Capsule Review: Vivobarefoot Neo Shoes

Posted: 21/07/2012 in Barefoot, Journal, Review, Running, Transition

This is my second pair of Vivobarefoot shoes, the other being the Breatho Trails I picked up when I saw them on offer. Now I’ve only just started using the Breathos on the trail, so I need to update the wee review on those in a while.

However, I got a pair of Neos a couple of weeks ago – after my wife decided to give running a go, and that she wanted to start with barefoot shoes. I’ve been planning to start transitioning for a while, but was holding off for a half marathon that got rescheduled to September. So now seemed like the perfect time. The fab folk at Start Fitness had the Neos in, and after a bit of comparative-size malarky, I ended up with a 45, one size bigger than in the Breatho Trails. A little tip – if you go on the American Vivobarefoot site, they have a comparison where you can say what size you take in another shoe (there’s quite a choice) and it will tell you what size to go for in one of their models – very handy, and it got the size for my Breathos and Neos spot on.

Anyway, on to the shoes – they’ve a lovely retro black plimsole affair, with the slightly wider toe box that’s a hallmark of barefoot shoes. Made of a woven material, with some slight-but-good padding around the top of the shoe where your foot goes in. The soles are white, which looks a bit odd at first, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it pretty swiftly. The regular Vivo hexagon design on the sole, these are not quite as thin a sole as my VFF Classics but thin enough to feel the ground very nicely.


I’ve been using them on very short transition runs to get my legs used to the change, in fact I’ve been using them with my family as they work their way through a 13-week walk/run programme. And on the shorter distances they’ve done very well. Sometimes I’ve run a further 1-2 miles after to get a bit more consistency in the runs, and they’ve been an absolute dream. My left knee, source of much angst in my running has been absolutely fine – my calves have been a little sore, but I’m clear this is only from them getting used to the new form, rather than a creeping injury.

Today I ran my local Parkrun in them, and a bit before, and a bit after – maybe a total of four miles. Again they were fine, the only odd thing being that the left insole worked its way out from under my foot and appeared at my heel. Easy solution was to pull it out and keep going, and I do believe it felt even better after doing that – odd, but true. The shoes feel fab, like socks rather than shoes, and they’re don’t slide around, while your toes have space to go where they please. I nearly got the next size down because I was thinking there was too much room in the toe box, but don’t be fooled – it’s a bit more than you’d be used to in a normal pair of shoes.

What next? Well, my half marathon plan for September / marathon plan for October is currently out of the window – if I can transition and build up distance, then I’d be doing the Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon and Kielder Marathon, both trail races, in barefoot shoes. At this moment in time, I can’t imagine putting my regular cushioned shoes back on again.

Will it work out? You’ll have to come back an see… 🙂


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