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Picking the best barefoot or minimalist shoes can be tricky, especially as most are bought online, with physical shops being few and far between. To help you get it right I will explain why I buy (most) of my barefoot shoes from VivoBarefoot, and which are the best VivoBarefoot shoes for women based on having used the shoes for a minimum of one year!
Benefits of Barefoot Shoes
Transitioning from normal shoes to barefoot or minimal footwear needs to be done mindfully and carefully to avoid injuries. But once that transition is complete there are many benefits in walking more naturally.
In barefoot shoes, you will have space for your toes, you will no longer artificially shorten your calves by walking with a heal, and you will get all the benefits of really feeling the ground under your feet without risking injuries from cold or stepping on something sharp.
The biggest benefits from using barefoot shoes are:
- Working all 29 muscles associated with the foot.
- Strengthening the arch of your foot so you are no longer dependent of having arch support built into your shoes.
- Strengthening the muscles associated with the foot will improve your gait as well as your posture.
- Walking naturally and strengthening the muscles will also provide less strain on your joints and can improve many seemingly unrelated joint issues.
- Minimalist shoes have even more benefits for women than for men, as the use of barefoot shoes works the muscles in the pelvic floor, strengthening them without the need for separate exercises.
- You will also get better feelings in your feet as you start experiencing the ground as you walk, and this can reduce stress, in the same way as when someone massages your feet.
What to Consider when Buying Minimal Shoes for Walking and Hiking
As with all shoes you want your minimal footwear to fit well and look good but there are also some specific things to consider when buying barefoot shoes:
As most barefoot shoes are bought online, and quite often are imported, you want to make sure the company has a good return policy. Preferably you should be allowed to try your new shoes outside as you won’t know how they feel unless you have walked in them on different surfaces.
Minimal footwear has a thinner sole than normal shoes, however if you are new to barefoot shoes, you may not want to start with the absolute minimal. Also consider when you will wear your barefoot shoes. If you will be hiking or walking anywhere slippery or on rugged ground, you want to choose shoes with a good grip.
Why are VivoBarefoot the Best Shoes for Women?
There are a number of reasons I prefer VivoBarefoot and the biggest of them is quality. I personally have owned many pairs of VivoBarefoot shoes for years, and I have never needed to replace a pair! You do need to take care of your VivoBarefoot’s, like with all quality shoes. If you do however, they will age very well and last you for a long time.
Benefits with VivoBarefoot
In addition to the high quality the main benefits with VivoBarefoot are:
(This assumes you are buying directly from VivoBarefoot)
- Free returns within 100 days of ordering, even if you have used your shoes. (Check out their Return FAQ for more information)
- Great size guide that makes it easy to order the right size shoes.
- Stylish shoes that don’t look odd (think shoes with toes etc.)
- Environmentally friendly: VivoBarefoot shoes are produced with the environment in mind and when you are finished with your pair you can return them to the company, and they will be repurposed.
- There are many vegan VivoBarefoot shoes for anyone who prefers to avoid wearing anything derived from animals.
Disadvantages with VivoBarefoot
The only big disadvantage with VivoBarefoot is the price. They are great quality and you do get what you pay for, but the cost can still be prohibitive for many.
Luckily, there are several ways go get a deal!
How to get a deal on VivoBarefoot Shoes:
- Sign up for their newsletter. Wait for the popup on the site that gives you 10% off your first order.
- Student discount: Students can get a 15% discount on studentbeans.com.
- Referrals: If you refer a friend, you will both get 20% off your next pair.
- Sales: Vivo Barefoot do have occasional sales, but the number of shoes in common sizes are often limited. Sign up to their newsletter and act quickly if you find the shoes you want for sale!
The Best VivoBarefoot Shoes for Women
All the VivoBarefoot shoes I review and recommend below are shoes I have personally owned and used for at least a year, and I will share my complete experience with them – the good and the bad – so you can make up your mind of which shoes are the best fit for you. And remember, if you buy them, you will have 100 days to try them out!
Best VivoBarefoot Women’s Shoes for Hiking: Tracker II FG
These are my favourite shoes bar none. I wear them all winter as they are perfect for the English weather, being water resistant, having a great grip and being comfortably warm. What is so great with these shoes however is that they work in many different climates and temperatures.
I have worn the Tracker II FG in city living in -19°C (-2°F) using the thermal insole that come with the shoes, and a pare of woollen socks, and been completely comfortable.
I’ve also been hiking in +20°C (68°F) and been very comfortable as well. In the summer however, I have swapped the removable thermal insoles for a performance insole, helping to lead moisture away from the foot.
The only negative I have with these shoes is that even though they are stated to be completely waterproof, I have found that there are limits to what they can endure. Wading through a river is not recommended if you want to keep your feet dry, trust me!
Tracker II FG Features:
- Sustainably made
- Leather from free-roaming cattle at small scale pharmers
- Recycled plastic lining and recycled membrane
- Removable thermal insole
- Wide toe box with plenty of room.
- Firm ground outsole with great grip on all terrain with a 2.5mm base and 4mm lug hight.
Check out the Tracker II FG on Vivo’s website for up-to-date price information.
Best VivoBarefoot Women’s Shoes for the Office: Ryder II
I love these chic boots and use them when I go into the office, as well as for going out to bars and restaurants. They combine great style with great movement, and they have transformed how I feel and move going out on the town.
My only concern with these boots is that even if they are comfortable and have all the features you want from a barefoot shoe with a wide toe box and a thin, flexible sole, they are not as comfortable as most other VivoBarefoot shoes. Turns out that even with barefoot shoes you have to compromise on comfort to get the style!
Ryder II Features:
- Leather from free-roaming cattle at small scale farmers
- Removable thermal insole
- Inside zip to easily put the boots on
- Wide toe box with plenty of room
- Flexible 2.5mm base outsole providing good grip and ground feel
Check out the Ryder II on Vivo’s website for up-to-date price information.
Best VivoBarefoot Women’s Shoes for Shopping: Geo Racer II
The Geo Racer II are your everyday trainers that’s perfect for going shopping, running errands and just be out and about.
VivoBarefoot keeps issuing these in different colours. Mine are ‘misty pink’! They make me feel stylish while at the same time completely comfortable. They are not made for cooler temperatures however, so living in England I mainly use these in the warmer half of the year.
Of note is also that I’ve used mine a lot, however they still look as good as the day I bought them.
Geo Racer II Features:
- Made from recycled materials
- Wide toe box with plenty of room.
- 4mm outsole gives a great experience, especially made for hard surfaces in urban environments
Check out the Ryder II on Vivo’s website for up-to-date colours and price information.
Which are Your Best VivoBarefoots?
I have tried and owned several more VivoBarefoot shoes, most of which I wouldn’t recommend as strongly as the ones above, and I’m probably not alone as most of them are no longer being sold!
That said, you should always buy the shoes that are the best fit for you. Consider how you will be using your shoes:
In warm or cold weather?
City living on hard surfaces?
Hiking in rough terrain?
Taking leisurely nature walks?
Then try a pair that’s made for that use, with the right outsole and grip, as well as a colour and style you really like!
VivoBarefoot shoes are high quality minimalist footwear that are stylish, comfortable and will support a healthy living with natural movement. They are a bit pricy, but you do get the quality you pay for, and there are ways of getting a good deal.
Finally, with the 100-day return period, you can always return them if it turns out you really don’t like them. What do you have to lose?!?