Trail running shoes

Review: Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG Shoes

Unfathomably lightweight, durable, minimalist shoes for barefoot-style trail running

Take to the trail or cruise the concrete in a pair of mega lightweight Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG running shoes. Designed for trail running on packed, dry ground, these vegan friendly and eco-conscious trail runners will also help your body move more naturally. They take some getting used to, but push through the transition and there’s a lot to love about these minimalist shoes. Join the barefoot movement and run wild and free — like nature intended.

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG: The stats

Best for:Grass or woodland trails and roads
Heel to toe drop:0mm
Weight:136g
Waterproof:No
Eco-friendly:Vegan, uppers made from Recycle PET

Features of the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG

Upper fabric

Vivo shoesThe tough uppers are made from recycled PET mesh. The multi-ply materials are designed to deliver optimum lightweight breathability and comfort.

Outsole

Shoe SoleThe ultra-thin, puncture resistant rubber outsole has shallow lugs that are super tough and durable. 5 times more puncture resistant than a standard sole of the same thickness, in fact! They provide excellent grip on dry ground and they stick well when leaping from rock to rock. Get onto anything wet and muddy, however, and you’ll need to take a little extra care.

Insole

InnersoleThe insole is 3mm thick and provides a small amount of support and protection. It is also removable in case you want to feel the ground even more! Leave it in and you’ll gain a little extra warmth underfoot.

Laces

Shoe lacesThese trail running shoes are tightened with quick-secure Mountain Laces that have non-slip adherence. They have a toggle to adjust the fit.

Toe box

Shoe uppersThere is a ton of room across the forefront of the shoes for your toes to splay and behave as they would if they were shoeless. This is a huge plus if you like lots of space in this area and it helps to keep toe blisters at bay.


Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG review

The barefoot shoe movement is gaining momentum in both the running world and for everyday wear. So I was super keen to give them a whirl to see what all the hype is about.

First things first: these things take some getting used to if you’ve not worn them before!

I’ve been mostly running in the Altra Lone Peaks recently. They are a zero drop running shoe meaning that they have flat soles; the heel is no higher off the ground than then toe, like the Primus Trails. Unlike the Primus Trails, however, they are highly cushioned. This made transitioning from one to other a bit of a mixed experience.

Running in shoes with flat soles means that your calves get one heck of a work out! It can take a good few outings to get used to this and you’ll need to build up the distance before your calves become conditioned to working so hard. This is frustrating to say the least. I think I perhaps didn’t take it as easy as I should have which meant I couldn’t run for a few days initially. This has become better with a more sensible schedule and having previously worn the Lone Peaks has helped. But I can’t say I’m in love with them just yet!

The other thing that needs to be seriously considered if you are thinking about making the change to barefoot running shoes, is the type of terrain you are likely to be running on.

Most of my local trails are rough gravel mixed with larger rocks and stones. In my Lone Peaks I just bounce right off anything in my way. But when I wear the Primus Trails I avoid these routes like the plague. Though highly durable and puncture resistant, the soles are very thin and you can feel EVERYTHING you tread on. On more forgiving terrain this is actually a good thing and allows you to feel much more in control and in tune with the trail. But on the wrong sort of ground these shoes border on being painful.

Fit and comfort

The nature of barefoot running shoes means that unless you’ve spent your whole life charging around with no shoes on, they’re going to feel a little strange to start with. There is nothing especially uncomfortable about them. But you won’t find yourself leaping for joy because you’ve finally found the most comfortable shoes on the planet. They just feel a bit… alien! Which is interesting, because in actual fact they’re putting your feet in their natural position.

The one thing I did notice was that the uppers were a little stiff to start with. I have a sensitive scar on the top of one of my bunions. When I bend my foot a crease is created across the top of the toes on the upper mesh of the shoes. This digs into the tender spot on my foot and felt rather uncomfortable initially. It has since softened and I have also learned not to tie the laces so tight.

Soles of shoes

Grip

On ground that is dry, hard-packed, grassy or a little loose, the Primus Trails perform very well, and I feel sturdy hopping from rock to rock, too.

Running on wet, muddy ground, however, isn’t such fun and I’ve certainly found myself slowing right down to tread more carefully on downhill stretches in the wet conditions.

Stability

Interestingly, and despite their minimalism, I feel very stable running in these shoes. They don’t feature extra ankle support, nor do they have any form of lateral support through the arches — they’re barefoot shoes! But the fact that your feet are so darn close to the ground means that if you do go over on your ankle, you don’t have far to go. Your slowly strengthening ankles and feet will deal with the topple with no problems. This may be just me, but I’ve certainly found them to be surprisingly stable.

Versatility

From a trail running point of view these certainly lack the versatility of other shoes. There are certain trails I won’t go near in them. But if your running time is shared between road running and soft, even trails then they’re a very good options. And of course they’re great for general everyday wear if you want to move towards full-time barefoot-style footwear.

Running in barefoot shoes

What I love the most about the Primus Trails

I love how insanely lightweight they feel on my feet; like I’m not wearing shoes at all. I also like how stable they feel. Or at least how stable they make my ankles feel! Either way, it’s a definite positive for me. And finally, the fact that they’re made from recycled materials is a big plus.

What I don’t love so much about the Primus Trails

They take some getting used to and the transition phase can be frustrating and at times a little painful! They also don’t win any prizes from a versatility point of view for me. There are certain trails I’m very reluctant to run on due to the lack of protection through the soles.


Running on sand dunes

Verdict

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG trail running shoes are superbly durable minimalist shoes that let your feet and body move in a more natural way. They perform brilliantly on dry, solid ground. But get on rough gravel tracks, or wet muddy trails and they lack the protection and grip offered by more traditional style trail running shoes. They’re not for everyone, but if you’ve already made the move to barefoot-style trail shoes then you’ll certainly love these tough and mega lightweight shoes.

Find the latest price at:
Vivobarefoot

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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