Footwear Company Spotlight: New Kids on The Barefoot Block

DaVinci Barefoot is relatively new to the natural footwear world, offering three styles of both men’s and women’s full grain leather boots. The Los Angeles based company uses traditional shoe making techniques with a focus on creating footwear that allows the foot to function naturally and unimpeded. Unlike most boots, which are stiff and have an elevated heel, all the boots in the DaVinci Barefoot catalog have soles that are thin, flexible, and zero-drop. Beyond the design and high quality construction, DaVinci Barefoot also take care when selecting materials, sourcing, and in the manufacturing process, including caring for factory workers.

All of the boots are manufactured in Leon, Mexico by a 15-person family owned factory with highly skilled shoemakers who are paid living wages. The hand-finished leather, which is also used to create the laces, is sustainably sourced. In fact, the leather is a by-product of food production, meaning it would otherwise go unused. During the sourcing process, the leather is hand-selected and tested before making it into production. This not only ensures the highest quality, but it also helps DaVinci Barefoot maintain its deep commitment to the environment. Finally, with a nod to its roots, each boot is named for a different street in Los Angeles.

We had the pleasure of putting all six DaVinci Barefoot models (three men’s and three women’s) to the Correct Toes test. During this review, we found the women’s shoes to be too narrow and tapered in the toe box to recommend for natural foot health. The men’s models were better, even though we feel improvements are needed to consider them fully Correct Toes approved. While we did conduct thorough testing on the women’s models, we are only including our reviews of the men’s models below as they may work for some with modified Correct Toes. We hope to see changes in the women’s models soon, as these are beautiful boots with a lot of potential.

 

DaVinci Barefoot Mohawk, Men’s

The Mohawk is an 8-inch tall full grain leather derby boot that boasts an extremely flexible zero drop, 5-millimeter sole. DaVinci Barefoot claims that its 360-degree stitch down construction allows the boot to flex without restricting movement (more on that below). The boot is thoughtfully constructed throughout. The gusseted tongue is designed to keep debris out, and the all-natural coconut rubber on the outsole is purported to be highly durable.

Our wear tester noted that he has struggled for years to find a boot that was comfortable, even for his average width foot. With the Mohawk, he loved the step-in feel, saying that it was “perhaps one of the most flexible boots he has ever worn.” The flexibility allowed for full range of motion, never creating a sense of the foot feeling restricted from moving naturally. The zero drop sole also made it possible for him to wear the boot all day, which he’s never experienced wearing a boot. With that said, there is room for improvement in a few areas.

Our wear tester noted some tightness while wearing a full set of Correct Toes during testing. Over the course of several weeks, the full grain leather upper did stretch and form to his foot. The stretch made it more comfortable to wear a full set of Correct Toes, but he still preferred, and we recommend, wearing a modified pair of Correct Toes without the pinky toe spacer. It’s possible that the leather could continue to stretch, but we are not sure at this point. Even if it did, the shape of the boot at the toes could be wider.

While we feel there is an opportunity for improvement in the shape at the toes, the Mohawk is a solid natural foot health option for those in search of a stylish, premium quality leather boot.

 

DaVinci Barefoot Baxter, Men’s

Dubbed by DaVinci Barefoot as an “easy on and off boot,” The Baxter is a 7-inch classic Chelsea boot that features front and rear pull loops, no laces, and elastic gussets. These three features make slipping on and taking off the all-leather boot easier than most. Keeping in line with the other DaVinci Barefoot models, The Baxter is zero drop, very thin at 5-millimeters, and it’s extremely flexible. In testing, the boots perform as promised, but we found the shape of the forefoot to be problematic.

Our wear tester loved the step in feel and performance of the all-leather sole. He noted that the excellent flexibility allowed his foot to move naturally, which is something we want in natural footwear. The all-leather sole also provided “just the right amount” of padding for the wear tester, saying he could wear them on concrete all day with no problem. Unfortunately, this is where the love stopped for our wear tester.

The Baxter falls short in terms of shape and being Correct Toes approved. The boot failed the shoe liner test, meaning more than half of our tester’s pinky toe spilled over the edge of the liner. This indicates that there is not enough space for the toes to splay naturally, even without Correct Toes. He was also not able to wear Correct Toes, even a modified pair without the pinky toe spacer, in his boots. This is further indication that the shape of the boot does not allow the toes to splay as we recommend.

There is a lot to love about the Baxter from DaVinci Barefoot in terms of foot health, including exceptional flexibility, ground feel, and being zero drop. However, the shape needs to be wider at the tip of the toes to create the room for Correct Toes to be worn inside. As constructed, we recommend The Baxter for occasional wear from casual events to fancy engagements.

 

DaVinci Barefoot Lapworth, Men’s

Davinci Barefoot’s signature boot, the Lapworth, is a blucher boot with open lacing in a 5-inch tall Oxford/Derby hybrid design. Like all DaVinci Barefoot boots, the Lapworth is zero drop, extremely flexible, and boasts a thin, full-leather sole. The all-leather liner made the step in feel a standout feature of this boot, which is consistent with the other DaVinci Barefoot boots. As with other models, the Lapworth has a lot of features to like in terms of natural foot health, but it also has room to improve in one key area.

Our wear tester, who has a wider than average foot, noted that the width of the midfoot is moderately tight. This made getting a comfortable fit difficult from the start. With that said, the he noted the width increases as you move to the tip of the toes. Despite the widening in the toes, it was not enough for our tester to wear Correct Toes, even a modified pair, comfortably during testing. As expected, the leather upper did stretch out during testing, but our tester isn’t sure if it will stretch out enough to accommodate Correct Toes. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, but we can’t say for sure it will happen.

Overall, the Lapworth has many of the features that make for an exceptional natural foot healthy shoe, including fantastic flexibility, just the right amount ground feel, and zero heel elevation. With that said, the boots are not Correct Toes approved. We’d love to see any updates to the Lapworth include more volume and width in the forefoot to allow for natural toe splay.

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