Vivobarefoot RA III Review

By Alin Ciocan | December 6, 2023

VIVOBAREFOOT RA III SHOE

The Vivobarefoot RA III redefines the boundaries of business attire, offering a seamless fusion of nature and sophistication. Handcrafted in Portugal from premium natural materials, these shoes artfully balance casual barefoot styling with refined details, making them the perfect complement to semi-formal apparel.

With an ultra-thin sole and a sleek, lightweight leather upper, the RA III is “designed to take you from desk to drinks while maintaining a full ground connection”.

$175.00 at the time of review

Barefoot Comfort

4.5/5

PRICE / VALUE

4/5

Style / Design

5/5

durability

5/5

Last Updated on April 23, 2024

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My Experience with the Vivobarefoot RA III Barefoot Shoes

I have been an avid barefoot shoe wearer for close to a decade. In my experience, they provide tangible health advantages compared to traditional cushioned footwear. Specifically, barefoot shoes have helped me walk more naturally with improved posture.

As someone who prioritizes comfort and physiological benefit over style, I seek out barefoot shoe options whenever possible, regardless of the occasion. However, I found there to be a lack of formal-casual transitional models suited for semi-professional settings.

That’s why I was keen to test out the Vivobarefoot RA III. At £140 ($175), they’re at the premium end for barefoot shoes, so my expectations were high. After wearing them on all my runs for the past couple months, here’s my in-depth review on whether the hefty price tag is justified.

Pros and Cons


Pros

Comfortable and lightweight: We appreciated the snug and light feel of the shoes

Wide toe box: The shoes provide ample space for the toes, allowing for natural movement and comfort

Versatile style: The RA III can be worn in both casual and professional settings, making it a versatile choice

Barefoot feel: We enjoyed the minimalist design and ground connection, which offers a barefoot-like experience

Durable and high-quality materials: The shoes are made from durable materials, such as Wild Hide leather, ensuring longevity

Cons

Price: The Vivobarefoot RA III is priced at $175.00, which some customers might find expensive compared to other barefoot shoes on the market

Sizing inconsistency: Some users have reported inconsistencies in the sizing of Vivobarefoot shoes, including the RA III. This can lead to discomfort and the need for exchanges or returns

Breathability: While the RA III is made of premium durable suede leather, some users have reported that Vivobarefoot shoes, including the RA III, can cause feet to sweat, indicating a potential issue with breathability

Vivobarefoot RA III box

First Impressions and Fit

My first thought pulling the RA IIIs out of the box was how incredibly light and flexible they felt. Each shoe weighed under 200g, with a thin yet durable upper mesh material and a high quality rubber sole allowing natural movement.

The fit was spot on for my regular size, though as expected there was ample toe room to allow feet to relax and spread. This roomy fit reflects the brand’s barefoot ideology. I’d recommend trying a half size down if you prefer a snugger fit.

Overall the minimalist design and barely-there sensation contributed to an instantly comfortable wear, making me keen to see if that comfort translated onto the roads.

Everyday Walking Comfort and Durability

Before testing run comfort, I wore the RA IIIs casually around town for a couple weeks. Right away I appreciated the ground feedback, allowing me to adjust and navigate uneven terrain intuitively. The wide toe box encouraged natural toe splaying too, keeping my feet actively engaged even on simple errands.

Over the two week period I clocked over 50km of mixed pavement, gravel and grass walking. The RA IIIs felt great the whole time, with no discomfort or stiffness that often accompanies new shoes. Traction was also excellent thanks to the multi-directional sole lugs.

The upper mesh showed no signs of wear either, which should translate to good long term durability even once I start using them more intensely for runs.

Barefoot Running Experience

When it came time for my first run in the RA IIIs, I was nervous. Without the cushioning I was used to, would my feet be able to handle pavement impact?

Turns out I needn’t have worried. The “FeelTrue” rubber soles did a great job of absorbing shock, aided by the excellent ground feedback helping me adjust my form instinctively. I started slowly, but soon found an effortless rhythm resulting in my most comfortable 5km in recent memory.

What struck me most was the sheer precision on offer – I could place each footfall exactly as intended without interference from cushioning. Combined with the improved proprioception helping balance, it made for an incredibly intuitive and almost euphoric running experience.

The minimalist upper moved seamlessly with my foot too, preventing any irritation over the 30 minute run. And that roomy toe box allowed my feet to relax and swell after the workout without pinching my toes like many shoes do.

Suffice to say, as a running convert I was very impressed by what the RA IIIs enabled over those 5 kilometres!

Overall Review Summary

After multiple weeks testing out the Vivobarefoot RA III across a variety of walking and running use cases, I believe the £140 price tag is justified for the right user. Specifically, the shoes shine if you:

  • Prioritize ground feedback for better terrain adjustment
  • Want foot strengthening benefits from barefoot design
  • Need ample toe room and foot splay allowance
  • Seek durable, long-lasting materials and construction
  • Desire a barefoot experience specifically tailored to road running

As with any minimalist shoe, there’s an adaptation period adapting to less cushioning which could be an annoyance. And they may not suit certain foot shapes.

But for me, the impeccable comfort, precision and proprioception they provide makes up for that transition phase tenfold. I finally understand why elite athletes love racing flats after experiencing the intuitive biomechanics on offer. And I can only see my run performance and enjoyment improving with more miles in the RA IIIs.

So while the RRP is undeniably steep, I think the hefty price reflects both premium materials and a lifetime of healthier, more tuned-in barefoot running. Considering traditional running shoes often need replacing annually, the long term benefit for committed minimalist runners makes the Vivobarefoot RA IIIs worth the investment.

Just be sure to budget properly if considering a purchase!