Vivobarefoot vs Merrell: How do They Compare

What are Vivobarefoot shoes?

The barefoot shoe movement is a fast-growing one. More people are picking up interest in the way of life because of its benefits for both your feet and general health.

Vivobarefoot has come onto the market to provide people with minimalist shoes that can allow the wearer to be as close to the ground as possible.

Vivibarefoot is designed for all types of wearers in different situations such as going about your daily business or walking rugged terrain on a hike. 

Vivobarefoot shoes are made from thin soles which are puncture resistant.  They essentially allow your 200 000 nerves to give your brain the sensory feedback it needs that allows you to move with agility and skill.

Even if increased agility is not the end goal for you, there is still the added advantage of the shoes being extremely lightweight and having the feeling of wearing nothing in your feet.

VivoBarefoot shoes are made wide, on purpose. This is to provide you with more support. The design is modelled after the natural shape of your shoe. It is important to remember that switching to minimalist shoes takes some adjusting to.

So you will need some time to allow your feet to realign with the ground. These shoes are minimalist, which means you are not going to get much support for your arches.

If you feel your feet need the extra support then minimalist shoes are not for you. They have no heels or support. One of the great things about these shoes is that they are comfortable and flexible. 

What are Merrell shoes?

Merrell shoes are made by an American footwear company founded by Clark Matis, Randy Merell John Schweizer in 1981. The company then became a subsidiary of  Wolverine worldwide in 1997.

Merell makes various types of shoes. They are designed for either the road or trail. Some lines carried by Merell have a heel and hence do not have zero drops.

 If greater road contact is what you are after then you will need to be going after the minimalist line. Merell provides the wearer with better shock attenuation and responsive cushioning to make sure you get a stable ride.

Minimalist trail shoes have more bulk in the midsole and outsole to protect the underfoot from debris and impact forces. The minimalist shoes will give trail hikers more contact with the ground and more traction.

Products Overview

There are various reasons why people are looking into buying shoes that mimic barefoot walking as much as possible. Besides the obvious health reasons, it feels great to feel the ground so close to your feet but still has the necessary protection for your feet.

Vivobarefoot shoes and Merrell shoes both offer you a minimalist experience in different spheres.

You now need to find the pair that is best suited for what you want to do. This way you get the best out of your shoes. The two shoe manufacturers make shoes that help your feet.

VivoBarefoot shoes have no arch support. Merrell makes shoes that have arch support because they do not only make minimalist shoes. You can also find shoes with a bit of a heel. The shoes you choose depend on their intended use.

Barefoot Shoe Picks

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG

If there was one shoe that could stand as a flagship Vivobarefoot product it would be the Primus Trail FG. It is designed to provide the wearer with the versatility of being able to use a shoe both on the road and off-road.

This is a shoe for those who love to be out in the wild exploring nature.

As with other Vivobarefoot shoes you benefit from shoes that are designed to allow your feet the comfort and freedom that they were designed to enjoy. The soles of these shoes provide you with a lot of grip.

They have low profile lugs that are designed to provide maximum performance and allow for free movement. The upper part of the shoes is designed to allow you to be free off suffocating in the heat that some shoes would make you endure. 

You may already know this but the FG in the name stands for firm ground. There is no easier way to name something than to make its purpose clear through the name.

The yarn that is used in these shoes is made out of recycled PET bottles. That means a lot less pollution and more fashion. If you were to get wet in these, you will be happy to know that they dry very quickly.

Their main criticism is the difficulty of getting the sizing right.

Average User Rating 3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe 

Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 2

If you think that these two shoes look very similar you would not be alone in the opinion. The key difference is that the Merrell one is made out of 100% textile. The upper part of the shoe is made of mesh which makes it very breathable.

There is also TPU that is attached to the lease closures. The interior also has a mesh lining to it, which further enhances the breathability. This text is to a microfibre soft footbed I don’t need to tell you where that is.

There is 0 mm of cushioning and 0 mm heel to toe drop. This is by definition as zero drop shoe. The range of the shoe has a pull-up tab allows you to have an easier time when putting shoes on.

The soles are made out of rubber which gives all the group that you may want. You can get this show in three other colours. The black one is the most neutral one. The others are a lot more visible.

One of the main criticisms that you will find of the Vapor Glove 2 is that it is not as durable as other shoes from Merrell. That could be down to a quality control issue. 

Average Rating 4.3 out of 5.0 stars

Hiking Boots Picks

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Leather Shoe 

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG

If you want to pair a barefoot shoe with your passion for hiking this is the boots to do it. The tracker FG what designed to give you a book that is not only durable but is just as good if not better than any other none barefoot hiking boots on the market. In many ways, this is a goal that they have been able to achieve.

The first step for doing this would probably be the high-quality leather that is used to make the shoe. It ensures that your shoes can take on all sorted to rain. This is courtesy of the firm ground so.

It is as minimal as a hiking boot could possibly go. The usual bit of bells and whistles are we associate with other brands that are negated in favour of developing a shoe that is highly functional.

As you do expect of good hiking boots, the interior has a waterproof lining. It also has a thermal lining to protect your feet from the cold when the temperature drops. All in all, this is a very comfortable shoe that can take on all sorts of the weather.

The soles have a 3 mm lugs that give you a lot of traction and can take on rocky landscapes. The thermal insole makes it somewhat winter-proof. As such this is a shoe that can take on all four seasons of the year. Did we mention that it is quite stylish?

Average Rating 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot  

Merrell Women's Moab 2

Any shoe enthusiasts who know Merrell will know about the Moab 2. It has been redesigned in various forms to take on all sorts of designs and to rain.

To find one that is somewhat easy to compare with a Vivobarefoot Tracker FG, we went with Moab 2 Mid waterproof hiking boots.

It has an exterior that is made out of 100% suede leather and some mesh. The mesh is there to ensure that your feet are provided with enough ventilation.

This makes this you are aware of the pick for hiking in cold conditions. One of the things that this shoe has been known for all the while is how durable it is. This is especially true about the leather.

The waterproof features are anchored by what’s the manufacturer calls the M Select DRY. This is the technology that ensures the water is sealed out while allowing moisture to exit. The soles are made out of the now-famous Vibram.

It is a high-performance rubber sole that is known for its durability. Those who like cushioning Merrell have included air cushions in these shoes to reduce the stress that your foot is put through when on a long hike. As you get with Vivobarefoot this also has removable insoles.

Average Rating 4.6 out of 5.0 stars

Running Shoe Picks

 Merrell Trail Glove 4 Runner 

Merrell Trail Glove 4 Runner

As the name would’ve given the way this is a late a later version of the true glove. There is no agreement I’m on sure enthusiast whether this is an improved version or one that is not as good as the previous one.

No one can deny that they brought in new innovations. It’s difficult to say, people tend to be stuck in their ways.

Perhaps your fresh eyes will settle this once and for all. Anyhow, this use made out of text out and synthetic material. The upper part is made out of mesh and TPU.

Before anyone asks it is vegan-friendly. It features what the manufacture of calls the Trail protect pad. This is in addition that provides you with underfoot protection.

The Upper lining is known to be very breathable. This is some of the obvious seeing as it is made up of mash. The soles of the shoe are made out of rubber. The altos are Vibram TC5. The insole rises to just above 3 mm.

The logs underneath us all are also 3 mm. So that’s a total of 6 mm of protection when you include the insoles. You’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of colours that you can choose from.

Average Rating 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite

Our final pic is a shoe that we are quite familiar with. The Primus Lite. This is a shoe that is developed with sustainability and it’s cool. It has been made out of PET plastic bottles that are recycled.

Don’t worry this does not negate the performance side of things. Regardless of this seemingly cheap material used to manufacture the shoe, it is our durable performance you.

Judging from the material you probably deduced that it is quite lightweight. This is a shoe that it’s made of a material that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. It is 100% vegan.

From a construction standpoint, this shoe was built without any sewing. This makes it very durable as they are no seams to come apart. It is quite flexible. The design is as minimal as can be.

The rubber soles are non-marking thin and durable. it provides you with the normal sensory feedback that you get when you’re wearing shoes from this brand.

Average Rating 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Comparison Criteria

We take a look at Vivo barefoot shoes and Merell shoes and weigh the odds. Both shoes are unique in their own right. They both offer minimalist shoes, and they each have unique features.

We delve into the merits and demerits of the various lines carried by the two shoe companies. 

General Pricing Comparison

Since the two companies carry different lines, such as everyday work shoes, city walking shoes, running shoes, and hiking shoes, the prices also vary. Merell shoes are generally less expensive than Vivo barefoot shoes.

General Quality Comparison

Vivobarefoot specializes in minimalist shoes and high-quality ones at that. The company has an extensive vegan line and also shoes that are great for triathletes.

Merrell, on the other hand, carries different lines and they make both minimalist and non-minimalist shoes.

To get an accurate quality evaluation, it is best to compare shoes made for the same purpose. For example, hiking shoes will need to be durable and Vivo barefoot makes quality hiking shoes.

General Durability Comparison

Durability is subjective depending on what you will be looking for in a shoe. If you wear a city walking shoe on your hike, then chances are high that they will not prove to be as durable as shoes made for hiking.

Merell shoes and boots come with a 60-day guarantee. However, the stitching on Merrell’s is average and they can be prone to tearing faster than their counterparts. The soles on Vivo barefoot shoes have a reputation of standing the test of time. 

General Design Comparison

Merrell makes different shoes, both minimalist and non-minimalist. They generally do not look any different from regular shoes and they have a wider variety which means it is easier to find the pair that tickles your fancy most.

Vivobarefoot shoes have a wide toe box. Some may not like how this translates aesthetically, however when it comes to the way the shoes look, it is pretty subjective

Key Features of each brand

Vivobarefoot shoes have a patented barefoot sole which is 3mm thin and flexible as well. The shoes have an abrasive resistant TPU and puncture-resistant Duratex layer.

One of the other key features you will find on these shoes that come in handy on long days, is the antibacterial feature and removable insoles.

This makes the shoes easy to clean and keeps them stinking up the place. Vivo barefoot shoes allow your feet to maintain their natural movement. This will do wonders for your posture and make sure you are stable and standing correctly.

The brain gets most of its sensory information from senses in the feet. Vivo barefoot shoes have a wide toe box.

Merrells are waterproof and have a breathable gore-tex membrane. They are specially made with shock-absorbing properties in the heel. These shoes are lightweight and they protect your feet. 

Pros and Cons of each brand

Vivo barefoot shoe Pros

  • They are flexible
  • They are versatile
  • They are made is vegan-friendly 
  • They are flexible

Vivo Barefoot shoe Cons

  • They can be pricey
  • Some of the shoes are not waterproof

Merrell Pros

  • They are made in a variety of os styles
  • They are breathable
  • They are durable
  • They have great traction
  • They are comfortable

Merrell Cons

  • They are not as minimalist as their counterparts. You may miss the zero drop that you get in other minimalist shoes. 


The major difference between Merrells and Vivo barefoot, is that Merrell makes both minimalist and non-minimalist shoes. Meanwhile, Vivobarefoot focusses more on minimalist shoes.

This means you are more likely to get a “grounded” experience from Vivobarefoot shoes than from Merrell’s shoes.

At the end of the day, the choice is entirely up to you. You know what you intend to use the shoes for and if the pair you are looking at will serve the purpose they are intended for.

Barefoot walking is becoming more popular as studies continue to expand in this area.

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.

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