Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail Review..

Ok... so I'm probably one of the last to put up a review for the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail... but better late than never!  I've had these since late May, and so I've probably logged more miles in them than I normally do before putting up a review. Summer kind of got away from me... road trips, forest fires too close for comfort, and the usual distractions.  So, working on getting caught up on reviews...

One thing I noticed right after the Breatho's arrived was that I was having some cool color coordination going on, purely by coincidence.  I'm digging the red/black/white/gray combo of Bedrock, Vivobarefoot, and Injinji!

Anyway... getting distracted already.  This is the second pair of Vivobarefoot shoes that I have reviewed. Back in December, I reviewed the Neo Trails here.  When the Breatho Trail was first announced, it was positioned as a warm weather version of the Neo Trail.  I really do love my Neo Trails, but they are certainly a cold weather/snow running shoe.  The Breatho Trail is similar to the Neo's, especially with respect to the proprioception, the sole and tread pattern.

 However, as you can see above, the outer is certainly lighter weight, and much more breathable (hence the naming convention I am sure!). They really do drain pretty well.. I had no issues after stepping into a creek or two with them drying out (of course the lack of humidity in Colorado is a plus)  Also, the Breatho's don't have a separate tongue like the Neo Trails, but instead are constructed with in a one piece style.

Also, the lacing is similar to the Neo Trails, but the Breatho adds a "Lock-Lacing" system shown above to help secure the tension of the laces after you have set them.  I found that this worked pretty well, however, just like the Neo Trails, if I didn't double knot the laces, they would almost always come untied during a run. Not sure if it is due to the slickness of the material, or the fact that it seems the laces are too long.  Regardless, its a minor issue.

The tread pattern is the same as on the Neo Trails...  I really love the lugs on these.  They grab really well.  However, I wouldn't run much on pavement with these, aa it seems it doesn't take much to begin wearing them down.  We'll see how long they hold up with just trail running.

As for specifications/features, below are the details as posted on the Vivobarefoot site:

  • Upper: Breathable Mesh: Comfortable and lightweight, this mesh allows ventilation and airflow around the foot
  • Lacing: Lock-Lacing System: Zigzag webbing eyelets make sure the foot is secure in the shoe
  • Collar/Panel & Lining: Dri-lex: Lightweight, performance lining for moisture wicking and superior comfort
  • Insoles: PU Insole: 3mm insole with hex-flex moisture management system
  • Sole Construction: Off Road: Rubber outsole specifically designed for off road surfaces with directional lugs to maximize surface contact for superior barefoot traction
  • Outsole Thickness: 2.5mm with 4.5mm lugs: Offering maximum proprioception with protection and ultimate grip
  • Toe Guard: TPU Toe Guard: Protects the foot and prevents scuffs for additional durability
  • Weight: 272g/9.6oz
  • Eco Credentials: 100% Vegan

  • As far as the sole goes, my only wish is that Vivobarefoot would incorporate some kind of rock plate, similar to that in the Merrell Trail Glove.  For longer runs, and especially on rough trails, I've grown to like just a little bit more protection. A 1mm rock plate wouldn't take much away from the proprioception, but would help disperse some of the shock from nastier terrain. But, it's not a show stopper for me... just a nice to have. 

    Like the Neo Trails, the Breatho Trail includes a 3mm removable insole. I removed them in my Neo Trails, however I chose to keep them in the Breatho.  Why?  Well.. to my chagrin, there is a sizing discrepancy between models.  My Neo Trails are a size 43.  A good fit, but on my right foot, my second toe is just a tiny bit longer, and it had a tendency to rub and push on the front of the Neo Trails...  only bothered me when walking, and not as noticeable when running. So, I thought I should order the Breatho one size bigger to alleviate that issue.  Well, I missed the notation on the Vivobarefoot website that says the Breathos run one size bigger, so order down one. So, the result is, this pair is probably a tad too big for me. So, to compensate, I kept the insoles in, and I also wear a slightly thicker (original weight) Injinji Toe Sock.  So the moral is, pay attention when ordering! 

    Before run... so clean!

    Based on my prior Vivobarefoot experience, I took a chance on these and went on my longest run to date at that time.  I ran 10.5 miles on Waldo Canyon Trail.   As you may know, this trail is now closed due to the terrible Waldo Canyon Fire that started on 6/23, just days after my run.  So, I'll always remember that run as a first for a double digit distance, and as my last opportunity to get a glimpse of a truly beautiful trail run.

    one of my favorite views of Pikes Peak from the trail
    The run went really well...  I really appreciated the traction of the lugs on the steeper climbs on loose gravel.  Also, overall, the shoe felt very comfortable.  Again, my only negatives were that they came untied once (I forgot to double knot), and I nailed a few really good rocks with the ball of my feet, and even with the raised lugs, it smarted pretty good. Hence, my wish for a simple and effective rock plate.  But beyond that, my feet stayed really cool (I ran with Injinji lightweight socks), and I didn't develop any hot spots at all.  Didn't run into any water on this one, but as I noted earlier, the Breathos handle that well also.

    Love the quartz outcroppings...

    And of course, the Breatho Trails have made numerous trips up the Manitou Incline, and back down Barr Trail.  Right now, the Barr Trail is very busy with runners getting their last training runs in before the Pikes Peak Ascent, and Pikes Peak Marathon this weekend...  the Marathon is on my list for next August... and who knows, the Breatho Trails may be the shoe to make that run with me.

    Sunrise at the top o' the Incline... 

    So, overall, I am really happy with the Breatho Trails as a great warmer weather minimalist trail shoe.  I highly recommend them if you are looking for a minimalist trail shoe with great traction and proprioception. They retail for $90 on the Vivobarefoot website, a pleasant reduction from the Neo Trails which now retail at $115. My guess is that these shoes will continue to work well into the cooler fall, but when the snow flies and gets deep, I know I'll be back to the Neo Trails :-)

    As always, if I've missed anything or you have any questions please let me know!

    Happy Trails...



    1. I purchased a pair not as a trail running shoe, but really as a hiking shoe. They feel great, grip well, and very well made.

    2. nice review and great pictures!!!!

    3. I love this shoes! Only thing is my lugs have started to break off. Maybe the terrain is to rocky.

    4. They're wider than anything else Vivo have put out for running and hiking

    5. They look wide and I like wide shoes. I've been running in New Balance trail shoes on the pavement. I wore those suckers down to pieces in no time. I have the hardest time finding shoes I like. Now that I'm use to wearing minimalist shoes, I tried my Asics on the other day and hated them. :( What's the world coming to :)

    6. Thats a good looking shoe...

    7. Great in the wet, boggy Scottish mountains, especially off-trail; only criticism is they need to be tied around ankles too; to prevent them coming off in deep mud/bogs. I don't find the sole/rock plate to be an issue just think Merrell have the ankle fit dialled. They really need to be worn with socks if doing any kind of sustained descent as stitching rubs at the front of the arch. All in all probably the best mountain running shoe I've found yet..

    8. I'm trying a second pair, because my first ones had tread lugs tearing off in just 6 miles of moutain rocky terrain. This pair seems to be doing better but I'm still nervous about it.

      I am only 140 lbs and run fairly light on my feet... so why is it that I'm not reading more about this issue? Am I the only person not running on super groomed trails? :P

    9. Hey Jeff! Just bought some Breatho Trails for my hubby as he and I like to head up and down the Incline too. I have the Neo Trails, and got hubby some Breathos as he has got some sweaty feet and he gets hot easily. Iʻve ran a Spartan Military Race and Tough Mudder in my Neos, and after having them for over a year, one or two of the lugs on the Neos were starting to break off. (I superglued them back on and they look ok) The Breathos seem to be made of a different rubber compound. How have the lugs lasted you running down Barr Trail? Iʻve made it clear to the hubby that these are trail only shoes, and he can use his NB MT20ʻs for his morning PT runs and workouts at the gym. He also runs quite a bit at Red Rocks Canyon and Fountain Creek. I just want to get ready to buy another pair if he wears this one out as quick as he does his MT20ʻs. Thanks!

      1. Hi Stephanie! Yes.. the Breatho's are terrific shoes for the Incline and Barr Trail. As for the wear, I did seem to notice slightly more wear on the Neo's, but I thought the sole materials were the same. It could be they tweaked it a little, since the Neo does have issues with lugs coming off as you noted. I think your plan to keep them on trails only will certainly lengthen the life as they don't deal well with pavement. I have a hard time judging the tread life on my trail shoes because I switch out between shoes often... one side effect of reviewing a lot of shoes!

    10. Hi Jeff. Now, 3 years after writing this review, do you have an update as to how the Breatho's performed long term? Or do you simply get a a new pair of shoes every few weeks due to the nature of your bloging?

      1. Excellent question! Yes, due to the number of shoes I review, only a few models make it to my "run a lot of miles in" rotation. While the Breatho is an excellent shoe, I've found that running ultra distances, I need just a little bit more protection. However, I have a good friend that runs just about all his miles in the Breatho, and I believe he just completed a road marathon in his pair, so let me check in and get you a long term report on the Breathos... stay tuned here!


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