Last summer I started reviewing Barefoot / Minimalist shoes…. and I’m at it again this summer.

First up are the VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite (mens) and Lucy Lite (womens).

Both the Aqua Lite (AL) and Lucy Lite (LL) are designed as a lightweight road running shoe with a thin sole, wide toe box and zero drop profile. However, unlike many other barefoot shoes, the Lites have evolved to look like normal shoes. You get all of the health & performance benefits of minimalist shoes without people thinking you’re weird for wearing multi-colored toe-shoes.

Here’s the review…

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

Both the Aqua Lite & Lucy Lite have a 3mm soft, high abrasion TPU sole, designed to give maximum sensory feedback on hard, flat surfaces. This is the same sole material used by Sockwa and is my personal favorite for “feeling” the ground under my feet.

  • The Aqua (Mens) comes with a removable 3mm insole with hex-flex moisture management system
  • The Lucy (Women) comes with a removable 5mm Pressed EVA Insole for additional thermal protection

Both of my shoe testers / guinea pigs didn’t mind the insoles, but as experienced barefoot runners, they preferred to ditch the insoles. My advice…if you are relatively new to barefoot shoes, leave the insoles in for the first couple of months as you get used to being barefoot.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

With or without the insole, both pairs provided excellent proprioception. I love that TPU sole.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Both the Lucy Lite and Aqua Lite are winners when it comes to natural foot movement thanks to their wide toe box and zero drop profile. For maximum barefoot movement, I preferred to remove the insole. But as I mentioned above, a barefoot-newbie should probably start with the insole until their foot muscles get a little stronger.

In regard to the wide toe box, I can’t say how important this is to re-building a pair of healthy feet.  Our feet are supposed to look like the pair on the left, but I bet that almost everybody you know has feet like the ones on the right. Ugly nasty feet that make you think of creepy Chinese foot binding tootsies.

natural and unnatural feet

Also, VIVOBAREFOOT takes into account that the male & female foot aren’t the same and their shoes shouldn’t be either. No unisex shoes here.

Note – If you want to learn more about how your feet are supposed to look & work, click this link.

Next page – the review continues