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The Gobi Hi Top is an iconic winter boot in barefoot circles. It’s known for being super durable, waterproof, and easy to wear in a modern lifestyle. This is exactly what drew me to it a few years back when I purchased my first barefoot boots.
But the Hi Top has been through a few design tweaks over the years, so I wanted to get up to date on the current iteration and see if it was still a boot I could highly recommend.
Meet the Gobi Hi III
Aesthetically, the newest Gobi Hi III boots are consistent with previous years. They’re low profile and sleek, so you’ll be able to dress them up as well as use them to play in the snow. They come in two colors – black and brown – and a matching outsole makes these look slimmer than they are (see this Instagram post).
They come with Vivobarefoot’s thermal insole and are lined with a soft faux-fur (instead of the faux-shearling that was used in the past). This year, thinner laces are used, which helps to make them even dressier, but the thin laces are harder to handle and I prefer the sturdiness of the thicker laces from previous years.
Two of the biggest complaints about the original Gobi Hi were that they ran small, and the toe box was tapered. Fortunately, both of those issues have been remedied!
Vivobarefoot seems to be taking measures to make their sizing more consistent across styles. I needed to size up to a 38 in my old Hi Tops, but got a 37 in the Hi III, which is actually the same length as the old 38. The shape and width of this season’s Hi III is consistent with the new Gobi III (reviewed here). But the Gobi Hi has more internal padding than unlined Vivobarefoot shoes. So if you plan to wear warm socks I would still size up.
The blue high top on the left is the original in a size 38, the right is the current high top in a 37.
When it comes to barefoot qualities, Vivobarefoot usually gets a gold star (see my other Vivo reviews here). They are thin (5mm +3.5mm with thermal insole), flexible, and spacious. Sometimes toe box width is an issue in Vivobarefoot shoes, but I find the Gobi line to be pretty solid. If you need an EXTRA wide winter boot, check out Luks, Softstar and Belenka.
I have not had a chance to really put these new Gobi Hi IIIs through the ringer, but my original Gobi’s are very weatherproof. They don’t advertise them as being waterproof, but I have stood in puddles and gotten my shoes completely doused on many occasions and the only time water has come through is when it’s high enough to get through the lace grommets. But even that shouldn’t happen in the current design, because now the tongue is gusseted.
The rubber wall and seams are very well done on Vivobarefoot shoes and have held up so well for me and my family (my son wears the Primus). If you are going to be in a lot of standing water, the Fulham might be a good option, but the Hi Top is a warmer boot overall.
The shoe upper is thick and cushioned and keep my feet warm even in strong wind and cold temps. The sole, however, I find to get cold quickly, even with the VB Thermal Insole. I have started swapping it out for my 6mm thick NorthSole insoles and/or a sheepskin insole instead and find that it keeps my feet a lot warmer. I always have a hard time with my toes in the winter, so it is definitely worth it for me to have some extra insoles on hand so I’m not miserable outside.
I find the outsoles have good traction, I primarily have used mine in snow and ice without issue. If you’re looking for a really rugged boot you might want to choose something with lugs.
One of the biggest draws of the Gobi Hi top boots is that they have a mainstream look that is easy to wear both casually and dressy. There are a lot of super warm, good winter boots out there, but it’s not often you find a good winter boot that you can also wear to the office. I almost always go for black when looking for a shoe that can be dressed up, and my favorite way to wear my black boots is with black pants and leggings to get a monochromatic look. Of course, depending on your wardrobe, brown is an excellent choice too and I would have no problem styling the brown ones a million ways too.
You can wear them with visible socks, cuffed jeans, or directly over leggings and tights.
There is a good reason the Gobi high top boot comes back every year, and I am glad to see Vivobarefoot responding to customer feedback to improve the shoe. As more brands are coming to market we are getting an increase in options, and these are far from the only good boot available to us. But if you want a tried and true shoe that you know will function great and look great too, Vivobarefoot has got you covered this season.
Want to see how they compare to the other new Gobi style released this year? See my review here for full details on the Gobi III. They are built on the same sole, and are the same width and shape, but the high top is thicker and warmer, and feels closer to the foot because of the cushioned upper.
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