As you’ve no doubt caught on, I have been reviewing a variety of different barefoot-style shoes lately. A good number of these have taken the form of boots, such as the VivoBarefoot Tracker FG. I’m fairly novice when it comes to the world of running (aka, I’ll do a few miles on the track or treadmill with varying speeds), but I’ve never thought about running in a shoe like the VivoBarefoot Stealth II. Would my feet hurt? What about my knees? Well, I’m only one person (so your results may vary), but I’ve had a pretty positive experience with the shoes.
When it comes to a barefoot-style shoe, you’re coming at it from a few different directions. In the case of the VivoBarefoot Stealth II, this is in the form of a super-thin sole. In this case, it’s the thinnest one that the company has developed. This means your foot can flex and move as it would if you were barefoot, and you’ll feel whatever is underfoot quite easily. And I can attest to that, as I did try these shoes out a few different days on my commute, and you feel every crack in the pavement, etc. On a nice smooth track or treadmill, though, you’re a-ok.
A thin sole also means that there is no padding, really. Sure, there are insoles you can get from the brand for the shoes (and we did try out the mesh ones), but those are for super-basic cushioning, and in the case of the ones we tried, airflow. So, if you’re used to super-cushioned soles, your running style of driving your heel into the ground on every stride is not going to be your friend. For me, I did not have to change my running style a whole lot with the VivoBarefoot Stealth II, as I had already been headed to the gym with a fairly flat-soled (and not padded) pair of Crossfit shoes (not that that’s what I’m doing, but when I needed shoes, they were on a crazy discount). You will tend to be more forward onto the balls of your feet than your heels, and you may be slower, but it was not painful in any sense of the word.
So, yes, that’s right – when I ran with the VivoBarefoot Stealth II, I did not have any problems with pain in my feet, knees, or hips. This was a pleasant surprise for me, I have to say. I figured something would ache, but that was not the case. Of course, that is in line with literature you’ll read about barefoot-style shoes, in that the more natural movements of your feet (along with the adjustments in stride and steps they sort of adapt you to) are just plain better for your body. I’ve not worn them extensively enough to say if that holds true over the longer term, but they worked for me at the gym.
Whether you’re running, cycling, or lifting weights (here again, the flat soles are your friends), good airflow for your feet will make for a more comfortable workout. Socks can go a long way for that, wicking sweat away (I’m partial to those from Darn Tough), but the shoe definitely has an impact as well. The VivoBarefoot Stealth II has a webbed upper that gives things an interesting visual texture, and allows for lots of air to move through. While I could tell my feet had, well, sweated, the shoes were by no means drenched. Again, for me, this makes for a good gym shoe.
For those who may prefer to do their runs outside and at night, the VivoBarefoot Stealth II has a feature you’re going to love – great big retro-reflective bits on the shoe. The heel, tongue, logo, and outline around the lacing holes are all reflective. I’ve done my best to show this in the photos with a flash, but they should definitely help keep you visible, even if you are wearing a black shoe (there is a white version as well). At $150, the VivoBarefoot Stealth II fall inline with the brands pricing, and time will tell how the no-sew construction holds up. If they’re like the FG Tracker boots that I wore extensively over the winter, though, we should be in a good place here. For me, I’m looking forward to using them at the gym, or even as a super-lightweight (and compressible) backup pair of shoes in a bag during travel. Barefoot may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am finding some use cases for them, for sure. vivobarefoot.com
- Brand & Model: VivoBarefoot Stealth II
- Price: $150
- Who’s it for? You want a light, flexible, and breathable shoe for exercising in
- Would I wear it? Definitely at the gym. As an everyday, all day wear, though, that wouldn’t be the case for me
- The best thing about it: Aside from how light they are, I’m surprisingly enamored with the reflectivity (I suppose it’s the shoe equivalent of luminous paint!)
- Watch it pairs best with: In this case, the Garmin 920XT was the perfect pairing for a variety of reasons
- No-Sew Construction – durable yet flexible, minimal design
- V-Web Upper – engineered hex mesh material for support and stretch
- Breathable Mesh – to help keep your feet cool
- TPU Sole – our thinnest sole with the best durability
- Weight: 120g
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