Shoe Review: Vivobarefoot Neo Trail

Discussion in 'Gear & Footwear' started by ewheeldrive, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. ewheeldrive

    ewheeldrive Barefooters
    1. Virginia

    Jun 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Vivobarefoot Neo Trail Shoe

    I’d like to start by thanking for giving me the opportunity to review the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail shoe and supporting the need for minimalist footwear.

    I’m a firm believer that shoes should be used for tools to get the job done and nothing more. The more time you spend barefoot or with as little on your feet as possible, the better. However, barefoot is not always practical. For example, public restrooms, weddings (although I was barefoot at mine), and long distance trail running or technical fast paced trail running. That later of which the Vivobarefoot Neo Trial may fill that need. Here are a few pic's of the shoes

    Stickng Points

    There are a few criteria that a shoe needs to possess before I will even consider it. The first is a completely flat sole from heal to toe or “zero drop”. Why wear shoes that mimic standing on a hillside all day…ridiculous?!?! Second, I’d like some form of feedback from the ground. The amount of feedback is subjective and depends mainly on distance and pace for me personally. I’m a fan of less is more. Finally, toe splay, I need my toes to have room to spread their wings. Most shoes are shaped like torture devices. Give me a wide toebox w/o a pointed toe. I’m pleased to say, that in some form or another, the Neo Tail shoe, hits all these marks.

    The Upper

    The upper of the shoe consists of a Hydrophobic mesh with synthetic leather-like overlays. The mesh is fantastic for keeping dirt and water out of the shoe. On wet rainy trail runs, my feet remained dry. On dry dusty trail runs, my feet came out of the shoe very clean. Aside from keeping dirt and water out of the shoe, its also keeps most air out as well. These things get brutally hot in warm weather! These qualities in the upper will make a fantastic cold weather running shoe, but for summer, not so much. The overlays are well placed and do not feel constricting at all. They do secure your foot without limiting foot movement and function.

    The Sole

    The sole consists of a 100% recycled rubber. It’s flexibility is similar to the Vibram Five Finger Trek. It does seem a but softer that the vibram soling allowing the shoe to wrap around objects on the trial, rock, roots, etc. This is a plus for shorter and medium distances but may leave the feet little beat up after an ultra. The tread on these shoes are by far the best design I’ve run in. On the technical or muddy trial, they grip and climb like an orangutan on redbull. On the road, surprisingly, supple enough to not feel like a cleat or even a typical trail shoe.

    The Fit

    Like I said before, the toes like to be free. Up to this point, barefoot, hauraches, and Five Fingers were the only options that didn’t squeeze my toes. These can be added to the list. These are an extremely comfortable shoe. The seamless inside allows them to be worn sockless. I didn’t notice any hotspots during running or casual wear. There is amply room up front allowing my toes to splay. They did add more of a pointed toe to this shoe that serves no purpose though. I’d suggest that Vivobarefoot round this off and shave an ounce off the weight. They do not hug your foot like the Merrell trial glove, but do not flop around either.

    Overall Impressions

    The good:

    These shoes offer versatility in a minimalist package that I’ve yet to find in any other options. Aggressive enough for trial and supple enough for road and have great protection to ground feel ratio. Their secure and more substantial upper make them a great option for sports as well. They are a great alternative to cleats. I’ve run bases, swung bats, done crossfit, and done sprints in grass with them. They’re more structured than the Inov8 Bare-grips and offer more lateral stability for directional changes, but flexible enough to let your foot function naturally. The upper’s closed mesh makes it a great option for cool/cold weather running, especially in sloppy conditions. They look great. Gone are the days of strange looks from “those weird toe shoes” [​IMG] Really though, it’s nice to have some options that look a little more like a traditional shoe.

    The not so good:

    In terms of a minimalist shoe, they are a little heavy. They feel nimble on the trail, but over the course of 20 miles or so, the weight will become noticeable if you’re use to something lighter. The protective qualities of the upper are also a drawback for warm weather running. I’ll retire these once it gets above 60 degrees, even that’s pushing it. The pointed toe, get rid of it, it only adds to the weight of the shoe.

    The bottom line:

    These are a great new addition to the minimalist market. Shoes are highly subjective so the only way to really know if you’ll like them is to get out and log some mileage. Check out the minimalist shoe section at for more options.

    Happy Trails
  2. Nyah

    Nyah Barefooters
    1. Virginia
    2. District of...

    Oct 29, 2010
    Likes Received:
    It's still not shaped to

    It's still not shaped to allow the toes to spread. When looking down at the shoe, such as in the following photo of yours, the side of the big toe should extend farther from the centerline than the side of the ball-of-foot does. The foot does that so, why shouldn't the shoe?

    This is a problem with all the VivoBarefoots, Merrells and just about every other shoe. It seems that the people who design the shoes have been wearing constrictive footwear for a long time and just don't know what an unencumbered foot really looks like.

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