Barefoot Running Shoe Review: VIVOBAREFOOT Evo

After many months of running in my Nike Free’s, I was ready to dive deeper into the world of minimalist running shoes. About three weeks ago, I ordered my new VIVOBAREFOOT Evo’s (in white and red).

I first tried the Evo’s on when I was in London on my way back to Canada. They fit my foot amazingly well, but I must admit – spending that much money (the Evo’s retail for £100.00) on a pair of shoes that felt like a pair of cheap aqua socks I used to wear at the lake (i.e. no fancy air bubbles, cushioning, motion control, etc.) seemed a bit much. Heck, if I wanted to have the barefoot running experience I could have it for free, by simply wearing no shoes at all! I however, was wrong. The VIVOBAREFOOT Evo’s are amazing. Let me tell you why.

Ordering Process

I ordered my Evo’s online as they are not readily available in shops in Canada. It probably took about 7 business days for my shoes to arrive, which is not bad at all. The shoes arrived in a nice shoe box (as shoes do) and I noticed the company urging me (the consumer) to reuse and recycle the box. After all, VIVOBAREFOOT is all about using eco-friendly materials and sustainability. For this reason I do not mind spending a bit more for a shoe that is made by a company with eco-conscious principles.

Within the shoe box, each shoe was contained within a small fabric bag with a drawstring attached. A very nice touch if you ask me. In fact, I used these bags protect my wedding shoes last week when I travelled across the country!

Cost

As I mentioned above, the VIVOBAREFOOT Evo’s do not come cheap. They retail for $160 in the US and £100 in the UK. I did not mind paying a bit more for the Evo for two reasons.

Firstly, VIVOBAREFOOT is a relatively small company with highly ethical values and eco-friendly principles. Wherever possible, I will always try to support the smaller company over the biggies like Nike and Adidas.

Secondly, the EVO is a great product. How did I know this before I purchased them? Well, I did my research and was following VIVOBAREFOOT for about a year prior to buying my first pair of their shoes. All of VIVOBAREFOOT’s shoes came highly recommended and I am a fan of minimalistic shoes anyway.

Appearance

The Evo does not look like the standard running shoe, but then again….it’s not a normal running shoe. The Evo looks like track and field spikes, without the spikes of course.  I purchased the red and white version. In my opinion the white Evo looked the most ‘athletic’ of all the colour options, but I would have been happy with any of them.

My first visual impressions of the Evo were good. The Evo is very light at 8.2 ounces. For comparison purposes, the Asics Gel Kinsei weighs approximately 13.9 ounces. Although the Evo is very light its TPU cage, breathable mesh and microfiber reinforcements make it feel solid without sacrificing weight and flexibility. The tongue of the shoe is this thin yet contains enough padding so that the laces do not dig into your foot.

I am not sure if running shoe laces are a pet peeve for you, but I hate it when the laces are too long, too short or are made of material that does not permit a nice tight knot. The laces on the Evo are good, although I would prefer them to be a bit shorter (I double knot to get around this) for running.

The ultra this puncture-proof rubber sole (4 mm) on the Evo provides just enough protection for the feet without moving very far from the barefoot experience. Like probably most others considering barefoot running; fear of stepping on a sharp piece of glass or even worse, dog crap, keeps me from running completely barefoot. The Evo gives you the best of both worlds – complete foot mobility with ample protection from the running surface.

The tread on the VIVOBAREFOOT Evo is excellent for running on the streets, dirt or grass. The grip on the Evo is also great for basic trail running but, I would be careful if the trail surface is wet.

Size and Fit

I normally wear a UK 11 and a US size 12 (my Nike Free’s are US 12). I ordered an EU 45 (US 12) and it fits perfectly, with a little room in the toe box for natural movement of the toes when planting the foot on the ground. The Evo sizing appears to be in line with my Nike running shoes size.

The Evo is so comfortable that I have been wearing them everywhere. Riding my bike, to the cafe, travelling etc. The fit is snug, but not restrictive in anyway. My feet feel free to move exactly as they would without shoes.

Breathability

The upper mesh design of the Evo provides great breathability. I usually wear the Evo’s without socks and one concern I always have is sweat. I found the my feet did not sweat as much as they do in my Nike Free’s, which is a good thing as sweat can lead to blisters. After one month, I have yet to have a blister from running in my Evo’s.

Wearing running shoes with barefoot can sometimes lead to some funky smells. Well, the Evo utilizes Agion antimicrobial protection to help fight odours, prevents bacterial and fungal growth in an environmentally friendly way. It seems to work.

Running Experience

I have now run 5 times in my Evo’s. The longest run has been 7 km with the shortest being 4 km.  The Evo’s have felt amazing. My calves were a bit tight after the first couple of times running in them, but from what I have read about barefoot running, this is normal. Landing on the midfoot / forefoot places larger demands on the muscles of the calves. Be sure to check out my previous barefoot running post for a barefoot running preparation training program to help you get started with barefoot running or running in minimalistic shoes like the Evo.

With regards to my foot strike, wearing the Evo’s almost instantly forced me to land more on my midfoot.  Without the large amount of padding that traditional running shoes provides, the Evo promotes running with a midfoot / forefoot foot strike in a natural way. Even my posture improved when running in the Evo; I ran more upright with greater efficiency. Running in the Evo brought ‘fun’ back into running for me.

The VIVOBAREFOOT Evo can be purchased in North America and Europe from the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Related posts:

Running barefoot and barefoot alternatives

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  • http://twitter.com/magruffman Mag Ruffman

    This is a really helpful review, and what a great site you have – I’m going to be lost here for hours! By the way, Sojourn Outdoors in Barrie, Ontario is now importing the Vivo Barefoot line. They called me yesterday to let me know that they finally got their order in. Thanks again for the comprehensive coverage of the Evo, can’t wait to get mine today.