Vivobarefoot Stealth III - Women's Review
Cons: Uncomfortable hinge point at toes, more expensive, stiff overall feel
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Stealth III, like the previous model, has a few hiccups in the fit, but they're different this time. Overall, the it is a decent casual minimalist shoe for most active users.
The Stealth III is a cool looking shoe, designed for everyday wear but also for road running. It is lightweight and breathable, and performs adequately across a range of activities, but it does not excel as an athletic shoe.
The fit is roomy in the toe box and secure at the heel. However, the shoe feels rigid, stiff, and imprecise compared to many of the shoes in this review. After spending a lot of time purely barefoot and then testing a bunch of minimalist and barefoot style shoes, we came to appreciate a very soft and supple shoe. While the sole of the Stealth is thin and relatively supple underfoot, we found there to be too much resistance when we wanted to raise our toes. Other shoes made this much more manageable with softer materials or a scored forefoot sole. When running in these shoes, there was a distinct hinge at the metatarsals (the knuckles of your feet, where they bend most), and this pinched our toes. Unpleasant.
The Stealth III is a lightweight, zero-drop minimalist shoe that can be used for many activities but is not optimized for running or intense activity. It has a wide toe box and is very breathable, so we like it a lot for commuting and all-day wear around town. These shoes allow for excellent freedom of toe splay, but more limited ability to lift your toes. The thin 3mm sole ensures you feel some stimulation from the ground even in a smoother urban setting.
These shoes are the heaviest in our review.; they weigh 16.5 ounces for a size 41 EU. For such a minimalist shoe, with only 3mm of sole underfoot, we were surprised at this weight compared to other minimal shoes.
The Stealth III shoes are highly breathable with a mesh upper. This makes them a great option for summer bike commutes and times when it's warm, but you still have to wear shoes. They are much less suited for cooler temperatures as they get quite drafty, and won't keep your feet dry in wet climates.
The fit and feel of these shoes make them less optimal for athletic activities like running or court sports, mainly due to the articulation of the toe box pressuring the toes when bent. This is a cool looking shoe for around town use, however, so if it suits your style needs and you want something minimal to strengthen your feet, this might fit the bill!
The honeycomb-like pattern on the sole ensures good traction on smooth surfaces. These are designed for urban use and best for daily casual wear. They are not ideal for off-road use, but the sole will allow your feet to grip the ground underfoot for added security, so hiking on moderate trails is not out of the question. The sole bends unevenly at the toes creating a hinge point, which pinches down on the top of the toes. We didn't like this, so we don't recommend these shoes for long walks or athletic activities.
These shoes have an excellent toe rand that helps improve durability. They are made of lightweight and highly breathable V-Web Hex mesh uppers, which proved to be abrasion-resistant and durable.
These shoes are on the pricier end of this review. The materials are vegan, so if that's important to you, these are likely worth the cost. They also proved to be durable, a plus for anyone looking to reduce their environmental impact with the footwear they buy.
The Vivobarefoot Stealth III will keep your feet happy and cool on a warm day around town. The wide toe box allows the toes to splay, but the upward movement is restricted by stiff materials. If you are seeking a pair of shoes for more athletic use like running or hiking, look elsewhere, as there are better models for these uses at lower prices. Vivobarefoot notes on the website that there is a manufacturing error impacting the way the upper materials are bonded together, so once the manufacturing process is improved, these shoes might be more competitive. For now, the Stealth III is a durable pair of shoes that is pleasing to wear and to look at, but not our favorite for anything overly athletic.
— Lyra Pierotti