Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ra - The Best Minimalist Dress Shoe So Far

I just received my savior shoe - the Vivobarefoot Ra in black.  I wrote recently my thoughts on Minimalist Dress Shoes but unfortunately could not include the Ra because I didn't own a pair.  However, now I am happy to say that I do.

First, this was a tough shoe to find - it's never available anywhere in black, and when you can find it, it's not usually in my size.  But after spending a week shopping around I found it at  For sizing I went with my Vibram Five Finger sizing (which you can also get there if you need to freshen up your old ones).  And the size was spot-on perfect.

I was pleasantly surprised by the shoe, it looked a little kid-like and for a moment I didn't think I could make them work with dress pants or suit, but then I put them on.  From the first slip of my left foot into the shoe I knew I'd have to make them work.  I slipped on the other one, tied the laces and took a few steps, and a grin the size of the Grand Canyon came to my lips.  For the first time in weeks I took steps in a shoe without any Top of Foot Pain (TOFP).

For the last 3 weeks I have been battling unbelievable TOFP that only happens when I'm in a shoe - not at all when I'm barefoot.  I can run OK in Vibrams or barefoot, but when I wear a shoe for a more than a few steps I get pain in my right foot that practically hobbles me.  Yet, I can still run.  Go figure.

These shoes are so comfortable that I didn't want to take them off.  Nice wide toe box, smooth lacing and excellent ground feedback (I can feel little pebbles under the sole and textured tile surfaces.)  I'm also fairly confident they'll take a nice coat of Black Parade Shine to brighten them up and look sharp (they have a bit of a Matte finish as you can tell from the pics.)   And, if I needed to go for a run this shoe is certainly a willing participant.

 I highly recommend these shoes.  If you can find'em, buy'em.


  1. You wear the with the sole? Why not remove it, to get an even better barefoot feel?

  2. We're glad you found us, and we agree- the Vivobarefoot Ra is awesome! We actually just saw an updated 2013 version of the Ra at Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City that we should have both in the stores and online soon. Hope you're still enjoying pain free and happy feet!

  3. Joshua, the Ra has been good to me. I've worn them every work day since January 2012. They're holding up well, there's barely any sole-wear and they've become very flexible -- almost slipper-like. I never put a shine on them, and they're still looking pretty good. I'm seeing a little bit of sole separation from the upper, right around the ball of the foot on the inside. Still, they've worn a lot better than I would have expected for such a feather-weight shoe. Still recommend.

  4. Waiting to try a different size ra but so far I found the toe box too small unless I went two sizes above what I wear in vibram (store I went to didnt have single size larger which I wear in my dress vibrams). Fingers crossed. Also hope to treat myself to the primal professional some day. But my dress vibrams still the best