So far, a lot of the shoes we’ve reviewed here as of late have been of the barefoot-style variety. Well, those may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and today’s shoes do take things in a more traditional direction for sneakers. That said, if you wanted to, you could go barefoot in these. What shoes are they? Well, it’s up there in the title, but they are the Freewaters Freeland.
Before we get to the shoe, let’s talk a little about the brand itself. You see, this is not just some company out to make a buck selling you and me some shoes. Sure, one only presumes that they are making something, but they’re also making a difference. Part of the purchase price of the shoes goes to fund clean drinking water projects. When you make your purchase, you can choose which project to support. At this time, there are three – Haiti, Kenya, and the Philippines. No word on how much is given from each purchase, but at least some positive impact is being made by picking up some new shoes.
Now, for the Freewaters Freeland shoes themselves. These feature what many will recognize as a rather popular material these days in athletic shoes, the knit fabric. This was my first experience with it, and I came away rather impressed. It is instantly comfortable (as opposed to leather and the break-in period), and stretches to conform to your foot right away. The Freewaters Freelands also offer very quick on/off, in part due to the stretch in the material, as well as the bungee-style quick laces. For the most part, I did not even bother to tighten these, as the fit was just fine for going about the day (perhaps if you were running you might want to tighten them).
So, the uppers of the Freewaters Freelands are quite comfortable, and between the thicker sole and cushiony insole, there’s plenty of padding for your foot as well – walk on what you want, you’re not going to particularly feel it. This is neither a good or bad thing – just calling it out, as different people look for different things in shoes. I will also note that, should you talk the insole out, you’ll find that the sole itself is fairly firm, with not a lot of give. This is helpful for stability, of course, but does mean the insole is an integral part of the comfort. Again, this is an individual choice. For me, I was good with the layers required.
By and large, I did find the Freewaters Freelands comfortable, everyday shoes – with one caveat. The size 12s did feel true to size, but as I’d walk around, it felt like the toe box was a bit more constricting than I prefer. This wasn’t present when I was sitting, so I’ve a feeling it’s something to do with the angle of the heel and insole causing my foot to move forward slightly. Given the stretch of the knit material, it wasn’t binding, it just wasn’t as, well, comfortable as I had hoped. Here, though, this could be due to my own foot, how I walk, and so on. Your mileage may vary. For my part, it was a mild thing – nothing that caused me to throw them in the closet never to be worn again. Oh, and should you want to go barefoot in the shoes, the soft feel of the knit should make that a comfortable choice.
In wearing the Freewaters Freelands, the styling felt along the lines of what I’d call athleisure. Sure, somewhat athletic in styling, but without having laces I could tighten things up with, they weren’t shoes I was going to try to run in. For wearing on the weekends and at the office (provided you’ve got a casual dress code), they were quite nice. Style is nice and modern, and the knit fabric ensures a nice bit of breathability to the shoes, which is a thing you just might be concerned about with the weather warming up. The Freewaters Freelands – in black or grey – are available now directly from the brand at a price of $90, with part of that price going to the water project of your choice. If you’re looking for some new summertime shoes, why not consider helping out someone less fortunate at the same time? freewaters.com
- Brand & Model: Freewaters Freeland
- Price: $90
- Who’s it for? You’re looking for an unbranded, casual, athletic shoe for your day
- Would I wear it? Yeah, I could see it in the rotation
- The best thing about it: I have to say, these shoes have sold me on the knit material for warm weather
- Watch it pairs best with: I’ll go with… the MKII Paradive, solely on color scheme