Barefoot Shoes

Vivo Barefoot Drake Review

Once upon a time Vivo Barefoot made a shoe called the Oak. The Oak had a Wallaby-esque look to it and to this day is still in my regular shoe rotation (no small feat!).

But the Oak was discontinued awhile ago, which left (to my thinking) a bit of a…

Once upon a time Vivo Barefoot made a shoe called the Oak. The Oak had a Wallaby-esque look to it and to this day is still in my regular shoe rotation (no small feat!). But the Oak was discontinued awhile ago, which left (to my thinking) a bit of a whole in VB’s design line-up. The Oak’s design made for a nice aesthetic despite the wide last of Vivo shoes. The “rim” of a Wallaby just makes the shoe look more narrow. Well that changed when a few months back Vivo Barefoot released the Drake, and that’s the shoe I’ll be reviewing today thanks to Vivo sending a pair my way! And while the Drake is not an update to the Oak per se (the official line), it’s similar enough that comparisons are inevitable, so I’ll be making a few. Let’s dive in!

The Vivo Barefoot Drake

Described as shoes “With a relaxed mid-top design, soft, mellow suede and traditional moccasin toe-stitch, Drake keeps it super-chilled, super-comfy and super-barefoot.” I liken the Drake to the old Vivo Barefoot Oak, seen below:
The main differences between the Oak and the Drake are (1) that the Drake has a “mid-top” design versus the Oak’s low-top, neoprene-backed design that left the Oak feeling a little unrefined in the back (sort of like a mullet, perhaps). (2) The Drake features an updated sole and last that is slightly narrower, which you can see by comparing the above two photos. I’m happy to field more comparative questions about the Drake vs. the Oak if anyone has them — just ask away in the comments. The pair of Drake I’ve tested and reviewed were grey suede leather with a white sole. The Drake also comes in a black suede varietal. Take a spin around the shoes below through the photo gallery:

The Soles

The Drake features Vivo Barefoot’s 3mm “City Sole” that is stitched and glued to the shoe’s leather upper. There’s also a removable foam insole that is probably 2-3mm thick. All told, the sole is incredibly flexible — this entire generation of Vivo Barefoot soles is markedly less rigid to my handling than the prior generation (As with the old Oak). Take a look at how the shoe soles bend and flex: Due to having such a minimal and flexible sole, ground feel or “barefoot” feel is superb with the Drake. Also, just to state basics, these shoes have no arch support and feature a fairly wide toe box. I say “fairly wide” because the prior generation of Vivo Barefoot’s had a wider toe box. Indeed, the width of the toe box sometimes resulted in unfortunate comparisons to clown shoes (though importantly I only ever heard minimalist/barefoot enthusiasts make that comparison). Since I don’t have super-wide feet, Vivo’s with this last fit me fine (see also the Gobi II review for more on this). I know a few people who haven’t had such luck with the newer VB last.

The Look

With its white sole, suede upper, and moccasin mid-top styling, the Drake is a dressy casual shoe. (It’s really not a business casual shoe in its current configuration) Importantly, the missus lauded (unsolicited) positive comments about the Drake the first time she saw them. And paired with a pair of Gustin selvage jeans, the Drake is in its element, bringing in major style points. They just have a nice look to them, but they’re definitely a shoe you’d wear with jeans or pants (not slacks or shorts).
Personally, and this may seem strange if you were in the clown-shoe camp, I actually preferred the slightly wider last of the Oak as compared to the Drake. I think because of the moccasin-stitching, the Drake could pull off a wider base. In fact, I almost feel like the moc-stitch’s optical illusion (making the shoe look more narrow than it is) almost makes the Drake look too narrow. I’m being nit-picky here, but that’s just what I see. I go back and forth about the white sole on the Drake. I know that’s sort of the style these days so I’m rolling with it, but I could take it or leave it—a tan sole would also suit me fine.

Other thoughts

What I like about the Drake is that it’s a comfortable, stylish shoe that has a refined-enough look and barefoot-friendly design. It’s comfortable for knocking about my office or hitting the streets and getting about town. Compared to other mid-top, casual Vivo Barefoots (like the Gobi 2), I’d say the Drake is more comfortable thanks to having a padded lip around the ankle that the Gobi II lacks (pretty much requiring socks in the Gobi 2, whereas I’ve never worn socks with the Drake!). Fit-wise, I wear a 44 in the Drake (and a 43 in VFFs and a 10.5 in regular shoes). I don’t have a particularly wide foot nor a high in-step. If you have either, the Drake might fit you a little differently than me.


Ultimately, if you’re sold on barefoot-value prop you get with Vivo Barefoot shoes and like the look of the Drake, there’s nothing else you need to read! This is a solid shoe and a nice update from Vivo Barefoot. I’ll add that there are also a couple brown-leather varietals on VivoBarefoot’s website (they are the Soul of Africa versions and come at a higher pricetag). Speaking of price, the Vivo Barefoot Drake retails for $150 (though you can get 15% off once you click through and take advantage of their “share and save”). If you’ve got a pair, would be great to hear your thoughts! And if you’re still rocking your Oaks like me, would be good to hear from you, too!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

14 replies on “Vivo Barefoot Drake Review”

Thanks for going into detail about the narrowness of new Vivo designs. Their older designs had heel-to-toebox ratio of 1.6, newer designs are 1.3.

I was all-Vivo, all the time for years, until their molds went tight. Since then, I buy a couple new models every year, hoping they’d eventually start feeling comfy. They do not, and now it’s all Lunas all the time. Not nearly so stylish…

I’ve been having a hard time finding zero-drops for my kids. Merrell’s Glove have spoiled me, have not found anything that sturdy since.


You are welcome — and I, too, have struggled to find zero-drops for the kids. Way back I bought a few extra sizes of the kid’s trail glove but now they have been outgrown/worn out (both).

Have either of you gentlemen considered Sanuk? I compared a pair from Sanuk’s Sidewalk Surfers line to my Vivo Ra II’s to find that they have similar toe-box and lasts, plus they have a kid’s line! Although the sidewalk surfers have a thicker, stiffer sole than many of my minimalist shoes, they are still zero-drop. And the regular line of shoes do in fact have removable insoles.

Thank you for this review. Even though I own three pairs of Vivos (Gobi, Oaks, and one other pair that’s no longer made and I can’t even remember the name of) I’ve always felt they looked “clownish”. Always wishing they would narrow the toe box a bit. Thanks to you pointing out that they are narrower, I will check out the Drakes!

I love my oaks! Just can’t kick scooter with them because of the flexible heel. I had some issues with narrowness in newer models. The Ra and Gobi were great but the “II” versions not so much for my size E feet.

Excited for the Aqua reboot. Hope they’ll be okay for my feet.

They need to make the “Oak” again. I wore out two pairs and still wear a pear that has a hole in the sole. They worked so well for work too…..

Could you say something about the sizing compared to Gobis I have both v1 and v2) and other models? I’ve seen comments indicating that it runs slightly small/tight-ish. Especially in the instep. Vivo doesn’t have a shoefitr link on it’s page yet, so any comments are welcome.

Also, how does the quality seem? Comments on their website seems to indicate that some are having problems with low quality stitching.

Stitching hasn’t been a problem so far. As for the instep I’m going to be of little help as I don’t have a very high instep, so never had a problem with vivos. I would venture to say that if you have a high instep the narrower last could make things a little more snug.

wow, I really like the look of the Drake, I have been wearing vivobarefoot shoes for about 5 years but I only purchase when they ‘go bad’ and wear through or stitching goes. I say this because I only look at their website when I need to. So, I am surprised by the look of them as they look more traditional which I like. I always love the feel but haven’t always loved the duck feet appearance. Thanks for reviewing this shoe.
Dave (I think you will allow this url from your above comments section-we are a running blog directory, if not just remove. Thanks, don’t want to get spammy on you. Dave

So having ordered some, I did find that my normal size (43) felt too small and narrow, so I went up to a 44 and I’m concerned that they may be too big??? About how much toe room do you have in yours? Does your foot kinda follow that flat trea pattern on the underside of the shoe? I don’t want them to be all floppy and have my foot sliding around in them, and would rather find another model if they are too big. What’s your suggestion?

Mine fit snugly but not uncomfortably so — do you have wider feet? I wonder if your foot is higher volume than mine (I have fairly narrow feet).

I wear 44 in VBs … the only exception is the Vivo Oak, which I happen to have on now. The 44 Oaks were just a little too big.

Bottom line: if they feel too big I’d not keep them. That would drive me crazy.

Yeah I am a 43 in every other pair of VB, which is why i was so surprised… I’ve got the Ra II, the Trail Freak, Evo Pure, and the Ultra II, all in 43… maybe I just got a bummer pair? I know that quality control can slip at times with VB… My right foot is a touch wider than my left, but not so much so that I should need to size up. Maybe I’ll give it another shot from a different site?

Can you comment on the breathability? I’ve been using the Freud for close to a year now and recently started noticing that my feat are wet when I take them off at home after work. Sometimes they become wet while at work. It’s really an awful experience to be stuck there with no option to change what’s going on with my feet (IE take the bastards off and walk around barefoot).

Haven’t had any breathability problems. I could see that happening with the Fried do to the different upper material — possibly less breathable. The suede of the Drake seems to breath fine in my experience.

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