Nov 04 2007

Viking Era Shoes Review

Published by at 10:20 pm under Animal Materials

For a proper view of the shoes, look here. These shoes were made this summer and I decided to test them properly in the field in on my previous trip. I have some conclusions from this, I’ll judge them from this set of criterias:

  • Ease of construction
  • Durability
  • Comfort and practicality

Ease of construction

These shoes are definitely not quick to make. Not with metal tools and maybe even impossible to make with stone tools. They do however conform to the general principle of simple, traditional shoes amongst native peoples. Construction time is between 6 and 10 hours, excluding tanning.


Compared to earlier versions and moccasins, Saami shoes and similar types of shoes, these have a modern feature. The sole is made from a seperate piece of extra thick leather. This is supposed to add to durability and comfort. Regarding durability, wearing out the sole will not happen, before you do that, you are likely to have worn the seams connecting them first. The seam on the tip of both shoes cracked within the first days. After a week the sole had cracked, rendered the shoe beyond repair. Photos: The damages to the shoes after 1 week of usage.


Comfort and practicality

I must say that I loved the shoes for one thing: Their comfort in wearing. While they still held up at the tip, I only became moist at my feet, not truely soaked. There was no foot sweat or smell whatsoever. The extra thick sole added a little protection, but I am so accustomed to walking barefoot, that it wouldn’t have been a problem anyway. The contact with the ground is awesome and you walk a lot more silently. I would like to mention that there is one feature on these shoes that make me suspect that these shoes are tailored for city use only (the original was found in a city). The upturned, pointy tips were incredibly impractical, snagging ling and brush all the time. This constant snagging probably was the reason why the tip opened up.


These shoes are incredibly time consuming to make, the pattern isn’t too difficult, but the sewing has to be tight and piercing thick leather is not easy at all. I believe the reason why the sole cracked, was because I dried it too close to the fire, so I will take that on my account. Still I was not impressed with the seam on the top opening so soon. But there are lessons learned: Make the shoes non-pointy and don’t bother with soles or elaborate patterns. Next time I’ll use moose buckskin and try a simple eastern woodland pattern, even if they would soak up water like sponges. I feel that expendability is the key for good shoes for usage during the snowless season. Keeping two pairs to switch on would probably increase the lifetime, since they would have time to dry out before you use them.

Good shoes, but they arn’t worth the work. Go barefoot to save on shoes! (Good luck in a frosty morning though. hehe)


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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Viking Era Shoes Review”

  1. Marcon 04 Nov 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Hey Torjus,

    well who expects tio be perfect? Isn;t it in learning that we get better and train our valuable skills?! Seems like you have yet another craft you have developped that can be of great value in bushcraft. They look good!

    In one of Ray Mears’ shows he is with the Saami and they show how they make shoes. That also seemed a very interesting technique. I guess in surivivalcircumstances each person develops the crafts and skills that are needed most. And I guess you are way ahead of mopst of us in practising this.

    Was good to read this –


  2. viridarion 05 Nov 2007 at 5:05 am

    Bare feet? On the stony soil? You are an animal, you know that? ;-p

    Seriously though I couldn’t imagine running around in bare feet outside. I wear Thorogood infantry-style boots everywhere. Not incredibly silent in the bush, but they do protect my feet from the myriad hazards out there.

    I confess, they do work up quite an aroma at the end of a long day in the bush.

  3. Mervion 08 May 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Where did you get the pattern?

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