VIVOBAREFOOT Review: Ra (M)
This is a review that’s coming in after 10 months of using the VIVOBAREFOOT Ra, a minimalist shoe for work. As someone who is walking around constantly in a professional environment I really needed barefoot shoes for work. When I saw these online I knew they were by far the best option for a health conscious individual.
The shoes themselves follow the same basic premise as many of the casual barefoot shoes or barefoot running shoes that I’ve reviewed on here before. You can check out some of the other barefoot shoe reviews as well. The issue that I found with these shoes however is that they had more flaws than many of the others I’ve reviewed in the past.
The first concern is a small one. The laces always break and I mean ALWAYS. Every pair of VIVO shoes I have ever owned has had the laces break at some point. I recognize that this is a minor issue, but annoying nonetheless, this doesn’t occur with other shoe brands I follow. VIVOBAREFOOT has addressed some of these issues in shoes like the Ultra where there’s no cotton laces but instead a pull strap.
Another issue I found was that the rim of the shoe was quite harsh on my food, especially the area underneath the ankle knuckle bulge. It scraped the skin on a regular basis despite wearing socks. Walking around in barefoot shoes has appeal until your ankle starts to chafe. This issue didn’t go away in time either, it persisted and still persists today. I had to loosen the shoes quite a bit to avoid this which allows my foot to slide around more than I’d like.
In a related note, the back of the shoe began to grow some wear and tear as constantly putting on and removing the shoe bent the back quite a bit. While unattractive it was also challenging to put on without bending the back.
Lastly the inner sole of the shoe continued to ride up the back of the heel. I don’t know if this was accidental poor design or if other VIVOBAREFOOT Ra wearers experienced the same thing. The right sole would always ride up my heel which left a gap in the front of the shoe. Eventually the same thing happened in the left shoe and I remove the soles entirely to avoid the annoying habit of putting the sole back in place.
Despite these malfunctions I still prefer the Ra to other dress shoes which cramp your feet and hurt your lower back with any sort of rise. I do look forward to a barefoot dress shoe that VIVO can produce that eliminate some of these issues. But for the time being I’ll continue to use the Ra. It looks normal (relatively at least) and provides barefoot movement throughout the day. However if VIVOBAREFOOT or any other minimalist shoe producers come out with a new dress shoe I’d likely opt for that model to avoid some of the current issues I’m facing with the Ra.
Overall I’d rate the shoes at a 3/5 stars. They serve their purpose but also have some nagging problems that don’t improve over time.
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