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December 26, 2009

Vivo Barefoot Evo Running Shoe Preview; Lesotho Review

(Admin note: a subtle shifting of gears at R&R headquarters as December winds down. Most noticeable is that the rate of giveaways will taper off quite a bit compared to before the holidays – although I’ll make a concerted effort to include some kind of freebies with product reviews more frequently in the future. As for this week, I’m reviewing a shoe that I was eagerly anticipating throughout the fall – the New Balance MT100 – and turning the spotlight on a few other companies who’ve been good to me during 2009. The first such post is today, featuring Vivo Barefoot.)

Of all the people you’d expect to be experienced barefoot runners, the owner of a global shoe empire probably isn’t one of them.

Galahad Clark; photo from London Evening Standard

Fortunately, we’ve already established that Vivo Barefoot isn’t your everyday shoe company – and founder Galahad Clark isn’t your everyday shoe mogul. So it shouldn’t really have shocked anyone when he showed up to run this fall’s New York City Marathon in bare feet, or that he’s become the highest profile advocate of barefoot running among anyone in the world not named Christopher McDougall.

(On a side note - I should probably be a bit more reserved about my admiration for Galahad Clark; I’ve heaped so much praise on him in recent months that he’s starting to rival my other man-crush, Malcolm Gladwell. And I really need to stop saying these things out loud.)

Clark’s recent efforts are representative of a larger development as well: in the few years of its existence, Vivo Barefoot has firmly established itself as the premier shoe company for barefooters (yes, that’s something of an oxymoron … but you get the point). So when word got out in 2009 that the company was developing a running shoe to complement its line of casual and dress models, a whole lot of people took notice. This fall, the company released pictures of the Evo performance shoe, and the buzz became almost palpable.

Speaking of buzz ... is anyone else reminded of beehives right now?

Vivo Barefoot now has a skeleton webpage set up to introduce the Evo, as well as a registration form to receive more information about the shoe as it becomes available in spring 2010. I’m hoping to have a review posted here shortly after the shoes are released as well. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.


In the meantime, I’m continuing to enjoy Vivo Barefoot’s casual footwear – especially the most recent addition to my wardrobe, called the Lesotho. It’s the most formal-looking of the three pairs I’ve reviewed (Dharma and Oak being the others), but retains the comfort and ground feel of the more casual models.

The upper has the same sockliner described in my Oak review, but with a traditional lacing system that can be used to increase snugness as desired. I found that if I tightened the laces like normal shoes, the flexibility of the sockliner is limited - so I prefer to keep them quite loose in order to maintain the slip on/off capability.

The Lesotho’s outsole is the same one featured on the Oak: a deeply grooved honeycomb pattern that provides improved traction in wet conditions. When the sole is wet, its grip is still somewhat slick on hard, polished surfaces – but while the shoe’s overall traction isn’t as good as a sneaker, it’s certainly a lot better than most dress shoes I’ve worn.

All of the other usual Vivo Barefoot features are on display in the Lesotho as well: super ground feel, outstanding comfort, and quality construction, all from a company who is a leader in eco-friendliness and social responsibility. There are a lot of things to feel good about – and a few days left to feel good for a little bit less money.

The Vivo Barefoot Lesotho retails for $160 from Endless.com with free overnight shipping. After my last Vivo Barefoot review, the company offered a coupon code (RunVivo20) for 20% off any Vivo Barefoot model. The offer is good through December 31st, so there are a few days left for you to take advantage of it. If you’re interested, click here to get started.

*Product provided by Vivo Barefoot
*See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at


Rookie on the Run 12/27/09, 12:15 AM  

I have been looking into the Vibram 5 Fingers and came across a link to your site. I've been enjoying reading your reviews and insights!

I recently (as in yesterday) decided to give barefoot running a try... which is what lead me to Vibram. I know it will be a long process and not everyone understands but I'm willing to try it if it means the end to running-related injuries.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more from you!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year (awesome cookies, btw).


RD Jim 12/27/09, 9:02 PM  

I've already dropped a note to Vivo regarding the flashy design of the Evo. For a down to earth company to slap such a gosh-awful design on its running shoe is an insult to fashion conscious runners everywhere - especially trail runners. The only upside I see is that Rockie Mountain runners won't have to worry about their feet being eaten by mountain lions as no animal would go near those brightly colored monsters. What are the chances they'll come in plain brown?

Ray 12/28/09, 7:10 AM  

Looking forward to the MT100 review... I got a pair for Christmas, and spent a few hours over the weekend running through ankle deep slush and mud with them. They were amazing and super, super comfortable. While not VFF's they were awesome "minimalist" trail shoes. Hope you're enjoying them as much as I did!

Donald 12/28/09, 12:48 PM  

An update from Vivo Barefoot about the color schemes: Apparently the yellow color is much more muted in person than it photographs (the mesh is more of a dark gray), and has been the color with the best tester feedback. Men's styles will be offered in green, white, yellow, or black, and women's will be pink, blue, yellow, or black.

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