Review of the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG
Vivobarefoot’s Primus Trail FG trail running shoe is an overall excellent shoe for those who are interested in minimalist trail running. While this was one of my pricier running shoe purchases, the quality of these shoes is very impressive. This is a super minimalistic, barefoot-style shoe that is lightweight and has no extra bulk, yet is amazingly strong and durable. This shoe wears down much less quickly than more substantial and bulkier trail running shoes in both the sole tread and the top of the shoe.
Barefoot Trail Running:
As minimalist shoe lovers are aware, the benefit of going minimal is the incredible feeling of running barefoot, or rather barefoot but with enhanced grip and foot protection. This is an incredible sensation, and with the Primus trail shoe you can certainly feel this sense of running with light feet and without the bulkiness of regular shoes as you fly along the trails. The barefoot style is advantageous for working on running form by forcing proper technique and running on the balls of the feet, which will naturally provide a tremendous leg workout, so don’t forget to stretch well after your run!!!
A Unique Shoe:
So what separates the Primus from the rest of the field? This is a very comfortable shoe that has a wide toe box to allow for comfort and toe splay. This shoe can be worn comfortably for a longer duration than other types of minimalist shoes as the toe box allows for natural toe separation but does not pull the toes apart, which can get uncomfortable after a while. This Vivobarefoot model has better ventilation than many barefoot shoe models, which is important for odor control and comfort while running. The mesh that goes along most of the sides and top of the shoe allows for air flow and is a very strong mesh that does not rip like the mesh on many types of running shoes.
The Primus is a very tough shoe in general. In addition to the impressively strong mesh, the thin sole has great traction and does not wear down easily, as this is a Vivo patented tough rubber and puncture-free sole design. The shoe is both extremely flexible as with most minimal shoes, but also envelopes your foot in a shell that is strong, will not rip easily, and gives some extra foot protection against the elements of the trails. This shell-like feel provides better foot stability than other types of minimalistic shoes and the lacing system of a pull cord enhances the stability and they don’t come untied. They handle water nicely and you can comfortably keep running after running through water or mud. For a very minimalistic shoe, this model handles low and medium levels of rugged terrain nicely and allows you to run fast. Usually minimalist shoes and trails don’t go together, but this shoe has an impressively strong sole that grips well onto dirt and different trail terrain. The shoe has a low cut, however due to the tight seal against the foot, it is rarely an issue that rocks and other debri fall inside the shoe during a run.
Things to be Aware of:
As minimalist trail runners can attest to, it takes extra focus and precision to safely and comfortably run trails in minimal shoes. Although the sole of the Vivos is quite impressive, be prepared to still feel the rocks on rockier terrain, even with the use of the extra insole included with the shoe. On more rocky trails I would go with a thicker soled shoe that lessens the painful feel of the rocks, although some might argue that this naturally strengthens the foot. Despite ventilation improvements, these shoes can also start to smell, especially if worn without socks or even the minimalist toe socks that they are recommended with the shoe, so airing them out and spraying them can be helpful. Due to the very thin sole which is even thin for a minimalist shoe, I like to run with them up until about 10 kilometers, but further than that I would prefer a bit of a thicker sole with more cushion.
The Bottom Line:
Despite being a trail shoe, they run nicely on the roads and they are also great for sprint training as they almost feel like track spikes, but with a wider toe box and they can handle tougher terrain. They can be a little bit stiff at first, but as they loosen up a little, they start to feel very comfortable. This is a unique shoe and I have logged in some great trail runs and interval training in them and to emphasize again, I am very impressed by their super minimalist design, comfort while running, and their durability.