Barefoot/Minimalist shoe advice please!

Hello folks!

I currently run in these babies:

I am very happy with them but as it is my birthday next month I have decided to upgrade (at my husband's expense!).  These shoes are great but I predict will not be practical in the winter months.

My first thought was to buy a pair of VFF KSO as their fame leads me to believe (rightly or wrongly) that they are the best.  What do you guys think?  Are there any runners out there that have run with these in the winter?  What are they like in the snow?

I have also read about Merrells which are quite tempting as well.  They look like regular shoes which appeal to me and they also look very comfy and warm.  Any thoughts?

Lastly, because I get on so well in my current shoes I am considering staying with Vivobarefoot.  Are there any gems from this range that you would recommend?

Background:  I have been running since March and have built myself up to 20k a week.  I have been running barefoot-style since April due to regular running shoes playing havoc with my knees.  I run trail and road so would like a versatile shoe, ideally.

Thanks in advance!


  • They are prettyimage. How about Newtons - are more like a normal trainer in terms of grip and protection against the elements, but they still have a low heel-to-toe drop, and encourage midfoot running.

  • Merrells are great, i have had 2 pairs (only had to replace because i washed the first pair so much they shrank!), and run through the winter with them. They have quite a wide toe box which is good for me. They also are sized well, unlike the VFF's i have found, which i cant get to fit me properly!

    would recommend them. Havent run in snow though image

  • Have a look at Inov-8 there minimal shoes are really good. Currently have the Bare-X-Lite 150 for the road and Baregrip 200 for off road.

    I use Newtons for longer distances on the road (12 miles plus) as I have only just got the Bare-X and want to build up the distance in them gradually. However, 9 miles the other day was not an issue.

    The Baregrips I have done a 40 mile ultra in and used them to walk around in when it was snowing. Can't recomend them enough.

  • Stick to VivoBarefoot. Try the Neo for road/multi-terrain and the Neo Trail (with 4 mm lugs) for proper trail running. I've run as far as 29 miles in the Neo Trails offroad and I'll be wearing them for my first 50-miler very soon!

    If your foot fits the VBs well you may find other makes are rather narrow in the toe box.

    For rockier trails you might want to look at some of the Inov8 shoes but I'm waiting for their lower-drop shoes to come out with a wider toe box.

  • Thanks for all the useful info everyone!

    James: I will look into Inov-8 as I haven't yet, and they do sound pretty awesome.

    Debra: You raise a good point.  I have quite wide feet so am now quite wary about switching!  It's a bugger that I am pretty much forced to buy blind from the internet and can't just have a good old fashioned try on!

  • I just bought the inov-8 f-lite 195 which has a 3 or 4 mm drop and is fairly minimal. Early days yet but I will say they felt tight across my foot but as soon as I ran in them it felt like I was barefoot, I didn't notice them, certainly not tight.

    I also use bikilas which I still probably prefer, but am doing a longer run this Friday and will take both. I'll let you know how I get on.
  • Polynesian: The 195 is the one with the really soft upper - I've tried those and wondered if they would work (i.e. give enough not to damage my little toes). It would be good if they did, because I don't think the VB Neo Trail will give me the protection from rocks I'll need on Lake District paths, and if all goes well (or not too bad) at NDW50 I want to set myself the Lakeland 50 as my main goal for next year.

    Running in the Neos has made me very sensitive to heel-toe drop so the minimal drop in the 195s is a good thing.

  • Thank you to everyone for your tips!  I appreciate it.

    I decided instead of forking out £100 for the VFFs I would go for the VVB Neos (which are a delicious £55) and also treat myself to a running backpack so I can run to the carbooter on Sundays.  

    A sound plan I am sure you would agree?  image

  • Sounds like a good choice! Just to report back that I tried my new 195s on friday, ran 40 total, 30 in them, I do have sore big toes now with a lot of fluid under them but that's because I've never run anything like 40 miles before. The shoes were fantastic. Really, really impressed with them. Just wish I'd worn then to start out from thames ditton- first 10 miles was pretty stony and uneven, and I had VFF Bikilas on. Fine, but I'm a wimp image

  • I run in Vivos - Neo for the road, Breatho Trail for the trail - I've also run in VFFs, and for me the Vivos worked better - there's a wide toe box and nothing in between your wee piggies. The VFFs are nice, but I wear them around the house more than anything. Saying which, they are pretty amazing at re-aligning your toes if (like mine) they're all crunched together from wearing regular shoes all day...

  • I would say that it comes down to personal preference which minimalist shoe any particular person will prefer. I wouldn't fall into the trap of thinking something is an 'upgrade' because it is priced more expensively.

    I've found the build-quality on VFFs, Vivos and Merrells to be very good.
  • I'd strongly advise trying a pair on first.

    I've got a pair of Vivos and have a pair of Nike Free TR+ (More minimal then the other Nike Free shoes they do). I find the Vivos far more flat- they have no cushioning and that is something that alterted my running (more like barefoot running in that respect, which in my opinon is a good thing). But they also have quite a non-flexible clumpy feel and they reminded me of cycling shoes (where they hook onto the bike to give you more control) they just don't feel flexible enough for me. They do bend easily and are flexible but just not enough for me.


    I have not tried other barefoot running shoes on (aside from the Nike Frees which are a totally different category and more of a stepping stone towards barefoot shoes rather then a variation of) so don't know if this is the case for all barefoot shoes, I think it may have also been the toe-box for me which was roomy but as a result of the larger size did feel more clumpy and meant because they were larger I felt less in control of them and it takes more effort to bend and flex them as I would if I were not wearing any shoes so its a bit of working out what you'd rather have, more room vs feeling less in control of your feet and perhaps losing some of the power and flexibility. Unless you have super-strong feet!



  • Radicchio: Upgrade was a poor choice of words really.  The current shoes I have aren't really practical for winter or wet weather, so I want something without the holes all along the sides.  When it rains and I am on stony paths I have to keep stopping to empty out debris.

    Jenn: I hear ya.  I wish I could try on a pair but there is just nothing around where I live.  I think that is what has pushed me to VBB as I know they are comfy and that they fit me.  image

    Thanks for all your advice!

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