Ahinsa Sundara Ankle Comfort Boots: A review

Award-winning and physiotherapist approved brand Ahinsa is the brainchild of Lukáš Klimpera, a Czech physiotherpaist. He noticed how after successful therapy, his patients often slipped into shoes that once again damaged their locomotor system. For his patients (and for himself, too), he began to search for shoes that would enable the natural function of their feet and body, and after a lot of research and hard work, Ahinsa was born.

Ahinsa is a 100% vegan brand that I personally came across last year. Their shoes are ethically produced, have a very spacious toe box, with super flexible soles AND lightweight! Shoes are made by hand and there is a decent choice of styles. I was delighted when they offered to send me these boots to review. In saying that, the views expressed, as always, are my own.

Ahinsa vegan boots

Video Summary

Website Description

Upper high-end CF+ (Cruelty-free high-performance material) – water-resistant, breathable leather alternative with excellent functional parameters. CF + ultradry lining, a special material that can remove sweat and moisture away from your feet many times faster than animal skin. Lifo+ sole from innovative German compound lifoprene®.

Unboxing

Leather boots with no leather?! I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth and leather-like these boots looked. The brown colour was very pleasant and the inner lining was bright and cheerful!

Specs

  • Model: Sundara Ankle Comfort
  • Colour: Light Brown
  • Choices: 6 colours
  • Materials: Uppers: CF+ high performance. Inner lining: CF+ ultra-dry. Lacing: Cotton. Sole: Lifo+ from German innovative Lifoprene® compound
  • Sizes: 37-46
  • Stack height: 4mm sole + 1mm insole = 5mm + 5mm comfort insole = 10mm
  • Toe-Box Shape: Sloping from the big toe
  • Tested on: Bare Soled Girl, EU size 39, slim leg and ankle, low instep, medium to wide toe box, Egyptian toe-box shape
  • Weight: 271g per shoe (size 39)

Barefoot Brief

Ahinsa conducted an impressive test at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. They measured foot pressures using an EME-foot scanner. The scanner images shows the plantar pressure left by barefoot soles, barefoot Ahinsa shoes and ordinary shoes. The result is impressive – the imprint of the barefoot sole and the Ahinsa shoe is almost identical!

Courtesy of Ahinsa Website
  • Flexibility: Can I do a one-handed roll and twist with this shoe? YES. Vibram soles have in my experience always been ultra-flexible, and the compound sole on these Sundara’s is no different.
  • Zero Drop: Do they have a totally flat sole? YES. There is absolutely no heel whatsoever. However, with the insole, this will bring the heel up a few millimetres.
  • Toebox Space: Do they have plenty of space for toes to wriggle? YES. There is ample space for toes.
  • Stack height: Is the distance from foot to ground small? YES. Stack height is just 5mm, consisting of 4mm outsole and 1mm insole. Adding the comfort insole gives another 5mm.
  • Arch/Cushioning Test: Are they free from supports/cushioning? YES. There is no cushioning of any kind in these boots, but when you add the insoles, there is some heel padding.
  • Ground Feel: Is there a decent ground feel? YES. There is a relatively decent ground feel in these since they are so flexible.
  • Lightweight: Are they lightweight? YES. They are relatively lightweight for a boot at only 271g per boot.

Materials

Ahinsa shoes come in two versions:

Barefoot: this version allows full contact with the terrain and natural movement. Comfort: for those who want maximum comfort in natural motion; this version allows the body to function naturally, and at the same time it provides sufficient comfort, especially in the softness of the tread.

This essentially translates as: barefoot = without insole and comfort = with insole.

There is an abundance of information regarding the comfort insoles below in blue if you’re a stickler for details. For a quick summary, the insoles (made from polyurethane foam) are incredibly moisture-wicking, washable and quite structured for anyone wanting a more transitional feel to their barefoot boots. There is some heel padding and arch support. However, if you do not wish for this, simply remove the insole.

“The insole automatically absorbs all moisture (which evaporates again after the end of wearing). Its surface is made of the certified, innovative CF + Ultradry material, which ensures a dry feeling in the shoe. In laboratory tests, a drop of water is already absorbed in CF e Ultradry material in 2 seconds, in normal leather up to 33 minutes.

The insoles were designed in collaboration with the biomechanical institute. The front part of the insole is lightly more compact to avoid the lose of power when rebounding from the toes. The back part of the insole is softer to reduce (dampen) the impact of the foot when treading is not optimal. The base of the insole is made of polyurethane foam with high density and cell structure, which is important for comfort. It is the lightest foam on the market, offering excellent cushioning thanks to its density. Comfort is not just about flexibility, touch and adaptability, but also about thermal balance and breathability.

The insole is removable and can be washed. The material has excellent abrasion resistance (e.g. in wet > 200000 load cycles without damage unlike the leather, which is damaged at the same thickness and under the same conditions after 5555 cycles).”

The uppers are made from a fibre called CF+ high performance which claims to offer all the qualities of classic leather but surpasses it in all material qualities. When I click through to learn more, it gives very impressive facts and figures on its performance tests. It is however a synthetic material, which I am not a fan of. On the plus side, it is recyclable and has the OEKO-TEX certification against any harmful substances. It is smooth to touch and really does have the aesthetic qualities of leather. My partner could not decide whether it was real or faux leather! In my own tests, this material performs really well in terms of water resistance but the tongue isn’t gusseted so they won’t work for rainy downpours.

The CF+ ultra-dry lining equally has an abundance of information if you wish to delve deeper (see below in blue). It is pleasant to touch and very breathable and comfortable to wear.

It is a microfibre that is similar to real leather when touched. It is made to meet the highest performance requirements of impeccable shoes. CF+ ultradry lining is a special material that is very pleasant to touch and immediately removes sweat from the foot. It is fully water-resistant and its moisture absorption capacity is eight times greater than ists own weight in the water. The 100% breathability ensures your well-being, maximum comfort and thermal effect. Heat does not accumulate inside the shoe, because the fabric leads it to the outside, where the heat evaporates. This keeps your foot dry during the entire wearing process.

This material is also easy to wash. That is his other advantage. It is a membrane with hdydrophilic moclecules without pores, so its properties do not change by washing. Of course, it has very high abrasion resistance, is also antibacterial, antimicrobial, malleable and highly durable.

The production of CF+ ultradry material has no negative impact on the environment and the material can be recycled without any problem. It is produced without chromium and CO2.”

Sole

The Lifo+ sole is made of a German innovative synthetic lifoprene® compound, which has a much better abrasion resistance than conventional rubber soles. It has decent grip and is very light and flexible. Its thickness is 4mm and is ‘walled’ around the back offering increased protection at the heel.

sole of barefoot boot

Sizing

There is a large sizing chart to be found here. They add the required millimetres to the length so you don’t have to. They are true to size in my opinion. The size may vary with different models. With winter shoes take the space for winter socks in consideration. With flats (or mary janes) any extra space may cause the shoe to slide. They suit best medium/wide/super wide feet with high insteps and wider heels.

Sustainability

  • Shoes designed by physiotherapists: Ahinsa shoes are designed directly by physiotherapists. Thanks to the special shape of these shoes and chosen of suitable materials, their wearing has a positive effect not only on the health of the whole locomotor system but also on the individual organs, including the brain.
  • Hand production: Each and every pair of Ahinsa shoes is carefully handcrafted. See the entire process here.
  • High quality: Ahinsa shoes are made from the highest quality materials produced and available in the European Union. They are materials with great wear and abrasion-resistance, nonslip soles and colours that do not fade.
  • 100% vegan: Ahinsa shoes are not made from any animal material. Neither is their production linked to the suffering of animals or humans.
  • Respect for nature: They have included secondary materials in production and also use pure natural materials (linen, hemp, cotton) and recycled materials.
  • Ethical production: They have strict ethical guidelines and treat their workers fairly. The Czech organisation NaZemi (monitor supply chains and working conditions) had this to say of Ahinsa as a company – “Ahinsa has taken an excellent route in the context of environmental and social impacts of production.”

Style

This is a great boot for skinny jeans, leggings, even skirts with tights. Ahinsa as a brand are a little too wide for my feet, so I find them a little bulky looking on my feet – from toe-box through instep and even the heel. They are generally made for a bigger volume foot than mine and I find myself lacing them up as tight as they will go!

ahinsa barefoot
barefoot boots
ahinsa barefoot boots
barefoot shoes outside

Comfort

Recommended by many physiotherapists worldwide, Ahinsa know how to make comfortable shoes. Their lining is soft and there’s no breaking in period whatsoever. While the insole has some delicate support around the arch, it is a very comfortable insole and its nice to have the choice whether to use it or not depending where you intend to go walking.

Conclusion

As a brand Ahinsa are really striving to get things right, for their customers feet, and for the planet. For this I applaud them, a brand with a conscience. They have recycled options, and natural fibres in their range also that are discussed here. I really like these boots. I wish they were a smidge narrower all the way through, and had a lower instep…..well I wish they fit me better! In saying this, I still wear these boots regularly and love their quality and feel.

Buy them here for €142 plus shipping.

Check out my Ahinsa brand showcase where I look at other styles from this great vegan brand.

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