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Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 Bloom: cooler than Crocs, but still a bit orthopaedic-looking © Vivobarefoot

Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 Bloom: cooler than Crocs, but still a bit orthopaedic-looking

Published: 08th November, 2017 at 00:00
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Vivobarefoot’s new Ultra 3 Bloom trainers are made from algae, which is good news for the environment. But are they good for your feet, too?

Just like the other shoes in the Vivobarefoot range, the Blooms come with no chunky heel or cushioning. But unlike the rest of their shoe collection, these are made from algae. This is what we thought.


First impressions

I don’t like wearing shoes. In fact, I’d probably go without, were it not for the constant threat of stepping on dog poo or broken glass. Vivobarefoot’s collection seems like a good compromise, promising the sensation of walking barefoot while keeping your tootsies safe. Those honeycomb-like holes all over the X Blooms might look a bit weird, but Vivobarefoot claims this design makes them breathable, non-absorbent and free-draining (excellent for the sweaty-footed). They’re super-light too, tipping the scales at less than 200g. The Blooms i wore came in ‘algae green’, which could be difficult to coordinate to your outfit, but red, black and white are also available in the Ultra range. While they don’t smell like algae, I can’t help feeling they just look like a souped-up pair of Crocs.

© Alice Lipscombe-Southwell
© Alice Lipscombe-Southwell

What’s to like?

Vivobarefoot’s idea to create shoes from algae is admirable, as many trainers are made from foams based on petrochemicals. The company claims that one pair of their shoes will prevent the equivalent of 40 balloons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, and will send 216 litres of clean water back into the environment. Best of all, the algae is not farmed, but is gathered from freshwater sources at risk of harmful blooms.

But how comfy are they? For a start, they’re really flexible and a decent width. So many shoes are narrow, and end up squishing my toes on the sides, but these felt pretty roomy. The soles are grippy too, so I felt safe stomping along the wet pavements in the rain. They’d be great for mucking about on the beach, offering much needed traction on slippery boulders, or a bit of protection from submerged rocks (and weever fish!). Plus, they come with a 100-day test policy, so you can send ’em back if you’re not convinced.

What’s not so good?

While the shoes were fine for walking a couple of miles, they did leave my feet feeling a bit sore. This could be because I’m not used to the ‘barefoot’ experience, though. Plus, while they are marketed as being fine for running in, I wasn’t brave enough as I didn’t trust my dodgy knees to stand up to the lack of cushioning. My main quibble is the look of them, though. I’m not a follower of fashion in any way, but I just couldn’t decide how to wear these. With socks or without? With trousers or a dress? No matter what I paired them with, they just looked awkward. I think they’re best matched for a day on the beach or for ambling about in the summer.

© Alice Lipscombe-Southwell
© Alice Lipscombe-Southwell

Vital stats

Price: £60

Weight: 200g (men’s size 9),

Features: Highly flexible and lightweight, eco-friendly, vegan



If you’re going on holiday, these are a handy addition to your wardrobe as they’re perfect for pottering round town, splashing in the sea, or even for offering extra grip when paddleboarding. Those with sturdy knees might be fine to use them for running, but I’m not convinced I’ll be doing a 5K in them any time soon.


Alice Lipscombe-SouthwellManaging editor, BBC Science Focus

Alice is the managing editor at BBC Science Focus Magazine. She has a BSc in zoology with marine zoology. Her interests include natural history, wildlife, the outdoors, health and fitness.


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