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July 24, 2023

Middle Bear Winged vs. Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 | Barefoot Sandals Comparison & Review

Inside this article:

Introduction 👟

Hiking in sandals has been a game changer for me, and luckily there are a lot of barefoot sandal brands to choose from. Specifically designed to let your feet move as naturally as possible, while still giving you the support and protection you need, minimalist hiking sandals are my go to choice. 🙌

Middle Bear Winged barefoot sandals

I’ll be putting two popular barefoot sandals head to head: The Middle Bear Winged Edition from Luna Sandals and the Forclaz Trek 500 from Decathlon. These sandals are built for epic mountain adventures and versatile enough for mellow trail runs.

Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 Barefoot Sandals

We'll be comparing these two models in a range of aspects, including design, fit, price, and versatility. My goal is to help you figure out which of these sandals might be the perfect partner for your outdoor pursuits. So, strap in and get ready to dive in!

If you're new to barefoot shoes and curious about the benefits, check out this complete guide to barefoot shoes. I bet by the end of this article; you might start considering to switch to barefoot shoes for your next hiking adventure. 😎

Purpose and Versatility 🦶

Let's delve into the specifics of the Middle Bear Winged Edition from Luna Sandals and the Forclaz Trek 500 from Decathlon, and see what makes each unique in its versatility and purpose.

A man wearing Middle Bear Winged barefoot sandals

Leading with the Middle Bear Winged Edition, Luna Sandals designed these with lovers of great outdoors in mind. From epic mountain adventures to mellow trail runs, these sandals have got you covered. Outfitted with a rugged Vibram® Megragrip outsole, they provide superb grip, making them an ideal go-to for a wide range of outdoor adventures. The Middle Bear has something to offer for those who value a bit of protection without compromising the minimalist feel. The sandals' feel sturdy and combined with their lightweight and nimble design make them versatile for different outdoor activities. Whether it's running rugged trails or taking casual strolls, these sandals promise the right balance between performance and comfort.

Take a look at our article on the 4 essential features of barefoot shoes to get a better idea on what we look for in barefoot shoes here at Minimal-list.

Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 Barefoot Sandals

The Forclaz Trek 500 from Decathlon, touts itself as an ultra-light and ultra-compact sandal. These sandals aim to give your feet a rest during bivouacking phases. Their compact design means they'll take up minimal space in your backpack, a factor that can make all the difference on long treks. The Forclaz Trek 500 is designed to be water-resistant, an added bonus when you're crossing a river, taking a shower in mountain refuges or caught in a downpour. Although they might not offer the same rugged grip as the Middle Bear, their sheer functionality and compactness cater to a different set of needs.

Can't decide if this type of sandal matches your needs? Our article on who are barefoot shoes right for might help you decide.

While both sandals shine in their respective arenas, it's clear that they cater to distinct types of outdoor activities. If you're someone who values underfoot protection and grip, the Middle Bear could be your best bet 🌲. But if you're looking for a sandal that's easy to pack and provides a breezy experience during your bivouacking phases, the Forclaz Trek 500 may be your match.

As always, remember to prioritize function over fashion, after all, exploration and comfort should excel above all else 👊.

Design 😍

When you're hitting the trails or embarking on an epic mountain adventure, you need a shoe that's more than just functional; you want something that feels like a natural extension of your foot. So let's dive into the design aspect of the Middle Bear Winged Edition and the Forclaz Trek 500.

A man wearing Middle Bear Winged barefoot sandals

The design of the Middle Bear really emphasizes both breathability and flexibility. The Vibram® Megagrip Outsole and Vibram® Midsole, it offers an excellent grip on a variety of surfaces. The sandal design obviously guarantees great breathability, while the 9.4 base plus 4.5mm lugs add the perfect amount of thickness for sturdy yet sensitive ground feel. The Middle Bear is also extremely light, weighing in at just 8.2 oz (232g) for a men's size 9.5. It's vegan-friendly, adhering to the brand's philosophy that a free foot is healthier foot. Additonally, it's equipped with unique features such as the GEN3WINGS harnessing system and the continuously adjustable lacing system.

Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 Barefoot Sandals

The Forclaz Trek 500 on the other hand, is a simple, compact, and ultra-light sandal designed for versatility and comfort during the bivouacking phases of hiking. Weighing 6.2 oz(178g) per sandal, it's lightweight enough to be unnoticeable in your backpack, yet sturdy enough for steady foot movement. The minimalist design doesn't sacrifice durability, quality or comfort. That said, they are significantly thinner than the Luna's which may be a factor on tougher terrain.

Style-wise, both shoes stick to a minimal approach. The Middle Bear Winged Edition leans more towards an outdoorsy vibe with its rugged look and secure wing design. The Forclaz Trek 500, meanwhile, goes for a subtler, sleek approach, perfect for those chaise lounging moments of your hike. The beauty of these designs is they allows their users to focus on performance and comfort, rather than superficial aesthetics.

It's also noteworthy to mention that the Middle Bear Winged Edition utilises high-quality Vibram® soles. A feature that places it a notch higher in terms of durability and quality when compared to Forclaz Trek 500.

Sizing and Fit Advice 📐

Fit is key. Both the Middle Bear Winged Edition from Luna Sandals and the Forclaz Trek 500 from Decathlon need to strike the right balance between snugness and allowing foot freedom for maximum comfort and function.

A couple wearing Middle Bear Winged barefoot sandals

For the Middle Bear Winged Edition, Luna Sandals advises that most men tend to size down 1/2 to a full size. For women, the sizing is usually true to size. They place emphasis on a close fit with not a lot of space around your foot—reflecting the brand's commitment to a minimalist approach. They also offer a detailed online size guide to help you nail the perfect fit 👌.

Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 Barefoot Sandals

The Forclaz Trek 500 from Decathlon comes with a simple warning the generally, their sizes RUN SMALL, hence, it's advisable to order a size up. This same advice applies regardless of gender. So it's best to take their advice when choosing your size or you might end up with a sandal that's tighter than your liking 😟.

Remember, a good fit in barefoot shoes is crucial to allow your foot to move naturally and avoid blisters or discomfort. If you're a barefoot beginner and you're unsure about how to find the perfect fit, I recommend reading our comprehensive barefoot shoe sizing guide to lend you a hand. Happy shoe hunting!

Price Comparison 💰

The Middle Bear Winged Edition from Luna sandals come with a price tag of USD $120.00. Considering its quality and feedback about its comfort and durability, as we've covered in the previous sections of this article, it seems like a good investment for those dedicated to outdoor adventures and trail running.

A pair of Middle Bear Winged barefoot sandals

On the flip side, if budget's a concern, the Forclaz Trek 500 from Decathlon provides a more affordable option at just USD $45.00. It's worth mentioning that this sandal is loved for its compactness and lightweight. Ease in bivouacking and resilience in showers are among the praised features, making the Trek 500 a bang-for-your-buck offer despite its lower price point.

Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 Barefoot Sandals

Don't forget to check out any available discount codes on our sales page that could possibly make these shoes even more affordable 😃

At the end of the day, it's important to note that both these shoes have their unique strengths and target different audience preferences. Therefore, it boils down to what you're seeking: a budget-friendly alternative or a slightly pricier option with specific features that cater to your trail running needs.

You may want to check out our guide here to understand what's more critical before making your purchase.

About Luna Sandals and Forclaz Decathlon

Let's shift gears for a moment and talk about the two stellar brands in focus today: Luna Sandals and Forclaz Decathlon. These brands might be different in terms of origin and style, but they share a common goal to provide high-quality barefoot footwear for active souls like us.

Luna Sandals, based in the US, embodies the spirit of minimalist outdoor adventure. The brand takes pride in their meticulously handcrafted sandals, and their partnership with Vibram for their soles is a testament to their dedication to quality. They not only deliver excellent grip and comfort, but they also incorporate ethically-made, vegan-friendly principles, underpinning their commitment to the enviroment. Luna Sandals truly goes the extra mile in crafting footwear that's nature-friendly and highly functionable at the same time.

On the other hand, Forclaz Decathlon is a globally recognized French brand known for its array of sporting goods, including barefoot footwear. Decathlon stands by the belief that top-notch sports products should be accessible to all, offering a wide range of affordable outdoor gear, including the Forclaz Trek 500, which has gained reputation for its superior lightness and compact design. Through co-design and rigorous product testing, this brand guarantees products that meet the physiological needs of each hiker, making sure they get the comfort and safety they need during treks.

Both brands have a dedicated following in the barefoot shoe community, offering a variety of designs that cater to different preferences and needs. Whether you're into trail running, hiking, or simply looking for a comfortable walking sandal, these two brands definitely have something to offer.

Returns & Customer Reviews 💬

Starting with Luna Sandals, they offer a pretty clear return policy. They want you to love your sandals, and if you're not completely satisfied within 30 days from delivery, you can return them for a refund, no questions asked! Pretty neat, huh? However, be aware that after 90 days, regardless of condition, sandals can’t be returned or exchanged. More details can be found directly on their site.

Moving onto community feedback for the Middle Bear Winged Edition; from what I've gathered, they are considered a "good trail sandal" with ease in adjusting the lacing system and a comfort level that excels on various terrains. Some feedback mentioned the lugs feeling a little 'mushy' underfoot, so it may be something to consider if you prefer a firmer ground feel. Check out our article on barefoot shoe cushioning for more insights on this.

Decathlon, on the other hand, provides standard and express shipping options with costs varying based on value, weight, and location. They accept returns within 30 days, but products must be in a new and unused condition with all original packaging and tags intact. It's a straight forward policy mirroring many other online retailers.

The community feedback for the Forclaz Trek 500 shows they are appreciated for their budget-friendliness, despite some users disliking the Velcro strap. Overall, they make for a nice, cheap barefoot option, though their fit has been critiqued as being too wide, potentially causing slipping on slopes. Depending on your foot shape, this could be a factor worth considering as fit is an essential aspect of transitioning to barefoot shoes.

Final Thoughts ⭐

As we wrap up this comparison, it's clear that both the Middle Bear Winged Edition and the Forclaz Trek 500 cater to different needs within the barefoot community. The Middle Bear stands out for its rugged design, catering to the adventurous trail runner seeking grip and durability, while the Forclaz Trek prioritizes extreme lightness and compact design, ideal for relaxation and recovery periods during intense treks. The Middle Bear's premium price tag reflects its more tailored focus on longevity and high-end materials like Vibram®.

If you're seeking a more robust, durable and trail-ready option, the Middle Bear would likely be your better bet. However, if you're after an affordable, ultra-light, and compact sandal for casual use and rest periods during adventures, the Forclaz Trek could be your perfect match. It's a question of 'good value' vs 'low cost'

But remember, the most important thing when selecting any barefoot shoe is ensuring they promote a healthy, natural movement 👣. And both the Middle Bear and Forclaz Trek do not skimp on this!

Do you have experiences with either of these shoes? Share them in the comments below, and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more barefoot shoe insights. Happy trails! 🏞️

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