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Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi Top Review

It took me a while to decide on getting the Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi Tops, as although I was desperate for a pair of barefoot ankle boots I was concerned that they were a bit too casual for everyday.

Saying that, I’ve practically lived in them the last four months, especially as it’s been quite a mild winter. Any time it has dropped below zero, I’ve brought out the big guns, (aka the Kula boots) but otherwise I’ve pretty much worn my Gobi Hi Tops on a daily basis.

Comfort vs. style

Although at first I wasn’t sure if the Gobi Hi Tops were my thing, as soon as I tried them on I was sold. They are just so incredibly comfortable, which is down to the roomy design (with plenty of toe wiggle room) paired with their soft faux shearling inner.

And in terms of the actual style, with the rise in popularity of more traditionally masculine boots this season – including chukka, desert and hiking styles – I decided to join the trend of the more casual, practical-looking ankle boot and I’ve received a lot of compliments on them.

How to wear them

I’ve found the Vivobarefoot Gobis surprisingly versatile in terms of different ways of styling…

…with a roll up

My favourite way to wear them is paired with rolled up blue jeans (just so the bottom of the jeans meets the top of the boot). I actually think this would look particularly good with the new Chestnut colourway.

…with a roll down

Other than wearing them as a full high top, you also have the option of rolling them down to reveal the shearling inner.

…with thick socks

For extra cosy toes, pair with some woollen socks rouched up above the top of the boots.

…with contrasting laces

One thing I’ve been meaning to try is swapping out the laces for longer versions with a contrasting colour and wrapping them around the top of the boot before tying. If I get round to it sometime I’ll be sure to post a pic on Instagram.

…with a flash of ankle

Although this doesn’t work with the hi top, the original Gobi is inspired by a classic desert boot (these are still available from Vivobarefoot in both leather and suede variations) and look particularly good with rolled up jeans and a flash of bare ankle.

The practical bit

Other than how they look, here’s a bit of info on how they actually perform as a barefoot winter boot…

On the outside

Currently the Gobi Hi Top is available in three colours – black, dark brown and chestnut. I decided on the dark brown as I felt these went best with both black and blue jeans (essentially what I live in during the winter). I love the new Chestnut colour also but am slightly relieved they weren’t available at the time as it was difficult enough just choosing between the black and dark brown.

The leather of the boots comes with a waterproof coating but I also protected mine with some wax just to be on the safe side. After four months of continual use I’m happy to say that the leather is still in great shape and has hardly any scuffs or signs of wear – even though they have been both wet and a bit muddy at times.

On the inside

The inside of the boot is lined with a faux shearling inner, which makes them extremely cosy. And the addition of the removable insole provides extra warmth when needed, although this does affect the barefoot feel you get with the ground.

In terms of how they score overall on that front…


Vivobarefoot Gobi

HEEL (5/5) with a zero drop, as with all Vivobarefoot shoes.

Vivobarefoot Gobi

TOE (5/5) a wide toe box allows for plenty of wiggle room for toes, especially without the removable insole.

Vivobarefoot Gobi

SOLE (4/5) with a 4.5mm outsole they’re not the thinnest (and most flexible) of the Vivobarefoot soles, but the extra mm does provide a bit more protection against the cold ground.

Vivobarefoot Gobi

UPPER (5/5) the lacing system right up the length of the boot means they stay very well attached to your feet while still allowing your ankle the full range of motion.

If you’re after some other ideas on different styles of barefoot boots, see my post on the best barefoot boots for autumn.


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Comments (9)

  1. Ronnie
    November 16, 2016

    Hiya! Would you recommend these for travelling through different climates, too? They look great and seem quite versatile, but I’m wondering whether they’d be too hot for any time apart from winter after taking the soles out.
    If so, have you found all-year shoes of similar style – like the men’s gobi range?

    • Emma Poppenborg
      November 17, 2016

      Hi Ronnie
      I would say I find these are a bit warm to wear in summer temperatures (but spring/autumn climates they are great for) as they have a shearling lining which means that even without the thermal insole they’re still pretty cosy. It’s a shame that Vivobarefoot have just discontinued their original Gobi style for women as a desert/chukka-type boot sounds exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re UK based, have a look on the clearance section of the Vivo site as they do have one Gobi Suede style left there, although only in a few sizes (http://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/shop/clearance/womens/gobi-ii-suede-womens?colour=Light%20Brown). Alternatively, two US brands that would be worth a look at are LEMs (their Boulder Boots are very popular for travellers) and Hoss that have Chukkas (although I’m not sure how wide the toe boxes are on these). I’ll have another think and let you know if I come across anything else!

      • Ronnie
        November 18, 2016

        Thanks a lot for that! Good to know that they would also work in spring/autumn…. But maybe this is a sign that I should treat my feet to some coziness for now 😉

        I also find it very sad that they don’t do the regular Gobi anymore – there’s none in the clearance section that fit me, but thanks for the tip!
        I’m UK-based, so if you have any other ideas, do let me know 🙂

        • Emma Poppenborg
          December 04, 2016

          Just heard that LEMS are going to be releasing a leather version of their Boulder Boots in January, which sound awesome. Although, of course, there’s still the problem of shipping from the US…
          Also, another thought is something from The Drifter Leather, they do a Desert Boot and a lace up style called Foris which is similar to the Vivo Gobi in terms of the style. Although it means buying online, as all their shoes are made to order (with the possibility of a customised fit) you should be guaranteed a good fit because of this. Good luck!

  2. Eva
    December 10, 2016

    Hi! I just bought these in black (thanks for this review!), they are my first barefoot shoes and I’m a bit worried about the sole because I usually wear away the soles a lot (just 2 days of use and part of the sole pattern is gone…) How are your soles now? Do they have lasted in good condition?

    • Emma Poppenborg
      December 15, 2016

      Hi Eva
      I’ve just checked and the soles on mine still look in perfect condition, I can’t see any wear at all and I’ve had these well over a year and have worn them a LOT. If you’re concerned I think it would be worth returning them as it may just be that there is a fault in that pair seeing as it’s happened so quickly. I guess it could also be that the sole is different in the newer version??
      You say that you often wear soles down quite quickly, do you find that you wear them away in just one area? Even so, you certainly shouldn’t notice much difference in just two days of wear.
      Sorry not to be of much help, fingers crossed you’ve just been unlucky and had a faulty pair and can get an exchange!
      Best, Emma

  3. Eva
    December 18, 2016

    Hi Emma,
    Thanks for answer me 🙂 Yes, I find that I wear them away in just one area, I checked other shoes (“traditional” shoes) and is the same area… most likely is something of my way of walking – maybe I need some more time of transition than I thought-. Anyway, I will contact Vivobarefoot and see what they say.
    I’ll keep reading you from Spain! looking forward for more reviews 🙂

  4. Marky Olson
    December 28, 2016

    I’m wondering about the leather vs. the suede (navy blue). I do a beach walk and sometimes get too close to the water! I also walk the roads and woods and I think the suede would be fine there.

    • Emma Poppenborg
      December 30, 2016

      In general I would say that the leather is a safer bet if they are at risk of getting a splash of salt water here and there. However, although I haven’t worn the suede version myself, a good friend of mine has a pair and hers still look in fab condition, even after a lot of wear (including in the snow on a few occasions). The blue colour of the suede has dyed the white shearling on the inside of the shoe a little, although this really isn’t noticeable when you’re actually wearing them. If it were me, I think I’d just go with whichever colour takes my fancy and just make sure to protect them (I use a wax on my leather) just so you don’t have to worry so much when you’re off-road. Good luck with it!


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