Perfect shoes for whitewater paddling
Paddlexaminer met the designer of Vivobarefoot shoes at the 2019 Winter Outdoor Retail event in Denver. After talking with him, we felt this would be a great shoe to test as a shoe to wear while paddling rivers. The Ultra 3 Bloom is shoe made from algae-based BLOOM foam – a sustainable petrochemical alternative to petrochemical foams; The first sustainable alternative to the synthetic and petrochemical EVA foam. The company prides itself on using sustainable materials for its products, with the goal of using 90% sustainable materials by 2020. Drumroll…the Ultra 3 Bloom is the first ever pair of shoes made from environmentally damaging algae! How cool is that!
The shoe is designed to be flexible and easy to travel with because they’re packable. The shoes are easy to slip on and off; they fit like a glove when I wore them. They come with elastic tightening straps so the user can adjust the tightness to their comfort level. The Ultra 3 Bloom are extremely breathable by design which is ideal for paddling because your feet will be in the water at some point. The tread on the shoe is what most surprised me. They grip any surface so you feel comfortable walking in the parking lot or the rocks around the river put-in site when you start your paddle adventure!
Our take on the Ultra 3 Bloom
Paddlexaminer tested the shoe while paddling the Yampa river in Steamboat Springs, CO this spring. I did the town run which is about 3 miles. The Ultra 3 Bloom performed well on the river, it barely felt like I was wearing shoes at all. The put-in site is a bit rocky and the Ultra 3 Bloom’s had no issues as I navigated the rocks. When I fell in the river at C hole the Bloom shoes sufficiently protected my feet from the rocks.
The Vivobarefoot dry super fast; after my paddle down the Yampa I loaded my board on my truck and my feet were already pretty dry. The shoes aren’t just for adventure trip either. I find them comfortable to wear around the house or at work. The unique design of the shoes catches the attention of the observant types and are a good ice-breaker.
The Ultra 3 Bloom comes in three colors for men:
- Electric Blue
- Algae Green
For women they come in:
- Electric Blue
The Vivobarefoot website features a “fit finder tool” which allows the user to compare shoes they already own to find the best fit possible. Plus, they offer a 100 day trial period, if you’re not in love with your pair you can return them.
Retail price is $95.