REVIEWS

Tom Langhorn, the Scottish Bushcraft expert, explains why we should go barefoot in his video – Barefoot and Minimalist Footwear Benefits? Past to Present Comparison

Hanna writes about her Mudees:

After about 6 months of daily wear & several longer walks I’m totally in LOVE with my Mudees! Being vegan, environmentally conscious when it comes to buying new things, having problems with pronating and hallux valgus and only wearing barefoot shoes, buying shoes isn’t the easiest thing to do. But your Mudees fits all my requirements and my feet perfectly!

I’ve read some people here complaining about the sole of the shoes not lasting long enough for the price one pays, to that I can only say that when it comes to barefoot shoes that’s kind of the price one haves to pay. Especially people walking many miles on tarmac, theres only so many miles a very soft sole with amazing grip can handle. But on the other hand when one mostly uses them in the outdoors and live on the countryside like I do the wear after these 6 months are minimal! Also want to praise the waterproofness! I have stepped in, getting the boot completely soaked in water and walked many days in pouring rain without my feet getting even a little bit wet!

From Charles, the ultra runner:

My post reviewing the Vivobarefoot Primus SGs some years ago attracted a lot of hits and seems to have been widely read. I still love these shoes, I’m about to buy another pair. There’s nothing like them for grip on mud & technical ground if you want barefoot shoes.

My favourite running shoes though, are Freet Connect 2. I’ve done several ultras in these, and they are unbelievably comfortable. Admittedly they were a bad choice for the steep wet grass of the Brecon 50, but for the Bullock Smithy, Round Rotherham and several others they were fantastic.

They have better grip than you might expect looking at the soles. Certainly infinitely better than Merrell Trail Gloves. I think because the soles are much more flexible the soles conform more closely to the terrain. The RRR was fairly muddy, and I didn’t slip so much as once.

The sizing is maybe a tiny bit on the small side – a 48 is comfortable on me, and I normally take a 47.

How hard wearing are they? Don’t know yet, I’ve only done a few hundred miles in them. But after a few hundred miles there’s visible wear under the ball of the foot but the rest of the sole and the uppers are undamaged. My previous connects (the old version) are about ready for the bin, almost, and I’ve had those at least 2 years (and run in them exclusively easter to october). I’d guess they’ve done well over a thousand miles. They’re pretty knackered.

It’s getting to the muddy, slippery time of year when they have to go on the shelf except for parkrun/flat speed training, and the Vivos are my primaries. If I didn’t always run on such technical ground I’d use the Connect 2s over the winter as well. If you run trail rather than fell, and want barefoot shoes that will give adequate grip and maximum comfort I’d absolutely go for these.

Charles, after wearing Connect2 for the Round Rotherham 50 ultra

The Connect 2s have just enough structure to be comfortable without being restrictive. I ran an ultra in connects and they were a little too loose. But at the end of 58 miles on saturday, including a lot of road and gravelled bridleway my feet were just a little sore from repeated impact. No blisters, no hot spots, no turned ankles. I’ll definitely be wearing them for the Round Rotherham 50 in October. If they stand up to the mileage my last pair of Connects did I’ll be well happy.

Charles, having worn Connect2 for the Bullock Smithy 56m Ultra Marathon. Here’s a link to his blog of the event: Bullock Smithy 56m Ultra

Hi guys
Just dropping you a line regarding the outstanding service your company has yet again provided.
Thanks so much for your speed of proccesing returns and also the quality of the shoes you make, I now have 3 pairs and they are my go to gym shoe right now. I work as a strength and conditioning coach so I’m in them all day every day and I couldn’t be happier with there performance.
I get loads of questions about them in the gym and people are starting to really come around to the idea of barefoot shoes as an important part of their kit for training

Martin B

I am 38 and started running with Freet 2 years ago. I could never run before, with regular shoes, because my right knee would always hurt after 15 min. My husband runs the marathon (2h48), + cross country and some trail, and is friends with a physiotherapist who specializes in runners and minimalism. This friend suggested I tried minimalism and sent me a training program from “La Clinique du coureur” (Canada). I bought my first Freet shoes, and started from scratch. Of course it was frustrating to follow the (very slow) program, so I took some liberty… and injured my foot, and then my calf, a couple times and learned my lesson. The training needs to be very progressive. I can now run 45 min to an hour / 7-9 kms with Freet, no pain ! My knee was fine all along. Our 2 boys (11 and 9) wear minimalist shoes all year long. My husband is (very slowly) transitioning to minimalism, his shoes are zero drop, I’m hoping he’ll join my Freet adventure soon ! But I guess the transition is trickier for someone who runs as much as he does.

Anyways, minimalist shoes makes so much sense ! I could never have started running otherwise. And hiking is totally different too. AND the impact on overall posture is amazing. I could go on and on… THANK YOU !!

Juliette

Firstly, you very helpfully sorted out my queries and order. I ordered two sizes and will be sending one pair back this weekend. But this isn’t why I am contacting you.
I have worn my Freets today for the first time. I had a very fast two mile walk at lunch time and I was completely pain free.
Whilst that should be normal, I have Mortons Neuroma and I haven’t been able to walk longer than 10 minutes without it being very painful. Even barefoot in the house can be painful.
It was so lovely being pain free that I even tried a little run – something I haven’t been able to do for months. Even if it looked a little odd in my office clothes 

I love walking and hiking, and it’s been horrible to not be to go very far. I can’t wait to get back outside!

(I also love the ground feel with them, but this is secondary to being pain-free. )

So thank you very much. I did not expect so happy the first time I wore them.

Ms Silk

Freet Mudee – my experience after  buying my first ‘barefoot’ shoes:
 
Don’t know If this interests you or not but I have had problems for many years with my feet, namely being I  supinate extremely and have high arches. This caused me pain inside my knees and much discomfort in feet and ankles. I actually had to leave my job as it entailed standing all day. I have been to a few podiatrist’s over the years and paid for very expensive full contact insoles. The last pair I had been trying to break my feet into for the last 6 months, I could not wear any longer than 4 hrs and dreaded putting my feet in them in the morning. On waking my feet were painful to stand on. I had mentioned to the podiatrist about trying barefoot in which she replied it was a very bad idea! I was kind of at my wits end as to what to do and started to research barefoot shoes.
 
These are my first barefoot boots and I  have been breaking myself in gently. I am pleased to report that already my knees have no pain. The comfort on the soles of my feet is great. The pain on standing in the mornings is sub-siding. My feet rotate naturally inwards allowing the ball of the big toe to have contact. I have had a little discomfort in my neck but have controlled this by swapping back and forth from mudee to regular trainers. That discomfort is now sub-siding and I am getting to a point I could wear them all the time.
Another interesting fact I have noted is in normal foot wear my shoes collapse to the outside very quickly. In barefoot the boots are remaining upright.
 
All in all I am blown away with how much making this transition has helped me! It is so simple and makes complete common sense that our feet are perfect without padded shoes and in fact all this foot wear we use must cause problems such as supination or pronation.
 
Thought if i share it may help people that suffer from similar problems as myself.
 
Billy A
 
 

From Dr Nicole Shaer, GP, 44, Orkney/ Cape Town:

1) I bought a pair of Freet Connect for my partner, Adrian as they looked so comfortable on a friend in Orkney. Adrian was an enthusiastic runner and climber before a traumatic brain injury in 2016 left him with hemiplegia: left-sided weakness and neglect.

What an incredible suprise it was to discover that the increased stimulation of his left sole, felt through the barefoot shoe, counters the reduced bodily awareness of his condition! In the Freet Connects, Adrian walks more evenly, with better ankle control, to the extent that in Freets he can go without the long-term ankle brace required when wearing standard / cushioned shoes.

Though just a study of one, Adrian’s case suggests potential, clinically significant benefit of barefoot shoes for people who have reduced awareness or sensation in the feet. I wonder what we might all gain by reawakening our bodies to the ground that holds us?
Dr Nicole Shaer, GP, 44, Orkney/ Cape Town:

2) Following a brain injury to my right side, I have a left hemiplegia with accompanying spasticity in my left limbs and a spastic reaction rotates my left foot outwards while walking. The correcting action for this involuntary roll is to press my left big toe down stepping while lifting the little one. I normally wear a foot brace to keep my foot and ankle in a neutral position.

The increased proprioception of my foot and toe position while wearing the
Freet barefoot shoes has allowed me to become more aware of my big toe while walking, thus able to feel it’s correct position on the ground while stepping (as not possible in ordinary cushioned soled trainers) and I do not need the support of the brace when wearing them.
Adrian Kohler, 43, Cape Town

Wearing Freet Respond for a 3,100 mile foot race:

I wanted to write in a bit more detail about my experiences wearing Freet footwear at the world’s longest certified footrace – the 3100 mile race – 5649 laps around a city block in Queens, New York.

This was my second attempt at the race having successfully completed the full distance, well within the 52 day cut-off, in 2014.

My history with barefoot shoes is that I have long experience of finding it difficult to find shoes that fit properly. I have very wide feet and they seem to have got wider with more and longer ultras.  As a result of this I decided, in early 2014, to turn to foot-shaped shoes as by then I believed that this course of action might be more fruitful and so it proved to be.

Since early 2014 I have been wearing  barefoot shoes for everyday life and since June 2016 I have been wearing them for all my running and racing too. This is quite a change considering I had transitioned from the mega-cushioned Hoka shoes.  Indeed, my 2014, 3100 race was run in Hoka footwear!

Clearly the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 mile race, now in its 22nd year, is a phenomenal test by any standards and to run it in minimalistic shoes isn’t a decision I took lightly.

In addition the organisers, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, always stress the toughness of the course, quoting that it is all concrete pavements, no asphalt or‘ black-top’ as they call it.  It should also be noted that parts of the busy 0.5 mile lap in downtown Queens, are uneven, tilting and requiring keen observation especially at night, to avoid tripping.

I wasn’t trying to prove anything and always had a bag full of various insoles, cushioning footbeds and so on to give me the greatest number of options when choosing exactly how much additional cushioning I needed at any one time.

I also had shoes in both my usual size and also one size larger to allow for additional inserts as required.  If it had come to it I would have switched to a zero-drop, cushioned shoe – something like the Altra shoes came to mind – but this was never needed.

The race comprises an invited field of usually 10-14 athletes, the majority of whom are disciples of the late Indian guru, Sri Chinmoy who settled in Queens in 1963 and went on to found the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team who now organise races in over 40 countries around the world, ranging in length from 2 miles to 3100 miles!

Runners are expected to be on the start line every morning at 0600 hours and must finish at midnight. Athletes can leave early if they want but obviously that means that they have less time in which to log the required average of 60 miles a day to achieve the full distance within the 52 day cut-off.

An army of volunteers from the Sri Chinmoy organisation keep the race going, 18 hours a day for 52 days. A team of cooks keep the runners fed and watered, another small team keep the camper vans secure overnight and get everything ready for the 6am start everyday. Every runner is accommodated in a simple apartment nearby and volunteer drivers chauffeur the runners home every night.

Every lap is timed and recorded manually and because the course has been officially measured and certificated by US Track and Field, records for multiple, ultra long distances can be claimed and authenticated there.

I have been pursuing my project Journey to 750 records for some years now and my initial interest in the 3100 was sparked by the opportunity it presented to set records beyond the 1000 mile point, which up to 2010, was the longest distance i had ever covered.

I started the race using a 2mm flat footbed under a pair of insoles in both the Freet Respond and Freet Connect shoes.  To accommodate these I used a size larger than normal for me. My typical routine was to run/walk for approximately 4 hour periods after which I would rest in the roadside camper van allocated to me for about 20 minutes.  Usually using the time to eat and sleep before staggering back out onto the busy pavement to resume the task of covering at least 109 laps before mid-night.

I was keen to use both the Respond and Connect shoes as I believe in a bit of variety in this type of race, feeling that it is beneficial both physically and mentally. For no particular reason I tended to use the Respond until about tea time and then switch to the Connect until the end of the day.

The summers in New York are notorious for the their heat and humidity.  In fact, if they can arrange it, New Yorkers try to be elsewhere over the summer period!  This year the heat and humidity were of record proportions with multiple days on which the mercury passed 35deg C and the morning and evening humidity levels made walking, let alone running, a severe trial.

On the whole I run well in the heat. I arrived at the race very well heat acclimatised – thanks to my DIY heat chamber in Orkney – however this year’s conditions, especially during the afternoons, were beyond my ability to adapt – especially with regard to the fierceness of the sun which slowed me to a walk during the day and then when I was able to start running again in the evening I simply couldn’t catchup with the required daily mileages and gradually slipped behind my schedule.

I found the breathable uppers on the Respond shoes excellent in those conditions, keeping my feet as cool as possible given the excessive heat.

It became apparent in the early stages of the race that I was experiencing fewer foot issues than other runners.  One walker had to abandon the race after about 14 days with her feet looking like raw meat!

Through long experience I have come to understand that having ‘foot-shaped’ shoes is a pre-requisite to achieving foot comfort and performance when walking and running.

I only got my first, superficial blister after over 2200 miles of running!  This obviously says a lot  about the success of my footwear strategy.

As my race progressed I became aware, after about two thirds of the race duration, that I no longer needed the 2mm footbeds in my shoes ie I needed less cushioning as the race progressed!

By midnight on August 8th – 52 days into the race – my time had run out and I had to stop. I had covered 2,904 miles a little shy of the targeted 3,100.

I had gone through 5 pairs of Freet shoes.  As I had used a mix of running and walking the main area of wear was on the heels, with one heel wearing down first. Other parts of the shoe showed little wear.

Yes, my feet were tired and aching at the finish but I sustained no injuries at all and had a tiny handful of small blisters – none of which had to be treated in any way – as my souvenirs of the race.

William Sichel, Orkney

udee Review

Would I be disappointed? – after all, this is THE product I’d been waiting to be released.
As a reasonably recent convertee to the barefoot way of life I had been loathed to give up my sturdy, supportive,weatherproof walking boots- they are after all what most people rely on for longer walks.
Test week 1 – South West Coast Path in balmy sunshine.
Verdict. The barefoot experience I was used to but from a fantastic looking brown boot- even with shorts! Superbly comfortable, ‘snuggling’ to the ankle, giving support and holding the foot back on those downhills yet still allowing the freedom of movement. Incredibly grippy on all those hills, even the loose gravely surfaces. 7 days walking- 15 ish miles per day, no wearing in and my mudees were the most comfortable boot I’ve ever had.

Test week 2 – Rain, rain, rain ‘Up North’.
Verdict. Grip brilliant- I just love the way your feet relax and mould to the terrain giving you confidence and surefootedness ( is that even a word ?) like no other. BUT.. will they be weatherproof? I hadn’t cleaned or treated them in any way since taking them out of the box. Despite paddling through various streams, wet grass and muddy puddles my feet were always dry at the end of the day- pretty good for a boot that is described as ‘weatherproof’. Hubby was wearing boots from another ( more expensive) company and sadly had wet feet.

All in all a fairly perfect barefoot boot, and good looking enough to wear around town too- well worth waiting for. Just about to order two pairs in black – one for me and one to keep hubby’s feet dry.

Belinda S, Skipton

Mel wrote a review of Urban on her blog, BareSteps:

https://baresteps.co.uk/2018/08/24/review-freet-urban-ayr-fantastic-barefoot-school-shoes/

Review of urban Ayr 1. I have been wearing these shoes.for 6 months pretty much every day.I have a wide toespread but average volume heel.
These shoes fit really well plenty wriggle room but can be laced securely to the foot.the sole is a good compromise between grip.and flexibility and ground feel and although primarily bought for street use have found them more than adequate for dog walking off road in the Derbyshire hills.with good grip on slippery rocks.although a very light shoe you don’t have to be too precious about them a good rough and tumble shoe.I have another brand of barefoot shoes and feel a little scared to use as to cost and build quality and these have took over as my go to shoe.a nice surprise was the water resistance of the man made material i have at at times submerged them in streams and they have kept completely dry .the poron sole is fantastic and for me gives just the right amount of cushioning without compromising ground feel.I wear these shoes each day as a postman to replace official work shoes which where to narrow and restricting and were causing me foot and leg problems which after wearing the urbans has now cleared up .after 10 miles per day walking and 6 months on I have worn the sole down to the limit and am now on my second pair.I bought 5 in the sale!don’t let this out you off my normal work shoes last about the same with very thick restrictive soles.the uppers btw are still in perfect condition.I would size up at least one if not two sizes i take a 46 normally and bought 48 (Urban 2 more true to size)
i eagerly await the mudee in October for the extra height for winter.also great people to buy from passionate about the r products friendly knowledgeable and hellpful

Paul Bostor

Lee A sent us this picture of his Responds after 800 miles of running/hiking saying:

‘My respond have hit 800 miles and still have a little more life in them but its the most i have had out of any shoe from when i started ultra running then endurance adventure’

Lee A, just sent us this review on his Chukkas …

I’ve just been away to the Yorkshire east coast for four days of hiking adventure with some bird spotting in there as my other half is a keen birder. I only own Freets now so took only two pair with me, my trusty Respond and the Chukka. I used the Respond for all of the hiking and running whilst there and used the Chukka as intended for the casual stuff. Before anything the Chukkas look great with jeans.

On the first day we ditch the bags and gear at the B&B and spent the day visiting the next town up the coast so no need to change shoes. I spent all day walking around in the Chukkas and they felt great all day I mean ridiculously comfortable. They kept my feet at the right temperature so not too warm making my feet sweat but not too cool. They are very roomy allowing the foot to naturally expand as it should, and this gave a feeling of having nothing on the foot despite their look, honestly never felt like I had shoes on at any point in the day. We went for a walk along the beach and with the higher ankle length upper they kept debris and sand out. The grip was great especially when jumping from one wet rock pool to another.

These shoes were a pleasure to put on each day after long days of hiking and running throughout the trip away, they’re light, look good and extremely comfortable. With all Freets they seem to be built well and hopefully are robust and have good longevity which I will give my comments on when I give them even more use as I have on the Respond (over 500 miles).

These shoes are for casual use but would equally be good for a summer hiker for those who prefer the higher ankle upper to keep out the debris and I would recommend these for both uses as hiking all day wouldn’t be a problem in these.

Lee

*Freet, you should pay The Young Filmmaker some royalties. I found this site because he touted the Freet Bootee on his YouTube channel. He sold me on them.

Amazing shoe (and shoe company). Incredibly comfortable, very well-styled. Cannot say enough good things about this shoe! Just happened upon the website, and liked what I saw. The shoes arrived (U.S.) and I LOVE them! I am now a life-long Freet customer.

The bootie construction is a HUGE draw, and what decided me in buying several pairs of these. Of all of Freet’s offerings, I was looking for something with more support and a more secure feel– something more substantial than the traditional minimalist shoes that (those that are akin to wearing a slipper).

The ONE improvement suggestion that I do have is this: a wider toe-box. The toe-box as it is, is the best of any shoe that I have ever purchased– aside from Vibrams– and really very roomy. But it would be better if it were even wider to support a fuller natural splaying of the toes.

I am a Yank, and in the states footwear is a totalitarian industry. One either adheres to the dominant, socially-approved narrow, oval, toe-smashing toe-box design, or one goes unshod. There exists no shoe company to provide a WIDE, foot-shaped shoe. I am elated that I discovered Freet Footwear. I have spent years of indescribable frustration scouring the Internet for a practically designed, comfortable shoe.

Nomad and Chukka Review:

For the last month I have been lucky enough to trial two new products from Freet Footwear. As a  barefoot runner I try to give honest feedback to the company so that improvements can be made and products can be made to the best specifications. Hopefully the feedback can also help anyone reading this!

The first shoe that I trialed is the Nomad, which I can best describe as an adventure sandal! I was not giving a briefing as to what it was designed for so I have basically tried everything! I have climbed, walked, skateboarded, and ran in them! They are seriously the most comfortable yet minimal sandal I have ever worn. I think people that want to protect their toes will love them! They are seriously light and incredibly flexible and they give great ground feel, with enough protection from sharp rocks. However, you still get to feel enough so that you can adjust your landing. The outer is completely breathable and unlike other products, bare feet don’t seem to make them smell. I know this has been an issue in the past. There is a huge toe box for toe spread and unlike other sandals there is no thong between the big toe and the other toes, bonus! I seriously love them!

The other is a low top boot named the Chukka, these are an OMG moment for me as they just look great but have the complete flexibility you want from a minimalist shoe. At last a shoe that keeps your feet working as naturally as possible when shoes are required! These are a fashionable shoe that would be easily welcomed at the workplace or out and about! I have worn them strutting my stuff on sunset boulevard at an A-list celebrity club and felt right at home! I must thank my friends friend for getting me on the list! Again these have been designed with a breathable outer but also a lovely soft lining so they can be worn without socks and without getting stinky! They also have the same sole as the Nomad so have all the protection you need and the same wide toe box. These are an absolute game changer! Best thing about both for me, like their entire range, is they are vegan friendly! 

Glen Farrely, May 2018

From Nicholas M:

‘I am a new convert to Freet – having bought my first pair (Urban) a week or so ago – and they were 47 and perfect size for me.

I am wondering how I have managed until now. I am almost 81 and have never felt comfortable in shoes until now! Thank you so much.’

Nicholas continues;

‘I first heard of Freets on a YouTube video from The Young Filmmaker. I love the idea of an 80 year old getting such good advice from a 14 year old!’

Product Review by William Sichel:

Product Name: Freet Respond

Appearance

The first thing that strikes you is that, like all Freet footwear, the Respond is foot-shaped!  It is so often forgotten, especially by many shoe manufacturers, that the widest part of the human foot is across the toes.  Look at the foot of any baby to confirm this. A lifetime of squeezing our feet into unsuitably designed shoes does untold damage to many aspects of our health, let alone our running form.

The BreatheMesh upper seems to be a closer weave than the Connect. The charcoal coloured, TPU overlay protects and gives a little more structure (compared to Connect). The conventional laces are long enough to lace up in any way you want.

The Respond folds in half very easily which is always a good sign. The MultiGrip black rubber outsole is durable and reliable and I’ve used it with success on road, track and trail.

Fit & Feel

The Respond has a little more cushioning when compared to Connect, with ConnectComfort+ 4.5mm PORON® Midsole with Memory Foam providing great shock absorption whilst shaping to your foot and giving excellent ground connectivity

As I’m using them in extreme duration, ultra-endurance races on track or road courses I often use a size larger and add additional flat foot beds or insoles, to achieve just the right level of comfort desired at any time. I’ve used the Respond for up to 12 hours in one stretch and only needed a single additional insole.

Wear

I have worn my current pair of Respond in training and races for the past 8 weeks or so and the only wear I can see is on the heel area which got slightly worn when covering 54 miles in a 12 hour event on an all-weather running track.  These tracks have a surface like course sandpaper and the walking part of my run-walk strategy wore the heel a bit.

In training I’m using them on road/tarmac, rough gravel and trail with small loose stones with success.

Conclusion

My experience of the Freet Respond is that it is a superb new addition to Freet’s varied line-up of minimal footwear and is a little more robust and cushioned when compared to the Connect.

Compared to the Connect, the additional protection around the upper will suit trail runners and the extra cushioning provides a little more comfort when required.

William Sichel
Ultra Distance Runner

Britain’s only ever finisher: World’s Longest Footrace 3100 Miles

www.williamsichel.co.uk

T: @williamsichel     FB: WilliamSichelAthlete
Charity Partner: CLAN Cancer Support

From Lorraine C on Facebook today;

‘I love my Freet. In the house, out and about, on the beach and especially for hiking’

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