Review: Vivobarefoot Gobi – The Casual Minimal Shoe

Written by BarefootDawsy

Vivo Barefoot Gobi Dark Brown LeatherLike many barefoot/minimalist runners, I’ve found myself in the position of owning way
more shoes than I ever used to. One thing that most of them have in common is that they are all sport shoes. In fact, most shoe companies that make minimal shoes seem to be geared towards the running end of the spectrum.

This has always been a bit of a problem for us minimal shoe wearers. As much as I love
my Vibram SeeYas, I’m not going to wear them to my next client visit. I’ve got nothing
against the shoes, and personally love how they look, but the fact remains that for
most people today, shoes with toes are not an expected sight in the office.

Gobi SideviewIt’s for this reason that I’ve been so excited to try out the Vivobarefoot Gobi. The
Gobi is a minimal version of a low-cut boot, much like an Australian Desert Boot. They
are made of high quality leather (or suede), and feature the signature puncture-proof
sole of a Vivobarefoot shoe.

As a casual shoe, the Gobi has everything you need. The soft leather uppers look and
feel great. They come in tan, brown and black, so coordinating with your favourite pants shouldn’t be a problem. The high cut lets you get away with wearing either socks or bare feet inside them without looking out-of-place.

Gobi SolesOn top of good looks, these shoes can dance! I’ve had them on my feet for the past couple weeks and have put some solid walking miles on them. So far, they’ve performed admirably. For comfort and ground-feel, they rival my Invisible Shoes (Xeroshoes)
Huaraches, but also have the benefit of a closed toe.

Gobi Top DownThe extra wide toebox really lets you wiggle your toes and get as close to a true
barefoot stride going as is possible in enclosed shoes.

If there is one downside, I’d say it’s the fact that there is no lining inside the
shoe’s upper. This means that your feet are directly in contact with the single layer
of leather that makes up the bulk of the shoe. This is actually really comfy, but it’s worthwhile taking some precautions to avoid getting stinky feet/shoes (don’t worry, the Art Of Manliness has you covered).

All-in-all, I’m really pleased to have finally come across a good-looking pair of minimal shoes that I can wear to work without getting a myriad questions and disapproving looks. The final piece to the barefoot/minimalist puzzle is finally in place, and my feet have
never been happier! would like to thank Vivobarefoot Australia/NZ[LINK] for providing shoes for testing. Check out for regular deals, and please visit their Facebook page, and give them a ‘Like’ if you
enjoyed this review.


13 thoughts on “Review: Vivobarefoot Gobi – The Casual Minimal Shoe

  1. Gotta say, with my Vivobarefoot Neo Trails coddling my feet for a while now… spot on review of a different model but same outcome: comfy feet … Vivo’s rock. The Neo Trails are performing admirably out on the dirt too. Check a review in Trail Run Mag’s December edition coming soon. . I love em so much I will be looking to get a ‘fleet’ of them across trail run and casual everyday wear (and no, they don’t advertise in the mag, so this is pure unadulterated opinion). For barefoot/minimalist lovers – be sure to check into Trail Run Mag’s zines – we run barefoot as a regular section/feature.


  2. I’m curious if these will solve what appears to be the other big gap in minimalist shoes–deserts! There shoes are a bit baffling to me; they’re ostensibly “desert shoes” but the real intent seems to be casual urban wear. So… are they any good for desert wear?

    For those who do not live in deserts, the big problem here is mesh. Mesh lets in sand and dust. Mesh lets in bits of the innumerable pointy plants. These are not always major issues in the desert, but there are lots of places where mesh shoes just do not work. You’d be taking them off every five minutes to remove spines, dump out an ounce or two of soil, etc. These shoes don’t have mesh, so that looks good, but the tread and lacing just don’t look like they’re intended to be used outside of the flat and boring urban environment. I may get a pair just to see if they’ll work in the real world. If not, another pair of casual town shoes won’t hurt me too much.


    • That’s a very good question. I really am not sure how they would go in the desert. The soles are pretty durable and apparently puncture-proof. If you do end up getting a pair I would love to hear how they go!


    • Hi, regarding desert use here is what I found in an amazon user review: “I also hike rocky, high desert trails almost daily. Those trails do wear out a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves in 2 months. The Gobis stand up much better plus they can be worn in my business.”

      That sounds pretty good, almost to good to be true?

      Anyway, I have a pair and I don’t live in the desert, but I have used them for a bit of hiking
      and they have been excellent for that (as long as it’s dry), the sole is actually really grippy on all surfaces I have tired them on except for ice.
      I would be most worried about sand and debris entering from the top, as they are not that high and don’t really sit tight around the ankle. But that’s also the only place sand can enter, the tongue isn’t loose so nothing can enter there and I have no complaints about the laces really.
      Also I would like to add that these shoes are among the most comfortable I have ever tried. They are very flexible in every way and wonderfully wide in the forefoot.


      • I live in Alaska, so mine have seen some pretty brutal arctic weather. They are not the best on ice, but its manageable; as for snow, they are great as long as you don’t go deeper than your ankles.


  3. Hi,
    Where did you order these brown leather Gobis from? The only brown Gobis I’ve been able to find are either suede, or the limited edition, Soul of Africa charity, leather Gobis, which are out of stock in my size.


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