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New Swimrun Shoe Preview: Vivobarefoot Hydra Esc Roar With The ‘Dragon Shoe’

Vivobarefoot have launched a ground breaking new swimrun shoe, the Hydra Esc. The shoe purports to be like ‘nothing on the swimrun market’. This is a first impression of the shoe, out of the box and untested. 

Dragon skin uppers

The uppers, which in layman’s terms is the entire part of the shoe which covers the foot look seriously tough, almost indestructible. Swimrun is especially demanding on shoes, jagged rocks can tear through the uppers in a heartbeat and thorns from the trail can painfully rip through a sole and break skin. The Hydra Esc looks like something Daenerys Targaryen would happily wear and resembles tough dragon skin. 

Grip & sole 

If the uppers look tough, you should see the sole! Michelin rubber (the same that you see on the wheels of F1 cars) which again looks hard wearing and durable. There is a lot of flexibility in the shoe and it bends and snaps back with ease.

With toes acting like a claw on the ascent and an aggressive heel lug for ‘critical break for steep descents’. This looks to be phenomenal on rocky terrain but could be tested on difficult muddy or steep slippery grass, two of the most challenging surfaces for trail and adventure racing.

In the water 

There is no question, these look lightning fast in the water. According to Vivobarefoot ‘all materials drain quickly and stay light when wet’ with Hydrodynamic lacing and a Bloom foam. You don’t want to carry excess weight while running, as additional weight on the shoes is much heavier than elsewhere on the body. 

The Hydra Esc only gained 32% of its dry weight after being submerged in water for a minute and drained 4 times quicker than other shoes we have tested (this test adapted from the Swimrun Labs crew on drainage).

As a point of comparison, the Inov-8 X Talon gained 100% weight after being submerged for one minute and retained most of that extra weight after one and five minutes of draining. This meant that the shoe weighed nearly 500g when fully saturated, 240g when dry.

How do they look

While of course ‘look’ is a personal choice, these are a sexy pair of shoes. You would happily wear them all day racing and then on to the after party, on your journey home and then into bed. You get the picture! These shoes look the business. Perhaps a tad on the masculine side but we understand Vivobarefoot are launching a new colour range in the coming weeks. 

The mastery is in the detail 

The level of detail of the little features is truly impressive. In the design stage, the shoes had a lot of R&D input from Envol Swimrun’s Nicolas Remirez along with the ÖTILLÖ race, people who know the sport well and it shows.

A few of the features include a little pocket to store the quick release laces buckle. Some padding around the ankle again offers protection and to prevent chafing. A neat little ring on the heel to pull the shoes on and off. A bright orange sole of the underfoot, to help partners sight each other on swims. All carefully designed for swimrunners.


The Vivobarefoot Hydra Esc are a seriously exciting pair of swimrun shoes. They look and feel great and are as tough as dragon’s skin, in short a shoe specifically designed for swimrunners. Unusually for a pair of sports shoes, you would happily wear them in everyday life and would expect them to last for many years.

Fred Newton

Fred is the Editor and co-founder of swimrun.com. He has actively been involved with the sport of swimrun as an enthusiastic participant, race director, volunteer and journalist.

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