• barefootshoereview

Episode 39: Feelgrounds "Droptop Mesh"

Updated: 3 days ago


Introduction:

After making a huge splash in the barefoot community in 2019 -- Feelgrounds continues to make noticeable strides, by providing their customers with a range of ever-evolving barefoot shoes, at a competitive price. Owning much of their success due to their excellent online marketing approach - they've successfully crowdfunded $250,000 to assist with production, released their much loved "Original" model, followed by the "Highrise", the Droptop and are currently in the process of releasing their fourth; the Patrol. After hearing much praise about the Feelgrounds Original from Jade, and the barefoot community in large - I was excited to test the brand myself, to finally see what all the hype was about...


The Droptop is a unisex casual slip-on model, utilising an identical upper sole and upper material to the "Original Mesh" - however, it utilises elastic where the tongue and side of the upper meet - ensuring that the shoe fastens snuggly to your feet. The Droptop Mesh is available in the following colours shown in the image below (Figure 1, Below), is priced at 99 Euro, and available in sizes 36-49. However since, the droptop has been released with an additional knit water-repellent upper version - priced at 109 Euro. (Figure 2, Below)


Click here to access the Feelgrounds website. (Affiliate link - They will be having a sale from the 23 Nov - 30 Nov, so keep this in mind!)


Disclaimer: These shoes were given to me to review, however my opinion is my own. By purchasing from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission which doesn't cost you anything.

Company Overview:

"We are a young team of innovators. Our mission is to make barefoot shoes available and appealing to more people.


We launched our first sneakers model in April 2019 on Indiegogo and raised over $250,000 due to the massive support of our amazing backers. Feelgrounds™ was funded within 48 hours.


We're planning to expand our range of models and styles in the future, while continually striving to build better footwear."

Manufacturing and Sustainability:

"At Feelgrounds, we believe that footwear manufacturing can be done responsibly, so we decided to use mainly recycled materials. Our shoes are also 100% animal-free. Our goal is to create shoes that are better for your feet and better for the environment than traditional shoes.


Feelgrounds shoes are manufactured under fair conditions in Vietnam. All workers are of age and benefit from social, medical, and accident insurance. The workers' salary is above the regional average. Sustainability, fairness, and transparency are important values to us.


All materials, used for Feelgrounds, are responsibly sourced. The upper and laces fabric comes from recycled PET bottles. We use a special footwear TPE material for the outsole. This material is extremely flexible, durable, and fully recyclable."


Shipping and Returns:

  • Free worldwide shipping except Mexico (additional cost of 10-20 EU for express)

  • No additional customs fees or taxes for shipments within the EU

  • "If you're not 100% satisfied with your purchase, we're happy to let you know that you may apply for a refund/exchange within our return policy of 30 days. The shoes have to be clean and undamaged to be eligible for a return. Shoes that were worn outside are not eligible for a refund/exchange. Any returned item not in its original condition or packaging, damaged or missing parts for reasons not due to our error may be applicable only for a partial refund."

Click here for more shipping info. Click here to view the refund policy.

First Impressions:

  • Clean, minimalist aesthetics

  • Flexible sole, with exceptional ground-feel

  • Light - Mid weight, with most of the weight in the sole

  • High volume throughout - especially at the instep

  • Wide throughout


Sizing and Fit:

**My foot is approximately 292mm in length, with my 2nd toe being the longest. At the time that I measured my foot, the width was approximately 110mm. I'm normally an EU47 or US13.**


In my opinion, Feelgrounds runs "true to size" (TTS) - which is helpful for those of us a bit cautious with new brands - as there isn't much second guessing to do, regarding their fit. They are wide throughout, and possibly a small margin wider than Vivo through the mid-foot; However, one thing to be aware of is their high volume.


Both the Droptop, and the Original, have deeper volume throughout most of the shoe - which is handy if you have high volume feet (in essence; the depth x width throughout your foot). Although this is beneficial for people with "larger" sized feet, it doesn't necessarily exclude those of us with "average" sized feet. In addition, this can also be rectified by using tongue pads or an insole - as Feelgrounds models don't include an insole as standard.


The toe-box is fairly roomy, although I felt that the Original had slightly more room; although this could just be me... Furthermore, the materials used didn't cause any uncomfortable rubbing or pinching, and there was no break in time - due to the overall suppleness of the shoe.

Performance:

1. Upper and lining:

  • The Droptop uses a recycled PET mesh upper - which is surprisingly comfortable and flexible

  • The shoe has generous room throughout

  • The material retains much of its elastic properties, and doesn't crease or lose elasticity at the sides

  • There is a heel lining - which seems to use a microfibre material. I'm assuming this is to ensure that the shoes stay on better, using additional friction, or to not damage the normal lining - due to possible movement

  • The footbed is made from a mesh material - which is standard across Feelgrounds models. The shoe gets a bit sweaty at times (without socks), and so this gets dirty quite easily - I would love to see this improve in the future

  • They're also machine washable

2. Sole:

  • The sole is 5mm thick, and is flat throughout (my favourite kind of sole)

  • Its incredibly light and flexible

  • The "ground feel" is exceptional. It has a nice amount of cushioning (I'd call it a sweet spot), and the rubber is quite soft and gummy

  • Overall, they're one of my favourite soles. The soft soles give you a generous amount of ground feel, whilst also giving you enough confidence that you won't hurt your feet.

3. Weight and movement:

  • It's a light-mid weight shoe overall.

  • They're higher volume with elastic tongue fastening, instead of laces - so they might be a bit of a hinderance for smaller feet, or for certain activities

Droptop Mesh vs Original Knit Comparison:

Technical Specifications:

Upper: 100% Recycled PET mesh

Lining: 100% Recycled PET mesh

Stack Height: 5mm

Sole: Special Footwear TPE (recyclable)

Drop: 0mm

Weight: 167g / 5.9 oz (Size EU 41)

Available sizes: EU 36-49

Price: $163 AUD/99 EU/89 GBP/ $115 USD

Future Improvements:

  • Different materials - Knit has already somewhat achieved that. Possibly a cotton or canvas?

  • A similar shaped shoe, however with more of a boat/marine shoe aesthetic, and with laces

  • An in-built microfibre foot-bed

Where and how to wear:

I've personally never worn these with pants/jeans, and I think i'm unable to get away with it; However, don't let that stop you - they look great on a lot of people. I enjoy wearing these with shorts - with or without socks. They are perfect for a casual outing, especially in the summer months.

Conclusion:

The Droptop was my first taste of Feelgrounds, and I was impressed with my experience thus far... Bring on the Original!


The width was generous, and the sole has some of the best "barefoot" qualities on the market. As slip-on's are in a completely different ballgame, in comparison to conventional shoes; It should be noted that they're not an optimal choice, when it comes to activities requiring erratic movement, and are essentially much better as a casual shoe.


They're simple to put on - perfect for those of us with sore backs, or just prefer the ease of slipping something on. Wide throughout (on par with vivo), machine washable, and come in a variety of colours and materials - at a decent price point. They are a great choice however, if your feet have a larger amount of volume.


The only downside I experienced was the footbed; however if you wear socks, this shouldn't be too much of an issue.


Click here to access the Feelgrounds website. (Affiliate link - They will be having a sale from the 23 Nov - 30 Nov, so keep this in mind!)



-TBSR, Alex




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Melbourne, Australia

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