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VivoBarefoot Primus Lite III review: a thin and strong shoe for barefoot running

A barefoot-style road or training shoe, the VivoBarefoot Primus Lite III gives that, ‘Did I remember to put my shoes on?’ feel

VivoBarefoot Primus Lite III
(Image: © Vivo)

Our Verdict

Foot-shaped design, with zero drop, no midsole, and very thin outsole – the VivoBarefoot Primus Lite III may just be the most natural-feeling shoe on the market. If you want the maximum naked feel, these should be on your shortlist.

For

  • Light
  • Very ‘green’ creds
  • Foot-shaped – your toes should thank you

Against

  • Too minimal for some – you’ll feel everything!
  • Wider than some feet require

First impressions

The VivoBarefoot Primus Lite IIIs are super wide. (They are so big, I’d recommend going down half a size.) Definitely one for particularly wide feet, although the volume isn’t huge and they maintain a low profile.

Along with just a couple of other companies, VivoBarefoot are known for their foot-shaped shoes; which may leave many readers asking why all shoes aren’t foot-shaped… Sadly many daily wearers of pointy office shoes may be past the point of needing such a healthy human foot shape. But if you’ve ever felt your big toe pushed over by an upper, give Vivo a go.

They seem well made and their vegan status and recycled materials will please many environment-conscious runners. A tough eyelet chain and solid welded construction should promote longevity, while smartly placed upper overlays should limit damage caused by big toes. Those with deep mid-foots should note Vivo’s shoes volume is more from width that height.

Specifications

RRP: $140 (US) / £115 (UK)
Gender availability: Men’s, Women’s
Weight (per shoe, men’s UK11): 258g / 9.1oz
Colors: Obsidian (Black)
Drop: 0mm
Compatibility: Designed for road running and training

On the road

The VivoBarefoot Primus Lite IIIs aren’t designed for trail so I have been using them on road surfaces. (They’d be good for general fitness use too like yoga.) Without the lugs of a trail shoe, the Primus Lites have a very thin rubber outer. They grip perfectly on the tarmac but you feel any errant road stones.

Good form is encouraged when wearing these shoes, as heavy heel striking is essentially impossible. The shape and width gave my toes room to splay, which meant they became more active in the toe-off stage of my gait.

Your feet are more part of the shoe’s friction mechanism with this set up too, molding around terrain where normal shoes use midsole. This is a powerful and connected sensation, but it feels tiring at first as your feet strengthen to this new challenge.