In the first months of 2021 we were contacted by the Swiss company Baabuk, which specializes in sustainably manufactured footwear, made out of wool. We immediately thought it would be a good match for our new Off the Trails section where we review products for a sustainable and active lifestyle. We thus agreed to test two of Baabuk’s models – the Sky Wooler Blacknose and the Urban Wooler (which is getting tested by Blaz) in return for unbiased reviews. We received the shoes in March 2021, and have been reluctant to take them off ever since!
The Baabuk Sky Wooler Blacknose is made of wool from the Valais Blacknose sheep, sourced from local Swiss shepherds, and also has a black rubber toe box to emulate the black nose of the sheep. The inner lining is made of Portuguese Merino wool as the Valais Blacknose wool has such a pronounced crimp that it is best for felted wool. All wool utilized comes from mulesing-free sheep, which means that the sheep have not been exposed to the painful process of mulesing where some skin on the buttocks are removed to prevent the parasitic infection flystrike. In terms of sustainability, it is very important to mention that Baabuk has their shoes made in Portugal, which not only means that the workers are treated and paid fairly, but also that the shoes are manufactured in a country with a real heritage of craftmanship within shoe making.
Before trying the shoes on, I was a bit worried about the durability of the wool, but the materials seemed high-quality when I opened the box, and thus I didn’t hesitate to use them as vigorously as I would with any other white leather or textile sneaker (meaning that I still steer clear of muddy terrain and freshly cut lawns). I know that two months of wear is not a whole lot, but I feel quite confident that the Baabuk Sky Wooler shoes will last a long time. I have often had problems with the heel counter coming undone on other sneakers as the first durability issue, but as the heel counter on all Sky Wooler models are made of genuine top-grain Nubuck leather and the stitching seems more than solid, I think that it will not be an issue here. The rubber sole also seems durable.
Comfort and Fit
The first thought when you put on the Baabuk Sky Wooler Blacknose is: “Ahhh!”. Meaning that they are comfortable from the get-go, and you don’t have to use any time to break them in before using them for a whole day. This, I assume, is due to a combination of materials as well as the elastic lacing – which also makes the sneakers easy and fast to put on and off (a great advantage with a toddler in tow). I asked for the Sky Wooler Blacknose in size EU40, although I’m usually a size EU39 for casual shoes and just occasionally a 39½ or 40. But Baabuk’s size finder told me to get size 40 for the Sky Wooler, so I did. Would the size 39 have fitted me? Length-wise I now have about 1.5 cm wiggle room from the tip of my big toe to the tip of the shoe (which is the recommended), and this would be cut in half with a size 39.
It should be noted that all Baabuk shoes are unisex size-wise, and as such generally available in sizes EU35-48 which equals to size 5 (for women) and up to size 14 (for men) in US sizes. That means that both a woman with a US size 10 feet or a man with a US size 8 feet will fit into the same European size 41. The unisex sizing means that the shoes have to fit men’s generally wider feet although the shoe design itself is relatively slim. I’d love the Sky Wooler Blacknose to be a bit slimmer (and thus more feminine) but I understand the practicality of unisex sizing – not least for women with a bigger shoe size than 42, who can have a hard time finding shoes fitting them altogether (and reversely for men with smaller feet than a size 40).
Washing and Maintenance
I was so silly not to photograph the Sky Woolers, before wearing them so the sneakers that you see on the images are not box-fresh but have been worn for one and a half month. I did clean them up a bit with a brush and wiped the rubber tip with a moist cloth before photographing them, but otherwise that is how they look worn. The Baabuk Sky Wooler sneakers can, however, also be washed in the machine on a wool program. I have yet to do so, but I will update this review if there should be any issues in relation to machine-washing them.
The Baabuk Sky Wooler sneakers are a pair of high-quality sustainably produced pair of shoes. They are super comfortable to wear and look cool, although I’d love them to be even slimmer in design.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Cool and unique design
- Sustainably produced
- High-quality materials
- The wool and elastic lacing make them comfortable to wear from day one
- Could be a bit slimmer in design (=a matter of taste)