Vivobarefoot Magna Forest ESC: Rugged Barefoot Hiking Boots

June 6, 2024Barefoot hiking boots with an extra-wide toebox, leather upper, and 9.5mm Michelin tread.

Hello, my name’s Andrew, and these are the Vivobarefoot Magna Forest ESC, a barefoot hiking boot with a tough leather upper, stretchy wool collar, and rugged Michelin sole for serious adventures.


Last winter I reviewed the Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC, which is a beast for trekking over rocky ground in cool and cold weather, but the higher leather upper isn’t as breathable for hotter days.

So I asked Vivobarefoot for a pair of Magna ESC’s to test, and with the same base but a lighter weight ankle sleeve for temperature regulation…

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Features Showcase Desk

They’re basically what Godzilla would wear if he took up backpacking and sprouted a nice pair of Mothra wings.


Because the Magna’s have an extra-wide toebox with a water-resistant leather upper, textured laces and metal grommets for security, side straps for support, and a stretchy wool blend collar for easily slipping the boot on and off.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Desk Toebox

Inside the fabric has a ribbed texture for padding and breathability, while the front of the boot is lined with mesh for airflow and moisture wicking, and Vivobarefoot also includes a removable insole for some minimal padding.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Wool Coolar Desk


Underneath you’ve got a thicker 9.5mm zero-drop sole with great flexibility in all directions, as well as a set of beefy Michelin lugs that are spaced and angled to handle both dry and wet terrain and stitched for durability.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Desk Tread Heel


Given the difference in height and thickness the Magna ESC’s are a full hundred grams lighter than than the Tracker ESC’s.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Side Trail Gravel Hiking


So going out for a walk on pavement the Magna’s Michelin sole was still overkill, although the upper made them feel more like a higher cut shoe than a bulky trekking boot, which was nice for some extra versatility.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review WALK ROAD HEEL


Predictably, the Magna ESC’s felt much more at home tromping along a dirt path, and although the lugs are 7mm thick, the sole itself is only 2.5mm, so it actually provided a surprising amount of flexibility.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Tread Lugs Trail Heel

For colder spring mornings the dense rubber and tough leather upper kept my feet dry plowing through wet grass and muddy fields, and for hotter days the wool collar was more breathable than the higher cut Tracker ESC, although water can splash up over the top in deeper puddles.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Collar Trail
Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Water Resistant Trail


Clambering up a steep hill the Magna’s Michelin tread bit into the loose dirt for some excellent traction, while being open enough not to get clogged, and going back down the thinner midsole was still plenty agile for navigating sticks and roots.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Front Trail Hiking

That said, where the Magna ESC’s really thrived was on treacherous rocky slopes where the heavy lugs and side support kept my feet from getting beat up on the sharp edges or pinched in the shifting crevices and pretty much made me feel like Godzilla, conquering anything in my path.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Rocks Front Hiking


Overall the Vivobarefoot Magna Forest ESC is a great option for anyone who needs some hardcore protection and support, while still having a good amount of flexibility and airflow.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review By Andrew Folts


Because the upper is extra-wide and water-resistant, the wool blend collar adds some great temperature regulation and agility, and the monster 7mm Michelin lugs are super durable and grippy on both dry and wet terrain.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Mesh Desk

However, the thicker sole does feel like overkill for casual walks, the wider toebox will fit more loose for medium width feet, and the support straps can add some light pressure around your ankles.

Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Hiking Curve


In terms of similar barefoot hiking boots…

  • Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC: extra-wide toebox, water-resistant leather upper, high cut padded ankle, thick 9.5mm zero-drop sole with great flexibility, and beefy Michelin tread for serious trekking.
  • Vivobarefoot Magna FG: wide toebox, water-resistant leather upper, breathable wool blend collar, medium 5.5mm zero-drop sole with great flexibility, and firm ground tread for casual hiking.
  • Softstar Switchback: wide or extra-wide toebox, soft leather upper, warm merino wool insulation, thick 9.5mm zero-drop sole with great flexibility, and rugged Vibram Megagrip tread for faster hiking and trail running.
  • Vivobarefoot Magna Forest Esc Review Lugs Desk Closeup


    If you’d like to support the channel, you can use the code FOLTSY10 for 10% off Vivobarefoot, browse and filter more products at my website, or watch my Zero-Drop Transition video to learn more about barefooting.

    Finally, if you have a question about the Vivobarefoot Magna Forest ESC, or about barefoot shoes in general, let me know in the comments.

    Thanks for reading, catch ya next time. Peace!

    Andrew Folts

    Andrew is a writer/filmmaker who creates video guides and reviews for a community of 25K+ creative rebels on YouTube.