Just a thought, after I noticed some punctures in the upper on the side of my first pair of EVOs and heard that there was a recent design change by VB, I called the NY store and they offered me a replacement pair of shoes at no cost to me (not even shipping). Excellent customer service, IMHO. Perhaps it made a difference since I purchased from them directly?
Other than that, I've owned 3 pairs of VB and sizing/fit/quality has been fantastic.
Minimus Trail Zero size 8 in 4E is just as wide (or even wider than) Vivobarefoot Aqua Lite/ Ra/Dharma in M42 just FYI. I can go down a half size in NB Minimus Trail Zero in 4E (US8) and still have a ~1/4" in front of my big toe and about 1/8" in front of pinky toe.
I haven't tried the Minimus in the 4E version (disclaimed in my post above) if only because my local store did not have them in stock. I would consider buying a pair, if I was in need, but I think my next purchase will be a pair of SeeYas to replace my barely-together KSOs.
I have a measured Triple E-wide foot, most wide just between my instep and forefoot. The Vivos work great for me, with even room to spare in the toebox. I have found the Neo/Ultras to be slighty wider than the Evos, but there is not much of a difference. I have been running in VFFs and VBs for about 2 years without problem.
I have tried the NB Minimus Line (non-wide version) and the Merrell's and they were not wide enough for me. Most VFFs work for me, except the Bikilas (which I cannot even put on my foot unless I go up a few sizes).
I can't speak for the Merrell's, but the previous poster is right, the VB EVOs have a perfectly flat form factor.
I'm on my 2nd pair now, and they are my primary winter running shoe. I love them. If I didn't live in sunny Southern California, I might opt for the EVO 2s instead (they are warmer and offer more wet weather protection).
I love my Evos and have very wide feet (EEE at mid foot). I don't think you can go wrong, both companies make great products. They definitely have different aesthetics. I'd pick what you think you'd wear more.
Manufacturing costs are only part of the true cost of marketing a shoe. Most companies also assign research, design, marketing, and overhead costs back into the "price" of each shoe over a period of time, and rightly so.
Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't making some nice profit . . .
Vivo will not be getting any of my business ever again. I have a pair that started splitting a seam on both shoes at about 6 months. The thread were breaking, not the leather. At the time (and maybe still) their website was advertising a 1 year warranty, and I tried contacting them numerous times to no avail. No thank you. Maybe Feelmax will bring something interesting to the table. Either that or Arrow Moccasins has a wool fleece lined "lace boot" that I would already have if they weren't nearly $200. If they had a concrete friendly sole option I would already have them. I am concerned about the longevity of leather in that environment.
Steger is looking better all the time.
Just to add my experience, I had some Evos I purchased online (through the NY store, before VB had a serious U.S. web presence) that started to show some tears in the microfiber after about 8-10 months of use. I contacted the NY store directly and was referred to Sabra Ellingston. After exchanging an email or two (they asked for pics of the tears) with her, she sent me a replacement pair of Evos. It took about a week to replace my EVOs, but it was a what I consider a pretty good level of customer service IMHO.
$200 is around what I would pay for regular dress shoes (I work in a pretty professional environment), and I would pay slightly more for these. I wouldn't blink for a $300 minimalist dress shoe, but I would need a guarantee that it would fit well (i.e. meet my EEE width requirements, not rub up on my achilles, etc.).
I definitely work in an environment where toe shoes would never fly. And, actually, I cut the other way from most folks here, I find toe pockets to be more restrictive of my toes than a very wide shoe with ample open toe box. So long as I can fully splay, I'd rather NOT have the fabric between my toes, or inhibiting my ability to bend my toes up or down.
My only problem with them is they start stinking pretty quickly unless you hose them off regularly. Which I'm entirely too lazy to remember to do. And the running sock was *way* too narrow for me to take seriously. I considered going up a size because of the sock. But then decided to stick with a shoe that fit and don't regret it a bit. The sock is entirely useless as far as I'm concerned. But it's a great enough shoe without it, so I don't care!
I haven't noticed any smell on mine, but I do hose them off every few days. I haven't even bothered to try the running sock, partly because regular athletic socks work just fine!
Funny, because I found the Bikila sole not very flexible at all compared to my KSOs and EVOs. Good thing there are all sorts of different shoes for different people.
Perhaps the issue is more that you're looking at boot models, that naturally have more structure and will be less "flexible" and provide less ground feel than running shoes like the KSO or Classics? Have you tried the Bormeos? I wonder how those would compare.
Glad to hear there's another person who loves their Ultras. I'm in sunny SoCal and they are pretty much my "go-to" all-around shoe. I wonder if I'll actually need to pull out the running sock when it gets cold (although it was 89 degrees yesterday) . . .
Let me start out by stating that switching to barefoot/minimalist shoes has been of substantial benefit to my ankles and back, and consequently my overall fitness and health.
But how come no one talks about the obvious downside of switching from traditional footwear?! Wearing zero drop shoes has made me short!! I used to think I was 5'9" or so, about average. Now I'm shorter than average, slightly below 5'8". As a red-blooded male, let me attempt to quantify what that means:
- Now most everyone should agree that women prefer men who are taller than them. Based on the median heights in the U.S., that one inch of shrinkage means another 6% of women are taller than me. When you add in that most women wear heels, and the "mid-heel" height is 3", it means that almost 50% of women in heels are taller than me. Minimalist shoes have cut the dating pool in practically in half!
- According to a study out of UNC-Chapel Hill, for each inch in height, a person earned about $789 more in pay (per year). If you modestly assume I have a 30 year working career, that means minimalist shoes cost me $23,670 in earnings!
- Put these together and now I need to earn more money just to get the girl that I might want. Duke University released a report that indicates that to for a man to be equally attractive to a man 1" taller than him, he needs to make $30,000/year more in income. So I not only lost earning potential, I need a raise just to stay as attractive as I was before switching to zero-drop shoes. How much of a raise? Based on the national wage index, an average man now needs a raise of 71% just to remain competitive with a man just 1" taller than him! I wonder if my boss will go for that?
- Most importantly, I'm now as short as Tom Cruise. Now I'm depressed.
Now, if you've gotten this far and your sarcasm antenna is not buzzing, please go get that checked out!