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Connect With The Earth With Vivobarefoot

We are big fans of Vivobarefoot.

Not only are they creating some of the best minimalist shoes on the market, but they are also taking their mission to create a better planet to heart.

This Earth Day, we’re highlighting Vivobarefoot, because of their mission, but also because minimalist shoes help us connect better to the Earth and if we can listen a little bit better to the feedback we’re receiving then it’s easier to fold ourselves into this larger global work.

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail SG Gear Review
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail SG Gear Review

Recently, Vivobarefoot announced a new project called Right to Roam. It was created in partnership with another B Corp Finisterre. Their mission is enabling a more “accessible and welcoming outdoors.”

In the US, around 28% of land is freely accessible, held in public trust by the federal government. However, in England and Wales, only 8% of land is accessible.

How are they championing this Right to Roam? From their blog announcement:

Firstly, we’re celebrating and amplifying communities stepping up, stepping out and telling new stories about who the outdoors is for. You can read about two of those communities here.

Secondly, we’re curating a series of outdoor opportunities,  workshops and retreats to educate and agitate around outdoor access. We’d love for you to join our newsletter or follow us on Instagram to hear first about when these launch.

https://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/blog/championing-the-right-to-roam

Roam with the Primus Lite III

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

A few years ago, we highlighted the Primus Lite II.

Primus Lite III Mens
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

Well, the Primus Lite II had an offspring: the Primus Lite III.

True to the minimalist model, the Primus Lite III has a foot shaped foot bed, a wide toe box to allow for natural stability (your toes are your anchors), thin 4mm outsole so you can feel the Earth, and flexible so that your foot can bend and flex naturally.

The Primus Lite III is also made with more sustainable material than it’s predecessor, reducing it’s overall impact on the planet.

This in itself is huge. Shoes make up a ton of waste that finds it’s way to our landfills. Vivobarefoot continues it’s mission to build shoes in a sustainable way. Additionally, because these shoes are minimalist and don’t have padding, they will last forever. And, when you do wear them down and your toes start to poke through, Vivobarefoot also has a program to revive (ReVivo… get it?) your old shoes.

I’ve been wearing the Primus Lite III non-stop over the last week. And I love them.

Primus Lite III Mens
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

First, they look fantastic. I loved the algae green of the Primus Lite II, but I love the new colors they launched the Primus Lite III with. I have the obsidian color and they look slick. They pair well with workout shorts or dressier pants.

They are also super comfy. When I wear them, it doesn’t feel like I am wearing shoes. They are a bit lighter than the Primus Lite II.

I have been taking them out on runs, walks, working out in them, and working in them. They work so darn well.

If you’re new to the minimalist movement, don’t let the thin sole scare you off. Each shoe purchase comes with the VIVOHEALTH Barefoot fundamentals course for free. Plus, these shoes come with a 100 day trial. If your feet aren’t happy (I’m pretty sure they will be), you can return them without any hassle.

The Primus Lite III are available for purchase online. They come in a variety of styles for men, women, and kids.

Altra Superior 5 Trail-Running Shoe Review

I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes fairly exclusively over the past 12 years.

Even with trail-running, I would wear shoes that had only 5mm between myself and the Earth. I could feel every tree root and rock on my runs.

And I loved that.

But I also recognized that, especially on more technical terrain, having minimal protection was holding me back. I could tear down the terrain as fast as I knew I could because of those rocks, roots, and uneven ground.

The reason why I started wearing minimalist shoes was because of an injury to my achilles. Any shoe I wore that wasn’t zero-drop caused pain and discomfort. And that issue still persists 12 years later.

Enter: Altra

Altra has been on my radar for years. They fit the mold of a minimalist shoe—wide toe box, foot-shaped shoe, and zero-drop—but with cushioning.

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

When Altra sent me a pair of their Superior 5, I was hesitant at first, but was immediately put at ease when I first slipped on the shoe.

When the box arrived, it was a wet, snowy day in Colorado, so I didn’t wear them outside initially to run. I took them downstairs to my workout area for a HITT style workout.

Immediately, I knew something was different.

With all the jumping jacks, jump squats, and even running in place, I was going harder, faster, and stronger than I had in my other workouts.

When I took them out for my first trail run, I noticed that both my speed and my stride had improved. I shaved off 15 seconds to my most recent best mile and my stride was more efficient.

What was going on?

The Altra Superior 5

I chose the Altra Superior 5 out of their lineup because it is their slimmest trail design.

It weighs only 8.5 oz. for a US M9.0 and 7.3 oz. for US W8.0.

While it is still zero-drop (meaning that there is a 0mm difference between the heel and toe placement), the Altra Superior 5 still has a 21mm height. 17mm more cushion than I am typically used to!

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

Even though it has more cushion than I am used to, it still provides some ground feel. While I wasn’t feeling everything, I did notice that my foot still had enough feedback from the ground to adjust how it was running, especially on technical terrain that was rapidly changing.

And if ground feel isn’t your thing and you want more protection, the Altra Superior 5 has a removable rock plate that adds additional protection.

The outsole is also pretty darn grippy with their MaxTrac™ outsole and multi-directional lug pattern. It handled well on a variety of terrain. My first run was on a snowy and slushy day and as a transitioned from dirt to concrete, it responded well.

The upper is pretty nice too. I had read some negative reviews about the tongue causing issues with some runners, especially going downhill and having their foot slip. But I never experienced any issues with the lacing system or the “burrito style” tongue wrap. My foot always felt very secure.

The tongue itself has more padding than I’ve seen in other shoes. It’s also integrated seamlessly as part of the upper, hence the “burrito style” reference.

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

The Altra Superior 5 also has built in gaiter attachments. This was a welcome addition. With other shoes that didn’t have this feature built in, my gaiters always sat a little bit funny and snow typically found their way in. Even after stomping through a foot and half in Rocky Mountain National Park, my gaiters stayed secure.

Hardy but Minimal

During the course of our review, I put on over 50 miles on this shoe.

Going into it, I wasn’t sure I would love it. I had run many ultras with very little protection and was somewhat content. But this shoe shook my belief that I was making the best decisions for my feet based on my previous footwear choices.

I am still happy that I am running minimalist, but in a more hardy shoe. My times have improved and I am able to tear down those trails the way I’ve seen my ultrarunning idols do.

I still appreciate that ground feel isn’t completely gone either. A big reason why I find joy in running is the ability to feel the Earth and Altra still provides that ability—granted it is with a bit more cushion.

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

If you haven’t tried Altra yet, but are curious about minimalist, zero-drop shoes, you’re missing out.

The Altra Superior 5 is available online in Men’s and Women’s sizes, but Altra has a handy tracker to show shoe stores in your area that have them.

They retail for $120.

Xero Shoes Fall 2020 New Release Reviews

Xero Shoes Fall 2020 Lineup
Xero Shoes Fall 2020 Lineup

Xero Shoes is a Colorado-based minimalist shoe company. They believe in the natural ability in feet; that they are meant to bend, flex, move freely and feel. They have a wide selection of incredibly light shoes and sandals built with this “foot-first” mission.

All of their shoes have the same DNA:

  • A wide toe box that lets your toes spread and relax
  • Zero-drop, non-elevated heel for proper posture
  • Flexible soles so that your feet bend and flex naturally
  • Natural feel through their thin soles; allowing your feet and brain to regularly communicate

I’ve been wearing various pairs of shoes—mostly in their running and hiking categories—and couldn’t have been more happy about testing out their Fall 2020 lineup.

APTOS

Xero Shoes Aptos
Xero Shoes Aptos

First up is the Xero Shoes Aptos. For Fall 2020, this shoes is part of their casual lineup, and right out of the gate I love it. 

It still retains the classic Xero Shoes design with these mid-point straps. While in this shoe they aren’t as functional as other products (mainly because of the lack of laces), the shoe fits well.

The shoe I tested is a 10.5 Mens. Normally with Xero Shoes products I’m a size 11. Because of the lack of laces, I scaled down to make sure I had a room to flex and feel, but without having my foot move around too much.

The look of these are amazing. They look a lot like the classic Vans slip-on. These have become a staple for me in the office mainly because it allows me to be little bit more dressy, but while still being able to wear a minimalist shoe.

The top is super sleek with it’s hemp upper. It’s great to pair with a pair of jeans or something a little less casual.

Xero Shoes sells these in men and women sizes in two colors: black and navy.

ALPINE

Xero Shoes Alpine
Xero Shoes Alpine

Xero Shoes is also releasing a snow-friendly, waterproof, insulated boot: The Apline. It has polyester insulation, heat-reflective insoles, and a fully seam-sealed lining to get you warm and dry.

While I was testing them in August without any snow available for a deeper test, I tried them out in two different scenarios.

  • Ice Bucket Challenge. I filled a bucket with ice and stepped into it with the boot on. The beauty of the heat-reflective insole is that it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. While there was some cold that seeped through, my foot was still extremely comfortable. I left it in for 45 minutes and while a lot of ice melted, the inside of the shoe was dry.
  • Snowshoeing. This is always the question I have for minimalist winter boots: can I snowshoe in them? The extent of this test of just strapping a pair of snowshoes on. While it was successful and I didn’t have any issues with the boot slipping out while walking around my yard, it’s fair to say that this test was incomplete.

I can’t wait for Winter to come so that I can test these more fully and will post a follow-up review after our first significant snowfall.

The Alpine I tested was a size 11 Mens. It’s fit is loose, but that’s good. When I test this further in the winter, I’ll be pairing it with thicker socks and for snowshoeing it’ll be good to have some extra room in them.

HANA

Xero Shoes Leather Hana
Xero Shoes Leather Hana

Four years ago when I first discovered Xero Shoes, the Hana was one of my first purchases and I still have that original shoe. Even though it’s been fairly beat up it’s still a slick shoe to wear into the office.

For Fall 2020, Xero Shoes is adding to their original model’s lineup a Hana with a leather upper. Even with the leather upgrade, the Hana retains its original slipper-like feel and true to Xero Shoes design it retains the functional, huarache-inspired heel strap for a more secure fit.

While the original Hana was a classy shoe for wearing out around town or in the office, the leather definitely helps the shoe step up the classiness an extra notch. Stylish, comfortable, minimalist shoes for work wear or more formal engagements has always been challenging. While there are more brands on the market trying to deliver this function, they typically run into the same issues: they are either too expensive, too weird-looking, or don’t have enough form to them and after a few wears look trashy.

These on the other hand are pretty damn awesome. I’ve played around a bit with different outfits and they worked well whether I was pairing them with a suit jacket or a short-sleeved button up.

The Hana I tested was a size 11 Mens. It felt true to size.

OSWEGO

Xero Shoes Oswego
Xero Shoes Oswego

Oswego is new for Xero Shoes this fall. And out of everything I’ve tested, my favorite. It stands out as a performance-shoe, but with a style that you could easily take from the trail to Main Street.

The bottoms have the same grippy pattern on the sole as their Speed Force shoe, but the uppers have a cool polyester knit upper.

My first impression was how close they look to All Birds. I remember when All Birds came out and Googling whether they were minimalist and being disappointed when I found out that they weren’t. The Birds were stylish and cool, but now with the Oswego, I can easily give that brand the bird when sporting these.

These shoes, because of their nature, have been the most heavily tested. Because of the grippy sole I’ve taken them for runs, flipped tires in the backyard in them, and cycled to the office in them. They work well in all scenarios. Can you think of another shoe that you could bike to work in, go for a run in, and shoe up to an executive meeting in? I can’t.

The Oswego that I tested was a size 11 Mens. I felt it was true to size.

When they launch they will come in an assortment of colors for both Men and Women.

PHOENIX

Xero Shoes Leather and Knit Phoenix
Xero Shoes Leather and Knit Phoenix

We also tested out two versions of the Phoenix: a classy women’s flat in both knit and full-grain leather.

My wife has naturally wide feet that make shoe-buying hard, which is why she gravitates towards minimalist brands, but with that comes another, more serious challenge: finding cute shoes.

Any time she needs to buy more dressy shoes, it’s a struggle finding anything wide enough. Most women’s “wide” shoes on the market just aren’t that wide. 

With the Phoenix, right off the bat, she noticed the 8 Wide’s sole was wider than the widest dress shoe in her closet. My wife also thought the design of the shoe was “super cute” with the lines and texture on a corner top of the shoe. For sizing, she usually wears an 8W, and these were a perfect fit. 

My wife found the knit version of the Phoenix to be great for wide feet. She has a wide toe box, and her feet were actually wider than this shoe. But, because the knit version has some stretch to it, it felt really comfortable and she has been getting a lot of wear out of this pair. It cleans easily and can be dressed up or down. 

The leather Phoenix was a bit less forgiving for wide feet. The leather is thick and didn’t stretch as much as she’d hoped, so it was a bit of a squeeze for her at first. She found that after some wear, the leather had more give and was more comfortable. She found the leather to be more dressy than the knit. 

She said Xero shoes did really well with this design and she’s excited to have shoes that are both comfortable and dressy. 

Lems Version 2 of the Trailhead is versatile and stylish

Lems Trailhead

I am a big fan of companies that listen to feedback from their customers and use it to actually make changes to products! That’s exactly what Lems did when outdoor enthusiasts let them know that their women’s Trailhead shoes were not quite perfect yet. 

I reviewed the first version of Lems Trailhead back in June. I enjoyed the shoe but did find it to be a bit narrow. A lot of Lems loyalists also found the shoes to be narrow, as well as stiff with its rock plate.

So, Lems took the shoes back to the drawing board. They redesigned them to make adjustments where needed while maintaining the functionality that attracted me to this shoe in the first place. The alterations range from practically non-noticeable removal of the bunion area overlay to ahhhhh-inspiring increases in toe box width (read the full list of changes HERE).  

One difference from the original Lems Trailhead design is that the lacing system. It used to have two loops, but Lems reduced it to one to release pressure on the top of the foot. I noticed that with this change, the tongue has a bit more tendency to shift to the side. By paying a bit of attention when lacing up, I can ensure it stays where it should.

They also widened the toebox, but if you have wide feet, these may still be too narrow for you. Even with the increased width in the toe box this shoe is narrower than others in Lems product line.

Flexibility has increased from the first design to the second with the removal of the rock plate. There is adequate tread and cushioning on both of the designs to provide comfort while trekking. The biggest difference is your foot feels more of the impact and terrain with the newer version. I would limit this shoe’s use to walking around town or for day hikes where the added flexibility increases comfort. I appreciate rock plates in my shoes for backpacking to minimize foot fatigue on longer multi-day hikes.

These shoes have become the workhorse of my footwear. They are comfortable for the mundane mile-long walk to school with the kids in the morning, and stylish enough for travel to far-off places where we are on our feet exploring all day long.

I recently took them on a four-mile hike in the foothills of Boulder, Colo. I was pleased with their grip on the sandstone boulders we climbed over. The onyx color does have a tendency to show dust after hikes. But, I can are easily restore them with a quick wipe down. They also pair as easily with leggings as they do jeans or even a casual dress.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio truly ‘goes green’

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Download on the Apple App StoreDownload on the Google Play Store

The hot trend in footwear over the last couple of years has been tied to the sustainability movement. Brand after brand are announcing new sustainable measures they are taking to help save the planet. You can now buy shoes made from plastic, ocean plastic, recycled shoes, or even from biomass.

But try as they might, I’m a big believer that the only sustainable shoe is a minimalist shoe. 

Over 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually. Because traditional shoes have a six to nine month, or 250-350 mile lifespan, it’s estimated that 300 million pairs ending up in landfills after they have been worn out.

Minimalist shoe brands, like Vivobarefoot, have always had a special place in my heart. One of the first reviews we published was of their Primus SG trail-running shoe. I’ve had them for almost a year, putting over 1,000 miles on them on trails, including 50K, 55K, and 50-mile ultramarathons. And they’re still holding up. Sure the lugs have worn down, but they are still my go-to shoe for trail running. I’ll probably continue wearing them until my toes start poking out of the bottom.

But that’s the difference between a minimalist shoe versus a modern shoe. When a modern shoe breaks down, it’s in the cushion and the arch support. Your feet are weaker in them, and they pick up on the discomfort a heckuva lot faster. With minimalist shoes, there’s next to nothing between you and the ground, and your feet are stronger. So, when it comes to wear and tear, the deciding factor to buy a new pair is usually how visible your toes are or the attractiveness of the next new thing.

The Next New Thing

Vivobarefoot is committed to sustainability. By 2020, their goal is to have 90 percent of their shoe materials made from sustainable material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

In July, Vivobarefoot sent me a pair of their Primus Lite II Bio, their most sustainably-made shoe, to review. At first glance, it’s not my typical style–it’s green. Not a cool, dark forest green like the Primus SG, but a bright green that lets your feet stand out wherever you are walking. They aren’t the type of shoes an introvert like myself typically wears because they are conversation starters. But it does allow me to geek out a bit, because these shoes have a pretty awesome story.

The Construction

Vivobarefoot first started making shoes with bio-based materials in 2017, when they created the Ultra Bloom, a shoe moulded from algae-based foam. They had discovered that the algae choking the world’s waterways could be repurposed into a foam material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

As chemical waste seeps into waterways, an algae forms. The algae releases toxins in the air that are harmful to humans and animals. It also depletes oxygen from the water and blocks sunlight, which negatively impacts marine ecosystems. By repurposing this algae, for every show they make, Vivobarefoot recirculates 57 gallons of clean water back into natural habitats and prevents the equivalent of 40 balloons full of CO2 being released into the Earth’s atmosphere.

But they didn’t stop there.

With the Primus Lite II Bio, they use a corn-based biopolymer made of yellow dent field corn called Susterra Propanediol. This material is made from glucose from field corn and is petroleum free and non-toxic. It also uses 52 percent less energy than other petroleum-based materials and causes 32 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

So, you’re literally “going green” when you wear these shoes.

The Wear and Feel

Just like every other pair of Vivobarefoot shoes I’ve opened, it was easy to fall in love with them. These shoes quickly became my go-to shoes during the summer. I’d wear them to the office, on bike rides, running errands—essentially anytime that I didn’t want to wear sandals.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

When packing for a week-long conference in Boston, I debated over which shoes I should pack, but ultimately decided to go all-in and just pack the Primus Lite II Bio.

I was happy I did. Boston is an amazingly-walkable city. From the time I landed at the airport till the time I left, I didn’t step foot in another vehicle (with the exception of a water taxi). At the conference I was on my feet a lot as well. Through it all, my feet were surprisingly comfortable. The materials breathed well, and there wasn’t a day where I got home and had to unpeel sweaty socks off my feet.

They are also part of Vivobarefoot’s active line, and while testing them, I have taken them on runs on the road, concrete sidewalks, and lightly graveled paths. They’ve held up well, allowing for ample ground-feel as any true minimalist shoe should. These were size 11, and with Vivobarefoot, I’ve found that they fit comfortably snug on the side while leaving plenty of room in the toe-box. Even with the extra room, I’ve never felt my foot slide in the shoe or have blisters form due to too much movement.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

And the green coloring is surprisingly easy to style with your wardrobe and very modern looking.

Conclusion

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love these shoes. It’s awesome to wear something that has such a strong sustainability message. I’m excited to see how Vivobarefoot continues to embrace their sustainability message and how it affects their lineup of shoes.

Please note that Vivobarefoot is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!

Download on the Apple App StoreDownload on the Google Play Store

Huck Podcast, Ep. 4: Steven Sashen of Xero Shoes

Showers Pass Lightweight Waterproof Crosspoint Classic Socks

On today’s episode we’re joined by the CEO of Xero Shoes, Steven Sashen. We discuss the evolution of modern shoes, barefoot running, minimalist shoes.

Steven has been leading the Movement Movement for a number of years. His foray in minimalist footwear was with his company, Invisible Shoes, where he sold do-it-yourself sandal kits. That original design is still part of Xero Shoes, but they’ve expanded their lineup to include several different kinds of shoes and sandals.

Don’t forget to follow Huck Adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Visit our website, huckadventures.com, for updates on our app launch.

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Visit PeakRefuel.com and enter the code HUCK at checkout and you’ll save 15% on your order.

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You’re Never Too Small to Make a Difference: Vivokids and the Aspinall Foundation

Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall
Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall Rhino Colorway

One of the things we love about Vivobarefoot is their commitment to better our little blue planet. They believe caring about the health of our feet means caring about the earth we walk on.

Vivobarefoot’s goal is to create shoes with minimal bio-mechanical interference so that the foot can move naturally, with minimal impact on the environment. They are serious about sustainability and our constantly coming up with new, cleaner and greener materials to reduce their carbon and landfill footprint. By 2020 their goal is to use 90% sustainable materials across their product line.

Vivokids and The Aspinall Foundation

Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall
Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall Tiger Colorway

Their Vivokids line recently launched a collaboration with The Aspinall Foundation, a British charity that promotes wildlife conservation through education, captive breeding programs, and by reintroducing endangered species into the wild when possible. Over the past few years, The Aspinall Foundation has successfully reintroduced a range of wild animals, including the black rhino, Javan Langurs, Javen gibbons, European bison, and western lowland gorillas back into their natural habitats.

Vivobarefoot believes that the more kids understand about wildlife, the more ingrained it will be in them and the more aware they’ll be of how their actions can affect the planet.

Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall

For their Wild collection, Vivobarefoot redesigned some of their best-selling Primus line with two of their favorite animals in mind.

The first is colorway inspired by the eight East African Black Rhinoceros that were successfully bred and released into protected reserves through The Aspinall Foundation. Black rhinos have doubled in numbers over the past two decades, but are still only a fraction of their former population.

Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall
Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall Tiger Colorway

The second is a colorway inspired by the Amur Tigers living in The Aspinall Foundation’s parks. Their numbers have been growing, but they are still endangered because of the loss of their habitat.

In-Field Testing

My kids were already big fans of Vivobarefoot Primus, but when Vivobarefoot sent a pair from the Wild collection for us to review, they became their new favorite shoe. My daughter ran around in them all day and had to be persuaded to take them off for bedtime.

Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall
Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall Rhino Colorway

For our trip to Moab, UT, the Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall were their go-to shoe for hiking around Arches National Park and clamoring up boulders in Big Bend’s world-famous boulder field. My kids loved how they looked and how comfortable they were, and I appreciated how easy it was for them to put them on and take them off by themselves. And even though we spent the trip in red dirt that stained some of our clothes, the shoes’ material repelled any stains and they still look as good as new.

The packaging of the Wild collection also provided some fun activities for them. From cut-out masks to a “treasure” hunt, it helped educate them about the animals they were “wearing” and provided some healthy conversations about animals and their habitats and the decisions that we can make to help make the world a better place.

Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall
Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall Rhino Colorway

Check the Vivobarefoot Mini Primus Aspinall out on Vivobarefoot’s website and help support a great charity. Enter the code HUCK at checkout and save 10% off your order.

Please note that Vivobarefoot is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!

Gear Review: Vivobarefoot Tracker FG

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Boot
Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Boot

Winter can be challenging for wearers of minimalist shoes. Because of their ability to let you feel the ground beneath you, there’s not much protection between your feet and the snow. In the past, I’d typically compromise my minimalist values on snowy days and put on a pair of clunky snow boots to shovel the driveway or take the kids sledding.

Since moving to Colorado, I’ve been wanting to get out for more winter activities, but have been limited by my footwear. Vivobarefoot’s Primus Trail SG is great for snowy runs, but if you aren’t moving at a fast pace, your feet will get cold in the snow.

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Boot
Vivobarefoot Tracker FG

That’s why I was excited to receive a pair of the Vivobarefoot Tracker FG to review. The Tracker FG is a lightweight, durable leather hiking boot designed for all terrains and conditions. When you look at this boot, it looks like it can handle anything. The top and sides of the boots are made of flexible “HydroGuard” waterproof leather while the soles keep your feet close to the ground while providing enough traction on rough terrain. Because they are minimalist, they also feature a wide toe box and zero drop.

The soles are similar to the lugs on the Primus Trail SG, but shorter—only 3mm. For the terrain I tested them on, I found that the lugs on the Tracker FG were perfect. They provided enough grip, and I didn’t have any issues with balance or slippage.

Hiking in Moab

My main goal was to take these into winter conditions to see how they held up, but I first took it out to Moab for several days of hiking. On the first day, after several hours and miles in Arches National Park, my feet were comfortable, but a little toasty. It was once I got back to the campsite that I really took note of the removable 3mm thermal insole. Given the +60ºF temperatures in Moab, I removed the thermal insole noting a reflective, metal liner nestled within the foam. After I removed the liner, my feet were more comfortable temperature wise.

After two more days of hiking, I was absolutely in love with these boots.

Will they Snowshoe?

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Boot
Will they snowshoe? Yes, they can!

I wanted to do more, though, especially in snowy conditions. My biggest question was whether I could snowshoe in them. Anytime I had brought up the idea of snowshoeing in minimalist boots amongst other outdoor enthusiasts, they thought I was crazy. I needed a stiff and thick hiking boot after all.

But our sense of what makes a good hiking boot is from recent history as shoes became more stiff and thick. I remembered a story about a mining town outside Aspen, Colo., where in 1899 miners were trapped in snowy conditions and running out of food. In a last ditch effort, they took planks from the side of their cabins and strapped them to their feet in make-shift skies and cross-country skied into Aspen. If they could do that back then, certainly I could snowshoe in the Tracker FG.

I planned a snowshoeing trip that was a 6mile trek, out and back, to Brainard Lake. The conditions were well-below freezing, and a head-wind with gusts up to 40 MPH drove the temperature down even further. To be safe, I double layered my socks with a pair of Injinji socks with the Showers Pass Waterproof Socks pulled over them.

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Boot
Snoeshoeing in the Vivobarefoot Tracker FG is an absolute blast!

This was my first time snowshoeing, and I had an absolute blast. The Vivobarefoot Tracker FG performed extraordinarily well. I reinserted the thermal insert, and my feet were warm. In retrospect, I would have been perfectly fine without the Showers Pass socks. The boots held up in the snow, and none of the interior was wet at the end of the hike. There were balls of snow caked into the laces that had melted and refroze, but none of the water seemed inside the boot.

Conclusion

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Boot
The Vivobarefoot Tracker FG in snowshoes.

As I write this, spring has officially come to Boulder. Even though the temperatures are rising, I still find that I am taking every opportunity to wear those boots. Whether it’s in the office or hiking around the Flatirons.

I’ve had them for around eight weeks and have put around 200 hours of wear on them. So far they’ve held up with no visible signs of wear.

The Vivobarefoot Tracker FG comes in sizes for men and women. You can find these shoes and learn more about Vivobarefoot at https://www.vivobarefoot.com. Use the offer code HUCK10 at checkout to save 10%.

Please note that Vivobarefoot is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!

My Minimalist Journey – Vivobarefoot Primus SG Review

When I first started wearing minimalist shoes, I worked at a pretty conservative company. It was business wear every day. I quickly found that, just as my feet didn’t enjoy wearing traditional running shoes, neither did they enjoy wearing traditional business shoes.

That’s when I discovered a small shoe company in the UK by the name Terraplana (shortly thereafter rebranded to Vivobarefoot). Even though it’s been 9 years, my two original purchases from them, a brown loafer and their “Suede Gobi” mid-ankle boot, are in great condition.

Over the years, it’s been amazing watching them grow in popularity as a company and expand their product offerings. I believe Vivobarefoot is the most stylish and functional minimalist shoe brand on the market.

This fall, I was lucky enough to receive a pair of their Primus Trail SG from Vivobarefoot to review. Over the past two months, I’ve put about 200 miles on them and in all kinds of conditions: dry, muddy, rainy, slushy, snowy, and icey.

Photo by Andrew Patra (@AndrewPatra)

The lugs on the sticky rubber outsole are amazing. There’s still a great sense of ground-feel, but there’s the right amount of protection for your feet. Out of all the conditions I tested them in, the only time I had issues with grip and stability was on ice. If there was a thin layer of snow over the ice, the shoes performed great.

The other nice thing about the lugs is the way they are spaced: mud and snow doesn’t get packed in. You might lose traction momentarily, but it’ll quickly get knocked away as you pound down the trail.

If there was one theme I keep going back to while I run in these shoes, it is the idea of trust. When you’re out in the elements, you need to trust in your own abilities but also in your gear. The overall design of the shoe has delivered a product that I can trust fully on the trails. While wearing them, my speed has increased, because time after time, they have my back (or rather my feet).

Photo by Andrew Patra (@AndrewPatra)

The Fit

The Primus SG runs true to size with a wide toe box. When you slip it on, the stretchy sock-like ankle collar feels snug and secure, but not constrictive. The shoe is very flexible. You can bend it in multiple directions, making it very agile on the trail. There’s been occasions where I’ve turned my foot on a rock, but because of the flexibility, my foot flows through the movement, without injuring my ankle or foot.

The rubber around the midfoot creates a secure fit, and my foot didn’t slip even when trudging through sticky mud.

The upper mesh is made of a synthetic multi-ply material that is extremely breathable. I mention this, because I’ve been wearing these shoes during the winter. The lowest temperature I’ve run in with them was 10ºF for around 10 miles. As long as I kept moving, my feet were happy, but you need to make sure you pair them with a good pair of socks (I highly suggest the Wigwam brand).

Durability

I have put over 200 miles on them, and there are no signs of wear. Keep in mind that by this point, traditional running shoes are near the end of their lifecycle (on average 250-350 miles depending on the brand), but because of the minimalist built, I should be able to put an additional 800 miles (or more) on them.

Photo by Andrew Patra (@AndrewPatra)

Conclusion

I’d highly recommend the Vivobarefoot Primus SG for any trail-runner interested in minimalist shoes. I’m excited to continue running in them, and I’m excited to see what’s next for this particular product line.

I’d love to see Vivobarefoot continue to innovate in this space by providing a trail-runner shoe that can withstand winter conditions a little bit easier by having a more water-resistant upper and by including features like a gaiter attachment on the back of the shoe.

But even without those features, I’ll be a big fan of Vivobarefoot.

You can find these shoes and learn more about Vivobarefoot at https://www.vivobarefoot.com.

Vivobarefoot Kids

“I love these shoes!” My four-year old daughter exclaimed as she pulled out the neon orange Vivobarefoot Primus from the shoe box. She ran them over to me to slip them on and once they were on, she refused to take them off, even for bedtime.

My son, at seven, was equally excited. The Primus he had were colored by a nine-year old from Wales; a mixture of blues, greens, and yellows.

Vivobarefoot sent us these shoes for us to review, and I was happy my kids were as excited as I was for them to experience minimalist shoes. When they were little, they always wore the soft-soled shoes from Stride Rite. But the older they got, their shoe options became harder, less flexible, and with more cushion. We spent a lot of time in shoe stores bending shoes in half to see if there was any give.

My son, over the last year, had several complaints about his legs and feet hurting, especially after long walks, hikes, or short runs. My daughter also had a habit of running and tripping, building up a decent collection of boo-boos.

We have another kid who is 15 months who still has the chunky baby feet. It’s still in that development phase where cartilage is developing into bone; slowly creating the best foundation for his tottering, wobbly body.

If you looked at each of them walking in their respective footwear, you’d easily see their progression as modern footwear attempted to shape their feet instead of letting them grow and develop naturally. My son, in his hiking boots, has a long stride with a heel strike. My daughter overcompensates, lifting the heel of her shoe off the ground and walking on her toes. The youngest walks with his full foot on the ground, rolling through it from the toes to the heel.

There’s a lot of benefits to having our feet move as naturally and as unrestricted as possible. As our kids’ bodies grow, being barefoot or in minimalist footwear promote increased strength and agility. There are mental benefits, as well. Given the biological makeup of the foot, there is a ton of information (over 200,000 neurotransmitters) that is being communicated to the brain. The more we feel, the more work our sensory receptors are doing, which leads to better coordination and balance and decreasing risk of injury.

I’ve been a fan of Vivobarefoot for a number of years (more coming in an upcoming blog post), and I was excited to have my kids experience their shoes. My kids have several pairs to choose from, but they have chosen to wear their Vivobarefoot shoes exclusively since they received them: to school, to playgrounds, on walks and hikes, and just around the house.

Both kids have the Primus model, and I am really impressed with the design. First off, they look awesome. The colors are eye-catching and the design is really cool. While doing pickup at my son’s elementary school I’ve had several parents comment on them.

The uppers are designed with a breathable mesh, but even in winter, their feet are comfortable and happy. The sole is thin, but puncture resistant. They can feel the ground, but, as parents, we don’t have to worry about their feet getting hurt by rocks or sharp twigs.

The shoes fit great with plenty of room to grow. Because of their design, I don’t feel bad if they are wearing a shoe that is perhaps a half-size too big. There’s a stretchy elasticity that cups the ankle. This keeps the foot secure, but at the same time completely flexible, allowing there to be optimal, non-restrictive movement.

Watching these kids run around in these shoes make me really happy. Not just because I know that their feet will grow stronger, but because they are joining me on this minimalist journey.

My son hasn’t complained about his legs hurting.

And my daughter still runs full tilt down our street, but hasn’t tripped and fallen, which for her is unusual.

They’ll definitely be wearing these on our next Huck Adventures family hike.

If you’re interested in checking out Vivobarefoot, please visit their website: https://www.vivobarefoot.com. They have a whole section dedicated to Wild Kids that’s worth checking out, especially if you have wild kids yourself.