Opinionated World


The Ultimate Road Shoe – Vivobarefoot One

One of the latest shoes to be released by Vivobarefoot is The One. Yes, this One. A shoe that has been in development for three years has finally been released and it’s pretty darn good.

I was sent a test pair of The Vivobarefoot One, so production versions may differ slightly in terms of finishing details, bonding processes and the like.

The One is very much a developed version of the incredibly popular Aqua Lite. All you have to do is take one quick glance at both models side by side to realise one has been bred from the other. Despite the similarity in aesthetics; the materials used, the new and improved sole, the tongue and virtually everything about The One is completely different.

The spacious toe-box remains, perhaps even increasing in size slightly, which allows for your toes to splay as they should when you move. They weigh in at a measly 200 grams (roughly) which means you’re virtually unaware of their presence.

Vivobarefoot have once again improved their ‘on road’ sole which is now just 2.5mm in thickness, or rather, thinness. This is made from a soft, high abrasion TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) that allows for maximum sensory feedback on hard, flat surfaces. This gives The One a total stack height of 5.5mm, because the latest Poliyou insole has been reduced to just 3mm from the previous five. In comparison with the Aqua Lite, you are an additional 2.5mm closer to the ground. And trust me, you can feel it.

The new and improved 'On-Road' sole.

The new and improved ‘On-Road’ sole.

Ground-feel in this shoe is second to none, you’re constantly aware that you’re the slightest amount closer to the ground than with Vivobarefoot’s other offerings (aside from the brand new Stealth which shares the same sole). The difference of course won’t be a shock like coming from a heavily padded trainer to any Vivobarefoot shoe, but it’s certainly noticeable. Running in The Vivobarefoot One feels great and proprioception was better than ever before – there’s almost a sense of not wearing any shoes at all. The sole protects your feet from skin-cutting debris but gives the closest feeling yet to being completely barefoot.

The brand new upper is made from a PU Laminate on a hex thin mesh which allows for the best breathability. This is something else I can attest to. Wearing the shoes, put your feet near a fan on the most gentle setting and tell me you can’t feel the breeze! It’s almost like wearing a pair of Breatho Trails in terms of air flow. Despite the incredible breathability, I so far haven’t found my feet to get cold, despite always wearing these barefoot. In-fact, I’ve actually found my feet to stay warmer without socks, than with my usual thin cotton ones – though I put that down to the sock material itself.

The mostly un-padded heel.

The mostly un-padded heel.

A incredibly breathable upper.

A incredibly breathable upper.

The One comes with significantly less padding than Vivobarefoot’s other offerings. Instead of a cushioned tongue, you’ll find an almost aerodynamically padded, lightweight one. At the back, you’ll find little in the way of padding too, being greeted instead by a relatively hard, virtually moulded heal. Despite this, the lining is still soft and definitely not abrasive – the lack of padding simply doesn’t matter.

The tongue is now completely separate from the rest of the interior. Weight saving has very obviously been one of the main objectives here and the ‘heavy’ material that held the Aqua Lite’s tongue in place is no more. Instead, the tongue is stitched right at the bottom of the tongue, which ends after the final lace. Great for weight saving, but I did find the tongue to slip to the side easily after a short time walking or running – I think this is something they could easily fix, without increasing the weight by more than a couple of grams.

5.5mm stack height means incredible ground feel.

5.5mm stack height means incredible ground feel.

The laces, thankfully, haven’t changed to the rounded versions found in the Off-Road boots or the Trail shoes. They’ve stuck with the flatter, softer laces which always stay tied up during whatever activity you’re doing. I imagine these are also lighter.

The One fitted perfectly from the outset, which maintains my 100% record for Vivobarefoot shoes that haven’t needed breaking in. Worn without socks, they’ve been very comfortable, with zero rubs or tight spots. They do have a more moulded feel than most of Vivo’s offerings, which is really nice. They feel snug but well fitted around the back and sides, yet roomy at the front.

200 grams of total proprioception.

200 grams of total proprioception.

I did have one difficulty and that was in getting them on. I found that unless I loosen off the first two rows of laces, I can’t get my foot in without crushing the back and breaking my finger. Slackening off the laces helps tremendously and they slip on easily afterwards.

One problem I experienced was the upper coming away from the sole/upper separator after only a short period of time – probably 60 miles or so – which created a small gap. Vivobarefoot are aware of this and it has already been fixed on the production line – and as I mentioned in the second paragraph, my One’s are a test pair and will differ slightly from shop-bought pairs.

The new and updated sole is fantastic, gripping even better than before. The hex pattern sole is now concave for each individual tread, unlike the older ‘nubs’ on the Aqua Lite. Performance therefore is vastly improved, giving better traction on damp surfaces and still clinging to dry tarmac – they’re virtually fixed to totally flat surfaces via suction with no hint of slip.

Dri-lex Fantastia and Lycra lining.

Dri-lex Fantastia and Lycra lining.

They certainly don’t look like your conventional running shoe, but then none of their on-road shoes do. You have to look to their trail shoes before you see something more conventional in terms of looks. I personally like the style of these, though they’re slightly garish in this currently un-released yellow-green and blue. The training clinic editions and especially the black model will look fantastic with every-day clothing and that makes them multi-purpose too. You wouldn’t catch me wearing the previously mentioned conventional running shoes with my smart-casual clothes.

The One’s currently come in two versions, with a third available for pre-order with delivery very soon. The first is the ‘standard’ One, which comes in a yellow-green and black colour way. The second is a limited edition ‘Training Clinic’ model that are creme and orange (they also come with a metronome and a copy of the Vivobarefoot E-book). There’s also a soon-to-be-released black and orange ‘Training Clinic Mens Exclusive’ version, which look stunning.

The standard model come in at £84 with the Training Clinic models being £94. Other than colour and a free gift, all three models are exactly the same as One-another (see what I did there!). If you’re looking for a new gym or on-road shoe, then look no further than the Vivobarefoot One – it’s the ultimate road shoe.

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2 comments on “The Ultimate Road Shoe – Vivobarefoot One
  1. Karl on said:

    Hi Ste..2 questions. 1. Is the upper soft? 2. Do you think they would be too cold to wear (sock less) in the winter? The red color looks very tempting

    • Hey Karl,

      The outside of the upper isn’t smooth. It’s fairly rough – think Breatho Trail mesh kind of rough. The webbing is smooth, but again, not soft. The only soft bit is the area contained within the thin black line that has the Vivobarefoot name on it and runs down and around the laces.

      Inside the upper, it’s fairly soft because there’s a liner, rather than exposing your feet to the quite abrasive mesh.

      Personally, I think they’d be too cold for winter, especially without socks. You might just get away with them with socks on, but without, the breeze and general coldness will seep through more easily. In pretty much an identical way to how your feet would get cold in a Breatho. That mesh isn’t going to keep the heat in for more than a few seconds!

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