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- Children: Buy Ultra Bloom Kids from Vivobarefoot (opens in new tab)
Vivobarefoot's popular Ultra Bloom III (RRP£75) are back in their third design update. This 'barefoot' shoe brand creates footwear designed to feel as though you're walking with no shoes on at all, and the Ultra Bloom is accordingly lightweight, freeing and with a flexible sole designed to help you explore in the water without extra drag. We think they're the best water shoes for wild swimming on the market right now. Read on for our full Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom III review.
Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom III review: design and features
Whether you're in or out of the water in hot weather, the Ultra Blooms will keep you cool – the sieve-like design helps feet dry fast and wicks water and sweat away. The thin and flexible sole is designed to come close to the sensation of walking barefoot, but with added protection and grip (this 'barefoot' style sole is the brand's USP, and also appears on hiking boots like the Vivobarefoot Tracker II or Vivobarefoot Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC). A bungee cord helps you get a comfortable fit. We like the slim, trainer-like looks of the Ultra Bloom III – you could easily wear them casually in the summer months when you aren't in the water.
Vivobarefoot clearly had aquatic environments in mind when designing these shoes – the Ultra Bloom III is partly made from BLOOM foam, which is created using algae that is toxic in waterways but harmless when used as a shoe material. Removing this algae from water systems helps them recover – and means your shoes are helping the rivers and oceans that you're exploring while wearing them. The Ultra Bloom is also suitable for vegans.
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Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom III review: performance and comfort
The Ultra Blooms are roomy and comfortable, and are easy to pull on and off even when wet. Once on, bungees make it quick and easy to adjust them, and they stay snug when you're walking or clambering over rocks. Once in the water, these light and buoyant water shoes won't weigh you down at just 100g – you'll barely notice you've got them on, which can't be said for other heftier water shoes we've tested out.
Back on land, the many holes in the Ultra Blooms allow the shoes to drain and dry quickly. This means that sweat is also wicked away, keeping feet cool. We liked wearing these water shoes casually on camping trips or in the garden in the summer months, when their coolness makes them very comfortable on hot days while still offering more protection for your heels and toes than open-toed sandals or flip flops. We wouldn't wear these shoes for longer walks or rocky hikes, however – the thin soles don't offer enough protection from uneven ground or sharp stones.
We tested out the eye-catching turquoise version of the Ultra Blooms – we loved the bright colour but would have preferred darker soles, as the white ones look dirty after a few uses.
Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom III review: verdict
Vivobarefoot's Ultra Bloom III is ideal for swimmers who need a bit of extra protection when getting in and out of water – and who want a very comfortable and moisture-wicking shoe that they can wear casually. The thin and flexible soles are great for water, but not quite tough enough for walking any distance on dry land. We'd only recommend wearing them for dips, or for casual use in the summer months.