The past couple of weeks it feels like it’s gone from a never-ending-winter to summer and then back to Spring again but at least it means I’ve now had a chance to get my ankles out and try my Unshoes Forager moccasins.
These were Unshoe’s first foray into closed-toe shoes (see a review on their Wokova Sandals here) but they have since released two other closed-toe styles, the Terra Vide slip on and Traverse boot. The Forager were originally designed to cover the times when it’s too cold for sandals but I find that in the winter here I need something covering the ankle and which also hold up better to wet weather. Therefore, for me, they are more of a between-season option.
They are currently available in three colour options – grey, brown and black. Along with a variety of accent colours in the tie and stitching (including pink, blue and grey).
The upper is made from an incredibly soft and supple suede, which means they are super flexible as the whole shoe is willing to follow the movements of your foot. I often find shoes that have a very flexible sole but have an upper which restricts a lot of possible movements. It’s a great sign for how barefoot a shoe is when they are able to bend in all directions, and these certainly can.
The outsole is made from 4mm rubber and they have a total stack height (distance between your foot and the ground) of 8mm. They are very flexible but also have a little cushioning, which I find a welcome addition when doing a lot of walking on hard flat surfaces.
I have to say that the Foragers are one of the most comfortable shoes (and certainly slip ons) that I’ve worn. It feels like you’ve gone out wearing your slippers, and in fact, as my mum pointed out, it does look a little that way too. That being said…
The Forager aren’t the easiest of shoes to style, there’s something about them that gives the same somewhat geeky vibe of Birkenstock sandals, which, don’t get me wrong, is a great look if you can pull it off, I just don’t think it works for everyone.
Compared to a slim, more feminine moccasin that look great with skirts of dresses, I find that the wider more tomboy style of the Forager work better with trousers or jeans. And, as they are already very casual I try not to pair them with anything else too casual, just in case it does give the impression that I have actually left the house in my slippers 😉 Saying that, I have worn them out to dinner and didn’t feel out of place so I think it’s really what you pair them with and I do love the effortlessness of them.
All of Unshoe’s moccasins are made using the same sole shape, which means it’s not possible to customise them like you can with their sandals. If you own a pair of their sandals already, it is likely you’ll be the same size in the Foragers but I’d recommend measuring your foot against their size chart just to be sure.
As the leather is so supple it does have a short break-in period so you might find they are a little bit snug at first, however, I didn’t find this was the case with mine. They certainly are a wide fit, and I have quite narrow feet, however, I don’t find that I’m swimming around in them.
I often find it really difficult to get the fit right with slip on styles because there’s just so little material to hold them on properly to your feet, and they often don’t have any type of adjustment. I like to have a lot of room around my toes (including above) and because these are just so flexible even if I lift my toes the upper just moves with them without feeling like it’s restricting me at all. I think this is really the reason why I find them so, so comfortable.
I’m quite amazed at how effective that little string and toggle is at holding them in place and find that I can get them at just the right tightness I need around the ankle. I just have to make sure I’m not lazy and try kick them off without loosening it as worry that by doing them I’m going to risk stretching the leather around the top of the shoe.
And for anyone based in the US, Unshoes are now offering a free exchange service which is awesome as we all know what a minefield trying to shoe shop online is.
Adjustability – although the toggle is great for being able to adjust them, I certainly don’t love the look of them and wonder if there’s something else a bit cuter that could work just as well – even such as tying a bow in the lace perhaps?! Another minor thing is that the toggle is very uncomfortable if you sit on your heels while wearing them as they really dig into the top of your foot. However, for normal walking and sitting in other positions I don’t notice them at all (but thought I’d flag in case you sit / kneel this way a lot).
Packability – If you’re looking for a travelling / backpacking shoe these are a great option because they are super light and you can literally roll them up they are so flexible (although if rolled for a long time it might misshape them somewhat). The only consideration is that the suede won’t hold up well in wet weather unfortunately.
And one other note is that Unshoes make their shoes to order and their Foragers take a little longer and sandals so expect them to take 7-12 days before shipping.
Heel – 5/5 all Unshoes have a zero drop sole
Sole – 5/5 I almost didn’t give these full marks because there is a little cushioning there and an 8mm stack height, however, they still provide a huge amount of ground feel (you can feel every stone beneath your foot) and they are just so incredibly flexible I feel they deserve it.
Toe – 5/5 without question – not only are they very wide, the soft leather allows the depth of the your toes to move up and down unrestricted.
Upper – 4/5 I don’t think I could ever give a slip on full marks because I don’t feel they’ll ever be able to hold onto your foot in the same way as a fully closed shoe. However, the benefit of being able to adjust the toggle to tighten these around the top of the foot is a great way to counteract the problems with finding a tight enough fit without restricting movement.
Unshoes ship worldwide from their site and if you’re based in the US you can even benefit from their new free exchange service (read full terms and conditions on their site).
I have to admit that when I first got my Foragers I wasn’t sure about them and it very much felt like I was going out in my slippers – although I think that was partly because I did actually wear them as slippers for a while as it was too cold for bare ankles (and too wet to risk ruining that suede).
However, these are truly one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I’ve worn and I’m wearing them more and more at the moment (who knows, at this rate, come autumn I might even try them with socks – I totally envy the people who can get away with that by the way!) I do like the effortless (if somewhat geeky) style of them, although if I could change anything it’d be finding a cuter replacement for that toggle.
Thank you to Unshoes for providing a pair of Unshoes Foragers for this review