Summary

We spent 9.5 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

5 reasons to buy

  • Most users mentioned in their reviews that the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG was highly comfortable.
  • Several customers said that this footwear had a good quality.
  • A few users said that the shoe’s drainage properties were excellent; they wore it confidently, even in the most challenging conditions.
  • Some runners pointed out that the footwear had an efficient lacing system.
  • A purchaser liked the overall look and design of the shoe.

2 reasons not to buy

  • A few runners had issues with the sizing of the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG.
  • An individual mentioned that there wasn’t enough flexibility to allow for smooth transitioning from heel to toe.

Bottom line

The Vivibarefoot Primus Trail, a minimalist shoe, has gained a competitive edge in the market owing to its high comfortability, better adaptive properties, and stylish looks. The shoe also offers a very efficient drainage system. Though the shoe has a few minor issues, overall, the shoe is still recommended to neutral runners.

Facts

Terrain: Trail
Arch support: Neutral
Weight: Men: 7oz | Women: 7oz
Heel to toe drop: Men: 0mm | Women: 0mm
Pronation: Neutral Pronation
Arch type: High arch
Strike Pattern: Forefoot strike
Distance: Competition
Brand: Vivobarefoot
Type: Low drop | Zero drop
Width: Men: Normal, Wide | Women: Normal, Wide
Price: $150
Colorways: Black
Size
Small True to size Large
See more facts

Expert Reviews

Experts are runners, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

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85 / 100 based on 10 expert reviews

  • 71 / 100 | James Smith

    Primus Trail FG - A hard sole away from being a fantastic minimal trail shoe!

    More photos

    I tested these along with two other pairs of trail shoes, switching between each pair run after run.

    The three shoes in question are the Trailtalon 290 and Parkclaw 275 GTX both from Primus Trail FG from Vivobarefoot.

    I smashed a lot of miles in all three shoes on hard & soft muddy tracks, gravel paths, wet & dry sand and on the road. Here's how the Trail FG stacked up.

     

     

    When these crazy looking beasts arrived, I thought that I'd like them the most out of the two Vivobarefoot shoes I was due to test (the other being the Stealth II).

    This was mostly because I'd already been transitioning to barefoot for a while in the Vibram KSO EVO so having a barefoot trail shoe to try out was going to be great!

    I was so excited to get them on and get out in them that I hit the trail the same evening after I unpacked them.

    Tech Specs

    Weight -  Size 45 EU weighing in at 270g per shoe (without insole in… I weighed them myself!)

    PRO5 Sole - Patented, ultra-thin, puncture resistant layer. 5x more puncture resistant than a standard sole of the same thickness.

    Vegan - Produced using animal free products and processes.

    Removable Performance Insole - 3mm vegan insole. Take it out to feel the ground. Leave it in for a little extra warmth.

    Breathable Mesh - Synthetic multi-ply materials to deliver optimum lightweight breathability and comfort.

    V-Web - Heat fused together for lightweight structure and stitchless durability.

    Tough Rubber Compound - Strong, non-marking rubber compound for sticky grip and high abrasion when you need it most.

    Design

    On my first run, I had in my mind that these are specifically for firm ground and Vivobarefoot stated on their website that they're perfect for any rural or urban terrain. Straight away I noticed how hard the sole was (I ran without the optional insole).

    They definitely didn't feel too great on the road en route to the trail and once I'd hit the trail which was very firm mud with rocks I thought, "Ha! This should be great!"... But it just wasn't. The Trail FG is so hard.

    They didn't feel much better on gravel or groomed trail and then they didn't grip at all well on the mud at the end of the trail, I was left wondering what these shoes were good for. I was gutted.

     

     

    I persevered with them though and once I'd run about 20 miles, the soles softened slightly and I finally found the perfect ground to run these on.

    Not exactly firm ground but over dry muddy ground scattered with tree debris and full of roots, they were great! Though it is a bit disappointing that you need to run on such specific ground for these trail shoes to fully reach their potential.

    I have to wonder why Vivobarefoot took the step of splitting their trail shoe into two for their new range.

    Safety

    There is a tough rubber bumper that comes up around the toe that is very rugged. It does well to protect against stubbed toes on rocks and roots.

    I certainly didn't come away with any injuries after hitting rugged terrain. The sole albeit very firm is fantastic as stopping anything sharp from stabbing through the soles of your feet.

    Flexibility

    The Trail FG isn't anywhere near as inflexible as the Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX but they're not that much better than the Trailtalon 290 which is surprising seeing that the Trail sole is only 5mm thick.

    It should be incredible but it really does feel very stiff when on.

    Fit

    I went for my usual size 45EU in these trail shoes but they came up pretty small. I really wish I went at least a size up with these because I felt as though that put an instant downer on my experience with them.

    There are some positives in the design however and as much as I still don't think these shoes are for me, I can't really fault the design (too much).

    The mesh upper is super light and flexible. It gives plenty of wiggle room for toes! The rubber bumper works well, but because I could have done with going a size up this was less comfortable than a soft toe would have been.

    The heel cup is much more firm than that of the Stealth II. It hugs the back of my feet snugly and provides good support in that area.

    The quick lacing system works quite well, however, I found that after I'd taken the Trail FG off after a run, the next time I put them on again the laces were incredibly tight around my foot.

    This isn't a massive issue but because the laces are so slippy they did do this every time. I swapped the quick laces out with the spare set of standard laces the shoes came with and it helped to stop this a bit though not completely.

    It's not the end of the world but it's frustrating having to find the perfect lace tension every single time I put them on rather than just slipping them on and doing them up.

    Grip

    Grip wise they did OK. They're not bad on the road and dry muddy ground.

    They also do pretty well on the beach. But on slippy grass, mud or slimy rocks and/or pavements they're a bit scary!

     

     

    They really shone on soft-ish, dry muddy ground. The sort you get beneath a treeline in the spring.

    They ate it up and the runs I took the Trail FG on with this terrain were some of the most enjoyable I've been on in recent months. I just really wish all of my runs in them could have been the same.

    Support

    As I mentioned above, the heel cup on these shoes offers good support for my feet. When laced in I felt locked in!

    But as with the Stealth II, these shoes plan to allow your feet to act for themselves and don't really offer a load of support.

    They don't do it as well as their super comfortable road brother but they do try to let your feet work things out for themselves which for me is the best sort of support available!

     

    Performance

    It may seem as though I dislike the Primus Trail FG but it's not at all bad. It doesn't suffer from the momentum killing factor that the Inov-8 Trailtalon 290 does and e not as restrictive as the Parkclaw 275 GTX.

    It's very light and has decent responsiveness on the road & trail due to their minimalist nature. When they get water in them it drains out quickly and they didn't once feel too heavy on my feet.

    They didn't grip amazingly on all terrains but they did pretty well and the sole is sure to last a long time before it becomes useless. In fact, it will probably get better and better the more worn out it gets because it'll be more flexible and less firm.

     

    Bottomline

    These firm ground trail shoes are a good offering from Vivobarefoot but I feel as though they lack depth in terms of use.

    Compared to the Parkclaw 275 GTX from Inov-8 which were pretty great on any terrain they just cannot compete.

    But if you’re looking for a lightweight, minimal trail shoe for the dry summer months then these are a good shout, though they won't be for everybody.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 94 / 100 | Mordechai Sopher

    The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG

    More photos

    Vivobarefoot’s Primus Trail FG trail running shoe is an overall excellent shoe for those who are interested in minimalist trail running. While this was one of my pricier running shoe purchases, the quality of these shoes is very impressive. 

    This is a super minimalistic, barefoot-style shoe that is lightweight and has no extra bulk, yet is amazingly strong and durable. This shoe wears down much less quickly than more substantial and bulkier trail running shoes in both the sole tread and the top of the shoe.  

     

    Barefoot trail running

    As minimalist shoe lovers are aware, the benefit of going minimal is the incredible feeling of running barefoot, or rather barefoot but with enhanced grip and foot protection. 

    This is an incredible sensation, and with the Primus trail shoe, you can certainly feel this sense of running with light feet and without the bulkiness of regular shoes as you fly along the trails.

    The barefoot style is advantageous for working on running form by forcing proper technique and running on the balls of the feet, which will naturally provide a tremendous leg workout, so don’t forget to stretch well after your run!    

    A unique shoe

    So what separates the Primus from the rest of the field? This is a very comfortable shoe that has a wide toe box to allow for comfort and toe splay. 

    This shoe can be worn comfortably for a longer duration than other types of minimalist shoes as the toe box allows for natural toe separation but does not pull the toes apart, which can get uncomfortable after a while.

    This Vivobarefoot model has better ventilation than many barefoot shoe models, which is important for odor control and comfort while running.

     

     

    The mesh that goes along most of the sides and top of the shoe allows for airflow and is a very strong mesh that does not rip like the mesh on many types of running shoes.

    The Primus is a very tough shoe in general. In addition to the impressively strong mesh, the thin sole has great traction and does not wear down easily, as this is a Vivo patented tough rubber and puncture-free sole design. 

    The shoe is both extremely flexible as with most minimal shoes, but also envelopes your foot in a shell that is strong, will not rip easily, and gives some extra foot protection against the elements of the trails.  

    This shell-like feel provides better foot stability than other types of minimalistic shoes and the lacing system of a pull cord enhances the stability and they don’t come untied. They handle water nicely, and you can comfortably keep running after running through water or mud.

    For a very minimalistic shoe, this model handles low and medium levels of rugged terrain nicely and allows you to run fast. Usually, minimalist shoes and trails don’t go together, but this shoe has an impressively strong sole that grips well onto dirt and different trail terrain. 

     

     

    The shoe has a low cut, however, due to the tight seal against the foot. It is rarely an issue that rocks and other debris fall inside the shoe during a run.

    Things to be aware of

    As minimalist trail runners can attest to, it takes extra focus and precision to safely and comfortably run trails in minimal shoes.

    Although the sole of the Vivos is quite impressive, be prepared to still feel the rocks on rockier terrain, even with the use of the extra insole included with the shoe.

    On more rocky trails, I would go with a thicker soled shoe that lessens the painful "feel" of the rocks, although some might argue that this naturally strengthens the foot.

    Despite ventilation improvements, these shoes can also start to smell, especially if worn without socks or even the minimalist toe socks that they are recommended with the shoe, so airing them out and spraying them can be helpful. 

    Due to the very thin sole which is even thin for a minimalist shoe, I like to run with them up until about 10 kilometers, but further, than that, I would prefer a bit of a thicker sole with more cushion.   

     

    Bottom line

    Despite being a trail shoe, they run nicely on the roads and they are also great for sprint training as they almost feel like track spikes, but with a wider toe box and they can handle tougher terrain. 

    They can be a little bit stiff at first, but as they loosen up a little, they start to feel very comfortable. This is a unique shoe and I have logged in some great trail runs and interval training in them and to emphasize again, I am very impressed by their super minimalist design, comfort while running, and their durability. 

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 86 / 100 | Jiri Kaderabek | Level 1 expert

    I am pretty confident that this shoe is gonna last quite a while.

  • 91 / 100 | The Emperors New Shoes | | Level 3 expert

    Properly functioning minimal shoe suitable for all surfaces except mud. A worthy evolution of VB’s trail offering. Long-term test shows very good durability.

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  • The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG is a minimalist shoe that has the Firm Ground Outsole for maximum grip and enhanced resistance to abrasion.
  • Its mesh upper is highly breathable in nature, which keeps the runner’s foot healthy and cool during the runs. Another interesting feature is the Quick Drain Zones which keep water from pooling in the foot-chamber. These zones also wick away moisture and perspiration.

This running shoe from Vivobarefoot has the standard running length and the standard medium width of D and B for men and women, respectively. The footwear is most suitable for users with medium sized feet in terms of width. Also, its semi-curved shape enables the shoe to adapt itself to the shape of the foot and its changing movements.

The Firm Ground outsole is known for its excellent abrasion-resistant properties and enhanced grip on various terrains. The sticky rubber provides the needed traction while running and prevents slippage on wet or slanting surfaces.

Because the sole unit has an extremely low-profile construction, flexibility is easy to attain.

The Primus Trail FG doesn’t have a traditional midsole construction. The inner portion of the rubber outsole serves as the main underfoot platform. It’s designed to deliver an experience that is as close to the ground as possible. It caters to minimalist runners and people who have a neutral gait.

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG features a breathable mesh material for a healthy inflow and outflow of air through the foot-chamber. The mesh assists in maintaining a properly ventilated environment inside the shoe. This mechanism keeps the user’s foot cool and dry throughout the running session.

The shoe houses the Quick Drain Zones which further improve the drainage system. These prominent pores prevent pooling when the runner is tackling wet surfaces and conditions.

For a seamless feel against the skin, the shoe utilizes the Fused Upper Material. The minimal construction enhances the experience of comfort for the user.

The Cable Lace and Toggle allows for quick and efficient lacing. Also, it effectively maintains the snug fit throughout the run, thereby preventing uncomfortable sliding of the foot inside the shoe while also providing a glove-like fit. 

Comparison