing, the Tracker II FG has renewable eco-kudos as well as genuinely comfortable good looks. And it’s a great colour.

Outsole

Boot outsoleThe thin, sticky rubber compound sole is foot shaped and ultra-flexible with 4mm lugs for multi-terrain traction in mud or uneven ground. This enables feet to hug and feel the trail as nature intended, for a truly comfortable, more natural walking experience. Compared to rigid vibram soles of other boots the Tracker II FG offers secure grip on the bumpiest of trails.

Insole

Boot insolesFor all-season action, the boots are winter-proofed with an Outlast removable thermal insole using heat-reflective foil technology. Developed by NASA, they provide Goldilocks-zone toastiness in colder conditions.

Laces

Boot lacesMulticoloured laces tone with the boot colour to add a touch of style, while the textured material of the lace adds friction for secure fastening. There are 4 metal eyelets and 2 metal hooks plus an unusual extra plastic hook on an elasticated band for tailored front of foot support and better movement.

Toe box

Walking Boot toesThese are foot-shaped boots for comfort and balance so the toe box is huge. Rounded for toe-freedom and wide for natural stability, the outer is stout enough at the toe to give protection from stubbing and tripping.

Collar

Boot collarThe colour-toned fabric collar is thickly padded and comfortable with sealed seams and movement at the back if needed. This is particularly useful for those whose upper heels can rub in high-ankle walking boots. Width and flexibility here allow for more natural stability and better balance.


Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG Womens Hiking Boots review

As a lifelong barefoot and flip-flop walker in all seasons, I’ve been keen to try out some barefoot hiking footwear for years. These great looking boots met expectations at all levels and they are so comfortable it’s easy to forget you’re wearing actual hiking boots. In fact an ex-army colleague told me they look like expedition slippers – I think this was a compliment! – but it is pretty much what they feel like to my feet.

I’ve tested the boots on multiple terrains in wet and dry weather, from daily dog walks including muddy fields, wet streams and riverbanks, rough woodland, sandy cliffs and coast to long distance hill-hikes, craggy scrambles and a weekend Scout camp and night hike. I’ve worn them abseiling down a castle and to the shops after an expedition. They performed with impeccable versatility on every occasion.

Eco-improved

Vivobarefoot have recently improved the eco-credentials of this particular design in terms of sustainability of the construction materials and waterproofing technology, adding to the feel-good factor when wearing them.

The waterproof liners are constructed from recycled plastic which is a great step forwards, but the fact they are still plastic might not be quite enough for some eco-warriors.

The wildhide upper makes them unsuitable for vegan use.

Vivobarefoot Tracker Boots in the grass

Good looks and cleanliness

The Tracker II FG’s look so good it feels like boot abuse to wear them in really muddy conditions, especially given the matt texture of the leather which shows up every mud and dirt mark picked up on the trail. However, having marched them through swampy wetlands and shallow streams they prove to be decently waterproof, and with the correct cleaning products they would hopefully scrub up well (see below for caveat on keeping them clean).

Comfort and joy

Perfect for freezing cold days, the thermal insoles make these a super-toasty boot for winter weather but you’ll absolutely need to remove them in hot weather to avoid the odd hot foot panic! This multi-season adaptability is another great plus for foot comfort and the breathable uppers mean that even the hottest feet don’t get damp with sweat.

The wide fit and barefoot technology perfectly suits my anatomy and hiking style and anyone who is used to walking barefoot will agree and should love these boots too. My first use was on a 7-mile hill hike and they were incredibly comfortable with zero rubbing despite not having broken them in at home. However, if you’re new to barefoot movement you might experience initial pain in the achilles and back of the heel until your feet adjust to the change so I recommend breaking yourself in (not the boots!) gently in this case.

My wide, flat feet are a UK size 6. The Barefoot size guide suggested a 7 which I ignored and was humbly proved wrong – I am a 7 in barefoot boots! I highly recommend using the online size checker which involves taking a photo of your feet. The recommendation from this was spot on and the size 7 fit perfectly.

One aspect which needs a longer review period is the textured laces which I anticipated would stay done up with ease. On one occasion they came undone during a hike which, while not unheard of in the hills, was surprising. In this instance I think longer use of the laces will soften them and hopefully ensure they stay done up for longer going forward.

Foot and boot

What I love the most about the Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG

These boots look great. Everybody comments on how cool they are as well as on the unusual colour. Whilst hiking is far from being all about the fashion statement, boots that look good for everyday wear as well as being utilitarian on the trail are a real bonus in my book.

I really love the colour – Botanical Green – which wasn’t my first choice. I definitely prefer it to the brown and they feel like a coordinating addition to my outdoor gear rather than a boot for practical use alone.

What I don’t love so much about the Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG

Because they are so flexible, and I personally am hypermobile, with very moveable, bendy joints, the boots crease easily at the toe during walking or scrambling. This flexibility makes them such a great choice for me, but after only 30 miles of use the creases already make them look well-worn. For me this is no problem. For those who prefer boots to look pristine for longer it might prove an irritation, and it will be interesting to see further down the line whether the creases start to split with age. Hopefully not, as I’m intending these to have a very long, and long-distance, shelf life!

Additionally the light green colourway means that mud and dirt stand out far more than on a darker brown boot and the fabric seems to stain more easily, so already the boots look a little shabby. A damp cloth has removed most stains but I’d be concerned about damaging the material with regular cleaning. Vivobarefoot sells a soft cleaning cloth and biodegradable eco-friendly liquid cleaner but these products were not part of the review package so I can’t comment on how well they perform on the Tracker II FG.


vivobarefoot Tracker Hiking Boots

Verdict

I love them, and my feet love them. A 4 out of 5, double-thumbs up with a cautious performance confirmation of durable, all-weather comfort whatever the season, although I have yet to snow-test them. They are definitely warm enough for year-round wear and if the waterproofing stands up to boggy and snowy conditions over time then they get my rating as suitable for all mid-altitude hiking, day and night with the benefit of looking great in an outdoorsy everyday way too.

Despite the eco-improved tech and the natural movement capability of these boots, some might balk at the price, especially with the apparent propensity to ‘shabbiness’ from very early on. I absolutely love them for comfort and flexibility as a barefoot walker and the price is worth it if they continue to perform well with regular use. Time will tell.

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Vivobarefoot

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

Lucy has a lifelong passion for nature and the benefits of getting children into the wild. She was instrumental in setting up a Forest School in 2002 and the adoption of 28 rescued swans at a stately home where she worked. Lucy loves travelling, exploring the wilds with her family, camper van and dog and is proud to admit to crying every time she has witnessed a whale in its natural habitat! Follow Lucy at her blog Kids of the Wild.

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