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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Vivobarefoot Ultra Shoe > Owner Review by Steven M Kidd

May 30, 2015


NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Carmel, Indiana
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)
PANTS SIZE: 34x30 in (86x76 cm)
BOOT SIZE: Men's US 10.5

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.


Manufacturer: VIVOBAREFOOT
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website:
Listed Weight: 7 oz (198 g) per shoe
Measured Weight: 6.7 oz (190 g) per shoe
Other details:

Vivobarefoot Ultra shoes are a barefoot-designed running shoe for use in wet conditions like the beach. They are made with 7 mm (0.28 in) ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) that compresses to 3 mm (0.12 in) after use. The shoes have elastic lacing and a cord lock for a secure fit. The shoes come with a removable inner bootie that locks into place in both the heel and forefoot. They also come with a removable tongue that may be used when the bootie is not being used. It locks into place in the same place on the forefoot where the bootie fits when in use. My Ultra's are EU size 42 (9 US-Men) and each main shoe weighs 3.6 oz (102 g) while each bootie weighs 3.1 oz (88 g).

An important feature for some; the shoes are 100% Vegan.
Shoe & Bootie


In the fall of 2012 I found myself on a backpacking trip with a group of friends in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area on the Kentucky/Tennessee state lines. During one day of this outing we had over 35 stream crossings. Most folks were wearing Crocs throughout this portion of the trek, but I noticed one buddy had a slick looking pair of shoes that appeared to fit much more securely than the rest of us. I checked them out when we were in camp and knew I had to have a pair.
Shoe and Liner Soles

When I returned home from this trip I actually ordered a pair of Vivobarefoot Ultra Pure shoes in size EU 43 (10 US-Men's). They are basically the exact same shoe without the bootie liner. For several years I'd carried Crocs in or on my pack for stream crossings and camp comfort. I quickly found these new shoes to be not only extremely comfortable, but the pair weighed less than one Croc alone. I was sold!

In the April, 2013 I camped on an island on Percy Priest Lake near Nashville, Tennessee and noticed a lot of gravel slipping into the open holes of the shoes. It wasn't that comfortable and I thought the booties of the Ultra would relieve this concern. Although I generally wear a US shoe in size 10 - 10.5 Wide I felt as if the EU 43's were a little large for me. Therefore I ordered the Ultra's in both a size 42 and 43. I tried them both on and found the 42 to be a better fit for me. I own no other US shoes that convert to that small of a size. I state this because in my opinion these shoes run a little large in their sizing.
Ultra Pure for Comparison

After receiving the Ultras I decided to dedicate this pair for backpacking and the occasional beach wear when sand or pebbles would be a factor and relegated the older pair to yard and town use. I take them on every backpacking trip I've been on from May, 2013 to present. If debris is an expected concern I take the booties with the shoes. If I don't expect it to be a concern I leave them at home to conserve trail weight. I even wear them in camp in colder to freezing conditions with thick wool socks so long as conditions aren't too wet.

I've worn them in temperatures above 90 F (32 C) and below freezing. I use them primarily as a camp shoe, but if numerous stream crossings are expected I will wear them on the trail as well. Since the shoes compress to 3 mm (0.12 in) I can certainly feel rocks and roots on the trail so I prefer not to use them for high mileage trail use. I find nothing more uncomfortable than a heel bruise in the middle of a long trek. I've once had a thorn puncture the entire shoe and come into the foot bed. I used a pair of pliers from a multitool to remove it.
Chillin' at Camp

The shoes are actually designed as running shoes and although I'm an avid runner I don't enjoy using them for this purpose. I've tried them on the beach, but simply don't find the 0 mm (0.0 in) heel-to-toe drop comfortable. That's just me! However, I absolutely love them for the use for which I've decided to dedicate them. I've even persuaded close to half a dozen buddies into buying the shoes. It's often the same line of questioning..."What are those? May I see them? Wow! Where'd you get them?" Its then I generally repeat the sizing issues I had early on and suggest buying multiple sizes upfront for learning the best fit if purchasing online.

I truly have nothing critical to report on these shoes! I love them. I use the first pair of Ultra Pure shoes around the house and out and about all throughout the spring and summer, and I take red pair of Ultra shoes on the trail every time I head out! I didn't love the red color of the shoes, but I found them on what I felt was such an amazing deal that I couldn't choose a more subdued hue. Hey, I wear them primarily in the woods anyway!

I'll close with a shot taken of me relaxing at camp last fall in my Ultra's! I also happen to be wearing an Ex Officio shirt, Mountain Khakis pants and holding an Avex bottle in this image. Feel free to check the hyperlink at the bottom of this page and read reports on all three of those items.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Vivobarefoot Ultra Shoe > Owner Review by Steven M Kidd

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