Barefoot, Mostly.

28 . 02 . 16

It’s fairly common for visitors to the Otter Workshop to comment on James’ lack of footwear. For most of the year, in the workshop, on the beach and everywhere in-between, he doesn’t wear shoes. This isn’t particularly unusual amongst the surf community, however James is rare in that, being his own boss, he’s able to carry his barefooted lifestyle across into all of the other areas of his day-to-day life. There are occasions when he does have to put a pair of shoes on his feet (his wedding day wasn’t one of them), most notably in the very depths of winter when the ground is simply too cold to make not wearing shoes comfortable. On those occasions, he pulls on a pair of Vivo Barefoot shoes, either trail-running shoes (to go running in) or leather boots (for everything else), which are specifically designed to replicate being barefooted and to allow for the fact that the feet of people who are often barefooted are usually slightly wider as a result and their toes spread out more. The guys at Vivo UK spotted a photo of James wearing a pair of their shoes and got in touch to ask if he would write about his barefoot lifestyle for their blog, which you can check out below.

“When I started barefoot running about three years ago, I wasn’t quite aware of the impact it was going to have on my day to day life. Once my legs had adapted to all that movement without any heel lift or protection, I figured, that if the barefoot style of running was good for your feet, legs and overall well-being, then surely it would be even better for you to adopt a completely barefoot lifestyle.

I’m lucky enough to live and work in a place (on the coast in Cornwall) where being barefooted is not only possible, but a complete pleasure; a sensory playground. I spend most of my days either on the beach, in the surf, running the coast path or in my workshop making wooden surfboards, all of which are enjoyable places to allow your feet to really connect with the Earth beneath us. Think sand or sawdust between your toes all day long.

However, as hard as I try, lasting the whole winter in the UK without any foot protection is really challenging, which is where Vivobarefoot plays a huge part in my life. Some mornings, the ground outside the front door is simply too cold for my bare feet, especially those mornings when I rise before dawn to get to the beach before most people have had their first cup of tea. So I slip on my pair of Gobi 2’s, which provide a great barrier to the cold, but the soles are thin enough and the cut is wide enough that my feet can still do their thing. I still feel connected to the Earth.

During the darkest months, I tend to wear them throughout the day too as they make the perfect workshop boots for me. Protection from tools dropping from the bench thanks to the supple leather upper, the thin soles allow me to retain the feeling of being barefooted and their grippy tread gives me a sense of security when working. Their comfort is second to none for long days spent on my feet too, thanks to their light weight and the fact that they are designed to fit around my feet, so don’t change the natural way my feet behave.”

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