Questions & Answers

From the Great White North

I began my minimalist journey when I was introduced to Inov-8 and their mission to design shoes that 'let your feet do what they were meant to do.' A year later, I was handed a pair of FiveFinger Flows which I admittedly hated... at first. I couldn't stand fabric in between my toes but slowly got used to it. I largely used them for kayaking, but, almost by mistake, used them to chase down a couple of Scouts that I had sent out geocaching on a mountain trail. The ethereal experience of running through the woods like an elf had me hooked.

In the wake of my first year of running and many struggles with hamstrings and IT bands, I decided to make the minimalist leap. I came up with the challenge to wear Vibram FiveFingers exclusively and journal the experiences in a blog, The year is almost up, and I have learned a great deal about myself and the impact of minimalist footwear. I look forward to moving on to the many other minimalist offerings now available. In fact, I have a collection started in my closet already.

I have lived in Southern Alberta for 2/3 of my life with Waterton National Park as my backyard. The other third was spent in Romania and Utah. By day, I am a school counselor working mostly with junior high students. They have enjoyed ribbing me for my toe-pocket shoes... all in good fun. My wife and I just had our fourth child 4 months ago. We are slowly building up our sleep, so I am starting to make time morning runs again although the -20 degree celsius days can be an obstacle. I enjoy the feeling I get when I run, not necessarily the act of running (not sure this makes sense???)

I enjoy most things outdoors, I like challenging myself, and I take pleasure in increased self-awareness, so minimalist shoes are a great fit. I play guitar and pretend to sing. I also try to sneak a few minutes for myself to draw or design. Often, at work, I get pulled into designing t-shirts or doing the set design for a drama production. I love my job :-) My wife and I also enjoy learning about photography together.

I'm glad to be hear and look forward to learning from all of you.


Answers and Replies


Welcome Nathan! Great to have you here. I spent a significant portion of my living living in Alberta, before moving to the US. Love your story, I would be very interested in hearing about how you have managed to cope with the cold winter days wearing your VFFs...


Yes, I'd also love to hear how you manage to cope with the cold weather in VFFs. I have Flows but found they weren't warm enough for me below -5C. I know I have pansy feet but I'm working on it. :)



The cold weather coping? Partly it comes because I haven't given myself many other options. I do have to pull on my snow boots when I have a lot of snow shoveling to do. There is no way to keep feet warm in FiveFingers without moving around.

As winter set in, I challenged myself to do barefoot runs in the snow... I went as cold as -12 degrees Celsius and as far as a 5 kilometers, That may have helped my feet to adapt although it has not always been pretty. When running in my Flows, the cold is more of a non-issue... as long as I am moving. I have run in as cold as -25 degrees Celsius in them without any problems.

When walking about I looked for packed snow or bare spots to avoid getting my feet wet. Wet VFF make for a miserable day (not to mentioned is a bad environment for maintaining foot padding condition). I also don't plan to be out and about for long periods. I have to get in to warm up frequently. It does seem to effect the winter lifestyle.

I hope to have a chance to try out other real weather-proof minimalist options when my VFF challenge ends in a couple of weeks. I agree with you, Tina, that VivoBarefoot deserves a serious look.


You are far braver than me. I don't have the guts to try completely barefoot on snow. I walk my dogs on snow-packed trails and don't tend to move very fast so I need a boot that is warm. Running in VFFs is fine but I don't walk fast enough to keep my feet warm in them.

VIVOBAREFOOT shoes/boots are definitely warmer than VFFs. I recommend the off-road sole for snow. The regular sole doesn't provide any traction on snow.


In the Men's line, only the Aqueous and the Franklin have the Off-Road Sole. It's a 5 mm sole with 2.5 mm grip depth. And it's a softer rubber sole compared to their regular one so has a bit of a sticky texture to it that really helps with traction on dry surfaces even if it's cold.

In the Brooklyn boot review I wrote for Living Barefoot ( there are close-up pics of the Off-Road sole that give a little better perspective of the grip depth compared to those on the Terra Plana website ( At least I think so :) .

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