Better than Barefoot
March 4, 2009 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Have any of you worn vivo barefoot shoes from terra plana? Do you like them? Is there something similar but better?

I am intrigued by these shoes and think the concepts in this article make sense so I'd like to try these or similar shoes but am looking for more input before I plunk down a pile of cash. Reviews on the interwebs seem kind of scant.
posted by zennoshinjou to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
T-Nation just did a bit on barefoot shoes.

They suggested:
Sanuk Vagabonds
Vibram Five Fingers

Perhaps you'd be interested in one of them?
posted by milqman at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a pair of vibram five fingers, also mentioned in the linked article, and like them but my feet do tire in them quicker than in regular shoes.
posted by devbrain at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2009

Funny you should axe. I have actually thought about posting on Mefi about this. I am a barefoot / unpadded shoe runner, and I run in Five Fingers exclusively, unless I'm somewhere like a gym where I couldn't deal with the staring, in which case I run in some very thin Teva aquasocks. Five Fingers are great. The soles on Chucks and Sanuks are way too thick to be a "barefoot" substitute; wear them if you want, but don't think they are in the same category. I have a pair of Vivos and they are great too, but I personally wouldn't run in them because I have size 14 flippers and my Vivos, while the largest size made, are a little tight. The nice thing about them is that they look like normal shoes, so you can wear them anywhere. I can't wait until they come out with a polishable leather model that I can wear to work.

As for foot tiring, that goes away after a while. If you are going to run, follow the advice at and go SLOW. If you're just walking, do like you normally do. A lot of people smack their heels down when they walk in padded shoes. Of course, if you do that in "barefoot" shoes you'll get a bruise, and it will hurt like hell, so it's not like I need to tell you not to do it.
posted by alexwoods at 11:09 AM on March 4, 2009

Response by poster: yeah just to clarify these are for walking not running. ideally I want something I can wear everywhere all the time.
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2009

Vibram five fingers are great i run in mine. However if you plan on doing any physical activity i would recommend starting out slowly.

The first time i ran 2 miles in my vibram my feet were very tender, however after a few more tries around that distance im fine. I really think i run better barefoot, its strange the first time but well worth the effort
posted by moochoo at 11:18 AM on March 4, 2009

Take a look in the Mefi thread about that NYmag article, I remember some people talking about the shoe. That's where i first heard about the Vivo shoes as well as other barefoot type shoes.

How Shoes Are Ruining the Human Foot
posted by aGee at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2009

I love my Vibram fivefingers. I wear them everywhere, including to work. You will get a lot of questions and comments, but if you can have a sense of humor about yourself, it's worth it for the stability and the freedom of feeling barefoot everywhere (without the glass shards and tetanus shots).
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:31 AM on March 4, 2009

I've got a pair.

They take quite a bit of getting used to. They're quite a tough shoe, but your feet will feet very vulnerable in them at first. You will have to learn to walk differently. The normal heel-first, roll onto your toe gait is quite uncomfortable in the barefoots, particularly on hard surfaces like pavement.

I use them mostly for casual walking about. They're also great Tai Chi shoes.

I've not really looked into alternatives.
posted by bonehead at 11:32 AM on March 4, 2009

I love my fivefingers, although for those of us with weird toes, they might be uncomfortable. I find that walking around with them in grass is one of the best things ever.
posted by arimathea at 11:32 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you want them for walking, and you're not some kind of exhibitionist that enjoys being stared at, then Vivos are the way to go. The sole is impossibly thin (I took out the insole), to the point where you can feel the texture in different kinds of sidewalks. Just be sure to get a pair that fits. I don't know where you are located, but Terra Plana has a store in NYC, on the Lower East Side.
posted by alexwoods at 11:36 AM on March 4, 2009

Response by poster: yeah unfortunately I am not able to get to the store.. I spoke with someone there who recommended buying one size larger than a conventional shoe since the wider toebox leads to a shorter shoe.
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:38 AM on March 4, 2009

Fivefingers for me, I find the elastic a little tight after a few hours, and my recent attempt to play badminton in them wasn't as successful as it might have been (need padding for those fast direction changes). First time I wore them I walked about 5k on offroad gravel, no worries.
posted by Iteki at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2009

Nike Free are somewhat similar.
posted by metaname at 12:26 PM on March 4, 2009

Anecdotally, my Fivefingers completely fell apart after wearing them every day for about four months. This includes regular tread on city, bicycle, beach, and Burning Man. Other than that, they are wonderful. If you're already used to walking in barefoot-style footwear, you shouldn't have too much of the usual fatigue/"learning curve."
posted by mykescipark at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2009

I spoke with someone there who recommended buying one size larger than a conventional shoe since the wider toebox leads to a shorter shoe.

That's my experience. Go a half size up.

Iteki: my recent attempt to play badminton in them wasn't as successful as it might have been (need padding for those fast direction changes).

Try getting some Injinji socks. They cost a fortune but are really worth it. I wear them on any long run, when it's cold, or when I am going to be bouncing around a lot, and they make a huge difference.

Nike Free are somewhat similar.

They are not similar enough - they have heels that are quite thick, and thus encourage a "conventional" walking/running style (hyperextending the foot and pounding the heel). They really don't belong in the same category as Vivos or Five Fingers.
posted by alexwoods at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Add me to the people who love love love these "shoes." (Mine are the Vibram ones, though.)

The way I explain/demonstrate them to people is by doing the run-around-and-jump-up-and-down-like-a-5-year-old show, which is so much clunkier in shoes than barefoot. In the Vibrams, it's clearly a barefoot jump. I use them for running and for walking, and do not have the tiring issue that was mentioned above.

My caveats would be that 1) as you would barefoot, you can feel more of the ground under your feet (like little rocks you step on) and 2) though nothing has happened in 10 months yet, I wonder how long the glue holds up between the sole and upper (but apparently Vibram will repair/replace them if necessary).

Last, if you can get yourself to a store eventually, please do it. It helps to try them on there. The best technique for getting your toes in the right spots is to put the shoe on the ground and slide your foot into it, eventually inch-worming your toes into place.
posted by whatzit at 1:21 PM on March 4, 2009

I've got a pair of Vivo Barefoot -- I can't remember the specific type, but it doesn't appear to be on terraplana given a cursory glance.

I like them a whole lot. But I don't wear them much. There are just too many pebbles that unashamedly smash themselves into the ball of my foot without worry for my poor, cushionless soles.

When it comes down to it, I'm a squishy human. If you're a big wuss in bare feet, you can go away happy in the knowledge you'll be a similarly big wuss wearing barefoots or equivalents. In that respect, they are as close to being shoeless as you're going to get whilst wearing something more than a sock.

Beware the patchy graveled driveways.
posted by Smoosh Faced Lion at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2009

I had a pair of Vivo Barefoots (Barefeet?) which I loved. I didn't find it difficult to walk in them at all. The main problem I had with them was that the upper didn't seem to be fully waterproof (it's hard to make a waterproof and breathable upper, as far as I can make out) and so because the sole didn't raise your foot off the ground, walking in rain, in dewy grass, on damp ground, etc. all got my feet soaking wet. But this may have been tackled with the newer models - they also used to have a zip all the way around, which was the first thing to break, and now they don't.
posted by Acheman at 3:15 PM on March 4, 2009

Vibram five fingers for the win, if you can handle people going "squee!!!" all the time at you. I suggest the ones with a bit of velcro over the top for the first go around with them. I love mine with a vengeance.
posted by Freen at 11:50 AM on March 5, 2009

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