Vivobarefoot Ababa: Soft Leather Slip-On Shoes For Casual

May 29, 2024Barefoot shoes with a slip-on leather upper and minimal 4mm sole for in/outdoor casual.

Hello, my name’s Andrew, and these are the Vivobarefoot Ababa, a lightweight barefoot shoe with a slip-on leather upper and minimal zero-drop sole for indoor and outdoor casual.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Features Showcase Desk


For the past few years, two of my favorite barefoot shoes have been the KOW Slipper and Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Knit FG, because they’re both easy to slide on and super comfortable for wearing all day.

But the KOW’s aren’t durable enough for outdoor use and the Trail Knit’s are overkill for hanging out indoors, so I asked Vivobarefoot for a pair of Ababa to test…

…and with the minimal design and soft rubber sole…

They’re kind of like owning a cozy zero-drop magic carpet that can take your feet anywhere they want to go.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Toebox Desk


Because the Ababa has a wide foot-shaped toebox with a soft wild hide leather upper, stretchy notches for slipping the shoe on/off, curved heel for security, and soft suede lining for wearing barefoot, all sustainably made in Ethiopia.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Leather Suede Lining Desk


Underneath you’ve got a 4mm zero-drop sole with excellent flexibility in all directions that’s stitched to the upper for durability, as well as a minimal non-slip tread inspired by the 3.7 million year-old first human footprint found in Africa.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Flex Diagonal Desk


When I first got the Ababa I figured I’d mostly be using it outdoors, but 4mm sole is so soft and flexible that it also ended up working really well as a slipper.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Feet Couch Barefoot


Like my KOW slippers, the Ababa was great for warming my feet up on mornings when the floor was too cold to go barefoot, but the rubber sole was more grippy going up and down stairs and tough enough to handle walking out across my gravel driveway to get the mail.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Heel Tread Gravel

Style wise the Ababa matched nicely with chinos, either wearing a pair of Injinji merino wool toe socks to keep them clean, or going barefoot, which felt amazing on my skin, and despite the outer edges being lower (due to the stitching), the leather gradually conformed to the shape of my feet more I wore it.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Floor Barefoot Side


Going out for a walk the thin rubber sole rolled along smoothly and provided some excellent ground feel, while the mid-weight leather upper had a wide temperature range, being both breathable up to 80º F at the beach and warm down below 50º F on windy days at home.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Heel Sand Beach Walking

That said, the Ababa did have a looser fit and felt less secure for longer walks, although the suede was smooth enough not to cause any rubbing.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Walk Side Gravel


Overall the Vivobarefoot Ababa is hands down the most versatile casual barefoot shoe I’ve ever tested with a comfortable suede lining and minimal sole.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review By Andrew Folts


Because the leather upper is wide and breathable, the slip-on back is super convenient for a busy life, and the 4mm sole can handle everything from living room floors to pavement, and even some light trails.

However, the Ababa’s toebox isn’t roomy enough for extra-wide feet, the leather can start to heat up above 80º F, and the heel can feel a bit looser for longer walks.

Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Walk Floor


In terms of similar barefoot casual shoes…

  • KOW Slipper: wide toebox, breathable bamboo/wool knit upper, thin zero-drop leather sole with superb flexibility, and flat tread for indoor use in cool and cold weather.
  • Lono Flow: wide toebox, biodegradable synthetic knit upper, side support, medium 6mm zero-drop sole with great flexibility, and minimal tread for road running and cross-training.
  • Be Lenka Dash: extra-wide toebox, synthetic mesh upper, thin 4mm zero-drop sole with superb flexibility, and minimal non-slip tread for casual, walking, road running, and light cross-training.
  • Vivobarefoot Ababa Review Front Trail Gravel


    If you’d like to support the channel, you can shop with the referral links below, browse and filter more products at my website, or watch my Zero-Drop Transition video to learn more about barefooting.

    Finally, if you have a question about the Vivobarefoot Ababa, or about barefoot shoes in general, let me know in the comments.

    Thanks for watching, catch ya next time. Peace!

    Andrew Folts

    Andrew is a writer/filmmaker who creates video guides and reviews for a community of 25K+ creative rebels on YouTube.