Vibram V-Trail 2.0 Review
Cons: Odd flex pattern, decreased sensitivity, lack of dexterity in toes
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Vibram V-Trail 2.0
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|Pros||Tough exterior, stable, snug lacing system||Super flexible, amazing feedback, spacious fit, breathable, optional insole||Superlight, exceptional natural feel, flexible, affordable||Super low-profile sole, comfortably padded, designed for durability||Incredible natural feel, extremely lightweight, tacky outsole|
|Cons||Odd flex pattern, decreased sensitivity, lack of dexterity in toes||Heavier than most, potential durability issues, short laces||Diminished grip off-road, confining stretch collar, bulky laces||Tapered toe box is a bit restrictive, traction is compromised by dirt, lack of versatility||Lack of durability, difficult to size correctly, goofy looking|
|Bottom Line||Run in comfort and confidence in this tank of a FiveFinger shoe||From its airy fit to its free range of motion, this barefoot shoe offers the best in lightweight running performance||A barefoot trainer that continues to define the category, this shoe’s ultra-thin outsole helps deliver superior natural feel||An incredibly thin outsole, supportive padding, and reinforced sidewalls make this an ideal barefoot gym trainer||An improved version of the original FiveFingers shoe, this unique option offers the opportunity to go as close to barefoot as possible|
|Rating Categories||Vibram V-Trail 2.0||Xero Shoes HFS||Merrell Vapor Glove 5||Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3||Vibram FiveFingers...|
|Natural Feel (40%)|
|Specs||Vibram V-Trail 2.0||Xero Shoes HFS||Merrell Vapor Glove 5||Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3||Vibram FiveFingers...|
|Best For||Trail Running||Road Running||Road Running||Gym||Road Running, Gym|
|Stack Height||5.7 mm||5.5 mm (w/o insole)||6.5 mm||1.5 mm (w/o insole)||5 mm|
|Heel to Toe drop||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm|
|Weight (per shoe)||6.9 oz (size EU 42)||7.9 oz (size US 9.5)||5.8 oz (size US 8.5)||6.8 oz (size US 9)||4.6 oz (size EU 43)|
Vibram Megagrip Rubber
Vibram XS Trek
|Midsole||2 mm EVA||None||None||None||None|
|Insole||None||3 mm High Density EVA||Integrated
4 mm EVA
|3 mm Power Footbed||2 mm EVA + Drylex sockliner|
|Upper Material||3D Cocoon Mesh||Mesh and TPU||Mesh and TPU||Mesh and Rope-Tec TPU||Mesh and TPU|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Vibram knows a thing or two about producing quality outsoles — you will find their rubber on the bottom of many top-quality trail runners. The V-Trail 2.0 is no exception, as a barefoot running shoe supported by a thick, heavily lugged outsole ready to stand guard against rocks or roots that try to penetrate the bottom of your foot. The upper comfortably engulfs your foot and is secured with a fast-lacing system that evenly distributes pressure across the top of the arch and forefoot. Achieving a delicate balance of lightweight and burly design, this shoe gave us maximum confidence to strike out onto trails at full speed — a quality not often associated with minimalist shoes.
Design considerations of trail running shoes — constructed to protect our feet from rough terrain — often don't follow the same principles coveted by barefoot and minimalist footwear. The V-Trail 2.0 is an impressive trail runner, but as a result, falls a bit short when it comes to natural feeling. The 3.7mm stack height is entirely encompassed in the outsole rubber, which results in decreased sensitivity across the entire bottom of the shoe. The relatively thick outsole is great at blocking rocks from penetrating your foot but not great at relaying feedback from the terrain.
While the V-Trai 2.0 may not rank as highly in terms of barefoot accuracy, it still falls solidly within the natural running category and is a top competitor in terms of running performance. We really enjoyed speeding down all types of trails in this shoe, from sandy arroyos to high-alpine ridges. With zero-drop and a slight stack height, your foot is right on the ground and feels incredibly stable moving over varied terrain. When it comes to longer runs — particularly on mountain trails that inevitably include long sections of downhill — we appreciate the inclusion of a non-removable EVA insole that provides 2mm of cushioning.
The FiveFingers design is intended to allow for maximum freedom of movement — namely, allowing your toes to splay and flex independently — as if you were running barefoot. Overall the V-Trail 2.0 is quite flexible in all directions, but that flexion is inhibited by the thick rubber that wraps the front of each toe. While the midfoot is wider than other FiveFingers models, it is actually tighter in the forefoot and toes of this shoe. You will notice that your toes still have the ability to mold to the terrain, but the proprioception of your foot position is what fails as a result of this added protection. We actually found ourselves tripping over our toes on a few occasions.
Consider the Benefits of Wearing Socks
As an adventure shoe, the V-Trail 2.0 hikes, scrambles, and climbs great — wet or dry — without socks. But if you plan to make it your daily trail runner, we suggest wearing a five-finger sock to help prevent blisters, like offerings from Injinji.
Compared to its overall tank-like construction, the V-Trail 2.0 is not as weighty as you may expect. Staying true to the lightweight intention of the original FiveFingers design, these weigh a mere 6.9 ounces per shoe. The light swing weight, combined with the slightly rockered midsole, contributes to a very natural stride that feels like gliding across ridgelines.
While the power of the V-Trail 2.0 is highlighted in the mountains, it does not perform as well when it comes to city life. Even though they are not heavy, these shoes feel clunky and less agile when pulled out of their element and put on the road. Thick 3D Cocoon Mesh sacrifices a bit of breathability for water resistance, leaving our feet hot, sweaty, and swollen in these darkly-colored shoes when exposed to direct sunlight over hot pavement.
With a heavily lugged base, the V-Trail 2.0 is clearly designed as a shoe to grip and climb rugged terrain. This shoe is awesome for scrambling — particularly on sandstone — and we were comfortable making 3rd/4th-class moves thanks to the sticky rubber of the outsole. These shoes also perform particularly well on uphills, where the toes can easily flex, grip, and push off with graceful power.
However, on downhills, these have a surprising lack of traction. Upon a closer examination of the lug pattern, all of the raised, triangular lugs are oriented in the same forward-facing direction. This supports what we were feeling on the trail, where we could feel the outsole catch but not brake in the same way other lugged designs will.
Comments aside regarding the fashion of FiveFingers shoes, we believe that the V-Trail 2.0 lives up to its name and is really best suited as a trail running shoe. The low-profile, even platform provides adequate stability for weight-lifting, but this shoe runs a little too hot for extended gym sessions.
Where the V-Trail 2.0 shines in terms of versatility is superior water resistance. Running through creeks and puddles, this shoe only barely takes on water around the ball of the foot, while the rest remains practically — and comfortably — dry enough to continue running without fear of developing hot spots.
The V-Trail 2.0 is a tank of a minimalist shoe. A tough, abrasion-resistant upper is supported by laminates of TPU in key spots across the toes and around the heel pocket.
Additionally, the majority of the upper is braced with Cordura-like nylon. The 3D Cocoon Mesh is woven directly into the outsole, which is further laminated around the toes to help prevent previous issues with seam-splitting. We put this shoe through the wringer, and it came out practically unscathed — we cannot imagine many issues with durability.
The V-Trail 2.0 trends toward the pricier side of minimalist running shoes. But for those who want high-quality protection for trail running, the extra cost is easily justified. Considering the extent of the design specifically related to durability, it is likely that this shoe will last for many miles.
Built for adventure, the Vibram V-Trail 2.0 is a rugged option for a minimalist running shoe. Whatever situation you might find yourself in, the V-Trail 2.0 will certainly do its best to keep your feet protected from anything you throw its way. While it may not be the choice for minimalist runners looking for authentic ground-feel, for those willing to compromise a little bit on the strict virtues of barefoot-running, you will have a ton of fun cruising trails in these shoes.
— Aaron Rice
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