VIVOBAREFOOT – Aqua Lite & Lucy Lite – Barefoot Shoe Review

Last summer I started reviewing Barefoot / Minimalist shoes…. and I’m at it again this summer.

First up are the VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite (mens) and Lucy Lite (womens).

Both the Aqua Lite (AL) and Lucy Lite (LL) are designed as a lightweight road running shoe with a thin sole, wide toe box and zero drop profile. However, unlike many other barefoot shoes, the Lites have evolved to look like normal shoes. You get all of the health & performance benefits of minimalist shoes without people thinking you’re weird for wearing multi-colored toe-shoes.

Here’s the review…

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

Both the Aqua Lite & Lucy Lite have a 3mm soft, high abrasion TPU sole, designed to give maximum sensory feedback on hard, flat surfaces. This is the same sole material used by Sockwa and is my personal favorite for “feeling” the ground under my feet.

  • The Aqua (Mens) comes with a removable 3mm insole with hex-flex moisture management system
  • The Lucy (Women) comes with a removable 5mm Pressed EVA Insole for additional thermal protection

Both of my shoe testers / guinea pigs didn’t mind the insoles, but as experienced barefoot runners, they preferred to ditch the insoles. My advice…if you are relatively new to barefoot shoes, leave the insoles in for the first couple of months as you get used to being barefoot.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

With or without the insole, both pairs provided excellent proprioception. I love that TPU sole.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Both the Lucy Lite and Aqua Lite are winners when it comes to natural foot movement thanks to their wide toe box and zero drop profile. For maximum barefoot movement, I preferred to remove the insole. But as I mentioned above, a barefoot-newbie should probably start with the insole until their foot muscles get a little stronger.

In regard to the wide toe box, I can’t say how important this is to re-building a pair of healthy feet.  Our feet are supposed to look like the pair on the left, but I bet that almost everybody you know has feet like the ones on the right. Ugly nasty feet that make you think of creepy Chinese foot binding tootsies.

natural and unnatural feet

Also, VIVOBAREFOOT takes into account that the male & female foot aren’t the same and their shoes shouldn’t be either. No unisex shoes here.

Note – If you want to learn more about how your feet are supposed to look & work, click this link.

Next page – the review continues


  1. Great article. I am going to be looking for these. I love my vibrams for training, hiking, etc. but to wear them out on a date or out doing errands isn’t the most ideal fashion choice. Still doesn’t stop me but my fiancée hates it lol.  I have been wearing pumas for daily life and going out. They hit most of the points of a good shoe (minimal cushion, flexible sole, flat profile) and they look great with almost anything. The problem is they have a narrow toe box. These shoes may be the ideal fit for me. I will be checking them out for sure to use as a casual shoe but, nothing is going too replace my vibrams for working out, running and hiking. Kurtis  

  2. I find it really horrible that you would insult the appearance of someones feet just because they are angled. All bodies are beautiful and deserve your respect. Although perhaps more insulting is your insinuating that that slight angle of the toes is as ‘ugly’ and horrible as ancient foot binding. THat is offensive to those who actually had their feet bound (which breaks bones), but also shows your lack of knowledge on the subject especially given you got THE COUNTRY of origin wrong. Foot binding came from CHINA a completely SEPARATE and VERY DIFFERENT country then Japan.

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