Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail – First Impressions
I ordered my sixth pair of Vivobarefoot shoes a couple of weeks ago – the Breatho Trail.
I ordered these more for the looks and the idea that I’ll do my first every off-road, trail run with them rather than anything else. They don’t disappoint.
Without doubt, they’re the nicest pair of shoes I own. I love the fit, comfort and build of lots of my other shoes but the style of these simply blows them all away. Whether the function is as good as the aesthetics, I’m not sure, but I’ll find out soon enough. Other reviews, whether independent or professional have all been great so I’m going to find out whether these match up to what I’ve read.
Features, look, quality and finish
From the three paragraphs above, you’ll have already gauged just how much I like the look of these shoes, but what’s the quality like?
I’d be incredibly surprised to receive a Vivobarefoot shoe that wasn’t made and finished well but the Breatho’s seem to have the best finish of every pair I’ve tested so far. I think that’s from a combination of materials that are easier to put together as well as a less complicated shoe – no waterproofing or super rugged upper.
There are zero glue marks, every stitch seems perfect, the join of the upper to the sole is the best I’ve seen. Oh, there was one tiny, inch-wincy gripe though. The red plastic triangle lace holder at the top has left a very slight pink tinge to the top of the tongue. Tiny and un-noticeable unless it’s under very close scrutiny. But there never the less.
The Breatho’s come with the Off-Road sole which is what makes them a great trail running shoe. Just like the heavier hiking shoes Vivobarefoot make these will provide copious amounts of grip where you need it. There’s a lightweight, breathable mesh upper for maximum ventilation and a ‘zigzag lace-lock structure’ for the laces (obviously).
Inside, there’s a moisture wicking lining designed to take the moisture away from your foot and the ever present 3mm puncture resistant insole. The inside is incredibly soft which is somewhat of a relief since I’ll be running in these without socks. The inside of the heel has a small amount of padding at the top which means there will be no rubbing and the inside of the ankle area is designed for ‘superior comfort’.
The lace locking system on this particular model is highlighted red, as is the Vivobarefoot logo on the outside of the toe box – plus the one underneath. The band joining sole to upper is also red. Those are the details that make this shoe look great.
What do they feel like on my foot?
Comfortable for one – there’s just enough padding inside the shoe to make a sock-less foot rub-free. Or so it seems after walking around in them for a while. The laces are once again rounded – which could be the only complaint. This seems to be the only negative people have raised with these shoes. Round laces have a tendency to come undone when the shoes are in use and a lot of users prefer to have flat laces, which lock together better. The laces of course can easily be changed but that’s beside the point. They do seem to lock perfectly alright, but then I’ve not used them in their intended environment yet. The same laces in the Synth Hiker have so far remained tied so I have slightly more confidence these will do the same.
Vivobarefoot state that these ‘come up large’ and recommend sizing down. I didn’t size down because all my others have been perfect. These do seem to have slightly more room in the toe-box than any of the others but it’s not something that’d bother me. I think if I sized down as they suggested then I’d have regretted it. Without a sock, my big toe has about 1cm of clear space until the front of the shoe. But when running, I’ll most likely be grateful for it. The shoe width is absolutely spot on, they feel like they’re sprayed onto the sides of my feet and heel, yet have enough toe box space for my feet to splay out as intended.
Other uses and everyday wearing
While these shoes are obviously intended for trail running, they’re also going to be perfect for off-road hiking and walking. While I wouldn’t recommend wearing these with a heavy rucksack, I believe they’d be the ideal shoe for short to medium off road day hikes in warmer weather. I wouldn’t suggest wearing these for that purpose when it’s colder because your feet will freeze.
These also look fantastic as a causal shoe worn with jeans or shorts. Just like stylish trainers, these would be ideal for everyday use, giving you comfort, style and breathability all in one.
As I expected, my first impressions of these shoes are great. In terms of looks, they’re my favourite pair, in terms of build, they’re the best I’ve received so far but in terms of actual function, I’m yet to find out.
Stay tuned for a field test and a video review in the near future.
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