• barefootshoereview

Episode 40: Feelgrounds "Original Knit" (Gum Graphite)

Updated: Mar 7


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 and stylish 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. Jade absolutely loves her Dusty Pink Original Mesh, and since testing the Droptop Mesh myself (a slip-on model) - I couldn't wait to finally test a lace up model, more suitable to my daily requirements.


The Original Knit is a unisex casual street/court shoe, which is shaped like the Original Mesh; however, it features a water repellent knit upper. In addition, the Knit range introduced a much anticipated Gum sole, which only increases its "street/casual" aesthetic in my opinion. Its available in the following colours shown in the image below, is priced at 119 Euro, and available in sizes 36-49.


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:

  • The colour combo - The dark grey knit and the gum sole are a pleasing contrast of positive and negative colours

  • The knitted upper is quite robust, and has a texture that I haven't quite come across before

  • Quality manufacturing throughout - No fraying, bad stitching, visible glue etc.

  • They look great - much like an Adidas Stan Smith

  • Wider than I expected, and they have a high volume - Great for larger feet

  • Flexible sole

  • Light-mid weight

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.**


**Feelgrounds Original widest part: 115mm**


In my opinion, Feelgrounds runs "true to size" (TTS); meaning that there shouldn't be too much hesitation once you find your foot measurements on their chart (with an additional 7-12mm of added length to your foot). Generally speaking, if you wear a certain size in Vivo, or Groundies, it "should" be the same size in Feelgrounds. One other thing to note, is that the Original feels as though its wider, and certainly has more volume than most Vivobarefoot I've tried.


The Original is a mid-high volume shoe (great for people with larger feet); however, the Original has laces - therefore, the volume can be reduced slightly if you tighten the laces, or if you use an insole to decrease the volume. Furthermore, I feel that the Original Knit gives you more toe freedom compared to the Droptop; I'm unsure whether this is due to the lacing system, or the material in itself. Overall, the toe-box is quite generous, and the material is non-restrictive.


There was no need to break in the shoe; the sole has a natural feel to it - completely flat and free of contours, and the upper is extremely soft and supple throughout. The shoe does rise close to the ankle - however as the upper material is supple - this is a non-issue. In addition, it has a generous opening, so when you do make certain movements (e.g. squatting) - the upper doesn't rub your ankle bones, or achilles.

Performance:

The shoe is a classic casual shoe, and isn't intended for running/athletics. It's wide throughout and has great ground-feel. In addition, the upper is supple, so no pinching or abrasion occurs.


1. Upper and lining:

  • The upper is quite robust, yet supple

  • The shoe has a generous amount of room throughout - including around the toe-box, and the material is non-restrictive - allowing your toes to splay, and move around freely

  • The shoe is high in volume - however, this can be reduced to a certain degree, with an insole or by tightening the laces

  • No hard materials, or abrasive stitching - meaning, that the upper or stitching doesn't rub on your ankle bones, feet bones or achilles

  • The upper uses a water-repellent (not waterproof) material - which stops a reasonable amount of water from seeping through. However, it does eventually penetrate (image below)

  • The footbed is made of a mesh - which does get dirty and sweaty eventually, without socks

  • The upper is breathable, and I haven't experienced too much sweating - I feel that it has better breathability than the Droptop

2. Sole:

  • Stack height is 5mm - It is extremely flexible, and has great ground feel

  • The sole is gummy and has a decent amount of grip

  • The sole is flat, and completely free of any contours - allowing your foot to move more naturally, and free from any obstruction

  • The footbed uses a PET Mesh, which can lead to getting dirty and accumulating sweat (if worn without socks)

3. Weight and movement:

  • The shoe is very natural feeling - Overall, almost flawless


Technical Specifications:

Upper: 100% Recycled PET mesh

Lining: 100% Recycled PET mesh

Stack Height: 5mm

Sole: Special Footwear TPE (recyclable)

Drop: 0mm

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

Available sizes: EU 36-49

Price: $163 AUD/119 EU/89 GBP/ $115 USD


Droptop Mesh vs Original Knit Comparison:

Future Improvements:

  • Microfibre footbed

  • Additional materials - Leather, cotton or canvas uppers?

Where and how to wear:

The Original is a perfect daily shoe. They're suitable for daily wear, and smart casual wear - they remind me of a casual/court sneaker. I prefer wearing the Original with shorts - with or without socks, but they're also just as good with pants/jeans - with socks. (Good luck with an Australian summer around the corner!).

Conclusion:

I was pleasantly surprised with the overall experience I had with the Original Knit.


Firstly, the aesthetics were on-par with what i'm all about. They're available in numerous colour ways, and they look like a classic casual/court sneaker. They're easy to wear with a variety of outfits, and they look like normal shoes. I'm also particularly fond of the Gum sole.


Secondly, compared to similar shoes on the market, they are quite competitive in regards to their price. Feelgrounds offer free shipping to most countries, and have regular sales - which can mean the difference between a purchase for some people.


Lastly, and most importantly, they feel great! With a number of shoes, you'll need to break in the sole or upper (as it could be stiff). However, this isn't the case with Feelgrounds. They're quite wide throughout the shoe, and use soft materials, both in the upper and sole - meaning that you just put them on and go! Furthermore, the sole is completely flat, and lacks any contours, and the ground feel is somewhat of a sweet spot - both modest and generous.


Overall, one of my favourite shoes at the moment, and one of the most versatile for a number of activities. Now, here's to wearing them in the upcoming summer!


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