The VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail ($115) shoe is a “barefoot-style” shoe designed to provide a better *proprioception while providing grip, traction and protection.
*Proprioception – is the ability for the body to sense the forces acting on it. [You may want to re-listen to the Dr. Mark Cucuzzella's podcast.]
Let’s look at what VIVOBAREFOOT has to offer.
Out of the box, they fit perfectly and were comfortable with a wide toe box – like a barefoot-style shoe should fit. I was surprised that the shoe weighed over 9.5 oz. I thought it would be lighter. You could “lean” it down by change the upper to a lighter/mesh material.
I’m not sure why the laces are so long (about 13 inches). You could trim them down.
TRAIL (AND ROAD) TESTING
VIVOBAREFOOT recommends removing the insole to maximize proprioception. It’s a personal preference. It also adds additional insulation. I chose to use the shoes with the insole. The first trail run was on a non-technical section of trail. It was a short 14 mile run. I was more aware of my foot placement in these shoes. The 2.5 mm sole provided great protection from the ground, and I was pleased regarding how they performed. I have not tested the Neo Trails on runs longer than 20 miles or on really rocky technical sections. I wasn’t brave enough to tackle those sections without some type of rock plate. They did perform well in muddy conditions. When wet, the shoes tended to not drain so easily. This is due to the hydrophobic mesh upper. However, in the “lab” – the evaporation rate testing, they tested “Good”.
I also started to integrate running with the Neo Trail on grass and some road. They performed well on grass with the 4 mm luggs, as well as, on road. They really felt great on the grass. Since I liked the way they felt on my feet, I wore them to work and eventually also as a casual shoe.
- Toe Measurement – 0 mm
- Heal Measurement – 0 mm
- Drop – 0 mm
- 2.5 mm Sole
- 4.5 mm Luggs
- Gusseted tongue
- Barefoot Style
- No Rock Plate
- Ultra thin puncture resistant sole
- Upper – Synthetic (Hydrophobic Mesh)
- Made In – China
The VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail was my first experience with a comfortable barefoot-style running shoe. I was very surprised on how they fit, and how well they protected my feet from the elements. Although I did not test beyond 20 miles or on rocky technical sections, I enjoyed the feel of the barefoot-style shoe on the trail, grass, road, office and just about anywhere. My recommendations would be (1) a mesh upper for easier draining when wet, (2) shorter laces; and (3) at least, a rock plate in the forefoot (you could thin down the 2.5 mm sole if you include a rock plate). These modifications could make a lighter shoe. Overall, I was pleased with the Neo Trail and will continue to integrate them into my training.
VIVOBAREFOOT has just introduced another trail shoe – Breatho Trail ($90). The price point is nice, and it has a mesh upper. Review of the Breatho Trail will be in April so stay tuned.