Vivobarefoot Trail Freak Review

Landon Faulkner
Photo Credit | Andrew Faulkner


The Vivobarefoot Trail Freak is a mean, lean running machine aimed to get you on the trail for some freaky fast trail runs. Lightweight and highly breathable the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s feel like a second skin on the trail, but also offer the protection of a patented puncture resistant ultra-thin sole. I received a pair of the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s to test and review and was quite frankly blown away by Vivobarefoot’s newest addition to their trail running line. I got my first look at the Vivobaregoot Trail Freak’s at the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show and was impressed with their bright and comfy appearance, so naturally I was excited to get these shoes on my feet and on and the trail for some real testing, but before we get into all my thoughts, impressions and commentary about my experience with the shoes let’s talk briefly about the specs.

The Specs

The Vivobarefoot Trail Freak shoes initially looked like an updated and more hip version of the Breatho Trails I tested earlier this year (review here), but on closer inspection that is not really the case. The overall feel of the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak is much different than the Breatho Trail, and I must say I like it.

Vivobarefoot Trail Freak
Photo Credit | Andrew Faulkner

The Upper

The Trail Freak uses a lightweight duo 3M mesh and laminated upper that is breathable yet keeps your foot secure and in place; It really feels like a comfy cozy sock. The upper also incorporates a Dri-lex lining with Lycra collar which keeps your feet dry, a very important feature in keeping your feet healthy on those really long runs. The Vivobarefoot Trail Freak quick and easy closure lacing system is another great feature that sets it a part from the Breatho Trail, who’s laces seemed endlessly too long.

The Sole

The Vivobarefoot Trail Freak has some serious sole. You can expect a zero-drop platform with the Trail Freak as with all Vivobarefoot shoes that also uses a removable 3mm insole. The roomy toe box gives you plenty of room for your feet to expand over the roughest of trails and the grip will keep you going regardless of the conditions. The outsole of the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s mean serious business with 4.5mm lugs that perform just as aggressively as they appear without sacrificing the overall barefoot feel  Vivobarefoot prides itself on.

vivobarefoot trail freak
Photo Credit | Andrew Faulkner

My Experience

If you can think back to your childhood, way back to when you were just learning to walk, your parents may have put you in those socks that had a bunch of little grippy things on the bottom to keep you from slipping. Do you remember those socks? Well that’s exactly what it felt like the first time I tried on the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak shoes. I love the second skin feel of the shoes that seem to hug my feet without feeling too tight or uncomfortable. The Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s were a whole different story on the trail, and boy was their story a good one. For me I don’t want to worry about my feet on a long trail run. I don’t want to think about my shoes or about getting blisters or black toenails especially as I am currently preparing for my first ultra marathons.

With the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s I have been comfortable with running and not concerned with anything else. I am able to focus on my training, my pace and the trail in front of me without having to worry about me shoes or my feet. Peace of mind on my long runs over rocky and rugged trails makes a huge difference in being able to get those long runs in. The Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s feel fast and comfortable on my short tempo runs as well as my long back-to-back weekend runs.

Vivobarefoot trail freak
Photo Credit | Andrew Faulkner

Bottom Line

It’s been extremely hard to find anything I don’t like about the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak shoes and I suppose my job as an honest reviewer is not to search for things I do or don’t like, but simply share my experience. Subsequent to that belief I really don’t feel there is anything about the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak that I would change or that I find myself wishing they had. For me the feel and fit of the upper is incredible and the sole provides excellent control and performance on even the gnarliest. My bottom line with the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s is that these shoes were made for the perfect barefoot experience on the roughest trails out there.

Pick up a pair of the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak’s for $110 right here.

Landon is the creator of #makeadventure. He believes life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and that regardless of the circumstance adventure should always be made. Landon was raised in Northern California where he and his wife, Kyra and daughter, Paityn now live. He and Kyra met while attending school at the University of Utah.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ 

7 thoughts on “Vivobarefoot Trail Freak Review”

  1. Landon, thanks for the review. I’ve gone through about a half dozen pairs of the earlier model Neo and Breatho Trails. Before jumping on the Freaks, me and several friends were wondering how you found the water retention. The Neo and Breathos are horrible…retaining so much water when wet they are like bricks on the feet, and they take forever to dry given that they are a minimalist shoe. Are the Freaks better?

    Also, though I love Breathos, they are almost disposable because the lugs begin falling off after just a couple dozen miles of hiking on rugged trails. I was hoping that the rubber compound on the Freaks would be tougher. What is your experience so far.

    I have email Vivobarefoot on these questions, but received no response, so not that impressed with their customer service.

    1. Well, the water question is a good question, one I’m not sure how to answer just yet. I live in Northern California and we are currently in the worst drought in something like a hundred years, or so they say. Regardless, finding water to test this aspect of the shoe has been impossible so far, but when the rains come again I’ll likely update this review.

      As far as the lugs go I haven’t had any issues with the Breathos and I have well over a few hundred miles on them, but limited miles on very technical trails. Most trail I run are semi-technical at best. As for the Freaks I am at about 150 miles on them and haven’t had any issues so far with the lugs either. As far sole composition I’m not sure if any changes have been made to Freaks since the Breathos.

      Sorry, it appears I’m not too much help either.

  2. Hi there. You state that the Trail Freak is actually pretty different from the Breathos, but in review I can’t find anything that makes them seem all that different. Are they basically Breathos with lock laces and a more comfy lining (and nicer colors)?
    I make DIY lock laces for most of my shoes, so if that is the biggest change, I’m not gonna run out to buy them.

    I own both the Neo Trails and the Breathos, and I would like to know how they compare. The Breathos are slightly narrower than the NeoTrail. Slightly too narrow for my rather wide foot. The Neos are much better. How wide are the Freaks?
    I’m asking because I no stores where I live carry them, so I can’t really try them on and get an impression.

    1. Sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been moving across a few state lines this past week.

      Anyways, to get to your questions. The Freaks feel quite different from the Breatho’s as they feel like a sock or glove. The fit is much more comfortable into opinion even though the Breatho’s are already exceptionally comfortable.

      As for width I have a narrow foot which is one reason I have enjoyed the Breatho’s and in his case the Freaks as well. I would say they are a slimmer shoe, not slimmer than the Breatho’s, but not wider either.

      All in all the real difference comes mostly in the feel of the shoe. If you’re Breatho’s are still in great shape is say hold off, unless you’re looking for a bit more comfort. That’s the real difference to me. Although if you need an alternate pair for training or you need a new trail shoe I definitely recommend the Freaks over the Breatho’s.

      Hope this helps a little bit!

  3. Are the Trail Freak only ustabile offroad? Or would you say you can use them for normal running on roads as Well?

    1. They are usable on-raid, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. I would go with the Vivobarefoot Stealth for that. It’s a great shoe and a much better road option. The lugs on the Trail Freak are a bit bit for a road run.

Leave a Reply