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Tested for you: Barefootwear „Groundies“

Groundies? Barefootwear? Sounds interesting! I love cool shoes from high heels to sneakers – but hardly at home there is nothing nicer than to walk barefoot, maximum in socks. Even in the garden I enjoy to feel the ground under my feet. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that, despite all the hustle and bustle, I always get my feet firmly on the ground. And my feet love to be free-wheeling. So I decide to test shoes that promise a barefoot feeling. So I took them with me on my fall vacation on the Ritten plateau in South Tyrol.

Barefootwear under test

My “Groundies” were a prototype of the model that was launched last month, December 2021: Boots in loden look. Felt with vegan leather, the felt made of recycled PET with a sole made of lightweight TPU.

What strikes first: the boots are super-light and wide cut. All toes have real room to move. But there’s no footbed, no heel elevation, no cushioning – it feels like you’re standing on cardboard. Zero heel and neutral footbed is what the manufacturer calls it. Very unfamiliar, at least, even for people who like to walk on bare feet like me. After the first steps, however, the interest in the new experience prevails.

On thin soles over hill and dale

The sole looks sturdy from the outside, but it is extremely flexible and thin – after all, it is only supposed to protect the foot from injury or cold. And indeed: You can feel everything. It already starts in the hotel: I feel the heel of the stairs, the difference between wooden floor and carpet. Outside I walk over grass… feels like grass, only through the sole filter. Then a small forest path, on which really every bump, every little branch, every little stone presses into my feet.

Quite strange. And now it almost becomes a challenge, because I would not otherwise enter this type of surface barefoot. But I’m surprised how much grip the soles have with all the sensitivity downhill. Then it’s on the Ritten train to Klobenstein, through the village over paved paths and cobblestones. Then I walk back, along the “Freud Promenade”, in the footsteps of the famous psychoanalyst. What insights would the Groundies on the hiking trail have brought him to? I would now like to discuss grounding from a psychoanalytical perspective with him.

The bottom line

My feet are now looking forward to the couch. I must admit, two hours over hill and dale was already a profound experience. The feet have a sensory overload. Or: they feel well supplied with blood. Okay, to be honest: they burn. After all, they had to process lots of impressions – lol. Proprioception is what the experts at Groundies call it, which means that the nerve endings of the feet send unrestricted sensory feedback to the brain.

The next day I even have a little sore muscles, because the flat and unpadded sole changes the whole posture: You stand more upright and have to constantly compensate more than usual when running. Also, due to the wide toe box, a larger muscle area is used than with conventional shoes. So in addition to the sensory experience, there’s a little workout on top. In any case, a cool alternative for shorter walks and enrichment of the outdoor shoe range. But I have to confess: on longer walks I prefer to wear sturdier shoes. But next summer is with me in the Urban Jungle certainly the sneakers version at the start.

Tested model: Groundies “Zermatt Vegan Women”, around 165 euros


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