April 27, 2012


Before transitioning to minimalist (or “barefoot”) footwear, make sure you understand what the whole concept entails.
Here’s an intro text if you need it.

  • Type : Barefoot / Minimal
  • Use : Multi-terrain running
  • Price : About $130

VIVOBAREFOOT presents this shoe as multi-terrain, a statement I found to be quite risky, considering how hard it is just to find a proper minimalist shoe with a single purpose. So, in order to analyze this model properly, I decided to test it on as many surfaces as I could get my feet on, and see how it reacts.

First impression
The Evo II feels a lot lighter than my Neo Trail shoe, weighting just under an ounce less. The material of the upper and the thinness of the outsole contribute to the feeling that this shoe is really trimmed down to the essentials. It has a cool "beehive" design, which makes it unique and very easy to recognize. Upon looking at them for the first time, though, I thought this shoe would only perform well on the road.

The shoe
Like many VIVOBAREFOOT products, this shoe is zero-drop, very low-to-the-ground (5mm) and ultra flexible. It allows for awesome proprioception and is one of the best shoes on the market in that perspective.

One of the features I like a lot with VIVO are the removable insoles that allow to add / remove some level of protection according to your personal taste or the terrain you run on. This also means you can replace the insole with something beefier if you ever encounter tougher conditions, something that should be appreciated by runners who don't want to buy multiple pairs of shoes for different uses. The Evo II features a standard lacing system that works well, although I re-laced my pair to skip some of the eyelets which I thought were unnecessary. This shoe would work well with a pull-cord-type lacing system.

Road test
I loved this shoe on the road. It's so nimble and light that it truly feels like you are wearing nothing, yet it protects your feet from anything you could step on. I also suspect traceurs (parkour adepts) would go crazy with the Evo II and its awesome grip on various surfaces. The fabric breathes really well and lets the air through, and dries quickly if you make it wet. If you are a minimalist road runner, I enthusiastically recommend this shoe.

Trail test
I think the Evo II delivers surprisingly well in light trail conditions. If you run on packed earth, sand, grass or light gravel, no problem. It has plenty of protection, even without the insole. The amount of proprioception is great, so runners should have no problem in reacting to any type of ground they feel under their feet.

Like any multi-purpose product, it's in the extremes that you find the compromise. The Evo II is not a real trail shoe, but then again it never pretended to be. If you run on technical trails, gnarly rocky paths and wet muddy rocks, there are other shoes better suited for that. The sole has good grip, but definitely not enough to tackle the hardships and surprises of single track trails.

If you are a thrifty minimalist runner looking for the elusive do-it-all shoe, the Evo II just might be the one. I'd suggest to simply buy an extra pair of sturdier insoles for your rougher trail outings. The Evo II is light, flexible, breathable and offers excellent proprioception. It is an excellent choice as a road runner and will deliver decent grip and protection under light off-road conditions. Add good looks and easy maintenance (just throw them in the washing machine) to all this and you get a very good all-around product that should last you for many, many happy miles.

High points
  • Zero drop
  • Light and flexible
  • Excellent proprioception
  • Wide toe box

Low points
  • European sizing makes fitting a bit tricky
  • Not suited for serious trail and single track

The equipment for this personal review was supplied by VIVOBAREFOOT, free of charge, without any conditions.

1 comment:

  1. I received an e-mail request to know where VIVOBAREFOOT shoes are sold in the Montreal area. Their Canadian distributor, InSport, has a dealer locator on their web site.