Home > Running Related > Review: Terra Plana Vivo-Barefoot Achilles Running Sandal

Review: Terra Plana Vivo-Barefoot Achilles Running Sandal

Let me start by throwing many thanks to Planetshoes.com for providing the Terra-Plana Vivo Barefoot Achilles sandals for my wear-test and review. I would also like to Thank the Barefoot Runners Society and all of it’s membership. I have never had so much fun running until I ditched my shoes.

As many people may have discovered, as well as our ancestors who began making footwear in the first place… barefoot does not always fit the terrain. Footwear becomes a necessity at times. Thus… the Terra Plana Achilles…

“a barefoot multi-terrain running sandal. Suitable for: trail, beachside and urban exploration.” (http://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/mens/achilles-m-3924.html)

As advertised on Terra Plana’s website, some of the bullet points used to describe the sandals are as follows…

• Anatomically neutral outsole and wide footbed
o My comment: the footbed is plenty wide and accommodates my wide foot just fine.
• VB sero-pitch performance last
o My comment: I have no idea what this means… Anyone? Anyone?
• Split toe guard
o My comment: This was supposed to be a good thing… more on this later.
• Medial toe-bridge to maximize ball of the foot balance and response
o My comment: Another overly technical description which means nothing to the average consumer… such as me. Wait… I am average?
• Poly-Urethane insole
o My comment: OK, I can dig this. Contributes to the vegan quality of the sandals.
• VB intergrated 3D upper-outsole
o My comment: Again… I have no idea what this means… Anyone? Anyone?
• Dual-moulded reinforced nylon O-rings
o My comment: Thanks, but what exactly does this do for me?
• Removable and fully adjustable foot strap
o My comment: Adjustable is good… or was supposed to be, but don’t remove this strap! If you do… it’s like some mutant flip-flop.

OK, now on to the real meat of the review. I received these sandals early in May and have been wearing them and running in them all month.


When I saw these sandals, they immediately caught my eye. The colors were nice and the styling made it friendly to look at. When wearing these sandals, the people who do notice them didn’t seem turned off by the appearance. The Achilles are unlike the Vibram Fivefingers… which can sometimes draw odd looks from other people. I was pleasantly surprised by the way these sandals looked on my feet. See here…


What? You want to know how they feel? At first they feel great. I mean, what could be better than running sandals. When you run barefoot, one of the best things about it is the open air. When you wear shoes, your feet become saturated with sweat and you can become prone to a blister here and there once you add a bit of friction. When the Achilles are first placed upon your feet, all you want to do is go out and run. You can give your eyes a bit of a break from studying the ground as you run… helping to prevent that stone bruise that everyone is warning you about. …not to mention that hypodermic needles laying everywhere that you might step on. Just kidding…

The strap is simple to adjust and feels fine wrapped about your ankle. Adjusting the position of the strap and tension of the strap is very simple and doesn’t seem necessary. Once you fit them… you are set. They didn’t come loose when running or walking.

Ground Feel:

The ground feel was decent. This is an item that I don’t tend to put a lot of weight upon when wearing a shoe. Ground feel, to me, is something that you either have… or you don’t. Let’s face it… when you are wearing a shoe… you don’t have ground feel.  Don’t argue… you know it’s true.

Zero Drop:

These sandals couldn’t be more zero drop. Flat as a pancake… just as they should be.


The Achilles do not add a support structure, which is a very good thing. The foot is allowed to move however it wants. Please note… I said foot.

Toe Box:

The toe box? Well, this is where the trouble begins. The width of the toe box is fine. The wedge that fits between the toes… well, that becomes the Achilles heel of the Achilles. It is absolutely uncomfortable. The urethane upper (in this area) does not flex enough and rubs your second toe horribly. This part of the shoe is not flexible and caused me to remove the sandals after the first two miles… every time I ran with these. If you want to appreciate your barefeet… wear these for two miles and take them off.


The Achilles only weigh 6.5 ounces and were not noticeably heavy during use. I was happy with the weight of the sandals.


Oh my… these really look comfortable. But they aren’t. Sorry Terra Plana, but you have work to do in the toe area before these could be recommended for running… in my opinion.


They fit great and are comfortable… until you start walking/running. Then the pesky toe-wedge thing starts to annoy. Do these ever break-in or do my feet have to break-in? I was hoping for the first.


No issues here at all. I enjoyed wonderful traction. The sandals held the road and my feet did not slide around… much. I did find that my feet would find their way smooshed up against the front of the sandal. This added to the discomfort that developed within the first two miles of every run.


The Achilles are well constructed from my experience, however, one of the sandals is developing a stress crack… in the toe-wedge. Like I stated before… that wedge needs to be more flexible. Ouch! At least the sandal is breaking and not my toe.

In summary, I regret that I would not recommend the Achilles for running… or even walking. The toe-wedge is a deal breaker. If that item could be corrected (are you listening Terra Plana?), these sandals could be a very nice option for running. The fit is good but the pain starts almost immediately. I can not run in shoes and will not. However, I do want some footwear at times. A sandal keeps your feet mostly free and breathing; which is why I want a running sandal.

Categories: Running Related
  1. March 23, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every bit of it.

    I’ve got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you post…

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