Vivo Barefoot One Review
Vivo Barefoot released several new models in 2013 and being the owner of many Vivo shoes, I was excited to have the opportunity to test out the new "One," and thanks to Vivo Barefoot sending me a pair to test, that's what I'll be doing today.
I was curious to see how the Ones would stack up against my existing lineup of Vivo Barefoot shoes, and having worn them everyday for a few weeks now, I can safely say these might be my new favorite style from Vivo Barefoot.
Read on for more details, photos, and my thoughts on the One.
I am a big fan of Vivo Barefoot shoes, so I must mention that bias right away. But you'd be wrong if you think this bias won't keep me from writing a fair critique of their shoes. It almost makes me even more critical. They're almost all I wear anymore, so I've come to expect certain things from the brand, and I've returned a few models that I was very disappointed with (and their website moderator never posted my critiques). Of all the non-toed barefoot shoes, I've found Vivo Barefoot shoes to be the thinnest, widest, and most comfortable barefoot feeling shoes for my feet. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I own 10 pairs in a mix of casual and athletic styles.
The EVO II has been one of my main everyday casual shoes for the past few years (mixing in my VFF's and huaraches of course), so I found myself often comparing the features of the One against the EVO. I own the EVO in 4 different colors, and as a couple of my EVOs aren't looking so fresh anymore, I wondered if the One could replace them in my everyday rotation.
To be honest, I can usually always find things to nitpick, but I really had a tough time complaining with these.
The pair I received were red with blue soles and blue/red laces. I received several comments at work about my "bright" shoes, but everyone seemed to like them. I personally think the layout of the mesh and paneling gives it a nice "sneaker" look. I might actually prefer this more traditional sneaker look over the EVO style. The walls are thin but soft, and it cuts well below the ankle. The style itself looks great and can be worn well with shorts or pants.
I generally wear my laced Vivos a little loose to allow easy slip on and off. The way the One upper wraps the foot, it definitely feels narrower than my other Vivos (but it might just be a feeling with the upper). The same slightly loose feeling in the EVO has the eyelets less than an inch apart, whereas the One laces are stretched really wide (almost 2 inches apart). I don't think I'd have the lace length to use the uppermost eyelets. That said, it still feels like there's room for a slightly wide foot, and it fits my foot comfortably.
The upper is very flexible and collapsible. It is almost entirely a breathable mesh material with TPU laminate strips strategically placed for structural support of the upper. I've had no problems with this design, but the laminate strips near the big toe do wrinkle up a bit during plantar flexion (when you roll up onto your toes). A friend of mine picked up a pair and had some painful rubbing issues there as the "wrinkle" pushed down painfully on her big toe. I've had other shoes that do this at the flexpoint, and I can feel where it happens here but have no issue with it. So, it may just depend on how your foot sits in the shoe and where it decides to flex. I also wear my barefoot shoes with socks, but the upper does have a soft lining on the inside which feels nice against a bare foot.
As with most Vivo Barefoot shoes, the toe box is wide and gives my toes plenty of room to spread out. The depth of the toe box is similar to the aqua lite, but feels much less constricting due to the mesh upper. The mesh, as well as the flexible sole, allows the toes to easily extend upward and move more freely than my feet did in the aqua lite. The "heel cup" (if you can call it a cup) of the shoe is also mesh but is slightly reinforced and has a soft crinkly sound when you push it. I really like how they did this, because it feels structured and supportive on the heel, but is still flexible and can completely collapse down to where it connects with the rubber.
I did notice one problem right away with the insoles (thankfully it was only temporary). Generally, the insoles have always meshed perfectly with the shoes. This time, they were bubbled up in the middle as if they weren't sized right. Interestingly, this also happened with two different sizes of the Synth Hiker boots recently, but I thought it was an issue with the boots themselves as they were very poorly sized (but that's for a different review). I don't know if it's a coincidence that this same insole problem has happend on the last 3 pairs of Vivo Barefoots I've tried, but I'm definitely beginning to think something's up. Thankfully the insoles flattened down under foot just fine, but for the first several days it felt like they wanted to ride out with my foot as they lifted up. Eventually the insoles started staying down and now lie flat in the shoe just like normal.
One of my favorite aspects of Vivo Barefoot shoes is how well they are designed to be worn with or without the insoles. The materials and stitching are perfected in a way that the insole is not needed, and going this way gives you an extremely barefoot feel. The inserts themselves generally mesh so well with the shoe that it doesn't feel like an insole. And when removing the insole, it almost looks like the shoe was never meant to have one. It works perfect with or without, which isn't always the case with removable insoles.
The Ones size similarly to my other Vivo Barefoots. For reference, I wear a size 44 in all Vivo Barefoots and 43 in all Vibram FiveFingers. My feet are very flat, 10.625 Inches (27 cm) long, and size halfway between a D and EE. Vivo Barefoot recently changed their website's sizing information from EU to US sizing. The website tells me that for a EU 44, I need a US 10.5. Oddly, the shoes still show up with only the EU size 44 labeled. I guess this is helpful for expanding the brand to new U.S. customers, but existing customers might be confused.
The One has the Vivo Barefoot "Road" sole, which has a "two-toned" hexagonal pattern. It is designed for road and treadmill running, but I've primarily worn it as a casual everyday shoe. The 3 mm sole is very thin and noticeably different than the Multi-Terrain sole. The short jaunts I have taken in them have been comfortable, and if you're looking for an extremely thin running shoe, this might be perfect. I've primarily worn them with the insoles to provide just a tiny bit more cushion under foot, but it doesn't feel like it adds much more than 0.5-1 mm. The shoes are extremely flexible and comfortable. You can see how tightly they can roll up (with insert still in). The Ones are flexible enough to roll up easily and on par with the most flexible FiveFingers.
The rubber sole has pretty good grip and seems like it will wear pretty well. The soles of my other Vivos have been extremely long lived, and only one has shown slight separation of the upper and sole materials. How well the Ones will hold up over time remains to be seen, but I don't foresee any problems.
Again, really searching for things to nitpick here, I noticed the tied laces had a habit of loosening up. Initially, I would have to give a tug on the lace loops every day or two to keep them snug. The laces are a flat padded oval lace, which is similar to other Vivo laces although I've never noticed an issue before. Two weeks in now and it's no longer a noticeable problem.
The Ones cost $115 (Zappos also has them), and I personally think they are worth that price as they feel like they will hold up really well. If red and navy aren't your thing, it looks like you can buy the black or white "clinic" versions, which I think were originally only given to people who completed the Vivo Barefoot training clinics. I did see one colorway recently in a flash sale on The Clymb and LeftLaneSports sale sites, so if you're already a free member, be sure to check the emails to know when Vivo Barefoots pop up on sale (if you need to sign up, you can use my invite link for the clymb here: and/or leftlane sports here). They tend to go quickly on the flash sales, so you have to act fast when you see them.
All shoe brands have a distinct feel to them and Vivo Barefoot is no different. If you already own a pair, the One will bring that same friendly and familiar barefoot feel in a slightly jazzed up package. The sole is very thin and the look and structure of the shoe really allows it to pass as both a running and/or casual shoe. If you've never tried Vivo Barefoot shoes, these would be one of a few I'd definitely recommend to make a great intro pair. And, if you're at all hesitant about the thin sole, the slightly thicker EVO line might be a great way to get you going. I still love my EVO II, but honestly, I've enjoyed the One so much that I continue to grab them every day as I head out the door.
I usually find myself generally ending reviews with a recommendation to check out the shoe if you're looking for some specific characteristic. For these, I have to just say that if you consider yourself at all a barefoot minimalist, you should put these on your feet right away. For those looking for a flat, wide, thin shoe that looks great and can pass for more occasions than your huraches or VFF's, I don't know if it gets much better than this.
Anyone out there have the Ones? Let us know how they're working for you in the comments!