The Vivobarefoot Gobi marks my first-ever pair of casual boots, and they’ve definitely exceeded my expectations. The Gobi is super comfortable, lightweight, and is exactly what I look for in a minimalist-type shoe – unrestricted movement and unaltered proprioception.
The Gobi is a fashionable shoe you can wear on many occasions, though if you wear them with tube socks and shorts you’re asking to be made fun of. I’ve worn these desert boots with a pair of dress pants while in the office, (of course I take them off when treating patients), as well as with jeans for a night on the town. I’ve also worn them through some sticky North Carolina red mud, which is an experience in itself if you’ve been here. They were easy to clean and I won’t make that mistake again, hopefully.
Yes, you can wear the Gobis sock-less, and I’d recommend doing so. I experienced no blister-causing friction wearing them barefoot and actually like them a lot more without socks. But beware, as with most shoes you choose to wear sock-less, you will most likely soon experience some smelly footwear. Taking out the thin insole (sock liner) will help with this odor and it will also allow you to experience a more barefoot feel of the surface below. Without the insole you’ve only got Vivobarefoot’s 3mm puncture-resistant sole between your foot and the ground.
I really don’t have any complaints about the Gobi perhaps other than they’re not super-quick to put on, though this is true for most boots. The tongue is gusseted which keeps it from flapping around and also makes it so the boot hugs your foot more snugly. This is nice, but it also makes it so you have to loosen up the laces pretty well to get your foot it. So deal with it – it’s worth it.
Vivobarefoot sizes are a bit unique which is one reason I keep a full line in my office for my patients to try on and see exactly what their size is. I wear a size 42 in Vivobarefoot and you can see by my foot in the Brannock Device I am right at the size 9. A 42 EU is a size 9 US, yet you’d want to add at least 1/2 size for room typically. I wear a size 9.5 in Inov8, a size 10 in New Balance (Minimus), and a size 10.5 in Nike (Free). So be careful choosing your Vivobarefoot size or you may end up with a shoe one to two sizes too large.
The Gobi’s will run you $160. Yeah it’s a lot for shoes, but don’t plan on trashing these during your next mud run. Are they worth the money? Yeah I’d say so but in full disclosure Vivobarefoot sent me these gratis, though I’m not giving them accolades just because they cost me nothing. Use the code sockdoc15 and get 15% everything at Vivobarefoot.com!
From Vivobarefoot’s Site:
Style has never felt so good either, the Gobi stays true to our unique Pure Barefoot Technology principles and is designed and built to our high standards. Your feet will thank you for it as you’ll be using them as nature intended.
Your feet will be able to behave as if they are barefoot in style and you’ll get total flexibility from the soft and supple unlined leather. Giving you natural motion control by allowing your Great Toe to engage rapidly with the earth as well as independent rear and fore-foot movement.
The Gobi is built with your foot in mind; the toe box is nice and wide giving your toes the space they need. The ultra-thin sole is completely flat from heel to toe so your arch can function completely naturally.
Brain meet feet. The super thin 3mm puncture-resistant sole let’s the feet receive all the sensory information it needs to inform the brain for skilful, natural movement. Rediscover your surroundings with the Gobi: the original barefoot desert boot.
Jean-Serge Cardinal says
I love these, I ordered a pair of 48 but too big. Then I re-ordered a pair of 47 and it’s ok. With shipping and canadian import fees it came up to $240 a pair! I wish I had sock-doc near me to try them out first. But it worth it if you can’t support the annoying arch support in all other minimalist brand.
Adolfo Neto says
“sticky North Carolina red mud”?
This http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000eIiHIW3rc1E/s/600/480/130601-warrior-313.jpg ?
We have the same here in Brazil…
Jim Stanton says
I have a pair that I had to right shoe stretched to fit. Great now a little hard to get on I use a small rod as a jack.
Donna Byrne says
Thanks for this review! It is encouraging to see foot-friendly options increasing.
Sock Doc says
Thanks. Hope to have some women’s shoe reviews soon.
Thanks for the review. I’ve been meaning to ask you and your readers — any recommendations for cold (10-30 degrees F) and wet weather (snow, ice, slush, and mud)? Would these be good for keeping feet dry?
Sock Doc says
I haven’t worn them in any wet conditions so can’t give you info there yet. Here in NC it’s been upper 30s lower 40s and I’ve been wearing them sock-less and definitely very warm.
Are the Gobi’s wider in the toebox then the Ra’s?I have a bunion on my left foot and have been using the correct toes with a pair of Primal 2’s with pretty good success.Just thought I would try the Gobi’s if the toebox is appropriate.
Sock Doc says
I’d say maybe slightly wider, but not much. Since I got the Gobis I’ve been wearing the Ra’s less since they’re so much more comfortable. I have the Oak too (no longer available) and that has the widest of them all in the toe box.
Would you say that the Gobi’s are wider in the toebox then the Nike Free?I’m looking for a black shoe for work that has a wide toebox that I can wear the correct toe’s with.Primal 2’s are nice and wide but the outsole wears out a lot faster then the Ra’s.Also,any suggestions on how to best deal with a bunion?Do you know of any good bunion guards?
Sock Doc says
Not sure compared to Nike Free – you’d have to try them on. I often recommend Correct Toes for bunions.
Tried on a pair of Nike Free 3.0 today.They feel pretty good.Not as wide in the toebox as the Lems but I noticed that the shoes material isn’t harsh on bunions.I can move my feet around pretty well in the toebox.Do you think that if I experience no pain I could wear these shoes without the correct toes?(I’m flat footed with heel spurs.)I was going to wear the correct toes when I get home from work and possibly overnight.Good idea if plausible?
Sock Doc says
For the CTs to work well you want to wear them as much as possible.
Do the Gobi’s run the same as the Ra’s?
Sock Doc says
Any thoughts on the Lem’s primal two?
Sock Doc says
Haven’t worn them but I like Lems and my kids wear them. So yeah I’d go for it.
I have a structural short leg – diagnosed about 5 years ago – got a lift added to the soles of my left shoes and all my back and hip pain/sciatia disappeared. I would love to wear minimal footwear but am having a problem finding minimal shoes that my ortho guy can add my lift to – i.e. the lift is rigid and usually sandwiched into the outside sole of the shoe so it doesn’t work with a super flexible sole – so far only Altra Zero Drop shoes work with it. Wondering if you have any suggestions of other minimal footwear to try with my lift or another type of lift or different way to address this issue? Just found your site today via MovNat – I live in Asheville NC -maybe see you this summer!
Sock Doc says
Read this one: https://sock-doc.com/2013/03/arch_height-weight-leg_length/
It’s a pity: shoe size comparison tool has disappear from Vivobarefoot site. I found it very usefull, because their different shoes models do not have exactly same shape and size. I think that simple size chart is not enough, particularly for an internet selling site.
About the Gobi (version II):
As soon as I get a pair, it was difficult to use other “city” shoes; and I bought several other pairs to match different clothes.
I wear them always with removable inner soles (and with thin socks): I find that cushioning is perfect; it makes things easier to switch from regular summer soles to winter ones, keeping similar inner volume (I was surprised that the black leather ones were delivered with winter soles instead of regular soles; all other were delivered with regular soles, except “Soul of Africa” line which comes without removable soles); some seams are visible, so it protect both my feet (from these seams) and the seams.
Shoes are very flexible and light; leather is supple (more with suede; less with Hopewell leather, but we are very far from common dress shoes, and nothing interfere after 2 or 3 days).
Laces are too thick for holes and don’t slide easily (it was a pain to remove them in order to set a slightly different lace pattern than the one used by Vivobarefoot).
Shoes may look a little funny when you look at your own feet, but in fact, nobody other notices anything special.
Despite reaching top of ankles, shoes are not too warm during hot days. I prefer this “desert shoes” shape because I find this kind of shoes sticks more to the feet without need of tightening them too much.
In one word: GREAT !
I was looking at getting a pair of Gobi II’s recently, but many reviews I read say that they are a bit narrower than the original Gobi. Do you have any experience with the Gobi II’s that you might be able to comment on? I got a pair of Ra II’s recently, and while they’re not unwearable, they are a little bit uncomfortably snug at times. Much better than the old shoes I used to wear, but not ideal. I would rather not get the Gobi but maybe get something like the Porto if that is the case. I’m a huge fan of the wider toe box. Now all I need is a pair of foot shaped steel toe work boots and my life would be immeasurably more comfortable and complete.
Dr. Stephen Gangemi "Sock Doc" says
I don’t. I have the originals.