VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail Shoe Review
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Mar
7
james wilie
VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail Shoe Review
Gear Reviews, Shoes
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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.

 

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

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.

 

l

Gusseted Tongue

 

 

Very Flexible

I’m not sure why the laces are so long (about 13 inches).  You could trim them down.

Long Laces

 

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.

 

TECH SPECS

  • 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

 Weight Breakdown

Weight Table

CONCLUSION

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.



  1. I love my Neo Trails… especially as a winter running shoe. I would love it if it had some kind of rock plate, similar to the 1mm plate in the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves. But the lugs are amazing for traction. I would really like to try out the Breatho’s as they should work much better for warm weather running. If you want more of my impressions, I did a review in Dec.. http://barefootinclined.blogspot.com/2011/12/viva-vivobarefoot-neo-trail-review.html

    Look forward to reading the review on the Breatho’s!

    Jeff

    • The Neo Trail has really grown on me. I see that there is a need for the hydrophobic upper (looking at the snowy trails). Stay tuned for the Breatho review. Thanks for your comments (and review).

  2. Oh my gosh I just got these and just walked in from taking them out with a friend on a trail run. I’ve never had trail shoes before so it was nice to not slide down a hill! The toe box is wide, which was good for me. I thought they were light, but compared to the Brooks Glycerine I’m sure they were. :)

    • Glad you found a pair of trail shoes. I wasn’t sure if you were looking for a zero drop shoe. Let us know how the Neo Trail is working for you.

  3. Thanks for the review James, I’ve added to the VIVOBAREFOOT blog – http://ow.ly/9D60G

  4. I bought these as a winter/spring trail shoe because of the hydro upper. My trusty Trail Gloves get soaked instantly, not so great in winter. And after returning a few sizes I came to the conclusion that these shoes just aren’t for me. My foot slides around in them, no matter what, especially downhill. The toe box, is not too great either. Wanted to love them, just cant make them work for me :/

  5. Yes, the Breatho Trail is a much better shoe than the Neo Trail….

    http://minimalistrunningshoes.org/vivobarefoot-breatho-trail-shoe-review

    • hmm, i like them both. stay tuned for the breatho review – still need to put more miles on them. also stay tuned for a review on skora (although a ‘road’ shoe, its working out fine for trails – trail version coming out in 2013 (i think)). thanks for your review.

  6. OK James… I’ve had these a while now. They are wearing evenly, but I found they are great for that nice sandy dirt, fairly easy terrain. I took them up north a couple weeks ago. No, granted I shouldn’t have been running since I had a broken toe, but still… On different terrain that what I was used to here… ouch. Here we have fairly sandy type hills, with some rocks, but fairly smooth. Up north I has some jagged rocks, a lot more rocks, etc. It was great in grass, handled the mud fairly well. Not the best with creek crossings. The creek was fine, but sloshed around for longer than I would have thought for a mesh upper. The part that left me thinking I need new shoes… the bruising my feet took. Those rocks left my feet looking like I had done a much longer race. I’m not a heel striker, but my heels were killing me when I was done. (I’m sure in part from avoiding full on broken toe, but still). So I like these for the dirt, grass, and easy soft terrain. I’m ordering some Hoka Stinson Evo’s now to see if I like running on cushions instead! Still zero drop, but a little something, something between me and the rocks! :)

    • You are more brave than I was in testing in very rocky sections of the trail. I did test the Breathos on more technical terrain, but was very carefull in foot placement. Both the Neo and Breatho do not have a rock plate. The water draining is much better in the Breathos since it is a mesh upper than the Neos. Let me know how the Hokas work for you.

  7. Hi, can you tell me how do the eu 42 size fit compared to most running shoes? What is the insole length and width at the ball of the foot? I am 42 eu with wider feet so I usually end up with half or one size over my regular – eu 42,5-43. How about the breatho trail – are they that BIG?

    • Hi Alexander,

      The EU 42 is a Size 8.5 in US and fit true to size. The size I wear is a US 9 (EU 42.5). The length of the insole is 10.70 inches (27.18cm) and the width is 3.85 inches (9.78cm). The Neo’s water resistant upper provides more of a “form” fit versus the nylon/mesh upper of the Breathos. Thus, my conclusion that I could go a half size down in the Breathos. However, other TRN members stated that the Breathos fit true to their regular size. I hope this info helps.

      Best,
      James

      • Thank you James, everyone is reluctant when it comes to sizing… The dimensions you state are about the same as what my feet feel comfortable in – I am exactly US 9 in Asics GT 2000 which feel a bit narrow in front. After reading the reviews on the Breatho I was under the impression that they come a whole size bigger, so in my case I had to order a 7,5 UK or 8,5 US, which is 41,5 EU, so that they came in 42,5 true size. Despite that I ordered size 9 US in the breatho trail, which according to reviews should result in shoes about 43 EU true size. I’m now waiting for delivery, and what I did is what you actually suggest (without reading your reply) – I ordered half size down form what you wear in the Neo Trails, which given we have about the same feet, should be fine. I’ll give my feedback as soon as they get here.

  8. Hi, I’m looking for a shoe which allows ‘barefoot’ function but doesn’t let the feet get soaked as my vibrams do. It’s for walking to work in all weathers (usually wet) and my feet must be dry when I get there. I’m looking at the neo trail because it’s advertised as having ‘water resistance’. How good is this water resistance and would they keep my feet dry walking 3 miles to work in the rain over paved ground? Thank you

    • Hi Alan, The water repellency is very good. I believe it would be sufficient to keep your feet dry. One thing to consider is that the outsole is “lugged”. You may wear the midfoot section quickly since you will be mainly walking on cement surfaces.

      • Thanks for the info James

        • Hey James,

          You might want to look at the Merrell Tough Glove (full leather upper) or the Merrell Ascent Glove with its GoreTex liner. I’ve got the Ascent Gloves and they’re my off road shoe of choice. My feet don’t stay dry in them for long on my super wet local trails but I’d put money on them lasting your walk to work:)

          Hope this helps,
          George
          @georgehealthadv

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