I’ve been looking into getting a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes for several months, if not years. I finally got myself to the store in London to try a pair on. I wandered around the shop. They were interesting and although not the sexist-looking shoes in the world, II bought a pair of the Primus Lite III. These are my findings after a couple of months.
I did not buy them from running
First things first. I did not buy these shoes to run in. Although the pair I bought are active shoes, I bought them as they were the most standard-looking sporty shoe in the range. This is not a post about barefoot running. Although barefoot running is part of Vivobarefoot’s sales pitch, I like my Nike running shoes and will be continuing to use them for running.
There is no doubt that the shoes are expensive. I paid £130. There are a few ways to get them cheaper, discounts are available by signing up for emails or a friend “referring” you and giving you a 20% discount. There do have sales as well.
I could visit the store in London to try them. Whilst this is not possible for all with only a store in London and Glasgow, I would recommend it. I ended up dithering between 9 and a 9 1/2 and ended up going for the smaller size. The shoes are flexible and roomy and hug your feet snuggly.
Why I bought them?
What I do want to do is walk around in a minimalist shoe and see if it has any benefit. I commonly wake up with stiff feet and calves. I get out of bed and shuffle around until it eases up and I can walk properly. After an energetic training session, my Achilles tendon can be very tight and tender. The hope is that the Vivobarefoots will make my feet work more naturally and help ease some of my symptoms and for my feet to become stronger and healthier.
This is not like a standard shoe review where I can break down the various parts of the shoe and how they benefit running. These shoes are very different.
What I think of them
Upon pulling them on, the most noticeable aspect is how incredibly light and also very comfortable these shoes are. Very much like wearing a comfy pair of slippers. The shoe is foot-shaped (not shoe shaped) which does give them a strange-looking profile when you look down on them, but allows your toes lots of space to move around.
The next thing to notice is the zero drop of the shoe. Whilst this is an obvious thing with a minimalist shoe, after 40 odd years of wearing shoes with heels and cushioning, it is still surprising. It doesn’t take long for it to feel normal, and your foot really feels like all of it is in touch with the ground, which is a nice sensation. Walking over rough or stoney ground is slightly uncomfortable, but giving a little thought to where you are placing your foot helps negotiate this.
When you step out and start walking around it’s clear how heavily you walk on your heels. There is a clear thud as you take each step. This is even clearer when you’re wearing earphones and the thud seems to radiate up through your body to your ears. It, therefore, makes you think to walk a bit softer and also roll through your foot as you walk.
The sole is again err … on the minimal side but does provide some grip. These are not the shoes to be shimmying up mountains in the rain but do provide enough grip on roads and pavements, even in the wet.
I have enjoyed wearing my Primus Lite III shoes. I wear them whenever I can, which is mostly just in my day-to-day life as an everyday shoe with jeans or shorts. They are not the best-looking shoe, but that is not the point of them. I have felt some benefit in wearing them as my feet move in a more natural, less supported way and I do find them extremely comfortable.
As I continue to wear them I will provide you with further updates.