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November 20, 2012

VIVOBAREFOOT Legacy Review

It’s worth noting that when I first started reviewing VIVOBAREFOOT footwear more than three years ago, they were at that time exclusively a dress shoe company.  They hadn’t yet entered the running business, but there was an inherent symbiosis between their “barefoot” shoes and the natural biomechanics of a bygone era of running, before modern corporations turned the entire shoe industry into a destructive vortex of technologies that none of us needed. 


VIVOBAREFOOT Legacy

All of which is my long-winded way of saying that running shoes used to be much simpler.  However, today’s product review doesn’t feature a running shoe, but the VIVOBAREFOOT Legacy, designed as a throwback to those simpler days of running – or as the website describes it, “a luxury barefoot shoe that pays homage to the classic Roger Bannister era.”  

And before we proceed further, allow me to re-state what longtime readers already know: I’m a complete Roger Bannister freak.  (Scroll around the lower right sidebar to see what I mean.)  So when you put together the words “Bannister” and “barefoot”, you pretty much have me at hello.  Admittedly then, I may not be the most objective person to provide this review – but truthfully, the Legacy is probably one of the most versatile and stylish shoes I own.


Let’s start with the styling: true to its claim, the Legacy looks like it came straight out of Oxford University in the 1950s.  The entire upper is made with what VIVOBAREFOOT calls luxury leather.  The continuation of the lacing ridge lines down through the toe box give the shoe a look that’s equally suitable for office or casual wear.


The toebox is nice and wide, allowing your toes to splay naturally.  This design element seems almost needless to say for natural shoe reviews nowadays because pretty much everybody does it - but it bears mentioning that VIVOBAREFOOT was way ahead of the curve in pioneering this kind of last in office-appropriate footwear.


Unlike most other VIVOBAREFOOT shoes, there’s a bit of a breaking in period for the Legacy, as the luxury leather is slightly stiff right out of the box.  It becomes softer and more malleable after a few outings, and eventually becomes like a second layer of skin around your midfoot (but not so much in the heel – more on that in a second).


Midfoot fit can be fine-tuned by the traditional lacing system and waxed cotton laces that hold their tension quite well during long periods of wear.  Each shoe weighs 8.5 oz, (241g) which is slightly heavier than other office options (such as Merrell’s Tough Glove), but is light enough to not be burdensome even after a full day on your feet.


Around the heel area, the leather is approximately twice as thick as in the rest of the upper; I suspect this is to give a bit of structure to the heel collar, but it makes the rearfoot area noticeably stiffer than the rest of the shoe.  I feel the difference when walking up stairs or up steep inclines, but it’s not enough to cause any discomfort.


Standing height of the Legacy is either 5mm or 8mm, depending on whether or not you include the removable 3mm EVA insole.  Whichever way you choose, ground feel is outstanding with this shoe, as the soft, flexible rubber outsole provides heightened proprioception on a variety of surfaces.


Another nod to Bannister is the aforementioned outsole, which is taken from VIVOBAREFOOT’s luxury Evo running shoe.  It’s composed of high abrasion, puncture-resistant rubber with shallow hexagonal knobbing.  From my experience with other VIVOBAREFOOT models, I’d say this outsole is quite strong from a dry traction standpoint (especially on dirt or irregular surfaces), but lacks a bit in wet conditions compared to the all-weather outsole found on VIVO’s Lesotho shoe and other models.

Functionally speaking, the Legacy’s outsole mirrors its upper in terms of being versatile for a range of situations and conditions.  Ultimately that’s the strength of the Legacy on the whole: it’s a very well-built, good-looking shoe that you can use pretty much every day of the week, or from transitioning easily from work to a night on the town.

The VIVOBAREFOOT Legacy is available in two colors, and retails for $140 from the company website.  


*Product provided by VIVOBAREFOOT.  Affiliate sales support Running and Rambling.

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