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Vivobarefoot Stealth 2 Review

If you can afford the sticker shock, these are a great road shoe that you can wear around town without looking foolish.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $150 List | $110.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Durable, rugged, tough on the road, stylish
Cons:  Expensive, low traction, fit larger than most
Manufacturer:   Vivobarefoot
By Thomas King ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 23, 2018
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 8
  • Running Performance - 30% 7
  • Barefoot Accuracy - 25% 9
  • Comfort - 15% 6
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 10% 6
  • Durability - 5% 7

Our Verdict

Out of left field, the Vivobarefoot Stealth 2 earned our Top Pick for road running thanks to its true-to-form barefoot design, low weight, and aesthetic style. We found you could easily take this shoe out on the trail with its PRO5 puncture-resistant sole and breathable mesh construction. The brand may be less known for a lot of runners, but they stand out in a field of well-known competitors. In fact, this shoe got as much use as a sneaker to just wear around during the summer as it did on the road. It's a great way to train your feet for running in a barefoot style and unlike a lot of other running shoes, looks pretty cool as just a regular sneaker, especially in the black/red variety we tested.

New Colors

A current color option for the Stealth 2, indigo, is shown in the image above. Otherwise, these shoes are the same design that we tested.

April 2019


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Pros Durable, rugged, tough on the road, stylishSuper lightweight, exceptional ground-feel, freedom of movementVersatile, durable, tough, uniqueTough exterior, stable, snug lacing systemMulti-purpose for trail or road, flexible, lightweight, breathable
Cons Expensive, low traction, fit larger than mostInconsistent grip, short stock laces, potentially short lifetimeWeighty, aggressively barefoot in designOdd flex pattern, decreased sensitivity, lack of dexterity in toesFit very snug, not for people with a high bridge, costly
Bottom Line If you can afford the sticker shock, these are a great road shoe that you can wear around town without looking foolish.Impressive barefoot accuracy from a road trainer that performs equally well on trails.This versatile, rugged shoe is a bit bulky and clunky looking but performs as well or better than more established minimalist designs out there.Our Top Pick for trails, run in comfort and confidence in this tank of a FiveFingers shoe.This durable, multi-purpose trainer from New Balance offers a repeat of the same design users have come to love over the years.
Rating Categories Vivobarefoot Stealth 2 Merrell Vapor Glove 4 Xero Shoes Prio Vibram V-Trail 2.0 Minimus 10v1 Trail
Running Performance (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Barefoot Accuracy (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
4
Comfort (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Traction (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
Versatility (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
Durability (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
Specs Vivobarefoot... Merrell Vapor... Xero Shoes Prio Vibram V-Trail 2.0 Minimus 10v1 Trail
Weight (per shoe, size EU 42) 8.4 oz 5.4 oz 9.3 oz (9.7 oz w/ optional insole) 6.9 oz 8.0 oz
Stack Height (mm) 3.0 mm 6.5 mm 5.5 mm 3.7 mm 15 mm/11 mm
Cushion (mm) 0 0 Optional 2 mm Insole 2 mm EVA Insole 0
Heel to Toe drop (mm) 0 0 0 0 4mm
Upper EVA cage with mesh Cordura mesh and TPU Mesh with synthetic leather overlays 3D Cocoon Mesh Synthetic mesh
Outsole 3mm, V Road Rubber w/ PRO5 3.5mm, Vibram TC5+ 5.5mm, FeelTrue Rubber 3.7mm, Megagrip Rubber Integrated, Vibram rubber w/ Flex Grooves
Width Options None None None None Wide Version Available
Style Barefoot road Barefoot road Barefoot road Barefoot trail Minimalist trail

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Stealth 2 feels great and has one of the more ruthlessly designed barefoot aesthetics  if that's your thing.
The Stealth 2 feels great and has one of the more ruthlessly designed barefoot aesthetics, if that's your thing.

Running Performance


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.


Barefoot Accuracy


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.

We dig how the Stealth 2 looks and wore them like you would any sneaker.
We dig how the Stealth 2 looks and wore them like you would any sneaker.

Comfort


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.

Traction


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.

With a nearly uniform outsole  these grip dry surfaces fine  but we had a few close calls on wet  smooth surfaces.
With a nearly uniform outsole, these grip dry surfaces fine, but we had a few close calls on wet, smooth surfaces.

Versatility


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.


Durability


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.

Highlight rubber on the toe  heel and tongue of the Stealth 2 appears black in daylight  but the material is actually highly reflective.
Highlight rubber on the toe, heel and tongue of the Stealth 2 appears black in daylight, but the material is actually highly reflective.

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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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