Barefoot Shoes


It’s been almost two years since my last post here on BirthdayShoes. Reason being that I’ve transitioned almost completely to barefoot living. Or, at most, a pair of light running sandals. I mean, I’m no barefoot activist. I’m not going to be that…

It’s been almost two years since my last post here on BirthdayShoes. Reason being that I’ve transitioned almost completely to barefoot living. Or, at most, a pair of light running sandals. I mean, I’m no barefoot activist. I’m not going to be that person that goes into a grocery store barefoot and makes a scene about it just because.

Anyway. What I’m saying is that I can’t really do shoe reviews if I’m rarely wearing shoes anymore. My last post was a review of not having shoes, for chrissakes. And if I do a shoe review, those poor shoes have their work cut out for them. Because they’ll have to convince me that they’re better than barefoot now.

All that said, the Vivobarefoot Stealth II caught my attention. Not the least of which because they manage to be a super thin, extremely packable shoe that doesn’t look like it’s made out of paper. This may not be a big deal to some minimalist-minded folks, but if I’m going to bother wearing a shoe then I want it to look like a shoe. I don’t want it to look like I stuck my foot into a deflated balloon. Just, no.

That’s not to say that I came into this review with only warm and fuzzy thoughts. Oh, no. I’ve had some issues with Vivobarefoot in the past. So much so that a pair of Vivobarefoots were the last pair of shoes I tossed before going with barefoot or huaraches full time. More on that later.

What you get


Here’s the de-buzzworded version of Vivobarefoot’s specifications for the Stealth II.

Upper: EVA “cage” strung together with a thin mesh.
Sole thickness: 3mm
Heel to toe drop: 0mm

Traditional lacing. Insole is included but you can take it out for even better groundfeel. Vivobarefoot also managed to answer one of my longstanding prayers about minimalist shoes: you can take the insole out and what’s underneath still looks like a shoe! I always hated that when you remove the insole of some shoes the underneath portion looked like you’d accidentally gone into the “employees only” section of a grocery store.

And for those who care about such things, Vivobarefoot also touts that these shoes are “100% vegan.” But meat eaters will also enjoy them. I wore them while eating bacon and they still performed fine.

Full disclosure: my beef with Vivobarefoot

I currently own three other pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes aside from the Stealth II. Two of those are nicer pairs that don’t get a lot of heavy traffic. The third is a pair that is more performance-based/casual… but I’m scared to wear them.

You see, I used to own around six pairs of Vivobarefoot. What happened to those other three pairs, you ask? They fell apart.

Vivobarefoot has not been good to me in the past when it comes to performance. Whenever I was just starting to really enjoy a pair of their shoes I’d think, “Okay, it’s time to really put these puppies to the test!” Then I’d run them hard, or spend a month or two wearing them in the gym. It would start with something small, like the lace breaking. Or the side of one sole would start peeling. Soon after that, the whole damn thing would disassemble itself.

I’ve always felt torn about them. (Get it? Torn?) I think Vivobarefoot has the best toe box in the business. It’s wide and natural without feeling like too much. The tread were always *just* enough — some grip without getting too thick. And their shoes have sleek, classy, innovative style.

It was a frustrating cycle. Buy these good-looking, well-fitted shoes… then watch in agony as they disintegrate too fast.

So when I got the chance to review the Stealth II I said yes. But I had a caveat: I would wear them near-daily for at least two full months. I was going to put these suckers through their paces.


What works

I touched on this in my introduction, but the fact that these are minimalist shoes that actually hold their shape well — like, you know, actual shoes — that means a lot to me. It makes them easier to put on, it gives the wearer a boost in confidence that the shoes actually offer some protection, and they stay in place on your foot.

The mesh structuring on the upper makes the Stealth II one of the most breathable running sneakers I’ve ever owned. With the unseasonable warmth and rain that the southeastern United States has been trapped under, this has been a huge blessing. On warm days my feet stay more dry than with any other full-coverage shoe I own. And on rainy days, this is the only pair of shoes that don’t feel like they become waterlogged and heavy. Oh sure, the mesh means your feet will still get wet — but the water gets out of there much quicker and easier and doesn’t seem to affect performance.

As is usually the case with Vivobarefoot, these shoes also look great and were versatile for almost any situation. I could wear them on a run, shower, then put them back on with jeans for later.

There’s another small thing that I very much appreciate: the insoles. I usually take the insoles out of my shoes. For most brands, what’s under the insole reminds me of a peek behind the “employees only” door at the back of the grocery store. It’s not pretty. But for the Stealth II, underneath the insole is a well-manicured bottom that still looks like a legit shoe. Awesome!

What doesn’t

I’d like to see some more color varieties. But that’s a small quibble.

Honestly, I’d fully expected for this section to be about how the Stealth II also started to fall apart. But… (drum roll) they didn’t. There’s no real sign of wear at all. It’s entirely possible that I’m just getting old and not beating up on shoes like I used to, but I doubt it. I think Vivobarefoot has fixed some of their longevity issues.

With that being the case, I’ve got to admit: I actually have no major complaints!

For cross training


I ran in the Stealth II a fair amount, but I tried them out with some kettlebell work even more. Usually I’m barefoot when training in the gym. (Surprise!) But the Stealth II did really excellent under the stress of cross training.

There’re two main things I look for when it comes to in-gym performance by a shoe:
1) Grip/tread
2) Does it feel like it gets in my way more than it helps?

As I mentioned above, the tread was just enough. Grippy without feeling cumbersome. And aside from the occasional general awareness of wearing a shoe after two years of hardly ever doing so, the Stealth II never got in my way even once.

If you like minimalist shoes in the gym, especially for things like kettlebell swings, deadlifts, and get-ups, these are great at offering that little bit of protection while staying flat and firm on the ground. I would very strongly recommend these for strongman, powerlifting, and CrossFit.

Final thoughts


It should take a really great shoe to bring a stubborn barefoot-all-the-time athlete in from the cold to try wearing shoes again, much less to write about them. But, Vivobarefoot has done it. I love the Stealth II. I feel like I could gush about these for a while, but I think I’ve said it all above. If you’re in the market for a new pair of as-minimal-as-possible trainers, these are the ones you’ve been looking for.

You can find the VivoBarefoot Stealth 2 at or – MSRP $135.

By Greg

Greg is a runner, CrossFitter, trainer, and self-proclaimed geek. He also blogs on [url=]intellectual engagement, fitness, nutrition, and more at[/url] and [url=]writes fiction over at[/url].

15 replies on “VIVOBAREFOOT Stealth II Review”

Just wanted to echo this review — I have been wearing a pair of these for 2 years, pretty much daily. The work for just about anything, are extremely comfortable, and are extremely durable.

I’ve had many different pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes. They’ve all lasted me at least a year or two, but I just use them as a walking shoe. I think vivo’s have the best combo of longer lasting and great ground feel than any of the other minimalist shoes out there. One thing that must be done though, is change out those dang laces! Vivo’s shoes laces come untied so easily, its the worst thing about them. Swapping out the vivo shoe laces for the stretchy running shoe laces made wearing these shoes so much more enjoyable.

Has VBF gone back to the wider toebox? When they started adding the II designation the toe boxes were narrowed. Okay for casual wear, but uncomfortable for workouts and running.

Thanks for the review Greg. I’m looking for a minimalist CrossFit shoe. I’ve been doing CrossFit 3+ days a week for a year. I’ve blown out one pair or Merrell Vapor Gloves (original version) and am about to wear through the forefoot of the Vapor Glove II I’ve been wearing for the past 7 months. The newer version does have a more durable upper, but the Stealth II looks more durable.

Hi Greg,
. I bought a pair of the Stealth and Evo Pure this summer 2015. I bought the black shoe with blue trim. Very sharp looking shoe. I was wary of my Stealth II falling apart also. I had had the same experience as you….,but so far so good.

I travel full time doing fitness workshops and Gracie Jiujitsu seminars all over the world.
I’m a full time traveler and minimalist somI need shoes that are lightweight, pack able and can be worn for training as well as everyday use. I live in hotels and air Bnb. Everything in my travel bag must be functional and do double duty. The Vivo Stealth II is perfect for that.

My concern was that the uppers would tear up and or separate from the sole. I do tons of joint mobility and body weight exercises which place my feet in a lot of weird positions… This can really put a beat down on a pair of shoes. I must say that the Stealth II has held up. The only sign of wear was the thin blue line between the upper and the sole, around the outside edge of the shoe. It basically wore off over the toe area in the first day. No big deal. I wish they wouldn’t put it on in the first place. The uppers have very slightly faded, but only ever so slightly. That may be more due to being in the sun than constantly wiping them down with hotel washcloths after training. I do like how easily they clean up.

Over all a great purchase. I’ll buy another pair when these wear out.

Re: Scott, Has VBF gone back to the wider toe box?

The EVO PURES are based on a narrower last. As are most of the leather shoes.
The Stealth 2 and the Aquas II are the widest Vivos avalible and are as wide as prevous versions. The newer 2 versions of these also run a half US size longer as compared to 1s. Eg a size 42EUR in the 1s was 9US, in the 2versions it is 9.5US.

As far as width. The stealth 2 is equal to stealth 1 in width. But the king of width was the Aqua Lite. I now have Aqua lite and Aqua ii side by side in size 42. Defiantly the Aqua lite was wider. In wearing and also measuring with tape. At widest point the Lites are 110mm. The Aqua ii are about 103mm. So looks like he widest of Vivos days are gone.

the description says “hydrophobic mesh.” is there any chance you have or would be willing to give it a water test? i am sure it isnt water proof, but maybe good to go when walking around after a rain. This is the only draw back to the 5fingers: instant soggy toes after a mountain shower.

I’ve worn the Stealth II for about a year of CrossFit 3-4 days a week. They are still going strong. I may order a second pair to stash in the closet just in case Vivo were to change this shoe.

I weigh about 215 lbs and can be hard on shoes. These have held up better than any minimalist shoe I’ve tried. I formerly wore out 3 pairs of Vapor Gloves in a year.

I agree with Scott. When vivobarefoot started putting the “II” at the end of the name, something happened to the with of the toe box, they changed the last. I notice a difference with the “Gobi” vs. the “Gobi II”. The “Gobi II” has a more narrow toe box and I can not wear them. Same with the Ra II.

I really hope Vivobarefoot goes back to the wider last. Toes were meant to spread.

The design/look of Vivobarefoot has also gone down. Has anyone seen their new SS17 products. The Lux looks like an old grandpa shoe or something you wear on the golf course. Ugly.

Vivobarefoot should get a new designer.

I have some of the Motus that are less than a year old. I am by no means a big distance runner with runs of less than 20km usually once a week (just added a second run a week). The shoes were barely used at first due to Achilles injury (not related) and I am sorry to say the build quality is poor – certainly when compared to mainstream brands (New Balance/Brookes). The eyelet for the v-strap on both shoes has cracked and the sole wear is pronounced.

I feel every single rock in my Vapor Glove 2’s by Merrell. How are these in that regard, with the insole in and out?

I just got a pair of these shoes, and I like them, except for the rubber part above the toes (toe protectors?). The idea is a good one, but i find them a bit low. I wonder if as the shoes break in the toe box will give, including this area.


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