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December 12, 2010

VIVOBAREFOOT Functional/Waterproof Boots Review and Giveaway; VIVOBAREFOOT Boots Coupon Code

When it comes to footwear, two concepts you don’t typically associate with each other are barefoot and boots.

Minimalist shoe aficionados generally seek the lightest, lowest profile footwear that’s necessary to protect their feet while still allowing good ground feel and natural foot function. And boot wearers tend to like ‘em big, either with tall sexy heels for women, hard-stomping heels and steel toes for cowboys and construction workers, or rugged sturdy midsoles for hikers of both genders. So the two user groups wouldn’t seem to have any common footwear interests at all.

Leave it to VIVOBAREFOOT to think outside the box and combine them – and the result is a much nicer product that you might initially think. On the scale of completely unexpected but pleasantly surprising collaborations, it ranks somewhere between Aerosmith singing with Run-DMC (unimaginably cool) and Eminem singing with Elton John (pretty darn cool, but seemed a little bit forced).

(And on a completely unrelated tangent … have you noticed that I haven’t embedded any songs here for a while? I’ll take care of that today, with a holiday-themed "unlikely combination" song after the post.)

VIVOBAREFOOT Aqueous (L) and Franklin (R)

The result of this mad experimentation is four models that VIVOBAREFOOT classifies as functional/waterproof: the Franklin and Aqueous for men, and the Brooklyn and Belle for women. I’ve been wearing the men’s models for about six weeks now, and found that they provide a nice option within this untapped niche for minimalist footwear users. And at the end of this post, one reader will have a chance to win his or her choice of these models, just in time for winter.

Comfort collars and neoprene/microfiber interior linings

The Aqueous is basically a high-top version of VIVOBAREFOOT’s best-selling Aqua model. Like other VIVOBAREFOOT models, it’s made with eco-friendly construction and stylish design for everyday use. The upper is made from abrasion-resistant polyurethane and nylon, and the interior lining is a material called Airprene (breatheable neoprene) for water resistance in rainy or muddy conditions.

The Franklin is a hiking boot with extra side padding for improved comfort on day-long treks. The upper is a combination of nubuck, nylon and abrasion-resistant vegetable-tanned leather, with a microfiber and nylon mesh lining. It has a neoprene lining like the Aqueous for similar water resistance.

Latex rubber and recycled woodchip outsoles

Both of the men’s boots have a 5mm outsole that’s both functional and eco-friendly: a TPU abrasion-resistant sole made partially with latex rubber and recycled woodchips. It’s similar in structure to the outsoles for the Oak, with slightly better grip on slick surfaces. It’s certainly not as grippy as the super-knobby outsoles on traditional hiking boots, but does reasonably well in most off-road situations.

Each of these models has a thin memory foam insole that can be removed for better ground feel or decreased weight. As you’d imagine with more substantial shoes, these boots are heavier than most VIVOBAREFOOT styles, with the Franklin weighing in at 11oz, and the Aqueous at 13oz.

Great flexibility! The Franklin, all curled up

Despite their larger dimensions, both of these models are still very flexible and allow natural foot movement. Dedicated minimalist users may experience the strange sensation I felt with having a high-top collar against my ankles; I compensated for this by leaving the collar area excessively loose to ensure that I had unimpeded ankle range of motion while walking.

On the ladies’ side, VIVOBAREFOOT offers the Belle, a short waterproof nubuck boot with an adjustable elastic strap, and the Brooklyn, a waterproof knee-high leather boot made with faux-shearling lining for increased warmth during cold winter outings. They have the same 5mm outsole construction and removable insole features as the men’s styles. Weight for these is 10oz for the Belle, and 16oz for the Brooklyn.

A couple of important notes should be considered if you’re thinking about purchasing any of these boots:

1) Some of these styles have some size variance, so be sure to check the webpage of the specific items for sizing guidelines, or call VIVOBAREFOOT for further clarification.

2) The remaining online stock of the Franklin has a minor design flaw in the tongue area – that I honestly didn’t notice even though it was pointed out to me - so it is only sold through telephone orders and comes with a 30% discount. You can still use my coupon code (a very generous one, see below) associated with this post on top of that 30% discount as well.

So let’s get to the good stuff: between now and December 20, you can purchase any of the models described above at a 30% discount by using coupon code RRWATER at checkout. The banner ad at the top of this page will be in place all week long to remind you. And on Wednesday night of this week, I’ll pick one winner to receive a free pair of one of these models.

We’ll do the regular link method with this one: one entry for a comment, one for a Facebook/Twitter link, and one for a blog link to this contest page. And to throw in a little bit of fun, I'll give you one additional entry if you name any other unexpectedly pleasant musical collaboration (there's one rap/metal classic from the 1990s that I'll be totally disappointed if nobody remembers) that hasn't been mentioned yet. Let me know in the comments section how many entries you deserve, and submit your entry by 5PM PST on Wednesday December 15 so I can announce the winner later that night. Good luck to everybody!


As for the musical selection: it’s a decent piece of holiday music on its own, but the remarkable thing about it is the players involved. In the late 1970s, David Bowie was nearly at the height of his androgynous Ziggy Stardust glam-rock reign, and Bing Crosby was the embodiment of traditional, conservative America. Fortunately, they had enough musical respect for each other to recognize that their differences were the small stuff, and the message of the season was far more meaningful.

And yes, you have to sit through a couple minutes of scripted banter before you get to the good part, but the song that follows has become a holiday classic in its own right.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby, "The Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth" (click to play):

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John 12/12/10, 9:51 PM  

I also posted this on facebook. And for my music collaboration, there is my favorite from the early 90's: Anthrax/Public Enemy's Bring the Noise. So that makes 3 entries for me. I would love the Franklins.

Donald 12/12/10, 9:57 PM  

John: That's the one! Good recall, sir.

Josh 12/12/10, 10:50 PM  

Do you know if the Aqueous is vegan? It doesn't look like it contains any animal products, but it also isn't labeled vegan on their website. Thanks!

Rory dela Paz 12/12/10, 10:55 PM  

I posted on my Tumblr account: http://rorydlp.tumblr.com/. This should post to both my Facebook and Twitter accounts as well! Not sure how that is counted.

I was at the Terra Plana store this Saturday and was impressed with the Franklin. I could not quite convince my wife that it's worth the $$ though so winning one would be a nice alternative!

Donald 12/12/10, 10:56 PM  

Josh: I'll find out, and report back here.

Rory: the 30% + 30% discount is pretty sweet, even if you don't win!

krystyna47 12/13/10, 12:35 AM  

Oh, these are some really cool boots.
2 entries for me, one for the comment and one for the AWESOME collaboration that is:

Laura Marling & Johnny Flynn - Travel Light

samur 12/13/10, 1:00 AM  

Wow! Great discount! I just bought Evo II and they're great :)

Two entries for me: one for this comment, the other one for facebook post :) Thanks! I would love Aqueous :D

Chanin 12/13/10, 4:10 AM  

Are you talking about the 1986, Run-D.M.C., Steven Tyler and Joe Perry performance of "Walk This Way"

Kevin 12/13/10, 4:33 AM  

put me down for 1 entry.

Lisa 12/13/10, 4:55 AM  

Wow, I never looked at Terra Plana's boots before -- I just may have to use the coupon code!

I'm partial to the YoYo Ma/James Taylor collaboration, myself. :)

Eddie 12/13/10, 4:57 AM  

How about Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing "Ebony & Ivory" ? Jumping in the mix for 2 entries.

adam 12/13/10, 5:20 AM  

I was just lamenting how I needed a pair of good minimal winter boots after suffering through some very cold toes this past weekend wearing my hacked up MT100's.

How about Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony from Metallica S&M? Probably one of my favorite rock albums of all time.

Adam Sullivan
So 2 entries for me?

RD Jim 12/13/10, 5:47 AM  

Why did they put the light sole on the black boot? Makes no sense.
Anyway, I think Bowie was well out of his ziggy startdust phase by the late 70's when this Bing clip was filmed... Sound and Vision was released about this time I think.

I'll post to my facbook and throw out this duet: Elvis Presley & Martina McBride - Blue Christmas

Sean 12/13/10, 6:27 AM  

I'd love a pair for when I'm trekking through the mountain snow!

Neil 12/13/10, 6:41 AM  

Those Franklin boots look great. U2 and Pavarotti did a great collaboration on Miss Sarajevo.

barefootrambling 12/13/10, 7:05 AM  

I've got the Franklins and love 'em! I haven't noticed the manufacturing flaw yet either, though after 5 miles of wet trekking around Seattle I did notice the collar starting to rub.

To say winters around here aren't barefoot friendly is understating it just a bit...

As for musical collaborations, I was just listening to Widespread Panic with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, great live album!

Don't do Twitter, etc...so I guess just the two for me!

Turi 12/13/10, 7:05 AM  

Can't quite wrap my head around the concept of a minimalist hiking boot. Would sure be interesting to try, though.

Mike E 12/13/10, 7:25 AM  

Please enter me into the drawing, thanks!

Here's a seasonal collaboration of technology & talent...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9XNfWNooz4. Enjoy!

mattcraig100 12/13/10, 7:26 AM  

Please put me in for 1 entry. thanks

GRChi 12/13/10, 7:33 AM  

In for 2 entries. Also, for random collaborations you should check out the soundtrack to Judgment Night, which is nothing but strange collaborations: Pearl Jam/Cypress Hill, Helmet/House of Pain, Biohazard/Onyx, Slayer/Ice T, etc.

pontdo 12/13/10, 7:40 AM  

Would LOVE a pair for the rainy season. My favorite...Bring The Noise w/ Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Anthrax!
2 Entries Please...thx!

piffletosh 12/13/10, 7:50 AM  

There is nothing on their website about sizing being smaller than (their) normal.

Meg T 12/13/10, 8:03 AM  

The women's knee high boots look cute. Put me down for 1 entry!

Gretchen 12/13/10, 8:08 AM  

All the giveaways have been great, put me down for 1 entry! Thanks!

Woodrow 12/13/10, 9:03 AM  

Now if anyone can come up with a minimal work boot. Although it may be a very small market at the moment.

Tezcatzontecatl 12/13/10, 9:27 AM  

Oooh, I'll take two entries this time. One for this, and one for my favorite cut off the "Judgement Night" soundtrack: "Missing Link" by Del tha Funky Homosapien and Dinosaur, Jr.

Kovas Palubinskas 12/13/10, 9:37 AM  

Public enemy + Anthrax? Busta Rhymes & Ozzy? So many to choose from. Tweeted @kovasp

3 entries

Andrew 12/13/10, 9:41 AM  

I wonder how these compare to the Feelmax Kuuva. The Kuuvas have a thinner 2mm sole, so the Vivobarefoot shoes have a bit more sole insulation/protection, but the canvas uppers on the Kuuvas would probably require some wax to keep water out...

Put me down for one entry.

Graham 12/13/10, 9:43 AM  

2 entries for me, one here and one for Facebook.

I was so impressed with the %30 + %30 however, that I called and ordered a pair. Only $118 to ship them to this Canuck.

This entry was perfect timing for me Donald, as we got a dumping of 10" of snow in the last day. No more running in VFF's for me.

JenniferLeah 12/13/10, 9:44 AM  

wow-these are neat.Love the TP discount, have been wanting a pr...

will tweet, will blog link :)

3 entries please

Matt Dubs,  12/13/10, 10:06 AM  

functional minimalist and water resistant?! Count me in!

wch 12/13/10, 10:20 AM  

Count me in for two entries... I don't think anyone has mentioned the great Alison Krauss/Robert Plant "Raising Sand" album yet.

jbgodfrey,  12/13/10, 10:48 AM  

1 entry please!

Eric Evans,  12/13/10, 10:53 AM  

Those are pretty interesting. I have been looking for minimalist footwear that will stand up to daily use. I am not sure these fit the bill, but would be glad to give them a try.

primal mike,  12/13/10, 11:14 AM  

Making 2 enteries. Ive been looking for minimalist winter boots , these seem to be the best choice available , would love to have them.
As far as the duo goes, I always think of the bad video of Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Really bad

Giuseppe 12/13/10, 11:27 AM  

Put me down for 1 point, Terra Plana is really stepping up their game, very impressive.

Anonymous,  12/13/10, 1:20 PM  

1) Not big on the red, but I would like to tryout some barefoot boots!

1) How about Guns n Roses with a full orchestra in "November Rain"

Michael Shane Helton 12/13/10, 1:21 PM  

Above comment was mine...is showing as anonymous.

mariko 12/13/10, 2:21 PM  

One entry, please. I have actually been looking at these boots. I live in Portland and need waterproof boots for the winter. I've been wearing a different brand for the rain, but they are heavy and stiff, and I really love the lightweight flexibility of the Vivo Barefoots and would love to make the switch!

Angie Bee 12/13/10, 2:22 PM  

I have not read the commments so not sure if anyone mentioned it but Run DMC and aerosmith :)
My bloggie buddy EMZ just had t-shirts made and I was lucky enough to be sent one.
They say RUN EMZ after Run DMC....makes me giggle and smile every time I see it!
Count me in for a facebook comment, twitter, and blog link up!
CHeers :)

Jeff 12/13/10, 2:35 PM  

One entry for me? I'm in the northeast and my feet are freezing in my Soft Star Ramblers. Seriously considering buying a pair of these.

Freer 12/13/10, 2:50 PM  

2 please. U2 and BB King on 'when love comes to town' and Barenaked Ladies and Sarah MacLaclan on 'these Three Kings/God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman'

lensgrabber 12/13/10, 3:14 PM  

Aqueous has nubuck on the upper portion and is not Vegan nor does it appear in the vegan lineup for the company. I think at this time the dopie and EVO line are the only vegan options from TP.

Carl,  12/13/10, 3:16 PM  

3 please. Comment, FB, and unexpectedly good 90s collaboration: Rabbit in Your Headlights by UNKLE feat. Thom Yorke.

cleansparks 12/13/10, 3:30 PM  

I thought that Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock was going to be a strange pairing, but I really like the song.

3 entries:
one for comment
one for facebook
one for artist pairing

Donald 12/13/10, 4:02 PM  

Josh: This is from my VB rep ...

"The Aqueous is NOT a Vegan shoe. The abrasion PU is an overlay on leather. The Navy and Dk Grey then have nubuck panels along the tongue."

All: I've updated the post to indicate that not ALL of these styles run short, but still check the product page closely for size guildelines. Also, if you had any difficulty using the coupon code on top of the Franklin discount, that has been corrected by VB, so there shouldn't be any more trouble.

Thanks for all the great song selections!

CWH 12/13/10, 4:22 PM  

boots boots need me some boots, put me down for 1 entry

Chris 12/13/10, 4:58 PM  

1 for Facebook
+1 for Jimmie Dale Gilmore/Mudhoney ("Buckskin Stallion Blues") An odd, but somehow great, trading of covers.
2 Total

Jeff 12/13/10, 5:12 PM  

Sign me up for one entry.

stazza 12/13/10, 5:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
stazza 12/13/10, 5:18 PM  

Unexpectedly pleasant musical collaboration: William Shatner, Ben Folds & Aimee Mann, "That's Me Trying"

music + comment + tweet + blogpost = 4 entries

shel 12/13/10, 5:33 PM  

neat. count me in and a post on FB!

Jeff 12/13/10, 5:40 PM  

I posted the link on my blog page. Please enter me into this contest. Thanks for the great information on the footwear.

TK 12/13/10, 5:42 PM  

Count me in for a comment, a tweet, and a blog entry.

The BIG E 12/13/10, 6:34 PM  

I'm going to win one of these giveaways....

papafoster 12/13/10, 7:43 PM  

put me down for one entry. Terra Plana is really stepping up the VIVOBAREFOOT line!

Seb@ pedometer watches 12/13/10, 8:41 PM  

The VIVOBAREFOOT line seem comfortable enough to wear around the house as slippers. They look fantastic too.

Which Pedometer is best for You?"

Sharon 12/14/10, 12:47 AM  

3 please

- Would love to try the shoes, the red is nice.

- facebook post

- aerosmith w/DMC is all I am coming up with

steve 12/14/10, 4:13 AM  

Sticking with the holiday theme, how about Frank Sinatra and Cindi Lauper singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

I also love Slash (GN'R) in Michael Jackson's "Beat It"!!!

Chunter4,  12/14/10, 6:03 AM  

Viva la Boots. Two for me if you count Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon's collaboration.



Chad 12/14/10, 1:28 PM  

The Shoes look very comfortable. Worst collaboration, Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis – “Cruisin”

Caleb 12/14/10, 4:04 PM  

Sign me up! Thanks! Hope I win and thanks for blogging!

Timothy 12/14/10, 4:19 PM  

Interesting. I wonder how they would function as a winter snow-boot

Elizabeth 12/14/10, 4:28 PM  

Two entries for me, please - I've posted a link on Facebook. Thanks!

MorganWood 12/15/10, 8:49 AM  

They look pretty awesome!

Josh 12/15/10, 12:17 PM  

it's not a "duet" but elton john + Tupac in "Ghetto Gospel" kicks ass.
2 entries please! josh s

Sarah 12/15/10, 4:44 PM  

You have the best giveaways! I also tweeted. I think I'm in under the wire. : ) Thanks!

Magneticlens 12/15/10, 4:59 PM  

Tweeted the review. Just under the wire since I forgot to come back and post until well after work. Love my Vivo's, really considering getting a pair of the boots for the Pittsburgh winter.

Janice 12/25/10, 5:20 PM  

I was wondering whether women would be able to wear the franklin boots too? Does it look clunky when you wear it? The belle looks nice except that im concerned about the elastic strap durability. laces are always my preference.

Donald 12/26/10, 11:26 AM  

Janice: the Franklin doesn't really strike me as a women's style, but I guess there's no reason why you can't wear it. I would ask VB if there is any difference in the shape of the lasts or the overall width between mens and womens styles - that might be a factor to consider.

The boots do feel slightly clunky to me, but that's mainly because their weight and size is a lot more than anything else I wear.

lensgrabber 2/9/11, 9:11 PM  

Just wanted to leave a followup to my previous comment way up the tree. The BLACK aqueous *IS* 100% vegan. TP now has that information on their web site.

Unknown 12/16/11, 12:43 AM  

how about 1991's johnny cash and one bad pig doing man in black? anyone know that one?

hmm, i was all set to buy the aqueous but the franklin looks pretty solid and with the 30+30? i think i'm sold.

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