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Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG - Women's Review

These minimalist shoes feel stiff and clunky for athletic use, but look nice for casual days out
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG - Women's
Photo: Vivobarefoot
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Price:  $160 List | $154.17 at Amazon
Pros:  Stylish, durable
Cons:  Expensive, clunky, less versatile
Manufacturer:   Vivobarefoot
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 20, 2021
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Natural Feel - 40% 5
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG looks super cool, and we really wanted to like them. The sole is sticky and well designed with deep lugs, and the rand ensures these will be durable. But the design falls down in some important ways. First, the stiff sole hinges where the toes flex, creating a pinch point. And the stiffer, heavier sole feels clunky and cumbersome, especially for a shoe we want to feel light and nimble on long runs. Additionally, that thick sole doesn't cup the heel well for a secure fit. Overall these may still be a decent shoe for you if you like the look and are looking for a casual shoe capable of pulling off a few sporty moves.

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Pros Stylish, durableLightweight, supple, breathable, excellent ground feel, 2mm removable insole, great valueLightweight, nimble, extremely minimal, moderate priceVersatile, durable, comfortableLightweight, sock-like fit, simple
Cons Expensive, clunky, less versatileLess durable, not water resistantPermeable to water and dust, some may experience frictionNot the lightest, less casual appeal for wearing around townLess versatile, too minimalist for untrained feet
Bottom Line These minimalist shoes feel stiff and clunky for athletic use, but look nice for casual days outThis performance racing flat is fun for a variety of workouts and terrain typesThis shoe is a truly novel concept that is as close as possible to being barefoot in a closed-toe shoeA true all-rounder, these minimalist shoes are highly versatile and comfortable in a variety of settingsThis shoe is so light and nimble you'll barely know it's there
Rating Categories Primus Trail II FG Speed Force FiveFingers KSO EVO Xero Shoes HFS - Wo... Vapor Glove 5
Natural Feel (40%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
4.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Traction (15%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (15%)
5.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Primus Trail II FG Speed Force FiveFingers KSO EVO Xero Shoes HFS - Wo... Vapor Glove 5
Style Barefoot trail Barefoot performance Barefoot road Barefoot road Barefoot trail
Weight (per pair) 19 oz (size 10) 12 oz (size 10) 8.5 oz (size EU 41) 13.5 oz (size 10) 11 oz (size 10)
Stack Height (mm) 6.5 mm 4.5 mm (2 mm removable insole) 5 mm 7.5 mm 6.5 mm
Heel to Toe drop (mm) 0 mm 0 mm 0 mm 0 mm 0 mm
Outsole 4 mm lugs, sticky rubber 4.5 mm FeelTrue 3 mm 5.5mm FeelTrue® Vibram EcoStep
Midsole 2.5 mm Removable 2 mm insole 2 mm 2mm removable Feel The World® insole N/A
Upper Material Mesh (recycled materials) Mesh Polyester fabric Mesh Mesh and TPU
Best For Casual Running, gym, performance Running, gym Running, gym, casual Running, gym
Width Options Regular Regular, wide Regular Regular Regular

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Primus Trail II FG is one of our favorite minimalist shoes for style, but the features don't add up to make it a go-to for running or training.

Performance Comparison


The Trail II FG are stylish and well suited to a sporty day around...
The Trail II FG are stylish and well suited to a sporty day around town, but not for dedicated athletic pursuits.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Natural Feel


The Trail II FG checks all of the boxes to seem like an ideal shoe for minimalist trail running. However, in testing, we found some serious limitations to the natural feel of our feet in these shoes. The first, and most noticeable, is the stiff sole. It feels particularly bulky and cumbersome around the heel, even disrupting proprioception and movement when walking (rocking from heel-to-toe). That stiffness then also creates a pinch point where the toes flex, which is uncomfortable for vigorous activities, but not bothersome if you're just wearing them around town. The single material and consistent pattern of the sole allow it to twist well; it is mainly the forward roll that feels clunky.

The shoes also feature a zero drop from heel to toe and a stack height of only 6.5mm, again consistent with minimalist design, but the stiffness of the sole disrupts the performance of this shoe. We want our barefoot-inspired footwear to feel barely there, and these instead tended to feel clunky and cumbersome.

The stiffer sole of these shoes limit the natural feel they can...
The stiffer sole of these shoes limit the natural feel they can provide underfoot.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Weight


At 19 ounces for a size 10 women's shoe, these minimalist shoes are the heaviest in this review. The weight distribution, however, further impacts the score in this category. The sole feels heavy while the uppers are relatively light, making the shoe feel imbalanced and heavy on the bottom. This is felt in swing weight, making it feel clunky and imprecise for running.

These shoes are heavy, weighing over a pound for a size 10 women's...
These shoes are heavy, weighing over a pound for a size 10 women's pair.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Traction


The lug pattern on these trail shoes is deep and suitable for all-terrain. The lugs are a bit more pronounced, which makes them optimized for trails where they can get a solid grip. However, they are less well suited to long road runs, which will put undue friction on those lugs and will likely wear them out faster. The sole is made of a sticky rubber compound as well, which we found to be reliable on a variety of surfaces, including the slick beach driftwood we used as balance beams for this test.

We like the lug pattern on the Trail II FG shoes.
We like the lug pattern on the Trail II FG shoes.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Versatility


After testing the Primus Trail II FG on various terrain types and for different activities, we concluded that they are really best suited to casual use. They look cool and perform well in the occasional athletic move, so they're a nice casual shoe for the athletic user. But if you're looking for a running or training shoe, look elsewhere in this review.

Here you can see the pinch point we experienced in the toe when...
Here you can see the pinch point we experienced in the toe when walking.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Durability


The Trail II FG turned up no notable durability issues during our testing period. The one thing that did raise concern, however, is the hinge point where the toes flex. This is the spot that put pressure on our toes when bent and also folds the shoe fabric in a specific spot which will likely degrade over time. Otherwise, these shoes are durable and well suited to off-road use, with the reinforced toe rand and the rubber sole wrapping up higher on the shoe.

The toe rand provides excellent durability.
The toe rand provides excellent durability.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Value


These shoes are among the most expensive in our review, even double the price of some other models. We do not think they are a good value due to the limited use and high price.

Conclusion


The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG are a stylish minimalist shoe. The performance, however, does not hold up to our expectations enough to recommend them for athletic pursuits. The sole feels stiff, clunky, and mismatched (imbalanced) when paired with the lightweight uppers. There is a hinge point at the toes which pinches, and the fit feels insecure at the heel. If you're looking for a minimalist shoe for casual use which can hold up to a few sporty moves throughout your day, this might be the shoe for you. Otherwise, we suggest you keep looking.

The Primus Trail is fun for a casual day out but not best for...
The Primus Trail is fun for a casual day out but not best for running or high-intensity activities.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Lyra Pierotti