Hands-On Review: Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC

Published By

I hate shoes. 

Kind of a strange thing for a guy reviewing a new pair of boots to say, right? 

But let me explain: I don’t actually hate shoes. I hate wearing shoes. Because nine times out of ten, I feel like my feet are trapped in medieval torture devices. And even if my toes aren’t smashed together by the fit of the shoes, their material turns well-meaning footwear into a pair of tiny saunas.

My experience with Vivobarefoot has been the exact opposite. These are my one in ten shoes, my perfect fit, the savior for my soles. So when I found out they were releasing a new edition of their Tracker boots after four years of research and development, I knew I had to try them on and share my impressions with you. And man, they do not disappoint.

Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC_2

The Fit

Wearing the new Tracker Forest Esc is as close to going barefoot as you can get while still having your feet protected from the elements. The wide toe box, thin and supple uppers, and flexible sole make for an amazing tactile experience.

If you’ve never tried a pair of shoes that’s foot shaped — not shoe shaped — you’re seriously missing out. Added bonus: Because my foot bones can actually relax and spread out in these shoes, my feet are no longer stupidly sore after a long hike.

Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC_3

The Style

The Tracker Forest ESC seamlessly blends hard-wearing durability with go-anywhere looks. Leather uppers are paired with thoughtful detailing, including forged lace eyelets that are as sturdy as they are shiny.

Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC_4

I’m especially excited to see how well the wild leather uppers take a rich patina as I continue to break them in. That’ll be easy to achieve with the Renapur balsam that’s included with the shoes, giving them a natural waterproof coating and preventing any cracks in the leather.

So even though they’re made for trails, wilderness, and mountains, I like the looks of these Vivos enough to wear them around town, too.

The Function

The magic of these boots comes courtesy of a collaboration with wilderness experts from Wild Human and Independent Adventurer. Using their hard-won bushcraft experience, Vivobarefoot was able to design a shoe that’s perfectly tuned to life outdoors.

Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC_5

Instead of using an aggressive waterproof seal, the Tracker Forest ESCs feature a breathable mesh lining. Combined with the leather uppers, this makes for a water resistant shoe that is comfortable in all conditions — and fast drying. They’re ready for any temperature, too, since the boots make a natural microclimate for your feet.

That’s all topped off by a crazy strong — but flexible — Michelin sole with W shaped lugs. Those give the Tracker Forest ESC maximum gripping ability, even for wet surfaces, loose gravel, or climbing trees.

My Overall Take

I’m absolutely stoked with the style, performance, and fit on these boots. They’re a far cry from the restrictive fit of your usual hiking boot, and receive my highest recommendation for anyone looking to upgrade their footwear. Once you get a taste of how free, easy, and comfortable your feet can be in a pair of Vivobarefoot’s shoes, you might never go back to standard styles again.

Disclosure: Clicking on these links and making a purchase may earn us a small referral fee, at no extra cost to you. Learn more here.