The great people at VIVOBAREFOOT sent us a collection of some of their best footwear to check out both at the gym and on the trail, but of all of them I have liked the Breatho Trails by far the best. A barefoot trail running shoe to compete with the very best from other manufacturers, the Breathos immediately impressed with their comfortable fit, breathable mesh, and well-constructed feeling of quality.
Like other VIVO products, the Breathos have a zero-drop profile and great anatomic toe box, which allow free movement of your foot within the shoe. Your toes can spread out, your foot can bend and move naturally, and yet you’ve got great grip from the multi-directional lugs. I liked the feeling of the trail under the ultra-thin sole, and as long as you use good form and land properly (no heal striking!), rocks and trail debris don’t feel too harsh or dangerous under foot.
The Brethos get their name from the comfortable, extremely breathable mesh, which keeps large debris out but can allow your foot to get a bit dusty if the trail is. The low rise of the Breathos is comfortable, but occasionally I did get small rocks intruding. You can certainly wear a lightweight sock, or you can run as I mostly chose to without—the Breathos were without break in, hot spots, or any other failings sockless, which I can’t say for all the shoes made to be that way we’ve tested. My feet felt terrific even after a long run.
VIVOBAREFOOT actually sent two sets of testers, so we were able to compare notes between us. We universally loved the exceedingly light weight, balance between feeling the trail and comfort, and cooling breathability of the mesh. Strategically placed side panels and toe protection got high marks for expected durability protecting your foot, which is important in their natural environment off the trail.
Any gripes? The men’s testers were pretty large—our European 40s fit more like 41s or even 42s, leaving a lot of toe room. Due to the shoe design, this hasn’t actually been much of a problem, but I think that a better fit would make these great shoes even better. The lugs also seem a wee bit tall and perhaps a little more rubbery than some of my favorite trail runners and light hikers, and I wouldn’t care to trust them on slippery surfaces, such as crossing wet rocks or logs. The lug’s grip is just short of mountain-goat level, but we’re really stretching for anything to say about these shoes that isn’t a glowing superlative.
Even pricing on the Breathos is good—a very competitive $90 on VIVOBAREFOOT’s website. Combined with their wealth of information and resources that make a pair of VIVOs more than just a shoe purchase. Buying them is more a lifestyle change—you have the killer combination of arguably the best minimalist trail runners we’ve tested and the help to make barefoot-style running a new part of your life. It’s time for a breath of fresh air with VIVOBAREFOOT’s Breatho Trails!