Although the shoes featured on Calceology tend to focus on lifestyle options I just had to include a review of the Vivobarefoot Stealth as, although more of a performance shoe, they scored top marks against the barefoot profile (see below) and I do occasionally wear them as an everyday trainer.
When I initially made the switch to minimalist shoes I realised that I needed to change the trainers I wore to play tennis in, which, with their heavy cushioning and thick sole, definitely weren’t very minimal.
It was after a quick Google search for barefoot tennis shoes that I came across Vivobarefoot inventor Tim Brennan’s blog – which tells the origins of the brand that came from Tim’s personal journey trying to find a solution to an ongoing problem of twisted ankles on court – and this is what led me to purchasing the Vivobarefoot Stealth.
To be honest, I was initially drawn to the Stealth because I thought they were the best-looking style on offer (surprise, surprise) but when trying them on they also felt super comfortable so I decided to give them a go.
HEEL (5/5) top marks due to the zero drop, as per all Vivobarefoot styles
TOE (5/5) the toe box of the Stealth is surprisingly roomy without looking that way. I often find that barefoot shoes can look top heavy and in extreme cases a bit like clown shoes (and therefore not very fashionable outside of the circus) because of this. The flexible mesh of the upper also allows for additional movement when lifting your toes.
SOLE (5/5) the Stealth sole is one of the thinnest from Vivobarefoot of only 3mm, which means you really do get a very barefoot experience and can feel every lump and bump. Although thin, the soles are puncture resistance so you can be assured that you’re well protected. They do come with insoles (although still very thin one) if you feel you need a bit of cushioning between you and the ground, I’ve only used them on very few occasions when it’s been particularly cold outside.
UPPER (5/5) having a well-attached upper is super important to avoid your toes having to grip to hold shoes on (think trying to run in flip flops). The lacing system of the Stealth means you can easily adjust them to best fit your foot and tightness preference. I have quite a narrow foot but can still pull them tight enough to feel that they held well in place.
Detail images via vivobarefoot.com
There are really very few faults I can find with the Stealth. My feet have got cold in them on a couple of occasions as the mesh of the upper does mean the wind easily gets in, but at the same time this does also help with drying if they get wet.
I have also found that I sometimes trip in them, in particular with my right foot (the smaller of my feet), and I do wonder if I should have gone down a size, or maybe I just need to work on picking up my right foot more…
As for the style, I love the grey and neon yellow colour way for the tennis court (nothing wrong with a bit of colour coordination with the tennis balls in my opinion ☺) but I do find that they feel quite casual for everyday and therefore think that if it wasn’t for me being in need of a tennis shoe at the time I would have gone for the black style that feels that bit smarter and more versatile.
And in terms of how I got on with them playing tennis? Well, during my first go someone pointed out they weren’t right to play tennis in as they would slow me down, but I totally disagree – I feel much lighter, and therefore faster, on my feet. I just have to be careful not to stop too quickly (as Tim Brennan also mentions in his blog) without risking slapping my soles down too hard. So far I’ve only played on the carpet indoors but as it’s warming up in Berlin now I’ll soon be trying them on the concrete outside.
If you have any recommendations for other minimalist shoes for tennis I’d love to hear them!
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