VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail Shoes

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Manufacturer Description

The Neo Trail, a barefoot and breathable off-road performance trail running shoe. Best for: Trail, fell and off road running

Features

  • Upper fabric – Hydrophobic Mesh and Microfiber
  • Collar/Panel & Lining – Woven Nylon & Polyester
  • Press EVA Insole
  • Lock-lacing system
  • Off road grip sole with Toe Guard
  • 5.0 mm Lug Height
  • Eco-Credentials – 100% Vegan soles made from recycled rubber; Drilex performance lining with environmentally sustainable Sorona yarn.
  • Eco Score – 21
    Top View
    • Efficiency – 4 (Energy/# of components)
    • Sole – 4 (minimal toxins/durability/lightness)
    • Upper – 4 (eco friendly materials/simplicity)
    • Comfort – 4 (functionality/sensual feeling)
    • Looks – 5 (urban respect/pride of wear/beauty)
  • Available in 5 colors
  • Measured size 42
    • Weight – 262 g (9.2 oz) without insole
    • Insoles – 13 g (0.5 oz), 3 mm thick
    • Forefoot Width – 102 mm (4.0 in)
    • Stack Height – Heel (4.9 mm), Toe (4.9 mm), Drop (0 mm) without insole
  • Retail – $130

YMMV Review

I have seen VIVOBAREFOOT shoes for a while and have been intrigued. This September I was finally given the opportunity to test some out and I have been pleasantly surprised.  Not only are they a pleasure to run in, VIVOBAREFOOT goes out of their way to be as green as possible.

Side View

Design ★★★★☆

The VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail shoes are the trail version of their popular Neo Shoes.  The Neo Trail is designed to take the barefoot experience to the trail.  The upper of the shoes are made out of a hydrophobic (water hating) mesh and microfiber.  It feels substantial and tough.  The microfiber overlays help add some support to the upper while the mesh breathes.  The collar and panel lining are made out of a woven polyester and nylon.  This helps wick moisture way from the foot and gives the inside padding along the collar.  The shoes use the lock lacing system to secure the foot and have webbing overlays connected to the laces for further support.  There is also a toe guard over the top of the toes to protect them from objects.

Where the shoe really shines is in the outsole.  First, there is no midsole or cushioning.  Just the outsole made out of recycled rubber.  VIVOBAREFOOT claims it is 3 mm which but I measured it to be 5 mm thick with 5 mm lugs.  You can use the 3 mm EVA insole if you would like a little more cushioning or run without the insole if you prefer to be closer to the ground.  The lugs on the bottom are half moon shaped and are oriented in different directions on the sole.  This gives the Neo Trail shoes ample traction.  The rubber outsole continues up the side of the shoe slightly on all sides adding to the support even more.  The shoes are very flexible in all directions.

5 mm Lugs on Sole

Vivobarefoot gives all their products an Eco Score.  The Neo Trail Shoes have an Eco Score of 21.  The VIVOBAREFOOT Eco Matrix is inspired by scientific Life Cycle Analysis.  The matrix sets out to score our products environmental impact throughout their lifecycle: from raw material procurement, through processing, manufacture, use and finally disposal. There are 5 components that make up this score and each of these components is graded on a 1-5 scale.  The five components are:

  1. Efficiency based on energy to create and number of components.
  2. Sole based on minimal toxins used, durability, and lightness.
  3. Upper based on eco friendly materials and simplicity.
  4. Comfort based on functionality and sensual feeling.
  5. Looks base on urban respect, pride of wearing, and beauty.

VIVOBAREFOOT is more than just a shoe company, they’re all about ecological survival and supporting ideas of sustainability.

Fit ★★★½☆

The VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail shoes were hit and miss for me.  I had read that they run small and you should order a size larger.  I instead went with my normal size, a 42 or 9 US, and had plenty of room in the shoes.  If I took the insole out the shoes were too sloppy for me.  I don’t think you necessarily need to order a size larger.

Inside without Insole

I felt like the shoes fit well in some places and are a bit sloppy in others.  The heel is a little wide but the midfoot fits well for the most part.  There is plenty of room up in the toes and you can splay your toes like you would without shoes on.  Around the ankle bone the shoes sit rather low but at times the front of the cutout would come in contact with my ankle.  I noticed it more when I had pants on so it might be related to that.  The shoes fit a little looser than I prefer in the heel but once you start moving that all goes way.

Performance ★★★★☆

The VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trail Shoes are a minimalist experience to be sure.  There is a lot of ground feel.  You can feel all the little rocks and even indentations on sandy trails.  While on roads you can feel the squishiness of the lugs.  Overall the shoes really flex with your foot.  Since there is no midsole they are really flexible and a firm ride.  You can really feel the ground when running in these, there is immediate feedback.  At 262 g (9.2 oz) without the insole and 275 g (9.7 oz) they are slightly heavier than some of the similar shoes coming out on the market.  Once you start running you cannot tell as they feel plenty light.  The main reason for this weight difference is in the more substantial upper than its competitors.  My only performance negative would be since the heel is a bit loose, little rocks can get into the shoes easily which was annoying on more than one occasion.

Overall ★★★★☆

Overall I am impressed by my first VIVOBAREFOOT experience.  The shoes have excellent ground feel and a wide toe box.  The 5 mm lugs are long enough for most instances and the lacing system works well to keep the midfoot secure.  I wish the ankle/heel area was a bit tighter but the shoes still ran well as long as you avoided the big rocks.  I really like how VIVOBAREFOOT is trying to be greener and more sustainable.  The eco index is interesting and I would be interested to know how their shoes compare to the industry average.  The Neo Trail shoes are an impressive shoe and I am sure to get lot of miles in them.  Being that there is no midsole the shoes will last as long and the upper and sole do.  They do run slightly on the expensive side for trail shoes.

Shoe Flex

As an extra note, VIVOBAREFOOT is a leading advocate for barefoot running.  They have produced articles and running classes based on the subject.  If anyone is interested in learning more, just follow this link: http://trainingclinic.vivobarefoot.com.  On this page you can view videos and read the large book on the subject. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Green materials
  • Zero drop
  • Advocate for Barefoot Running

Cons

  • Slightly sloppy fit in heel
  • Price?

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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