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Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Knit FG shoes review

An excellent minimalist trail running shoe that performs well on all surfaces, including road.

Our rating 
4.8 out of 5 star rating 4.8
Black Vivobarefoot Primus Knit Trail FG running shoe from the front and side

Our review

A top-performing, supremely comfortable trail running shoe for those who have made the transition from conventional running shoes.
Pros: Good grip
Excellent shedding
Flexible movement
Recycled and recyclable materials
Cons: Lip rubs against skin if you’re wearing ankle-sized running socks
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Vivobarefoot is currently the leading brand in the barefoot and low-intervention running shoes movement. It prides itself on designing footwear that is moulded around the natural shape of the foot – wide at the toes with minimal drop and maximum flexibility. The brand was created specifically for this market, which puts it at an advantage to the established brands that are just now beginning to experiment with it. To highlight its flexibility and differentiate it from mainstream running shoes, each shoe is pictured rolled up into a ball on its web page.

Primus Trail Knit FG (‘Firm Ground’) shoes are similar to the popular Primus Trail Running shoe but with a partially knitted textile upper, giving the shoe more flexibility and providing a ‘glove’ style fit that moulds to the ankle.

How do I start running in barefoot trainers?

It’s not advisable to switch from a structured ‘normal’ running shoe to a barefoot-style one immediately, as the shoes are built around a particular style of running. The transition should take place slowly over several months, starting small and building up gradually. You’ll need to break the habit of heel striking and slowly get used to landing on your forefoot, supported naturally by your arches – which you may also need to build up. 

For more information and exercises to help prepare your feet for barefoot running, see vivobarefoot.com/uk/blog/daily-exercise-tutorials

They’re supremely comfortable, and the knitted fabric improves both breathability and flexibility. In wet conditions, your feet will bet wet, but the shoes shed water and dry rapidly.

As with all Vivobarefoot shoes, the shoe is wide, reflecting the natural dimensions of the human foot. The thin rubber outsole, made of a trademark sticky rubber compound, lives up to its claims, gripping fast to slippery grass, rocks and mud. The lugs are among the best I’ve experienced at shedding mud, as though you simply imagined you just ran through that quagmire around the cattle trough.

Finding the right fit is a little tricky. There is an online guide where you stand on a piece of A4 paper and send a photo of your foot to get an accurate size recommendation, but I felt size 8 would be too big for my feet so sized up by one – this turned out to be correct. I have naturally wide feet, so this may have confused the system – something to bear in mind.

The only con I can find with these shoes is that the lip rubbed a little against the front of my ankle – so choose running socks with a bit of height.


Also consider: Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra trail running shoe

Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra trail running shoe review/Credit: Adidas

If you’d rather take a more conventional approach than the barefoot shoes above, these supportive and well-cushioned trail running shoes tick all the boxes, making them a great option for first-time trail runners and seasoned pros alike. The super-comfortable, form-enhancing midsole results in a more 8mm drop from heel to toe, compared to the ‘zero drop’ of barefoot shoes like the Primus Knit Trail FG.

Combined with supreme ventilation and a good level of traction, this stylish trail running shoe makes a solid mid-price option for all abilities.

One of the most exciting features is the Boost midsole, which is made from tiny capsules that are moulded together. The result is an extremely comfortable and responsive midsole, which not only absorbs energy as you step down on it – thus reducing impact – but also seems to push energy back into your foot and leg as you step up – it really does feel a little like you’re bouncing. This bounce-like effect improves the smoothness of your gait, reducing fatigue, and allows you to stay out on the trail for longer. Review by Daniel Graham

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