Xero Shoes Vs Vivobarefoot race
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Xero Shoes vs Vivobarefoot: Which is Better for You?

Last Updated on December 17, 2023

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When it comes to the world of minimalist footwear, two brands often stand out: Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot.

Both are renowned for their commitment to the barefoot shoe philosophy, but they each bring unique offerings to the table.

I have tested the two for the better part of the last decade, and this article aims to provide a comprehensive comparison of these two leading barefoot shoe brands, helping you decide which might be the best fit for your needs.

What are Xero Shoes?

Xero Shoes is a prominent player in the barefoot shoe market, known for its dedication to creating shoes that mimic natural barefoot movement.

The brand’s footwear is characterized by thin, flexible soles that offer a close-to-barefoot experience while still providing protection from sharp objects underfoot.

Collage of various Xero Shoes models for different activities
Versatile range of Xero Shoes for every adventure

The brand has skyrocketed in popularity since its appearance on Shark Tank in 2013, thanks to its excellent customer service and social media presence. We dive deeper into this brand in our article: “Are Xero Shoes Any Good?“.

Xero Shoes Popularity over time graph
Xero Shoes Popularity Graph
  1. Xero Shoes Prio: This versatile shoe is suitable for a wide range of activities, including running, walking, and cross-training. Its design emphasizes comfort and fit, with ample room in the toe box for natural toe splay. Xero Shoes Prio
  2. Xero Shoes Dillon: Designed for everyday wear, the Dillon is Xero Shoes’ comfortable and stylish sneaker featuring a breathable knit upper and wider toe box for a natural fit. Its flexible sole provides freedom of movement while the low-profile design works well for casual activities. With a classic silhouette reimagined for foot health, it makes an excellent casual shoe for men and women.Xero Shoes Dillon
  3. Xero Shoes HFS: This multi-sport barefoot shoe stands out for its performance in both training and running. It combines the benefits of a running shoe with the minimalist design of a barefoot shoe, offering a unique blend of comfort, flexibility, and ground feel.Xero Shoes HFS Glacier Blue

What are Vivobarefoot Shoes?

Vivobarefoot is another leading brand in the barefoot shoe market, known for designing shoes that replicate the pleasure of unrestricted foot movement, offering a bit more cushioning and protection.

Vivobarefoot Shoes
  1. Vivobarefoot Ra III: This shoe combines formal aesthetics with the comfort of a barefoot shoe, making it suitable for office wear and interviews. Its wide toe box allows for natural toe splay, enhancing comfort during long periods of wear.VIVOBAREFOOT RA III SHOE
  2. Vivobarefoot Gobi III: A mid-cut shoe with a timeless design, the Gobi III is perfect for casual wear. Its minimalist design and comfortable fit make it a popular choice for everyday use.VIvobarefoot Gobi III
  3. Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG II: This high-performance shoe is praised for its versatility, performing well in various terrains, from snowy mountains to sandy deserts. Its durable construction and excellent traction make it a reliable choice for trail running.VIVOBAREFOOT pRIMUS TRAIL FG II

Key Features of Barefoot Shoes

Barefoot shoes, as represented by both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot, share several key features that distinguish them from traditional footwear.

barefoot shoes diagram

These features are designed to mimic the experience of walking barefoot while providing some protection for your feet.

Thin Sole

One of the most noticeable features of barefoot shoes is their thin soles.

Unlike traditional shoes that have thick, cushioned soles, barefoot shoes have soles that are thin enough to let you feel the ground beneath your feet.

This can enhance your balance and proprioception (your sense of where your body is in space).

Wide Toe Box

Barefoot shoes are designed with a wide toe box, which allows your toes to spread out naturally as you walk or run.

This can improve your stability and comfort, especially during long walks or runs.

Zero Drop

Zero drop shoes

Zero drop” means that the heel and the ball of the foot are at the same height.

This design encourages a more natural walking and running gait, where your foot lands flat or your midfoot or forefoot strikes the ground first, rather than your heel.

Flexible Material

The material used in barefoot shoes is flexible, allowing your foot to move naturally.

Xero Shoes Prio rolled

This can make walking or running more comfortable and less restrictive compared to traditional shoes.

These features are common to both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot, but the two brands differ in their specific designs, models, and other features.

Let’s take a closer look at each brand.

What’s the Difference Between Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot?

When it comes to the best barefoot shoes on the market, both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot have a lot to offer.

However, the various features, materials used, comfort and the overall barefoot running experience can vary between the two brands.

I will start with the most essential comparison elements and move down from there.

Comfort

  • Xero Shoes are particularly suitable for those with high arches or deeper, wider feet, as their materials are forgiving and accommodate a range of foot shapes.
  • Vivobarefoot shoes, on the other hand, are more suitable for those with shallow feet. However, some users have reported that Vivobarefoot shoes can feel like paper beneath their feet, causing joint aches.

Price

Xero Shoes vs vivobarefoot prices diagram
  • When it comes to price, Xero Shoes generally come out on top, with prices ranging from $90 to $130.
  • In contrast, Vivobarefoot shoes typically cost between $120 and $180. However, the higher price point of Vivobarefoot shoes is often justified by their stylish design and premium materials.

Design

Vivobarefoot vs Xero design difference
  • While Xero Shoes are praised for their functionality and comfort and are adored by athletes, they have been criticized for their less appealing design. To their credit, they have released newer, more casual models.
  • On the other hand, Vivobarefoot offers a more street-friendly and comprehensive line of minimalist shoes. With a wide range of styles to choose from, Vivobarefoot is often considered the best option for daily wear.

Durability

Both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot are known for their durable construction. However, the durability of Vivobarefoot soles may vary across different models, with some offering more flexibility for a barefoot-like experience, while others provide a slightly stiffer sole for added support and durability.

I must give it to them both, for the thin and light materials they use, they sure do last a long time. Check out our article on “How long do Xero Shoes last?”.

Size

The size of your barefoot shoes is crucial for comfort and performance.

Foot measurements - sizes

Both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot offer a wide range of sizes, catering to different foot shapes and sizes.

However, it’s important to note that sizing can vary between models within each brand.

Both brands offer a range of sizes for men, women, and children.

  • Vivobarefoot offers sizes ranging from US 5 to 14 for men and US 6 to 12 for women. 
  • Xero Shoes offers sizes ranging from US 5 to 15 for men and US 6 to 16 for women.

Always refer to the specific sizing guide for each model before making a purchase.

Barefoot Running

When it comes to barefoot running, both brands offer models designed specifically for this purpose.

However, the barefoot feel might differ between the two.

  • Xero Shoes might provide a more authentic barefoot running experience. In contrast,
  • Vivobarefoot‘s soles might offer more cushioning, which could be beneficial for those new to barefoot running or those running on rough terrains.

Zero-Drop Design

Both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot feature a zero-drop design, meaning the heel and forefoot are at the same level.

zero drop shoes diagram

This design mimics the natural alignment of the foot, promoting a more natural gait and reducing the risk of injury.

Upper Material

The upper material of a shoe can significantly impact its comfort and breathability.

  • Xero Shoes typically use a lightweight mesh material for their uppers, providing excellent breathability and a sock-like fit.
  • On the other hand, Vivobarefoot often uses leather or vegan materials, offering a more formal look with their models like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite.

Breathability

Breathability is another key factor in choosing the best barefoot shoes.

Both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot prioritize breathability in their designs.

Xero Shoes often use a breathable mesh material, while Vivobarefoot uses various materials, including mesh and leather, depending on the model.

Sandal Options

If you’re looking for a sandal option, Xero Shoes excels in this area.

They offer a variety of barefoot sandals that provide the same minimalist, zero-drop experience as their shoes.

These sandals are perfect for warm weather or beach activities, offering excellent breathability and comfort.

Arch Support

In line with the barefoot philosophy, neither Xero Shoes nor Vivobarefoot offer traditional arch support found in conventional shoes.

Instead, they promote natural foot movement and strengthening of the foot muscles.

However, those requiring additional arch support may consider using orthotic inserts compatible with barefoot shoes.

Barefoot Options for Different Activities

Both brands offer a variety of barefoot options for different activities.

Whether you’re looking for running shoes, hiking boots, casual wear, or even formal shoes, both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot have you covered.

For instance, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is an excellent option for running, while Xero Shoes‘ hiking boots are perfect for outdoor adventures.

For utmost comfort and laidback style, check out our guide on the best barefoot slip-on shoes where both Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot are featured.

Shoe Options

In terms of shoe options, Vivobarefoot may have a slight edge over Xero Shoes. Vivobarefoot offers a wider range of styles, including more formal options, while Xero Shoes tend to have a more sporty, athletic aesthetic.

Sock-Like Fit

For those who prefer a sock-like fit, Xero Shoes’ models often offer this feature, providing a snug, comfortable fit that mimics the natural shape of your foot.

Comparing the Soles: Xero Shoes vs Vivobarefoot

One of the most critical aspects of barefoot and minimalist shoes is the sole. Here’s a comparison of the soles of Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot:

FeatureXero ShoesVivobarefoot
Thickness5.5mm3-4mm
MaterialFeelTrue® rubberTPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
FlexibilityHighModerate
TractionExcellentExcellent

User Reviews: Xero Shoes vs Vivobarefoot

User reviews provide valuable insights into the real-world performance of products. Here’s a summary of what users have to say about Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot:

Xero Shoes

  • Pros: Users appreciate the comfort and flexibility of Xero Shoes. They also praise the brand for its customer service.
  • Cons: Some users have reported that the shoes are not as durable as they expected.

Vivobarefoot

  • Pros: Users love the stylish design of Vivobarefoot shoes and their comfortable fit.
  • Cons: Some users have mentioned that the shoes can be a bit pricey.

So Which One is for Me?

In conclusion, the choice between Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot largely depends on your personal preferences and needs.

If you prioritize a closer-to-barefoot experience and have deeper, wider feet, Xero Shoes may be the better option for you.

On the other hand, if you prefer a slightly thicker sole, more cushioning, and a more stylish design, Vivobarefoot might be the better choice.

Ultimately, both brands offer high-quality, durable, and functional barefoot shoes that cater to various preferences and activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What makes a shoe a “barefoot” shoe?

A: Barefoot shoes, like those from Xero and Vivo, are designed for a natural walking experience. Their key features include ultra-thin soles for better ground feel, wide toe boxes for toe freedom, and zero-drop design for posture alignment, combining protection with a true barefoot sensation.

Q2: How does wearing barefoot shoes benefit my feet?

A: Wearing barefoot shoes can help strengthen the muscles in your feet, improve balance, and promote a more natural gait. Many barefoot shoe enthusiasts also report improved comfort and less foot pain compared to wearing traditional shoes.

Q3: How do Xero and Vivo compare in the barefoot shoe world?

A: Both Xero and Vivo are well-respected brands in the barefoot shoe movement. Xero is known for its sandals and versatile barefoot shoes, while Vivo is praised for its stylish design and range of options, from lifestyle shoes to running shoes.

Q4: How do Xero and Vivo compare to other brands like Merrell and Softstar Shoes?

A: While Merrell and Softstar Shoes also offer barefoot designs, Xero and Vivo are often considered more true to the barefoot philosophy. For example, Xero sandals provide a close-to-barefoot experience that’s hard to match.

Q5: Can I run in Xero and Vivo shoes?

A: Yes, both Xero and Vivo offer models designed for running. They’re pretty lightweight and designed to allow your feet to move naturally, providing a unique barefoot running experience.

Q6: Are Xero and Vivo shoes suitable for the gym?

A: Yes, many barefoot shoes, including models from Xero and Vivo, work best in the gym. Their thin soles and flexible design allow for a good ground feel, which can be beneficial for stability during workouts.

Q7: How do I choose the right size in Xero or Vivo shoes?

A: Both Xero and Vivo provide sizing guides on their websites. It’s important to measure your feet accurately and follow these guides, as the fit can vary between different models.

Q8: How do I care for my Xero or Vivo shoes?

A: Most Xero and Vivo shoes can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap. It’s best to let them air dry. Avoid exposing them to high heat, as this can damage the material.

Q9: Can I wear socks with my Xero or Vivo shoes?

A: Yes, you can wear socks with your barefoot shoes if you prefer. Some people find that socks provide additional comfort, especially during the breaking-in period.

Q10: Are Xero and Vivo shoes vegan-friendly?

A: Many models from both Xero and Vivo are vegan-friendly, but not all. Check the product details for each shoe to be sure. We have an article on “Are Xero Shoes Vegan?“.

Q11: Where can I buy Xero and Vivo shoes?

A: Xero and Vivo shoes are available on their respective websites, and they may also be available at select retailers. Note that if you purchase through certain links, the website may earn a commission.

Q12: Can I wear Xero or Vivo shoes if I have certain foot conditions?

A: If you have a specific foot condition, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional before switching to barefoot shoes. While many people benefit from barefoot shoes, they may not be suitable for everyone.

Q13: How long do Xero and Vivo shoes typically last?

A: The lifespan of Xero and Vivo shoes can vary based on how often you wear them and what activities you use them for. However, both brands are known for their durability, and with proper care, they should last for a significant amount of time. If you notice excessive wear in certain areas of the foot, it might be time to consider a new pair.

Q14: What kind of experience can I anticipate when transitioning to running barefoot with a new pair of barefoot shoes?

A: Transitioning to running barefoot using a new pair of barefoot shoes can be a transformative experience. Initially, you might feel a heightened sense of connection with the ground, which can provide valuable insights into your running mechanics and potentially lead to performance improvements. However, it’s crucial to approach this transition gradually. Begin with brief, gentle runs and progressively increase your distance as your body adapts to this new style of running. It’s also worth noting that you may experience some initial muscle soreness in your feet and calves as they adjust to the demands of barefoot running. This is a normal part of the process as your body acclimates to the barefoot experience.

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