Recently, we managed to get our hands on a few pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes and Freet was happy to send us two pairs of their shoes. We used our experience to write comprehensive posts about the best barefoot shoes in the UK.
We have tried and reviewed several different brands of barefoot shoes, and even we have struggled to find comprehensive guides on the differences between them all.
So, today we take great pleasure in looking a lot deeper at the two brands and comparing their shoes. Let's get into our guide: Vivobarefoot vs Freet.
For this review we will be writing: Vivobarefoot Primus Vs the Freet Vibes. They are the most popular of the ranges and the two flagship sports shoes.
About Both Companies
Freet started their journey in 2011 in North Yorkshire, in the UK. The started producing shoes with a wider toe boxes, and have contuned to develop their shoes with a strong sense of purpose and ethical business practices. They have sourced the best materials they can, and also support several charities. Freet aren't huge in the UK but their shoes sell well in the EU and the USA.
You can deffinately see that they are a small, local and dedicated team - their business practices and whole feeling of the brand feels this way too.
Vivobarefoot on the other hand was first established in 2012 (although, prototypes for their shoes were started earlier). They were founded by Galahad and Asher Clark, who are two cousins from the Clarks dynasty (Clarks the Shoe Shop - the very same UK high street staple).
Vivo clearly have significantly more fire power in terms of their marketing, and product development and regularly launch new models and styles every couple of months. You can also buy second hand vivo shoes via 'Revivo'.
Freet Vibe Vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite
The Freet Vibe and Primus shoes are the performance sports shoe offerings from both companies. They cannot be directly compared, but they are designed for a similar purpose.
The Freet Vibes are made from BottleYarn recycled flyknit top and designed to be completely breathable. I have yet to use them in the colder weather, so we shall see how they go there, but I imagine cold toes are on the cards.
Like the Primus Lites, they have a wide toe box and zero drop, but feel much softer and apply just a little more support on the bottom of the foot. There has been a lot of time taken to care and source the materials, and the feeling of them is much softer and accessible if you're not a hardcore barefoot radical.
While they do not feel as quality or durable, I personally found them the more comfy of the two.
The Primus are made from 98% recycled materials and are a mixture of synthetic fibres.
Where the Primus lites are more favourable is the style. While the Freet Vibes do look sleek and cool (great for work or smart casual) the Primus are much more flash. They have a sleek plastic and knitted top which can be bought in lots of very interesting colours. They are certainly more durable and feel more quality.
Vivobarefoot also has considerably more options too. Whether that be the knit version (with a knitted heel sock) or scaled up with thicker/grippier soles suited for hiking, and materials better to resist water.
The Freet Vibes are super comfy and hold to my feet like gloves. The outer material is soft and absorbent, and the laces do not feel abrasive (and have little hooks to prevent damage/ strain on the lace holes).
The Primus Lites are also comfy in terms of fit, but they are much harder underfoot. Freet make a point of adding an extra 1mm of the insole and padding the area around your foot. It feels much more like a normal shoe, than a specialized and minimal barefoot product. Personally, I really love them and often grab them over my vivo's if I am in a rush, or nipping into town.
Where the Primus come into their own is the space in the toe section, which is wider and allows more space, and they offer a better engagement to the ground. Often I feel that the Primus gives my feel more of a workout and is unforgiving in a way that makes me feel that I am getting the desired effects.
The Primus are much lighter too, so you really do not feel like you're wearing shoes and they fit super snug around the ankle.
They are fantastic if you love the feeling of a true barefoot shoe, but be warned that they can take some time to get used to, once you're in you will never look back.
The Freet Vibes have a Ortholite 3mm insole which makes a big difference to the way the shoes feel on the ground - that is compared to a 2mm Primus.
There is a lot more cushioning compared to the Primus, which would be preferable if you like the zero drop, but you're not interested in the truly authentic 'feel everything' barefoot experience. The experience of both shoes can be customised if you feel like removing the insole - or adding a new one with more padding.
The sole of both shoes have plenty of grip despite how flat they are. They Freet shoes are slightly grippier but unless you're running in the rain, either are fine.
In terms of sizing, both of the shoes I tried are similar to my actual size.
With Freet, they reccommend that you size up and I tend to agree with that advice. I got a pefect sizing but I do prefer a more snig feeling, and I am still very happy with them.
The Vivobarefoot Primus, it seems to me, size up much bigger. Although they reccommend that you size up, it is often not needed and you could end up flapping around at the end and needing to send them back.
Although the app on Vivobarefoot's website may help you to correctly size your show, I found that the sizes for Freet are easier to understand and the shoes fit better to normal foot sizings than the Vivos.
Both of the shoes are very light, but there is a difference on the scale. The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite's are 232g while the Freet Vibes are 435g (obviously, different sizes come in at different weights).
While the Freet Vibes are heavier, you'll not feel the difference unless you wear them back to back... and, the extra weight is so small that you're unlikely to notice it.
What you do notice is the extra padding in the Freet shoes, but the more authentic barefoot feeling in the Primus.
This is the killer question - what is the difference in terms of price. Well, the Vivbarefoot range from between £130 up to £150 depending on the style and model you choose. There is the option to use the Revivo service where there are plenty of second hand Vivo Primus available for as low as £50 (in lower quality condition).
The Freet Vibes are currently £85, so significantly cheaper than the Primus, but quite expensive for a training shoe.
Final Thoughts - Freet vs Vivobarefoot
There are plenty of positives and negitives with both shoes, and each have their own merrit and should be considered for different roles.
While the Vivobarefoot shoes are more stylish and offer a more authentic barefoot experience, the Freet shoes are a more cost effective alternative and aren't quite so harsh on your feet.
If you're looking to dip your toe into Barefoot shoes then the Freet range are a very good starting point. If you're a barefoot purist and want to use your shoes in the gym for heavy lifting, then you should go with Vivobarefoot.
Each brand also sell everyday shoes and barefoot hiking boots which we will review at some point in the future too.
Hopefully, this post has helped you choose between Freet or Vivobarefoot. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them in the sectio below.