World of Barefoot

29 April 2021

ESCape to the Wild with Tracker Forest ESC

ESCape to the Wild with Tracker Forest ESC

Nothing beats the exhilaration of running full pelt down a mountain. There is something animalistic about the immediacy of foot placement and the occasional steadying hand to ensure I don’t take a potentially lethal stumble. Everything happens so fast there is no time for your mind to be distracted, it’s one of my favourite ways to anchor myself in the utterly absorbing right now. 

Vivobarefoot’s Tracker Forest ESC is a boot I’ve been looking forward to getting my feet into for a while now. In my current series of survival shows for Discovery Channel, First Man Out is a multi-day race between me and different survival experts through some of the planet’s most hostile environments. We’re talking high altitude deserts, swamps, mountains and deep jungle; the demands on my feet are huge. 

I’ve worn Vivos for almost a decade now and love the way they allow me to run naturally, with my feet feeling the ground. What the Tracker Forest ESC now adds is a collaboration with Michelin, creating a sole designed for slippery hills and muddy banks. Traditional, heavy heeled hiking boots use a rigid sole to “edge” into the side of steep ground. But this doesn’t fit with the minimalist, barefoot ethos. So the new sole has ingeniously engineered lugs in the heel and sides specifically to perform on slippery and steep ground, keeping that grounded feeling but letting us barefoot hikers get to even wilder terrains!

As tough and rugged as a conventional hiking boot, but Tracker Forest ESC is lighter and more flexible, enabling me to cover ground much faster. Losing the fat, heavy sole I´m more nimble and I can go further too - kinda essential for me!

With no waterproofing membrane my feet won’t overheat and sweat into the African dust; these boots are designed to breathe. A sandwich mesh lining allows air to move freely around the boot and wicks moisture away from my skin, passing it out through the pores of the leather or through the collar opening. Nice. 

As Covid-19 essential travel regulations ease I’m flying to Kenya to film two brand new episodes. One race will travel through the iconic Rift Valley, the other will descend a vast volcano in an undisclosed location. Both will test the Tracker Forest ESC to the max as terrain will be extremely rocky and broken, with lots of arid spikey vegetation to test the most puncture-proof of soles. 

After Africa we are having to stay super flexible in terms of filming locations, depending on Covid-19  regulations and quarantines. Indonesia, India, China and Scotland are all on the cards. One thing I’m trying to adapt to is being at peace with uncertainty. In a dynamic world that changes by the second - being too rigid, or trying to get to a place where things are 100% confirmed - is unrealistic. So accepting that and labelling the unfolding landscape as exciting is surely the only positive way forward. Just like my Vivos - flexibility is everything.