I deliberated long and hard before choosing the Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC, considering both
the Tracker II FG and Tracker Winter SG as alternatives. I can’t say what either of those would have been like, but I am totally in love with my Forest boots! They are so comfortable from the off and fit true to size. I feel in touch with the ground without experiencing every flint or pebble underfoot. I don’t feel weighed down or constrained; just lightly protected and supported, and eager to take them on an adventure…
I have long been a fan of Vivobarefoot shoes – from pumps to Chelsea boots – but had yet to try any of their walking boots. I normally wear Keen’s Targhee boot, which have a good wide toe box (ideal for Correct Toes, as are the Tracker Forest) and feel relatively nimble on the feet. But they have a short life, and having consigned yet another pair to the bin, I decided to try something different.
The Tracker Forest is billed as suitable for ‘off-trail’ walking and expeditions. The ESC stands for
‘escape’, while the initials in the other boots I mentioned stand for ‘firm ground’ and ‘soft ground’ respectively. The boot has a Michelin sole, well-known in the outdoor/running world for superb grip. The sole base is 2.5mm thick, with lugs extending to 7mm compared to just 3mm on the Tracker II FG. All the better to gain purchase on sloppy mud or scree slopes.
The boots lace quite high up the ankle, and I did have concerns that they might rub across the front, but absolutely no chafing or rubbing has occurred. A minor quibble is that it takes a bit of effort to lace them with the right amount of tension. I’m not sure if this is because there are so many eyelets or if it’s the material from which the laces are constructed. It’s not an issue on local walks, but I’d make the effort to lace them properly on more serious hikes and climbs.
The boots are made from wild hide and are not billed as waterproof, only water resistant. So far,
however, I have not had wet feet, despite the ground being very muddy and riddled with puddles. I used Renapur leather protector, which allegedly boosts protection from water ingress, so maybe that has helped.
Wear and Tear:
I’ve had these for four months and there are no signs of wear and tear.
At £210, the Tracker Forest ESC is a purchase not to be made lightly. So far, it’s one I’m glad I made. 94/100
Weight – 566g – (women’s 41)
Midsole – None. Zero-drop
Outsole – Michelin with up to 7mm lugs
Insole – Standard and removable.
Flexibility – High
Fitting – Wide toebox. Natural foot-shaped last.
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