Vivobarefoot Stealth 2 Review
Cons: Expensive, low traction, fit larger than most
Our Analysis and Test Results
This shoe does best on the road but slips quite a bit on sandy rocks and slippery trail surfaces, just like some of the other road trainers. For that reason, it did well in this category but was not the highest performer. The puncture-resistant sole claims to be five times as resistant to punctures as a standard sole of that thickness and that earns it points for being able to handle a stray root that lifts up the sidewalk, or some concealed glass or loose trash that clutters at the edges of the roads. It's very lightweight and has a barefoot-feel that is incredibly unforgiving. For that reason, we recommend this only to seasoned barefoot runners or someone looking for a "barefoot lifestyle" shoe.
This road shoe is a barefoot runner's dream, but if you are new to barefoot style shoes, it might quickly become your nightmare too. It excels at taking no gruff and giving you, and your feet, everything. What that means is, this shoe is not for first-time barefoot runners who have not adapted their gait and thickened their feet up to the challenge of running a barefoot style.
We found that slipping in a runner's support insole from another pair we had laying around will resolve any discomfort issues from adjusting to the running style that this shoe requires. It's a zero-drop, 0 mm cushion shoe with only 3 or so millimeters between your foot and the road. That's pretty hardcore folks and insomuch as one would want to be barefoot and still own a shoe — which is the apparent paradox here — this is the shoe for you.
Sometimes this shoe truly feels like nothing is there. It's barely a shoe. While that is something of an exaggeration, it does feel like it.
Users that prefer a little play in their shoe's fit will love these, and despite how unrelenting they feel, at the end of the day, the comfort factor on each run is excellent once you break them in. We found that many of the other barefoot road shoes and some of the other barefoot trail shoes were too tight around the middle of the foot. The Stealth, however, has it all. A loose, comfortable fit and never a blister or hot spot.
Here, is where it lost a couple of points, but so did all the other road-designed shoes. They all sort of become uni-taskers when stacked against the trail shoes.
It does not do as well as some other trainers at keeping hold of the road, but averages well in the middle of the pack. Like a lot of the other road shoes here in Central Virginia in the wet season, there were a couple of weird slips on brick sidewalks and cobbles that were near falls, and that's not something a runner wants to deal with.
While the Stealth 2 might be brutally honest when it comes to feedback through its ultra-thin outsole, this shoe scored surprisingly well in terms of versatility. While it may only be a trail running consideration for the most die-hard barefoot runners, you can be assured that the puncture-resistant outsole will keep your feet protected — even if they still feel every misstep on a sharp rock. The combination of its lightweight, breathable upper and super low-profile make it appealing for weight lifters and cross-fitters alike. And we must admit, it carries some of that UK swag in terms of streetwear-style.
Thankfully, we never had to put the PRO5 puncture-resistant outsole to any kind of absurd nail test out there on the road.
But it feels nice knowing it's there and that if you run in the pre-dawn hours or just after sunset you don't have to get paranoid about finding street lamps to avoid a patch of broken glass or sharper knotty roots — we like companies going out of their way to design tough outsoles. This a durable trainer, and unlike the other Vivobarefoot shoe in this review, it's roundly durable with no strange potential durability issues. It feels weighty and robust at 8.4 ounces, which is about the average weight in this barefoot review, but that's more to the comforting heft of it, and it holds up well to what would tear and scar a lesser shoe.
Note the reflective surface on the rubber toe guard, heel, and tongue. That's a great bonus, and it's incredibly noticeable out on the road. A lot of shoes incorporate this reflective material into small tags or patches on the tongue or heel but integrating this reflective material into the organic components of the model impressed us. You may not even need to bring reflective belts with you anymore on your super early and evening runs.
These are not the best value out there. They are still a durable, sleek road shoe though, so if your commitment to minimalism and the barefoot aesthetic is as unparalleled as your wallet is fat, well, then here you go, this is for you. Vivobarefoot shoes are typically pricier than the competition.
As our Top Pick for road running, we dug the style of this shoe and its performance as a road trainer matches that style. The breathability here is key for summer and outperformed other competitors. If you're not looking for a more affordable shoe, this is a great road trainer. If you don't plan on hitting a lot of trails or you live in a more arid climate then we highly recommend the Stealth 2. It's a great take on the platform as many US manufacturers have fled or compromised their commitment to the barefoot style. Vivobarefoot clearly hasn't.
— Thomas King
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