Shoes for shapers: Why the Gobi works for surfboard makers

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 II’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.

James Otter is the founder of Otter Surfboards who make woodern surfboards in Cornwall, UK. Using traditional materials and techniques with modern refinements and construction methods. He wears the Gobi II, which is now available with our Wild Hide leather. 


Our range of everyday barefoot shoes keeps your feet doing their natural thing, through your daily adventures.




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