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Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio truly ‘goes green’

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
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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!

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Xero Shoes Prio – Product Review

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

Two years ago, I had worn through another pair of minimalist shoes. I had only owned them for three months and my mileage wasn’t anywhere near where it is today. Also, I was living in Kansas City. Most of the terrain I was running on was pavement and sidewalks.

I needed another pair of minimalist shoes for running—ones that wouldn’t wear through. A big piece of why I ran in minimalist shoes was because of sustainability. In theory, and what should be practice, I should be able to run in minimalist shoes for two to three times the mileage modern shoes would get.

I was on the hunt.

Luckily, Steven Sashen of Xero Shoes was an internet marketing whiz and started serving me prospecting and retargeting ads based on my search queries. It was the first time I had heard of Xero Shoes, even though I was familiar with Steven’s first foray in minimalist footwear.

We had actually crossed paths on the internet several years earlier. Steven had started a company creating DIY huarache sandals called Invisible Shoes. His DIY kits were what had inspired me to visit a local cobbler with instructions to cut 4mm Vibram rubber into the shape of my feet.

Xero Shoes Prio

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

The particular shoes I kept seeing were the Xero Shoes Prio. They are a “performance” shoe made for running, cross fit training, or for everyday use. They are lightweight and flexible, allowing feet to flex, bend, and move naturally. 

The Sole

The Prio uses Xero Shoes’ 5.5mm FeelTrue rubber sole that’s featured on many of their products. One of the things that caught my eye, given my challenges with other minimalist shoes, was their 5,000 mile warranty. If you wear down the sole to 1mm at the heel or ball of the sole, they will replace the product at 60 percent off MSRP, plus shipping. Which is an amazing offer. Challenge accepted. 

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

I’ve logged over 500 miles on my Xero Shoes Prio and the soles have held up great. Only 4,500 more to go.

Traction on the sole has held up as well. The bottom of the shoe is covered with arrows pointing forward and backwards to provide traction whether you are moving uphill or downhill. They are deep enough to provide traction on gravel trails, but not enough for more technical terrain. 

The Build

The shoe is constructed with vegan-friendly materials. Even after running 500 miles in them, they’ve held up great.

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

The exterior has a huarache-inspired design—a nice throwback to Invisible Shoes—that is a functional part of the design, letting the wearer adjust for a more-perfect fit. It also has an adjustable instep strap so you can lock your foot in place while letting your toes move freely.

Conclusion

The Xero Shoes Prio was an amazing entry point into Xero Shoes. Since that first purchase, I’ve bought five different products. The sole is one of the most durable in the industry, and I’ve enjoyed every run in them.

Please note that Xero Shoes 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: Lems Women’s Trailhead Shoe

Note: Lems is redesigning the Women’s Trailhead, and the new version will be released soon. You can get the version reviewed in this blog post on clearance now at lems.com.

Lems Women's Trailhead

My family and I recently loaded up our camper van and headed to Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Culture National Historical Park for some hiking and history and to Santa Fe for some urban exploring.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out the Lems Women’s Trailhead shoes that they had sent me to review. I wore them during the whole adventure, which included hiking on trails, sidewalks, and even a little bit of snow.

In the end, these shoes have earned their place as my go-to as a road trip and trail-to-town shoe. I do want to note that they feel narrower than some of the “wide toe box” trail runners on the market today (such as Altra Lone Peak or La Sportiva Wildcat). If you are a Lems fan, you’ll find this shoe is narrower than their other lines. The shoes also have their limitations, which I’ll touch on in just a bit.

Putting them to the Test

I did a lot of walking on our trip in many different settings. We hiked at a decent pace through the lower great houses of Chaco Canyon and on a five-mile Pueblo Alto trail. We also slowly meandered through all of the art galleries in Santa Fe.

Lems Women's Trailhead

In my opinion, this shoe handled the slick, sand-covered sandstone in the narrow slot canyons as well as any of my other trail runners and hiking shoes. The toe box of the Lems Women’s Trailhead felt a bit narrow and took a little getting used to. But, I found myself enjoying the shoe more and more with each passing day. I’m not sure if it stretched to accommodate my foot, or if I had just been in wide trail runners for so long that I was originally unused to being hugged by a more form-fitting shoe. Whatever the case, I was comfortable after walking all day on a variety of surfaces. I found that the shoe easily accommodated my orthotics if I chose to insert them (having Morton’s Neuroma is a drag).

Great for on the Town

One major benefit of the Women’s Trailhead is I didn’t need a set of “nicer” shoes for exploring Santa Fe. On previous trips, I’d bring my trail runners and another set of shoes that are more appropriate for city use (and city outfits) so that my Boulder-ness wasn’t TOO glaringly apparent. These Lems were cute enough to pair with nicer jeans and tops, and looked good walking through the galleries. The best part? My feet were so much happier after a day of art perusal in Lems than in my other city shoes! We hit Santa Fe at the end of our week of exploring, and the shoes still looked great. I wiped the trail dust off, and they were good as new.

We ended up doing a random side hike to Jemez Falls. The road was closed to vehicles due to snow, so we hiked in from the highway. It was another great opportunity to test out these shoes. This time, we took them on snow and cross country on our “short cut.” I am pleased to report that my feet stayed dry, and I didn’t slip too much on the snow. Climbing down some boulders to the waterfall was all in a day’s work for these versatile shoes.

Lems Women's Trailhead

Conclusion

The biggest limitation was that were a little narrow for longer backpacking trips where my feet tend to swell. This would be a problem for me on any trip where I am backpacking over 10 miles per day for multiple days in a row. I need more room in the toe box for that sort of use. Also, they don’t really work with a cocktail dress. I may still need to pack an extra set of shoes for that if I ever have a more fancy occasion. For everything in between, I have my Lems Women’s Trailhead.

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.

BOOT BANANAS “This product is bananas”

Their design might be a little bit bananas, but their product works: getting rid of that funky stench in your rock climbing shoes. Originally from the U.K., they are making their U.S. debut later this year.

Subscribe to Huck Adventures on YouTube for more great videos about the outdoor products we love.

Visit https://192.168.1.69/filmMED/huck and sign up. Beta launching January, 2019.

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My Minimalist Journey – Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail Review

In 2009, I was introduced to the barefoot movement by a Kansas City based barefoot runner—Barefoot Ted or Barefoot Ned, I can’t remember. It was the same year that Born to Run by Christopher McDougall was published. After my first barefoot running session and feeling those sensations of grass and squishing mud—sensations that I don’t think I felt since I was a child—I ran out and picked up the book, devouring it over the course of a week.

Between runs in modern running shoes, I would try to run barefoot, a little bit at a time. After a particularly scorching summer day on sidewalks, I realized that urban Kansas City wasn’t the best place to embrace the movement. But the core idea of the movement was in the back of my head: how can I get back to a place where my feet were behaving naturally and how can I get more connected with the surfaces I was running on.

Almost a year later, in 2010, I had a running injury that caused me severe pain in my achilles tendon. It didn’t matter what pair of shoes I tried, the modern rigid structure of various brands caused me to almost stop running.

That was when I was first introduced to Vibram FiveFingers. They were preparing for their launch of their Bikilas line, and it was love at first sight.

Prior to their launch, I decided to make my own pair of huarache sandals, so that I could continue running. Imagine the shock of the local cobbler when I came in with instructions to cut 4mm Vibram rubber into the shape of my feet.

After another month, the Bikilas were launched, and I made my first purchase of Vibram FiveFingers. Over the years, I owned two different releases of Bikilas, Spyridon for trail-running, TrekSport, and the V-Run. I would wear them running, on dates with the wife, and to work. There was something magical about those shoes that kept me going back to them.

This past year, I moved to Boulder, Colorado, and was introduced to winter and mountain running. The Spyridon became my go-to for snowy runs up Bear Mountain or on some of the more technical trails in Boulder.

But then Vibram sent me a pair of their FiveFinger V-Trail to review.

The update to their trail-running line up was immediately evident. One of the main differences was in the shape of the heel cup. There was more padding, which made pulling the shoe on and off a lot easier, but also provided more protection which is key in more technical terrain.

The fit is really comfortable too. I felt secure in them, but as I ran over rocks and tree roots, it was the right sense of protection but still having the sense of connection and ground feel. Going up Mount Sanitas in Boulder felt amazing. On the uphill climb, I felt more stable and secure, and was able to push myself harder. Because of the way FiveFingers fit—essentially like a glove for your feet—I was able to grip, dig in with my toes, and push myself up boulders a lot quicker. On the downhill of that particular run I felt more in control, finding myself in an almost meditative pattern over familiar terrain.

I also took the opportunity to take them on a 15-mile trail loop called Dirty Bismark. There isn’t a lot of elevation gain and the trail wasn’t too technical, so it became a speed game—seeing how fast I could go in the shoes before I felt worn out.

But that’s the magical thing about minimalist running: when you do it long enough, you start training your body to use all the bones and muscles in your foot; you’re not just more connected to the ground, your connecting deeper with yourself.

For the fit, if you’re new to Vibram FiveFingers, it definitely something to try out in store, if you have the opportunity. With the various pairs I own—bought over the course of eight years—sizes range from 41-44. If you’re ordering from their site, Vibram’s sizing guide for their FiveFinger line is very handy. You also need to consider whether you’ll be active in them with socks or without, since that will impact sizing. For myself, I go both ways. Usually if I am heading out on short runs, I’ll wear them without socks, but for longer runs, I’ll toss on a pair of Injinji trail socks.

When I headed up Mt Bierstadt and Mt Evans this summer, I ran/hiked in the V-Trail and Injinji combination. It was the perfect shoe for the more technical aspects of Sawtooth Ridge, providing a sense of stability where some of my other minimalist footwear choices wouldn’t. Even though the route was around 12 miles with 4,500 foot in elevation gain, my feet didn’t feel tired—everything else did, but my feet felt great.

All in all, since picking up the Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail, I have put around 200 miles on them and couldn’t be happier. For the mileage, you can’t see any wear and tear. This is another great thing about FiveFingers and minimalist shoes in general—you don’t tear through them as quickly as other shoes. Typical, modern running shoes have a shelf life, depending on the brand, of around 250-500 miles. There’s still FiveFinger shoes in my collection that are 5 years old, with over 500 miles on them that I still wear. With my FiveFingers, the only ones I’ve retired are the ones wear I’ve completely worn through the outsole.

If you’re part of the minimalist movement, you should definitely pick up a pair of the V-Trail and hit some trails with them. If you’re new to minimalism, please keep in mind that transitioning from modern running shoes to minimalist takes time. It took me four months of running in my Bikilas to run a 10K comfortably; you build a little bit at a time, strengthening muscles and bones that haven’t been used in a long time. In this article, you’re only seeing a small slice of my minimalist journey. I started eight years ago, but didn’t start running in minimalist shoes full time until four years ago. I’ll share some additional details in future posts.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions about the V-Trail or any other minimalist shoes. You can reach me at jnelson@huckadventures.com or if you’re in Boulder, feel free to look up one of my upcoming trail running adventures as part of Huck Adventures.