Vivobarefoot Ultra 3

The Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 comes almost six years after its first iteration. Since then, Vivobarefoot has made smart changed, after listening to their runners. This is the shoe for the adventurer. Its the newest wave of barefoot footwear and users who gravitate towards barefoot footwear are raving about this shoe. Unique is an understatement when it comes to this shoe. It is a water-resistant shoe that promotes natural movement. Trails, streams, and adventurous terrain are this shoes best friend. It can also easily transition from the road to the trail. The durable outsole is protective and adaptable, but not heavy or cumbersome at all. Lightweight and pliable, runners love this shoe for travel and destination adventure races. Runners love the look of this unique shoe just as much as they love the fit and feel. For all of these reasons, Vivobarefoot says that their products barely can be labeled as shoes at all. They are something different and exciting all together!

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Barefoot running
  • Breathable
  • Style 
  • Cons
    • Sizing
    • Key Features
      The outsole of these shoes is similar to a high-quality water shoe. Since this shoe is designed for outdoor adventure, the main purpose of the outsole of these shoes is protection from the elements on the trail and in the stream. It is made from a patented material that is puncture resistant. The outsole layer is five times more resistant to punctures than a regular outsole. Plus, the outsole and the entire rest of the shoe is made without testing on animals or using any animal products. Many runners may not be vegan, but many appreciate a shoe that does use animal products.
      This shoe does not feature a traditional midsole. There is no sock liner or even a tongue to these shoes because this is a minimalistic shoe that believes less is more. They do not come with an added heel or midsole support for this reason. You will not find the added cushioning of some other traditional brands, and while most running shoes offer a midsole made of foam, such as EVA, this shoe does not offer that feature.

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      The hexagon structure of the upper is specifically designed to be strong and resilient. The upper has almost a honeycomb-like shape and is completely open. This allows the shoe to drain water and stay dry through wet terrain. It doesn't have a sock liner or even a traditional tongue to reduce unneeded material and keep as natural feel as possible. It is extremely breathable to keep airflow moving through the foot continuously. The lacing system is replaced with a no-lace system that reduces the frustration of untied laces on the trail. It comes in three different color options too.
      The weight on this newer version of the Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 is a bit heavier than its earlier predecessors. The Ultra I and II weighed 5.8 ounces while the 3 weighs in at 7.6 ounces. The major gains in weight are due to a more durable, thicker outsole and more material around the upper to give the shoe a wider, more comfortable fit and feel. Vivobarefoot believes that shoes should be firm, light, and wide. This shoe sticks to that lightweight mentality because it has eliminated all unnecessary features and technologies.
      Runners love the breathability that this shoe offers. While most shoes use a mesh upper which is often times breathable, even the most breathable mesh can't beat the open design of the Vivobarefoot Ultra 3. Runners can literally look through this shoe to their feet. This promotes quick, effective drainage and allows for maximum airflow. No socks are needed with this shoe, only making this shoe that much more breathable.
      The aesthetic of these shoes is certainly different than your average trail or road running shoe. The open upper of the shoe looks almost like a honeycomb. It looks more like a cage than a shoe. However, runners reported loving the rugged and different look of this shoe. It is not your traditional look at all, and that is one of the things that runners really appreciated. In terms of color, this shoe can be purchased in three different colors: red, black, or white. Some runners reported that the white option became to looked scuffed and dirty too quickly for their liking.
      The Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 derives its comfort from the idea that less is more. For runners who are looking for comfort in extra cushioning like a Hoka, this is not the shoe for you. However, runners did rave that this shoe is very comfortable because it drains water quickly, provides amazing breathability, and supports the natural movement for the runner. This is an adventure sports shoe, and runners compared the comfort of the shoe to a Croc. Runners felt that this shoe was very comfortable because it felt very natural. It is also very easy to get on and off quickly, so runners loved this shoe for running errands and wearing in their day to day life too.
      Some of the key changes that Vivobarefoot made in the Ultra 3 from the Ultra 2 is in the durability department. The outsole offers even better puncture protection. The shoe also has gone up slightly in weight, but what it's gained in ounces, it more than makes up for in durability, protection, and traction. Another durability feature is the toe guard around the toe box of the shoe. Runners reported that this is an area of high wear and tear and Vivobarefoot responded to this need by including this element into their design.
      One of the primary reasons why the Vivobarefoot Ultra is such a popular adventure running and hiking shoe is because it offers the runner superior protection against the elements. The outsole of this model is thicker and more durable than previous versions. It comes equipped with a specific puncture proof material in the outsole to protect the runner against the debris and dangers of the trail (and in the water). The shoe also features a powerful toe protector to help eliminate the pain of a stubbed toe on the trails. There is big toe protection in the Ultra 3 that adds to its durability. The design of the shoe, overall, also aids in the protecting the runner. The toe box is wider to help promote a natural toe splay which reduces discomfort and injury.
      Vivobarefoot believes that an important part of the running experience is that athletes can feel the land below them and stay connected to the outdoors. . For this reason, they created this shoe to be very responsive. The outsole is durable, but not too thick so you can still feel the road below. The shoe responds quickly to changes in movement, like speed and direction.
      You are not going to find added support in this shoe. This shoe follows the true natural running shoe model. This means that it doesn't include extra features to support the arch, heel or midfoot. There is no added cushioning or stability features either. According to Vivobarefoot, the best way they can support their runners is by not coddling them with unneeded supports.
      This is truly an all-terrain shoe. Runners reported that they took this shoe on the road, the trail, the beach, to the park with their kids, and even through rivers and streams. There really is no terrain that this shoe can't handle. It has an open upper that quickly drains water and an extra grippy outsole to keep the runner safe and protected even on wet terrains. Runners also commented that they loved this shoe for running errands around town because it is an easy shoe to get on and off. Since the shoe has such an open design, the only terrain that runners did not suggest this shoe for is any snowy or extremely cold terrains. The shoe offers no insulation or protection from extreme cold and it is unsafe for the runner to wear these shoes in those conditions.
      This shoe is very affordable. Runners reported that it is more affordable than similar zero drop or natural running shoes on the market. Additionally, since the shoe is all terrain, runners liked that they saved money because they didn't need to buy a separate trail shoe, road shoe, and adventure shoe.
      The Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 provides superior traction for runners. The outsole is extra grippy and runners reported that they felt safe on any terrain, in any condition. Since this shoe is amphibious, meaning it can transition easily from the trail to the water, it has to provide the runner with superior grip. Even in stream and rivers, runners reported that they felt protected on slippery rocks. Steep up hills and down hills were also no match for this shoe.
      This shoe is one of the most flexible options on the market today. The shoe was specifically designed to allow your feet to move freely and your toes to naturally splay. The whole design of the shoe is made to promote natural movement and flexibility is a key component of that. The puncture-proof outsole is both durable and flexible. The upper is constructed using a honeycomb pattern that is completely open and bends naturally with your foot.

      Runners who love these shoes are part of a growing movement of folks who believe that extra stability and cushioning in shoes robs certain muscles and ligaments in the legs and feet from fully developing, so these shoes do not offer extra stability or support. They are a true minimalist shoe with a zero drop and are void of any extra technology to aid stability.
      This shoe is for the runner who wants to run barefoot but feels like they need a slightly higher level of protection. This is a zero drop shoe and runners compared this product to run in the Xero brand. This shoe is not by any means the companion for the runner who is looking for stability and cushioning. This is a shoe for the runner who runner ascribes to the minimalist running movement.
      Key Features
      - Vegan Certified
      - Zero Drop
      - Minimalist running shoe
      - No lace system
      Bottom Line
      The bottom line here is the VivoBarefoot Ultra 3 is a superior barefoot running shoe. It is an all terrain, amphibious shoe that can go from the river to the beach to the trail to the road with ease and comfort. This is not the shoe for the runner who is looking for lots of stability features or added cushioning. This shoe is highly flexible, breathable and promotes the natural movement of the foot. It is durable and provides extra grip so runners can run whichever terrain they choose.
      Where to Buy
      By Stacey O'Connor
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 28. 2021

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