vivo-barefoot-oak

Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot “Oak”

Not long after I started wearing my Vibram Five Fingers I realized that I needed some kind of alternative for work and casual social occasions. While I was immensely happy with my VFF’s, and wasn’t particularly shy about wearing them in public, sometimes the curious eyes and questions could be a barrier to comfortable and casual diversions.

As well, the question of professionalism was always in the back of my head whenever I wore my Five Fingers to work. So, I searched the Internet high and low for the best solution to my needs: minimalist footwear that looked like normal shoes.

I got a tip-off on the VIVOBAREFOOT line of shoes by Terra Plana, from Dr. Nirenberg at America’s Podiatrist. He believes they provide a beneficial transition between being barefoot and having protection for your feet. With this encouragement, I scoured through their inventory to see if they had a product which met my style requirements (conservative and traditional). What I ultimately decided on and purchased was Terra Plana’s VIVOBAREFOOT “Oak”.

As you can see, they have a very classic look with their conservative styling and tanned brown leather. They were exactly what I wanted so I set to purchasing them straight away. I could not locate any local shops that carried this brand of shoes so I had to order them online. At $150 they are a little pricey, but I was fortunate to have had a coupon code giving me a sizable discount on my order. A week or so later they arrived at my home in some clever packaging that reeked of a high-end product. Yes, extra packaging is basically more garbage, but nothing increases the psychological effect of a purchase like a well wrapped product.

So, what do I know now that you can’t tell without owning a pair of these shoes?

While the company website does a good job of explaining just how minimal the soles are (3mm), when I compared them to a pair of my previous set of casual shoes (Doc Martens) I was simply blown away by the difference. The Doc Martens have a significant amount of cushioning under the heel (1″) while somewhat less under the forefoot (1/2″). The curve of the sole also lends a small amount of arch support as it curves up to the heel. As you can see, the Oak rests much close to the ground, giving more opportunity for proprioception.

What does it feel like to wear and move around in the Vivo Barefoot Oaks?

In one word, great! While they don’t have the toe separation of the Vibram Five Fingers, the toe box is roomy enough to allow my digits to spread out anyway. As well, the minimal sole allows an equivalent amount of feel for the ground. Though I typically wear socks, and there is a small insole, it is possible to do without both in order to minimize the amount of material under your feet.

The sole is supremely flexible and doesn’t feel like a coffin, allowing your foot to flex and move however it needs to. Although I typically do my running barefoot or in my Five Fingers, on occasion I have taken short jogs through parking lots in my Oaks and have been thrilled with how they felt. I couldn’t do that in my Doc Martens, they just felt awkward while moving any faster than a leisurely stroll.

I absolutely love these shoes and am glad I took the risk and purchased them!

While the barefoot trend is slowly catching on, there are still many venues and situations where bare feet or wacky toe shoes are not appropriate. You will be happy to know that there are alternatives, and the ground beneath them has never felt better! You can check out Terra Plana’s full line of VIVOBAREFOOT shoes online at their website.

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18 Responses to Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot Shoes, A Review Of The Oak

  1. I am so in love with these shoes, I’m on the website right now. I am so glad that you’re posting reviews about them. There are so many varieties to choose from and some of them are stunning. Love the ones you wrote about today.

    This is such a great blog.

    Katie-

  2. David Csonka says:

    Thanks Katie! Yes, Terra Plana is certainly guilty of creating a variety of styles and color options for their shoes. At some point, I hope to flesh out the rest of my wardrobe with their shoes. I just can’t bare to put my feet into the coffins I use to wear. :D

    • alex says:

      What’s really great for me is that I don’t need to dress smartly for work at all, so trainers all the way. This post has got me thinking about the vibram shoes again though. I have been seeing a lot of them and they seem like a great idea. I’m really tempted to get a pair.

  3. Terra Plana needs some better phots on their site — your photo makes those shoes look great! The Terra Plana site? not so much.

    • David Csonka says:

      Thanks Mark!
      Yeah, I kind of felt the same way, which was why I figured it might be helpful to my readers if I included some additional photos of the shoes. They really are great, and I hope people get an chance to see what they are like.

  4. Brandon says:

    The Oak’s are awesome and I would fully recommend them as a work/minimalist shoe (even better if you use a coupon code, as they’re a bit pricey!) The only problem I ran into was that now all my pants were too long! I ended up buying some pants to go specifically with the no-heel Oak’s. Small price to pay for health and comfort though :-)

  5. [...] Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot Shoes, A Review Of The Oak: “Naturally Engineered 10-03-14 12:49 AM David Csonka Barefoot / Minimalist Footwear shoes terra plana vivo barefoot Not long after I started wearing my Vibram Five Fingers I realized that I needed some kind of alternative for work and casual social occasions. While I was immensely happy with my VFF’s, and wasn’t particularly shy about wearing them in public, sometimes the curious eyes and questions could be a barrier to comfortable and casual diversions. As well, the question of professionalism was always in the back of my head whenever I wore my Five Fingers to work. So, I searched the Internet high and low for the best solution to my needs: minimalist footwear that looked like normal shoes. [...]

  6. Jamie says:

    Great, honest review David.
    We like to know what people think of our shoes and rely on good and bad feedback to improve our design and manufacture.
    Keep up to date with what we’re doing on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/terraplana?ref=ts
    Cheers all,

    Jamie

  7. Cozmo says:

    I just bought some Oaks and am very happy with them too. I imediately threw out the old coffins. I like them more than my vffs and have already ordered a pair of evos for running. My mangled up toes don’t like the toe shoes as much as I like the terra plana shoes. I wear my Oaks everywhere.

  8. Tony Zito says:

    I bought a pair of Vivo Oaks after noticing that I actually felt better in flip-flops than wearing New Balance something-or-others with custom orthotics in them. Two months later my feet are pain free for the first time in nearly two years, and they are stronger, too. I no longer feel like an old man at the end of the day. I have a second pair of Oaks now, and I will buy Vivo’s that look a bit more sneaker-like come spring. I will not wear anything else!

  9. Bud says:

    Has the Oak been discontinued? I can’t seem to find it anymore on Terra Plana’s site.

    I sure hope not. They’re one of the few minimalist shoes that can pass for business casual.

  10. eric says:

    how do these fit?

    im an 11 in most nike running
    im a 10 in new balance
    im a 9 in clarks wallabees

    • David Csonka says:

      Eric,
      The upper portion on these shoes is very flexible and the toe box is pretty wide. Any standard running shoes of the same size will feel very tight in comparison.

  11. Bud says:

    This store in the UK seems to be one of the few places that has a fairly good inventory of Oaks: http://www.justteeshirts.co.uk/

    I bought my Oaks (one black pair – just arrived today! – and one brown pair) from them. I used eBay, but it looks like you can order directly from their site, too.

    Even with the exchange rate and shipping to the US, the cost of buying Oaks from them is slightly cheaper than buying directly from Terra Plana (who doesn’t seem to have many in stock, anyway).

    • David Csonka says:

      Thanks for the info Bud, I’m going to mark that store down as a potential option for my next pair of shows. At some point, I think I will need to get a black pair of Oaks to go with my wardrobe. For now though, I think I will just get by with the one brown pair!