My VivoBarefoot (did you know it’s officially all one word? Me neither, until recently) Evos arrived a couple of weeks ago, and along with them was a generous coupon offer that I’ve been authorized to pass along to anyone who is interested. Details will follow below – but I figured since I’m sitting here typing, I may as well plunk out some initial impressions about the Evo and make this a regular post for the day.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve only put 25 miles on these shoes over the course of three runs (5-, 13-, and 7-miles, in that order), which is only a fraction of the mileage I typically log before a full-fledged shoe review. I never rush to publish a review; I find that it takes some settling into a shoe to get a good sense of its overall comfort, performance and durability. In other words, I reserve the right to change my mind about any or all of this information by the time I post a full review in a few weeks.
And in the spirit of brevity, we’ll keep the observations to bullet points:
* The shoes aren’t nearly as bad looking as I feared – in fact, I’ve seen a lot worse on modern running shoes nowadays.
* The toe boxes are somewhat narrower than other VivoBarefoot models (see below), and noticeably more elongated. The fit runs true to size (Euro sizing), but since VB only offers whole sizes, someone who is truly an in-betweener might find the next whole number (say, a 10.5 US converting to a 11 US/44 UK) overly long in the front.
* Somewhat related to the toebox length, the flexion crease of the upper created a pressure point across the top of my second toe on each foot. It wasn’t uncomfortable, just noticeable.
* Some early reviews have noted a similar impingement at the base of the tongue area, but I haven’t experienced this. It’s worth noting here that I’ve used socks for all of my runs thus far, but I’m planning some sockless Evo miles very soon.
* Aside from the points I’ve mentioned, the entire sockliner and upper are quite comfortable. The 13-mile run I did was at a fairly fast pace, with zero chafing or hot spots anywhere around the heel or ankle.
* Overall weight of one shoe is 8.2 oz – which is on the high side for a minimalist shoe, but lighter than most road trainers.
* Speaking of minimalist footwear – if you’re coming to these from Vibrams, the arch area on the Evo will feel looser, as the outsole doesn’t wrap this area nearly as snugly as the FiveFingers.
* Outsole grip is quite solid for roads, and should be fine for groomed trails as well. I’ll put more trail miles on them soon to test some technical footing.
* Ground feel is similar to Vibram KSO Treks, and noticably thicker than the Feelmax Osma.
* Ventilation of the shoes feels pretty effective, but I haven’t worn them in temps over 50 degrees yet.
Otherwise, I guess the best thing I can say about the Evo is that I really enjoy wearing them, and I’m looking forward to putting a lot more mileage on them. Of course, the elephant in the room with any conversation about the Evo will be its price point - $160 US – and whether a “barefoot” shoe is worth more than most people spend on top of the line high-tech trainers. To me, the shoe’s durability will be the primary justifier of its cost, which is all the more reason to withhold a full review for a few more weeks. Give me another 100 miles or so, and I’ll have a much better sense of how things are holding together.
I’m rather optimistic about the construction quality of the Evo, mainly because it’s what I’ve come to expect from the three other VivoBarefoot models I own. If you already own these shoes, you know what I’m talking about; if you never have, now is a good opportunity to try.
In conjunction with this post, VivoBarefoot has provided a coupon code for a $50 discount on one full-price purchase from the VivoBarefoot collection between now and March 31st 2010. The code (sadly) doesn’t apply to the Evo shoe, but it’s valid for the entire Fall/Winter 09 line as well as the full Spring/Summer 2010 collection that will be available beginning March 22nd. Best of all, this isn’t a single-winner drawing, it’s an “anybody who wants it can get it” giveaway – so if you’re planning on purchasing any Terra Plana VivoBarefoot models this month, leave a comment below this post (make sure there’s a contact e-mail in the comment or attached to your profile) and I’ll send you the discount code. Easy as that.