Initial Impressions VIVOBAREFOOT Neo

Published by Ronald on Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011 15:44 EDT


I have wanted these shoes since I had the opportunity to test the VIVOBAREFOOT Evo at a barefoot race in Tilburg a few months ago. They felt excellent, but at that point I was still a new runner and investing such a large sum of money (160 euro) was not in my budget at that time. I kinda regret not getting them now because I could have been running in minimal shoes for the past two months instead of starting now with the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo.

It took a while to receive the shoes, so that gave me ample time to do some research.  I am a worrier, and the more I found out about the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo, the more I worried. I started to wonder if this was more of a casual shoe in lieu of a running shoe. I worried: Will they be too heavy? Are they way too minimal? Will they ventilate properly with so much fabric? They market the Neo as a performance shoe which could really mean just about anything.



I really had no clue what to expect from VIVOBAREFOOT, but when I got the package I opened it immediately to check it out. The shoes were in two grey, stylish bags with their logo on it which looks impressive when you first open the box. Also, a small pamphlet is included which explains why they make these shoes, why running barefoot is better, and it warns you to take it easy and not do too much in them immediately if you are transitioning to barefoot style running.

The shoes simply look amazing in my eyes.  The style VIVOBAREFOOT has used for these shoes is very clean and perhaps a bit edgy, but not too edgy. While I was shopping with these shoes on, I didn’t get odd looks from anyone unlike some other shoes I have worn before. The style of the shoes is clean and neat and not overdone. The people around me loved the look of the Neo and were wondering where I got them. Oddly, they didn’t really care for the whole barefoot thing.


The first thing I noticed while holding them is that they are pretty heavy for a running shoe. Also, there seems to be less ventilation than some of my other shoes. I get sweaty feet pretty fast so it is a concern for me if they don’t ventilate properly.

First run

I got the Neo's last week on Thursday, and I took them out for a run immediately to see how they would feel. These are the most minimal shoes I have worn so far and I was very curious how I would like them.  The shoes, having no support in the heels, punished me immediately by giving me a jolt through my knees and upper legs. I had to adjust very quickly to land on my forefoot properly (I thought I had done that already but apparently not). I completely overdid my first run and ended up with sore calves and feet which seems to be a common beginners mistake.

When I got back I felt tired and my feet were tingling. Being a “barefoot” rookie, I ignored the pamphlet’s advice of slowly transitioning to barefoot running and had to take a rest during the weekend. Even after overdoing it, I still felt the whole experience of running in shoes like these is amazing and feels completely different from what I was used to. The way the ground feels so very close to my foot now is just unbelievable, and it really has given me a boost to run even more than I already do.

Second run (Without insoles)

VIVOBAREFOOT NeoAfter the weekend, again ignoring the pamphlet’s advice of transitioning slowly, I put the Neos on again to run a short 30 minutes. This time I decided to run without the insoles to experience how truly minimal the Neos are. The shoes felt a bit roomier and my toes were a little bit more free and removing the insole allowed for even more toe splay than before. The insole is pretty soft and provides a tiny bit of cushioning, but without the insoles it felt just like walking barefoot. It’s hard to see from the pictures but the sole is only 3 mm thick and it’s not a soft and squishy sole, but a hard and flexible sole.

With my shoddy running technique it felt like someone had repeatedly beaten my legs with a baseball bat. I will need to be careful that I don’t push it too much, especially because I really want to run in these shoes. I have been neglecting the Mizuno Wave Universe 4 because of the Neos, but I am now slowly using both in my shoe rotation and I am working very hard to make this my main running shoe.


You may have noticed from the pictures that these are substantial shoes and they do weigh quite a bit. While running, this was not noticeable at all and I was surprised by that. They weigh twice as much as my Mizuno and that got me wondering why I didn’t notice the extra weight. My theory is that essentially you are wearing a very thick and structured sock so all the weight is uniformly divided around your foot, while with a more traditional running shoe this weight would be more at the sole which makes it feel like you are dragging your shoes.

Surprisingly, the ventilation of the shoe was not as much of an issue as I expected. My socks were mostly dry when I got back, which is impressive for the amount of fabric that has been used in these shoes. I’ll need to run more in the Neos to really find out.

Overall, I am really happy with the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo. They are stylish and really give that minimal feel without losing all the advantages of a normal shoe. They are water resistant and there is simply no way any sand can get into these which is a big plus for me. Most importantly I really want to run in these shoes, but I have to remind myself to hold back which is a good sign, right?

Who's online

There are currently 0 users online.

Who's new

  • BoulderRunner
  • RonaldMoo
  • Ronnie B
  • cabarchitect
  • RunningPoint


Subscribe to Syndicate