Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0
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Overview of this review
The time I had in the KSO EVO made me excited to try the V-Trail 2.0 by Vibram FiveFingers. Read my previous review to get my thoughts on barefoot/minimalist running in Vibram FiveFingers.
When I opened the box, I noticed immediately that the V-Trails were bulkier and heavier, but still very light in terms of running shoes at 6.4 oz. They are also stiffer because of the thicker sole.
I was impressed by the design of the shoe and how the ‘self-adapting’ lugs looked on the sole. I was a little concerned that the rubbery looking material on the upper would be uncomfortable when running.
The V-Trail 2.0 is designed for trail running and are also great for hiking. The design of the sole with its lug placement and ‘slicing’ of the sole to adapt to the ground features is worth the price.
Understand that there is very little cushion with a 2mm EVA insole, so when you step on a root, you feel it. The way the sole absorbs the ground features allows for maximum displacement of the weight being placed on it.
That means that when you step on a rock, you will feel it, but it will be duller than with the thinner sole of the KSO EVO. I found the thickness of the sole to be just right in terms of ground feel vs. protection for my feet.
The quick lace system helped me with getting the shoe on as it was more difficult; my toes just didn’t want to find their spot. I think this has something to do with the stiffness of the shoe.
Fit & feel
Once on, the shoes were snug and surprisingly supportive. There is more shoe than the KSO EVO, and I likewise felt my feet to more confined.
The upper material was soft and supple but had an element of roughness that I was not expecting around the toes. I could not bend my toes as well as I had hoped, and this made me a little uncomfortable at first.
The shoe felt great around the heel, ankle, and forefoot. The thicker sole gave the shoe a sense of stability that I was happy to feel. It is my preference, but I advise anyone to wear toe socks with these as this makes them more comfortable for any distance/time over 3 miles or 30 min.
I encountered an issue with the stitching that goes in between the big toe and the 2nd toe and in between the 2nd toe and 3rd toe. I did not have this issue with the KSO EVO because there was no stitching in those places.
The thicker material of the V-Trail 2.0 and the way it is designed made this stitch placement awkward in my opinion. Not only is it awkward, but it also put pressure on the area in between the toes mentioned earlier, causing undue pain.
At first, I thought that this issue may be due to the sizing, but the V-Trails are the same size as my KSO EVO and fit just as snuggly. The difference is that the KSO EVO had a softer upper material and especially in between the specific toes.
I hoped that the rigidness of the stitch in between the toes of the V-Trail 2.0 would diminish over time as I wore them in. After 70 plus miles of running and 20 plus miles of hiking, the issue persists. This is a major disappointment and an issue I am unable to overlook.
On the trail
Aside from the toe issue, I found the V-Trail 2.0 as a healthy change to the thick and obtrusive trail running shoes that I have used in the past. They allowed my feet to breath and my toes to flex as much as was given by the shoe.
The newer technology, which I will talk about later, really added to the experience of trail running. One of the things anyone will notice when trying on trail running shoes, or hiking shoes for that matter is how heavy they are compared to normal running or walking shoes.
The V-Trail 2.0 offers everything in a much lighter shoe. For those who plan to run for an extended period, the weight of the shoe will become a bigger issue the farther you run. I found my legs not to tire as quickly when wearing the V-Trail 2.0 as opposed my standard trail running shoes.
Vibram FiveFingersrely on the technology inherent in the human body but have added their own to suit its needs, not take away from it.
The Megagrip outsole technology was excellent. I had no trouble with my footing in wet or dry conditions. I found that cornering in the V-Trail 2.0 was superior to that of the KSO EVO in part to the thicker upper and outsole, but mainly because the more pronounced heel cup made my feet feel more secure.
The 3D Cocoon technology is hidden in the shoe, but very evident after wearing. When I stepped on a root, rock, or other sharp objects, I noticed that the V-Trails were gentler than the KSO EVO by displacing the point of impact over a greater area.
This is accomplished by the webbed structure of the Cocoon woven into the outsole. The lamination over the toes does help to reduce the moisture that enters the foot in that area. As far as water resistant, I wouldn’t go that far.
It helped to keep my feet drier, but water would still enter the shoe in those areas. The great thing about the V-Trail 2.0 and the KSO EVO is that water does not stay in the shoe for long, even after I have run through water up to my knees the shoes lose water quickly unlike standard trail running shoes.
For those who are looking for an alternative to the standard trail running shoe without going completely barefoot, the V-Trail 2.0 is a great option. The technology in the shoe is wonderful, and besides being lightweight and flexible, it is comfortable and airy.
That being said, I cannot overlook the issue with the material between the first 3 toes. It is a major flaw in the shoe design and takes away from its rating. There are a couple of other minor issues like getting a random twig, or small rock stuck in between two of the toes or trouble putting the shoe on quickly, but these pale in comparison to the toe issue.
Durable, carefully lugged Megagrip rubber offers lasting protection against trail hazards despite some initial discomfort
- Protection underfoot without significant effect on biodynamics
- Solid, protective upper that remains breathable
- Durable design under 200 grams
- Weight: Weight M43 = 6.4 oz / 182 gr
- Stack: 2 mm insole + 3.7 mm Megagrip outsole = 5.7mm
- Drop: 0mm
- Terrain: best suited for trails, fine on road (will wear faster)
Vibram’s signature Megagrip compound offers unparalleled traction on a wide variety of surfaces, including snow and ice. The 3D cocoon mesh does a commendable job spreading out the forces of sharp objects underfoot.
A self-adaptive lug design from Vibram’s trekking and technical ascent experience are diamond-shaped lugs with grooves to allow for both flexibility in the soles and increased grip.
Flexible, grippy and protective. A great combo!
A generous thickness throughout the entire sole keeps your foot well-protected from trail hazards. Additional arch protection is notable when compared to the V-Run and the V-Alpha, but it didn't cause any discomfort.
Note that this is still a Vibram FiveFingers with a Megagrip sole and additional impact resistance. There is no rock plate, and it still hurts if you hit a rock or root at full speed.
If you're careful and light on your feet, this shoe can minimize fatigue over the long haul at best.
Despite its status as a minimalist shoe, the sole offers noticeable smoothness on rougher trails
Standard Vibram fare is a stitched-in, 2mm EVA midsole. Excellent for control and comfort, but a cushy trainer this shoe is not. You’re joints, form and muscles are the paddings when you run so you’ll need to learn to run accordingly!
BioDEWIX moisture control fabric is in the footbed, collar lining and tongue lining helps to manage foot moisture by wicking and drying sweat before it can be absorbed (no clammy feet).
The main fabric in the visible upper is the same stretch synthetic used in the KSO and Classic models. It is an abrasion-resistant stretch polyamide fabric that sits low on foot for comfort and additional quick drying.
A cool feature in V-Trail 2.0 is that overlay braces are made of rubberized textile (the same material used in the construction of snowshoes and inflatable kayaks to shed water), and there is also toe protection from TPU film on the tops of the toes.
Nice colors and good functionality from the uppers
With a lot of different textiles and improved stitching for durability, it should not come as a surprise that these shoes took some breaking in. A find a little petroleum jelly or shea butter on hotspots on tips, tops and in between toes for the first few runs sped up the process.
Over the long haul, this has proven to be a very high quality upper that is durable and water repellant.
As a standard for minimalist trail shoes, lightweight protection comes at the cost of comfort. A gusseted tongue would be a nice feature for mud, sand or gravel trails. If that's the main concern, there is always the Vibram KSOs for those specific runs.
As mentioned above, the upper fits a little snug and needs a break-in period. Some extra material around seams was initially bothersome but was better than the hard plastic and initial discomfort in the V-Train model.
After a slow and steady increase in mileage, they have become great shoes.
The stiffness in the soles that protects your feet comes at the cost of a reduced proprioception and ground feel. However, this is well worth the trade-off on rocky trails. The additional flex grooves in the forefoot help you keep nimble for avoiding hazards.
Carefully designed soles offer great protection at the cost of reduced proprioception...for Vibrams of course!
Nimble is important when running in FiveFingers, especially on trails. Shorter strides, making sure to land on your forefoot and being ready to roll off a rock or root are essential when running in this shoe.
If that's not your style, then there are low/zero drop trail shoes from Topo and Altra that might suit you better. Having tested both types of shoes and if you can train yourself slowly and carefully, it's a much cooler feeling flying over the trails in the V Trail 2.0
Tough. As. Nails. The rubberized textile braces provide extra protection and support for trying conditions. Generous amounts of rubber are provided underfoot, in front of the toes and up along the back of the heel. I definitely will prefer this over a V-Alpha or V-Run when hitting anything other than light trails.
The recommended use is for trail running only. The design works fine enough on road and track, is great for a warm-up gym or bodyweight workout, but excels on forested trails.
The Cocoon 3D mesh is a veritable acorn-crushing-machine and smooths out the shock from smaller rocks. Seriously rocky parts get tricky to navigate at high speeds if you can’t get your foot placement correct so adjust accordingly.
Weather-wise, these shoes are great for muddy and rainy conditions. The cold is ok as long as you are moving fast enough to keep the blood pumping to your feet, and you’re not on pavement or ice for an extended time.
These shoes are not insulated so check out the Trek Ascent Insulated from Vibram if you want to keep the toes.
- V-Run: Stick to the trails with the Megagrip compound. V-Run’s are designed for road running. The difference between rubber and cushioning is substantial.
- V-Alpha: The new 3D Cocoon technology does a better job smoothing out the noise of trail debris. The V-Trail 2.0 upper is a far bit stiffer upper. I would have preferred the V-Alpha upper material instead of the stretch synthetic as I don’t mind my feet getting wet and prefer the quick-dry and warmth.
- Vapor Glove 4: Snug fit from the V-Trail 2.0s compared to wide toe box of the Vapor Glove 4s. As for the fully synthetic upper, I must admit I like the Condura upper better. It also does not have a rock plate so the Trail Glove series would be next step up if either is too minimalist for your liking.
- Durable and extremely resistant design
- Great traction and protection against trail debris
- Cool new colorway
- Quick lacing system is intuitive and adjustable
- Takes time to adapt to the shoe fully
- Overkill unless used on rugged trails
- Upper is initially stiff and has some annoying seams
- Arch protection takes some getting used to
If you want a rock plate, get a rock plate. If you want a minimalist shoe that can hold up on short, punchy trail runs, then look no further.
You would need considerable, consistent trail training to make this a long-distance shoe. Nevertheless, it’s totally possible with the right work.
Vibram touts this model as an obstacle racing shoe, and although I haven't done one, I could see how this shoe could fit the bill. It is super light, won't get bogged down with a lot of mud, and has superb flexibility for obstacle events.
Wet after a muddy run, these shoes weighed about 7.5oz/210g and never lost their grip or responsiveness.
All in all, it’s a great shoe for its niche once broken in properly. If you are a dedicated trail runner and enjoy running in VFFs, then this is an excellent shoe for you.
Getting past the initial discomfort is worth it, I promise you!
If you view my other reviews of Vibram FiveFingers shoes, you would quickly see that I am a big and long-time fan. I absolutely loved the Bikila Evo and KSO Evo and personally regard these as some of the best barefoot running shoes put on the market.
Despite this, I always knew that these shoes were mostly limited to road/track terrains because of the intentionally limited outsole protection against rough surfaces.
So when I was approached with the opportunity to try out the V-Trail 2.0 — a FiveFinger shoe intended specifically for rougher terrains, I was thrilled!
Truly ecstatic! Not to mention the idea of a machine-washable trail running shoe to boot. In the end, though, the V-Trail 2.0s were not what I had hoped they would be.
Comfort & fit
This is probably the major area where the 2.0s fell short. What has made Vibram FiveFingers so amazing and liberating for me as a runner is that they tend to feel like an extension of your feet.
They hardly weigh anything, and they use a form-fitting mesh upper to conform perfectly to the shape of your feet. The 2.0s DID NOT do this. In fact, as soon as I tried to put my feet into the 2.0s, I was confused.
The inside of the shoe was stiff and spacious (rather than form-fitting), so my bare feet were wondering if they needed socks. At the same time, the toe slots were so gapingly wide that my toes felt like there was way too much space.
I don’t think this was a matter of sizing either, because length-wise the shoe still fit fine. Furthermore, the inside of the toe slots was pretty rough, and so the bottom of my toes didn’t feel very comfortable inside the shoes.
The 2.0s made use of VFF’s standard lock-lacing system, which I have always loved and still worked effectively here as well. To the shoes’ credit also, the padding
around the ankle area felt supportive and soft.
Given my confusion as to how to wear the 2.0s, I tried them both ways: with socks and without socks. Sadly, the shoes ended up feeling awkward under both circumstances.
Although the fit felt slightly more secure and stable with socks on, my feet also ended up feeling extremely stuffy inside because the 2.0s are not particularly well-ventilated.
Another thing to make note of is if you wear socks with them, you have to use toe-slot based socks (Ex: Injinji), which I imagine might pose an inconvenience for some. Without socks then, there were other issues.
As I mentioned, the toe slots felt overly spacious, rough, and hard on the inside. My toes did not feel comfortable even on short runs.
Additionally, because of the non-conforming fit of the 2.0s, I began to get hot spots on the bottom of my feet - the first sign of oncoming blisters.
Additionally, with or without socks, the outsoles of the 2.0s were actually not very protective. The 2.0s use the same “Mega Grip” outsole as the VFF V-Aquas, which provide superb traction but are not anything extraordinary in terms of protection.
Because of this, the 2.0s (which are meant to be trail shoes), actually fared rather poorly on trail terrains. Every time I stepped on a rock or a twig, my feet really hurt! I had to begin relegating my test runs to roads, grass paths, and a few limited dirt paths.
The bottom line here is most trails will have small rocks, and twigs scattered plentifully around, and the 2.0s were not protective enough to traverse these with authority.
At best, I ended up feeling like the 2.0s were just heavier, stiffer, and less comfortable versions of other VFF shoes, without any separate benefits.
As I mentioned, they don’t fare effectively on trails, so they didn’t differentiate themselves from other VFF shoes. That said, they lacked the true barefoot sensation that makes other VFF shoes so appealing.
In attempts to be creative, I also tried the 2.0s as a day-hiking shoe. They actually worked much better in this instance, especially because when hiking, the impact is lower, the speed is slower, and you can pay more attention to where you are stepping.
If you do want to use these as a day hiking shoe, then I would recommend going the sock-wearing route.
The V-Trail 2.0s float awkwardly between a barefoot shoe and, well, a shoe that requires socks. Because of this, they never feel truly comfortable or appropriate either way, and in that sense, the 2.0s are already unable to deliver the huge selling point of other VFF shoes: the free barefoot sensation.
The 2.0s are stiff and non-conforming to the shape of your foot, so they don’t really feel like an extension of your foot like other VFF shoes does.
The 2.0s also do not provide adequate protection on the outsole to be taken seriously as a true trail running shoe. As such, I would recommend others to look elsewhere when they are considering a pair of trail running shoes.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been getting more into the minimalist running game and experimenting with different brands and shoes. After putting in miles barefoot and with a more traditional minimalist shoe, the Vibram V-Trail 2.0 was my first experience with a toe running shoe.
It’s hard to get past how silly they look— I admit to giving the glance of judgment to those I’d seen running in them in the past, but these shoes have given me a new appreciation for the ridiculous toe running shoe experience.
But, new perspective aside, I’m not converted. The vision and design of the V-Trail 2.0 make sense, but it falls short of the mark when it comes to execution and performance.
All in all, this shoe has joined the rotation for my 1-2 minimalist runs each week, but it’s not necessarily a shoe that gives me the bounce, joy, and satisfaction I’ve come to expect from my training collection.
Honestly, my expectations for what would be durable and what wouldn’t get completely flip-flopped with the Virbarm V-Trail 2.0. I was expecting the outsole to wear out quickly, but then the lacing system is actually what disappointed me first, on the very first time I tried the shoes on!
First, let’s break down the struggle. Getting these shoes on is likely going to be harder than your workout. After putting these on more than 25 times now, I still struggle to line up my toes, push them into the right spots, and make sure they’re comfortable with no risk of abrasive rubbing.
Now, I do have long toes, so that might play a part, but I usually have to slip the shoe on and off 3-4 times before I can get it just right.
Then, the quick-lace system was the next issue. After finally getting the shoes on for the first time (I was feeling quite proud), I went to tighten the shoes and the velcro tip came straight off, which meant I had no way to strap down the laces to the shoe.
I was pretty frustrated and losing the small window of opportunity I had for my run that day, so I jerry-rigged the lace down with some knots, but I was really disappointed such a crucial (and very heavily used) part of the shoe failed so quickly.
I ended up getting the superglue out and got the velcro reattached to the laces, but I’ve had to be very cautious every time lacing my shoes since for fear I’ll tear it off again.
Now, putting the shoes on aside, the outsole of the shoe has performed marvelously. I’ve run on the road, treadmill, and trails in these bad boys, and they’re showing little to no signs of wear.
I was worried such a sturdy, tough outsole would completely negate the barefoot running experience, but I was surprised to retain the responsiveness I desired. The grip is fantastic without being too grippy.
Beyond the trails, I wear these shoes to the gym each week for my resistance training. Before, I was always taking off my shoes for squats and deadlifts so that I could have the flat foot balance I needed, but now I get the same experience with an even better grip on the rubber surface.
On the trails, the shoe just doesn’t perform as you’d hope. I’ve yet to go on a run without rocks creeping into the shoe, which causes double the irritation since you don’t have any socks on to provide relief.
On the treadmill and road, I’ve had no problems, but this is a trail shoe that needs to have some better way of preventing debris from entering the shoe, especially since it’s such a pain to take the shoes off to remove any irritants.
Aside from the rocks, the actual running experience is quite pleasant. It’s great to get the barefoot experience without fear of puncturing your foot. I’ve yet to step on any pebble or rock that I’ve felt any more than I would in a traditional running shoe.
The confidence this knowledge provides really helps me to find my flow and run with relaxed form, as opposed to tiptoeing and skipping around when barefoot to avoid rocks.
I was really hoping to enjoy this shoe, but all of the tiny flaws add up to some big irritations that are hard to look past.
Compared to traditional running shoes and even other minimalist shoes, the V-Trail 2.0 looks quite silly, but for what it is, I actually really like the look of the shoe. I like the black color with yellow accents, especially since it makes the shoe a little more incognito.
At $120, I’m not a huge fan of the price. Less shoe for more money?
The quality isn’t quite what I was hoping, and while I believe the upper and outsole will last for a good while, I don’t believe the lacing system and velcro will hold up as long without more glue. Hence, I think a price under $100 would be more reasonable.
TL;DR? Here are the pros and cons
- Great barefoot-like running experience
- Tough, sturdy outsole
- Hard to get on
- Poor quality velcro tip
- Debris often accumulates in the shoe
Updates to Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0
- The Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0 is a product that’s designed for the unpredictable nature of the off-road. This product is one of the few offerings that literally take the shape of the foot. It has a close-to-the-ground construction to simulate a barefoot running experience, as well as individual toe-chambers for versatile movements and positional balance.
- The upper unit of this offering is comprised of 3D Cocoon mesh, a wraparound fabric that is stitched to the outsole. The all-encompassing nature of this textile ensures consistency in its protective capacity. It’s touted to stretch as the foot swells during the run, giving a snug yet customized in-shoe experience. Runners can be confident when traversing wet surfaces because 3D Cocoon mesh is water-repellent.
- A 2-millimeter insole serves as the cushioning unit of the V-Trail 2.0. It lightly supports the foot without sacrificing proprioception (the perception of the surface against the foot-pad). Shielding the thin underfoot platform is the Vibram® Megagrip, a rubber that is durable and ready to handle both dry and wet terrains.
Size and fit
The standard sizing schemes were used when the Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0 was constructed. But since the FiveFingers line is mostly made of footwear with toe-chambers, it is worth noting that a secure but not-too-snug coverage can be achieved by checking out the brand’s size chart or personally trying the shoe. Also, there were reports about a half-a-size-smaller-than-usual sizing scheme.
When it comes to width, the option for men is D – Medium; for women, the available variant is B – Medium. Low and medium foot volumes are the ones that are welcome in the foot-chamber of this Vibram FiveFingers running shoe.
Vibram’s very own Megagrip compound is used for the outsole unit of the V-Trail 2.0. This full-length layer covers the entire external pad, encompassing even the individual toe sections of the forefoot. It protects against wear-and-tear while also ensuring traction.
A heightened surface grip is afforded by the set of non-prominent traction nodes that are on the surface of the Megagrip compound. The triangle-shaped patterns also help in bettering the motion when on inclines and rough paths.
Though generously placed, the rubber outsole doesn’t hinder the natural flexibility of the foot. The lack of a traditional midsole unit also reinforces such a particularity.
A 2-millimeter ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is used as the midsole unit of the Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0. This full-length piece offers mild cushioning that doesn’t hinder the capacity of the foot to perceive the ground.
The upper unit of the Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0 is made of 3D Cocoon mesh, a stretchy material that extends to the flipside of the outsole unit. The wraparound characteristic of this technology ensures snugness and security. It is even able to repel splashes of water, thereby increasing confidence when tackling wet paths.
Printed overlays adorn the toe-chambers. These add-ons are meant to bolster the durability of these individual spaces, ensuring that the toenails or external debris won’t tear through the fabric.
A single-pull lacing system is used for the upper unit. Thin yet durable shoestrings loop through fabric eyelets and stitched-on overlays, ending in a pull-and-lock tab that adjusts the tightness or looseness of the fit.
Stitched-on overlays cover the sides and the heel of this running shoe. These sheets are tasked with keeping the foot in place, preventing it from wobbling or exiting the interior unceremoniously.