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"Barefoot" Footwear

Review: Vivo Barefoot’s Kali Shoe

Vivo Barefoot Kali Review


By Tina Dubois

Overall impression

The Kali is a brand new Mary Jane style pump for the Spring/Summer 2010 collection. It is the perfect footwear for women looking for a minimalist show in a professional environment.  It is an extremely well-made shoe with an elegant and attractive design yet has a thin, anatomically correct sole that allows for natural foot movement and excellent ground feel.


Once broken-in, meaning the leather softens to the shape of your foot and heel, the Kali is extremely comfortable. The toe box is wide allowing for plenty of room for the forefoot of wider feet. None of the upper edges rub against the top of the foot while walking. The elastic across the top is comfortable and does a superb job at keeping the shoe in place on your foot. The inside of the shoe is a grippy fabric that is soft to the touch but also helps to keep your feet from sliding around while wearing the shoe. The counter of the shoe is not made of fabric, however, but a soft suede that stretches to the shape of your heel. There are no noticeable seam edges on the inside of the shoe.

I was surprised at how comfortable the shoes were when I first put them on. There were no tight, binding, or pinching areas and they were instantly comfortable. The only problem I encountered with this shoe was with the shape of the heel seat. Upon first receiving my new Kalis, I wore them walking for an extended period of time with no socks and developed blisters from the heel seat rubbing against the back of my heel. After the shoes were broken-in, by wearing them around the house with socks for a few days, I no longer experienced this problem. This problem probably will not happen with everyone, it just depends on the shape of your foot and heel.


Each size 38 Kali shoe weighs 5 ½ ounces with the insole and 4 ¾ ounces without the insole. Even after walking for extended periods, the shoes feel practically weightless.

Flex / Sole

The sole is Vivo Barefoot’s patented 3 mm Duratex, puncture-resistant sole. It is incredibly flexible in every direction while still providing a strong structure for the base of the shoe.

Support / Insole

There is no arch support in this shoe and it comes with an approximately 3 mm insole. The shoe can be worn with or without the insole depending on personal preference. The shoe feels significantly different on the foot with the insole removed. Although the feeling to the touch is similar between the insole and the red liner built-in to the shoe, there is significantly more room in the shoe without the insole. I find that the shoe fits my foot better with the insole in so that is how I wear it; others may find that it is more comfortable without it. The shape of your foot will be a deciding factor in the fit and comfort of the shoe with or without the insole.

Barefoot Feel

Like other Vivo Barefoot shoes, the barefoot feel is phenomenal. If you wear the shoe without the insole, your feet are even closer to the ground with even more surface reception.


The Vivo Barefoot sole features a grip comprised of a hexagonal pattern with raised square knobs for traction. I found the grip to be quite secure on all terrains whether dry or wet.


The Kali has incredible air flow as there is very little material to the upper. I also found that breathability was excellent because there was enough room for air to enter under the vamp of the shoes, which helps to keep the toes from getting sweaty.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing

As with all the Vivo Barefoot shoes I have tested, the quality of both the materials and the manufacturing is outstanding. The leather upper is a beautiful, high-quality leather. The materials used for the inside of the shoe also appear to be high-quality materials as opposed to thin or cheap fabrics. The elastic along the top is wide, stretchy and seems quite durable. The seams are all impeccable.

Water Resistance

As the Kali is a Mary Jane style pump, if you’re walking in the rain, your feet are going to get wet. If you are walking in shallow puddles or short wet grass, however, your feet are well protected by the sole and the high-quality leather upper.


The Kali appears to fit true to size. I generally wear a U.S. size 8 or European size 38 and that is the size of Kali that fit me best. For better reference compared to other Vivo Barefoot models, my Lucy shoes and Dundan boots are size 39.


The Kali is priced on the Terra Plana website at $110 USD. Considering this a professional-looking, extremely well-made leather pump, I think the price is a great value.


This shoe has a simple yet elegant design. There are many lovely details to embellish the shoe, like the shiny strip of black material sewn above the edge of the sole and the Vivo Barefoot logo decals that add flare. While at the Terra Plana store, I was also told that the shoe can be worn with or without the elastic strap on the top. I you prefer a simpler, slip-on pump, you can step on the elastic and it is completely hidden. This is an excellent idea that adds versatility to the style of the shoe. The Kali comes in dark brown, light brown, and all black leather.

Break-in Period

As mentioned above, this is the only problem I had with the Kalis: they needed to be broken in. The leather upper is a little stiff when they are brand new and need some wear to soften it and allow it to conform to the shape of your foot and heel. I wore them with socks on for a few hours for a couple of days to stretch them out a little and now they feel perfectly conformed to the shape of my feet.

Shoe care

As with all leather shoe products, these shoes should be treated with an all-purpose leather shoe protector before going out in wet conditions and to protect the durability of the shoe.


These are the perfect minimalist shoe for the professional environment. They are elegant, simple, and incredibly versatile as they can be worn with or without the elastic strap depending on the style that you choose.


The Kali is another excellent product by Vivo Barefoot. In an industry where there are few professional, work-appropriate shoes, they are the perfect minimalist shoe for a professional environment. They are extremely comfortable after a short break-in period that softens the leather and allows them to conform to the shape of your feet. They are a well-made, high-quality Mary Jane style shoe definitely worth the price.

To purchase these shoes, visit the Vivo Barefoot area of the Terra Plana website at http://www.terraplana.com.

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As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.

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7 comments for “Review: Vivo Barefoot’s Kali Shoe”

  1. Hi Tina,
    We really appreciate the time you’ve taken to review the Kali. We thrive on feedback, good or bad, as it helps us improve our shoes.
    We try and make shoes that are not only healthy for you but healthy for the planet too.
    Much love for the Terra Plana family!
    Jamie @ TP

    Posted by Jamie | June 30, 2010, 02:17
  2. Thanks Jamie!

    The US Operations Director, Sabra Ellingson, recently sent me a comment on the Kali review. She mentioned that Terra Plana is aware of the heel counter blistering issue and they are working on fixing it for the next round of production. Terra Plana also adapted the Kali for the kid’s line as the Pally. She also mentioned that new season stock will arrive in September.

    Posted by Tina | July 5, 2010, 09:41
  3. [...] This Mary-Jane pump is perfect for Vivo fans looking for a work shoe.  See our review HERE.  Buy Them [...]

    Posted by The 2010 Minimalist Shoe Holiday Gift Guide | Living Barefoot | December 16, 2010, 21:37
  4. [...] a look at this recent review by Tina Dubois on the Living Barefoot [...]

    Posted by Terra Plana | Community | January 10, 2011, 22:49
  5. [...] have received high praise from Living Barefoot, and they haven’t disappointed me yet. They’re pretty much as [...]

    Posted by Barefoot Winter Shoes « Go Lovely Rose | November 18, 2011, 03:47
  6. Just got my kali’s yesterday, and I already love them! Currently breaking in with socks and no insole. Plan to go sockless in a few days.

    Posted by maddieaddie | March 23, 2012, 03:13
  7. I have four pairs of vivos, so I do adore them. I bought these for work (I’m a nurse) as I needed black shoes specifically and I liked the look of these. I was initially really frustrated by trying to break these in. I bought a 41, which was smaller than I usually buy, but these are the most generous fitting of the vivos I own. After trying them with different socks, with or wihout the insoles and one size bigger, I nearly gave up because of the repeated blisters on my heels. Finally, in a last-ditch attempt I bought some cheap gel heel pads and they’re perfect! For anyone else having issues, I recommend trying this.

    Posted by anna | April 24, 2012, 06:32

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