fbpx

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.

Use the links below to visit our affiliate partners. For every purchase you make, a percentage goes to Huck Adventures at no additional cost to you.

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

Visit
SeatoSummit.com. A portion of your purchase will go to Huck Adventures to help us produce more episodes.

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.

XEROSHOES interview with owner Steven Sashen

Xeroshoes has taken the shoe world by storm with their wide range of minimalist shoes that help their customers Feel the World®. Our feet didn’t evolve to be crammed into tight shoes. They’re meant to move, flex and bend—and that’s how Xeroshoes were designed.

At Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, we had a chance to talk to Steven Sashen, the founder, visionary and CEO of Xeroshoes to talk about their current line of shoes, the minimalist movement, and then curious appendages at the end of our legs.

Subscribe to Huck Adventures on YouTube for more great videos about the outdoor products we love. Visit huckadventures.com and sign up. Beta launching January, 2019.

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.

Huck Token Presale Starts October 28, 2019 (40% Bonus - week 1) Minimum investment is $10LEARN MORE