Built for aggressive trails but designed with specs that barefoot runners love, the VivoBarefoot Breatho Trail is ready for all of your off-road adventures.
VivoBarefoot Breatho Trail Features:
- Weight: 9.6 oz
- Zero heel to toe drop
- Stack height 10mm
- Anatomic toe box
- Breathable mesh upper with synthetic overlays
- Removable insole
- Puncture-resistant outsole
- 4.5mm directionally angled outsole lugs
- MSRP $95
Traction Aplenty with the Breatho Trails
Among all the companies that rose to prominence in the minimalist running revolution, VivoBarefoot established itself as the premier name in both athletic and casual footwear. Even before they had a dedicated off-road shoe, many users (myself included) wore Vivos for trail races and ultras. Now they have a few different options to choose from, as well as a new model, the Trail Freak, scheduled for release in 2014. Meanwhile, the company’s current best offering for high-performance trail running is the Breatho Trail, which is more than rugged and comfortable enough for high-mileage, high-demand trail use.
The Breatho Trail meets virtually every minimalist construction aspect that barefoot purists demand: it’s completely flat and flexible in all directions, and allows your feet to bend and flex in any way they want to. The toe box is wide enough to let your feet splay naturally with each stride. The only spec that’s lagging is the 9.6-oz weight, which is rather high compared to many minimalist offerings out there.
As the name implies, the uppers of the Breatho are very breathable and dry quickly after immersion in water. They are also quite durable, demonstrating good resistance to pokes and punctures while bushwhacking off trail.
Traction is provided by an aggressive outsole with directionally angled lugs, which are 4.5mm tall and sit atop a 2.5mm base layer, for a total standing height of 10mm (4.5 lugs + 2.5 base + 3 insole). The outsole is very grippy in loose dirt and sloppy mud, which is ideal when crashing down steep hills with loose ground cover. The only time I’m a bit cautious is when I’m hopping across streams, as the rubber compound can be somewhat slippery on wet rocks.
Ground feel is ideal – in fact, if you use your Breathos on the road, it feels a bit like you’re running in a pair of football cleats, thanks to the prominent outsole lugs. Sensation from the ground is further enhanced if you take out the removable insole, but this tends to make the fit of the shoe excessively roomy through the heel and toe box.
One quirk is the lacing system, where VIVOBAREFOOT eschews a traditional tongue in favor of a thick neoprene sleeve with laces on top. The shoe can be a bit difficult to get on, and there isn’t as much customization of tightness with the neoprene sleeve as a more traditional tongue-and-lace system offers. In my testing, the laces tend to lose their tension during the course of a run.
- Strong outsole traction
- Comfortable overall fit
- Breathable, quick-drying upper
- Outstanding ground feel
- Heavier than most shoes in minimalist category
- Some slipping on wet rocks
- Laces don’t hold tension across upper for entire run
The Bottom Line
The VivoBarefoot Breatho Trail is a very comfortable and durable trail runner built with most of the specs that minimalists love. A more lightweight version with a more customizable fit would be a natural runner’s dream trail shoe.
Buy Now: Available at REI.com