Barefoot Running: VivoBarefoot from Terra Plana

I recently profiled the phenomenon of barefoot running and one of its most visible gear offshoots: Vibram FiveFingers and its funky line of toe-riffic footwear. But FiveFingers wasn't the first to turn this trend into gear reality. Terra Plana first introduced its VivoBarefoot footwear technology back in 2003.

To get up to speed on the potential benefits of running and walking barefoot, you can read my previous FiveFingers post or check out the research of Harvard's Daniel Lieberman: Biomechanics of Foot Strikes & Applications to Running Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear. There's also an interesting video tutorial on the Terra Plana site explaining how to properly transition to a barefoot running technique.

Unlike FiveFingers, Terra Plana's VivoBarefoot product line looks like normal shoes—no separate pockets for your toes. But like FiveFingers, the primary purpose of their footwear is to provide a thin layer of rubber underneath your sensitive sole to protect it from the abuses of the environment, while still providing the direct tactile experience of moving around barefoot.

The Evo is the flagship running design in the VivoBarefoot line, an eight-ounce (per shoe), 100% vegan shoe that fits like a slipper, with a few laces to ensure a tight, secure fit. The ultrathin sole (4mm) allows you to feel the ground underfoot. It's available in multiple colors in both men's and women's versions ($160). A variety of more casual styles are available as well, designed for more around-town use. You can check out the whole VivoBarefoot line here.

Terra Plana is an interesting company in its own right. Founded by one of the scions of the Clarks shoe dynasty, the England-based company features a strong environmental ethic and works hard to minimize the impact of their products. You can learn more about their philosophy here.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.