VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail Review

A True Trail Runner with Plenty of Breathability
After the release of VIVOBAREFOOT’s hydrophobic Neo Trail, it was inevitable (and highly anticipated) that the company would release a breathable version with the same great maximally prioprioceptive outsole, thus the release of the Breatho Trail. This version delivers the same great prioprioception and grip, a slightly different fit, and a new breathable mesh upper that lets air and water easily in and out.

Quick Details
Price: $90 USD
Width: Narrow to Average
Sole Thickness: 2.5 mm with 4.5 mm lugs
Drop: Zero
Weight: 7.5 ounces or 210 grams (without the insole)
Insole: 3 mm, removable (weighs 0.5 ounces or 14 grams)
Sizing: 35-42 for women, 40-47 for men, full size, fits one size small
Category: Trail Running

Comfort & Fit
The Breatho Trail is lined with a super soft material throughout the interior of the shoe that makes this easily one of the most comfortable trail runners to wear without socks. It has an integrated tongue that cuts down seams and keeps debris out of the shoe up to the top of the throat. The footbed is designed to be used without the insole if desired, increasing proprioception, so there are no rough or bulging seams where the outsole meets the upper. The inside of the shoe feels more like a slipper rather than the rugged trail runner that it is. The lock-lacing system secures the shoe to the foot well and provides ample adjustability for narrow feet.

The fit is considerably different than the Neo Trail such that the toe box is 1/8” narrow (at the widest part). For those who found the Neo Trail a bit too sloppy in the toe box, the Breatho Trail might be a better fit. If you loved the roomy, wide feeling of the Neo Trail, you might want to order a size larger for the same width, granted there are length drawbacks to this option.

Barefoot Feel & Function
Despite the 4.5 mm lugs, there is still amazing ground feel with the Breatho Trails because the sole thickness from footbed to exterior is a scant 2.5 mm when you don’t count the lugs. This thinness allows extreme flexibility in the outsole, resulting in superior proprioception. There is no rock plate in the outsole restricting flex, only a slightly more durable, thick rubber addition at the arch of the foot to protect this sensitive foot area from sharp rocks while running.

At just over 200 grams, this is one of the lightest trail runners on the market. Again, they feel more like slippers than trail runners, until you get them caked in mud, that is.

The Breatho Trail delivers in the grip department. VIVOBAREFOOT’s Off Road sole has more than enough traction for any trail I’ve run, wet or dry. The only downside I’ve noted is that the lugs at the heel of the shoe are a bit close together so don’t shed thick mud as well as I would like, reducing some traction in these conditions and requiring a good wash afterwards.

Upper Qualities
The upper is made of breathable mesh, a closed material lock-lacing system, a dri-lex collar and lining, with a TPU toe guard that protects the foot and provides additional durability. The breathable mesh allows plenty of air and water transfer; there are no worries of trapped water after creek crossings with this shoe. The dri-lex lining wicks moisture away so if you like running without socks, your feet should stay sweat-free and comfortably dry, until you jump in your first puddle, that is. Thankfully, this water will rush out as fast as it rushes in and the air flow through the shoe will dry it rather quickly.

The shoe was instantly comfortable right out of the box, no break-in period necessary here. As for cleaning, I wouldn’t recommend machine-washing, but a sink wash with a stiff brush has removed all the trail mud I’ve covered them with.

Sole Qualities
As mentioned, the rubber sole is 2.5 mm thick with 4.5 mm lugs. If you’re familiar with last year’s Neo Trail, you’ll notice the absence of white flecks in the Breatho Trail sole. I believe the new all rubber sole is more durable now than the previous version with the recycled material embedded in it. The sole is incredibly flexible and bends around the slightest contours in the ground. As with all VIVOBAREFOOT products, there is no arch support included in the design of the shoe.

Overall Quality
The quality of the materials and manufacturing on the Breatho Trail is impeccable. There are no flaws in the sample pair and both the upper and sole materials are durable and expected to last a long time, even with extensive trail running use.

Style
All the colour combinations of this shoe shout, “Rugged trail shoe with style and personality.” They are currently available in all black and light grey/blue for both men and women as well as black/yellow and light grey/red for men only and light grey/pink for women. VIVOBAREFOOT makes durability and trail running functional features like the colour accents in the zigzag webbing look sharp.

Uses
Although designed for off-road use, the Breatho Trails are not the least bit uncomfortable to run or walk on concrete or asphalt. If there are some hard, smooth sections of road between you and your favourite trail, the Breatho Trail will get you there without any uncomfortable bumps beneath your feet. They also perform well as a warm weather hiking shoe with their superb grip and fantastic ground feel.

If you’ve tried the Neo Trail and found it a little wide (i.e., sloppy) for technical descents, the Breatho Trail’s narrower fit and secure lock-lace system keep your foot from moving around, even down the steepest slopes.

Value
At $90 USD, the Breatho Trails are priced extremely competitively in the trail running market. Add to that their above average durability, and I consider them an incredible deal.

Summary
If you are looking for a great-priced, warm weather, highly breathable, comfortable, and durable minimalist trail running shoe with the slightly paradoxical but incredibly real qualities of excellent proprioception and grip, then the VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail is the perfect shoe for you! If you’re hoping for the widest shoe in the minimalist market, this is definitely not it, but it will fit narrow to average width feet quite well. Although the fit is a little on the narrow side for me, I do love the luxuriously soft feeling of the upper’s interior. My favourite feature is the phenomenal ground feel in combination with terrific traction.

For more information or to purchase the Breatho Trail, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

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