Sometimes I feel like I know how a review is going to go, almost before I take the shoes out of the box.
Case in point is VivoBarefoot’s Evo II, which I was given the opportunity to test in conjunction with this week’s giveaway, the first of several VivoBarefoot prize contests in December. Before receiving them, one of the first things I asked the rep was, “Are there a lot of significant differences compared to the first Evo?” – and after she described the relatively minor updates, I knew the shoe was one I could take out of the box and put straight to work.
So that’s exactly what I did: my Evo IIs arrived in time for only a couple of short trail runs before I headed off for my awesome traverse of Zion National Park. And when I packed my bags, I carried only one pair of shoes with me – that’s how confident I was that they were up to the task.
Considering that I get to try a lot of minimalist shoes, I’ve spent some time thinking about what exactly distinguishes the Evo (see my original review here) from the rest of the pack. There are other minimalist styles that I enjoy wearing for everyday training, and another that I prefer for pure road or track running, but when it comes to wanting something super versatile and dependable for epic off-road adventures, with increasing frequency I choose the Evo. I’ve come to think of them as high-performance minimalist shoes – and the new Evo II comes from that exact same mold.
I mean that almost literally, because to be quite honest, there aren’t a lot of modifications from the Evo to the Evo II. A slightly different mesh, a little more interior lining, and a couple of different colors to choose from … other than that, it’s the same shoe I know and loved from the summer.
As part of the fall/winter collection, you can think of the Evo II as a more winterized version of its predecessor, with features to make it more suitable for harsher climates. The nylon mesh that sits below the hexagonal TPU of the upper is denser and water resistant, and the microfiber lining from the Evo’s sockliner area is extended throughout the entire shoe on the Evo II to provide increased warmth.
Aside from that, the entire design and all of the performance features are the same on the Evo II as they are on the Evo. A 4mm puncture-resistant and completely flexible outsole provides reliable traction on the most challenging trails (if you need convincing, go back and look at that Zion report again). Removable insoles allow you to customize ground feel versus comfort to a slight degree. Overall weight is 8oz per shoe, and the materials are 100% vegan.
I did notice a difference in the warmth of the Evo II compared to the Evo, and with the right pair of socks, this would definitely be one of your best options for minimalist running in extreme cold climates. Water resistance was decent in the rain – they’re not 100% impermeable like Gore-Tex, but they also shed water a lot more quickly after river crossings than GTX-lined uppers typically do.
The only area that’s lacking to make this a true winter shoe is the outsole traction on wet, hard surfaces. The Evo II uses the same performance sole as the Evo, which does experience minor slipping on slick rocks, and may have a similar issue on ice (although to be fair, I never tested these in ice). A more aggressive outsole is rumored to be in the works at VivoBarefoot, and as a trail runner I’d love to see this applied to the Evo.
In my original Evo review, I described them as the best all-purpose minimalist shoe available, suitable for a wide variety of conditions – and the Evo II now further expands those conditions to include the cold and snowy extremes of winter. I also commented about how their retail price of $160 was somewhat cost-prohibitive, and at that time, the company wasn’t offering any discounts on the Evo at all.
But now, just in time for the holidays, that situation has changed. For ONE WEEK ONLY, today through December 6th, VivoBarefoot is offering 20% off both the Evo and Evo II. The men's Evo II is available here, and this link will take you to the men’s Evo. (And since I’m an equal-opportunity linker, the women’s Evo II is here, and the women’s Evo is here.) When you’re ready to check out, enter coupon code RREVO and the discount will be applied.
Of course, if you’re really lucky, you’ll win a pair of Evo IIs for free – because that’s the first prize of my December giveaway spree. I’m picking one winner from the comments section below who will then be allowed to select the Evo II gender and size (and maybe even the color) of their choosing directly from VivoBarefoot. And if you’re willing to spread the word about this contest with return linking, I’ll even give you a few extra entry chances.
Here’s how it will work: you get one entry for leaving a comment below this post. You’ll get additional entries for linking to this contest page from your Twitter feed or Facebook page (one entry for each). Finally, since I’m partial to bloggers, if you have a blog in addition to Facebook/Twitter and link here in a current blog post, I’ll give you a fourth entry. When you’re entering below, tell me how many entries you've earned, and I’ll keep a running tally. If you tell me you’ve linked here, I’ll pretty much take your word for it, but I might make random, periodic checks just to keep things honest.
I’ll announce the winner on Saturday morning, December 4th, so that if you’re waiting to redeem the coupon code in hopes of winning the contest, you’ll still have a couple of days to shop if you don’t win (which – sorry – will be most of you). There's a new banner ad above the Running and Rambling homepage that clicks to a landing page for the Evo II, so you can jump directly over there at any time this week. Be sure to tune in Saturday - or better yet, subscribe to the blog - to see if you won, and good luck to everyone!
*Product provided by VivoBarefoot.
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you'd like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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