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Shoes

Vivobarefoot Trail Freak Trail-Running Shoe (Fall 2014)

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8.7 oz | 0mm drop | $110

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The Dirt: The Trail Freak is a pure minimalist shoe with a tread built for gnarly trails. The lightweight upper, wide toebox and thin, flexible sole are designed for near-barefoot responsiveness and groundfeel, while an aggressive tread with 4.5mm lugs provides traction on technical terrain, especially in wet conditions.

Best For: Technical trails, loose dirt or gravel and wet conditions. Shorter training runs and races shorter than marathon distance, especially for runners unaccustomed to minimalist or barefoot running.

Fit: Runs a little long.

Tester Raves

  • “What I liked best about this shoe was the barefoot feel paired with great traction. I had yet to run in a shoe this minimal and be able to go up and down mountains without feeling like my feet are overly exposed to the harsh elements.”
    —Brad Williams
  • “The Trail Freak checks off all the boxes for true minimalist footwear: it’s light, low-profile, flat and completely flexible. I’m happy to see at least one company sticking with minimalist philosophy rather than jumping aboard the high-cushioning bandwagon.”
    —Donald Buraglio
  • “Though the shoe is not waterproof, the rubber sole is very good at pushing the water to the sides before it soaks through the top. There were multiple times I should have gotten water in the shoes, but the sole is shaped to push water away.”
    —Jonathan Loewus-Deitch

Testers on Fit

  • “The fit felt a bit long, but the width was perfect. I have a narrower foot, and this one felt nice and snug around the arch with plenty of room in the toebox.”
    —Will Robinson
  • “This shoe feels like a slipper with crazy tread. I prefer a more secure fit.”
    —Brad Williams
  • “The shoe fit like a well-sized mitten, and allowed for my toes to splay out appropriately for natural foot movement. It also cupped and held my heel securely. I loved that the shoe wasn’t way too wide in the toebox like some other minimal-drop trail shoes.”
    —Jonathan Loewus-Deitch

Testers on Tread

  • “This shoe is best on dirt trails, and performance in the mud was the best I’ve seen. A little thin for rocky and technical trails; however the protection was better than other comparable models.”
    —Will Robinson
  • “When it comes to terrain, these shoes can handle just about everything. They really shine on muddy trails. Rocks aren’t a problem, and the lugs really bite into steep, loose trail.”
    —Brad Williams
  • “The rubber compound used on the outsole is quite slick on wet rocky surfaces, such as wet boulders in the middle of stream crossings.”
    —Donald Buraglio
  • “The lugs on the bottom of the shoe don’t get clogged with mud.”
    —Jonathan Loewus-Deitch
  • “The Trail Freak has excellent tread on ice and technical singletrack.”
    —Maura Adams

Testers on Downsides

  • “Without having an actual tongue to adjust, the side panels of the upper can’t be pulled much tighter than the original shape of the upper. Also, the thin laces can be uncomfortable if cinched too tightly against the top of the foot, especially on descents.”
    —Donald Buraglio
  • “With no midsole to speak of and aggressive lugging, they aren’t very comfortable on hard surfaces.”
    —Brad Williams
  • “The front of the shoe seems to have a lot of flex and bend, but feels like there’s too little rock protection and support in the front. And I feel like the rubber and shoe perform better for grip than for speed.”
    —Jonathan Loewus-Deitch

 

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