Because of the overall material thinness, most trail-oriented barefoot running shoes aren’t the warmest for the winter and aren’t the most durable for harsh, punishing trails either –until I found the Vibram V Trail.
The Vibram FiveFingers V Trail is for running, walking and hiking on trails of any kind, especially areas flooded with groundwater AND was definitely built with speed in mind. For example, the shoe has a zippy-feel, weighing ~ 6.4 oz which is the classic weight of a good minimalist running shoe and is perfectly light for quicker accelerations, making it an excellent choice for trail races, especially OCRs (Spartan, Tough Mudders, etc).
Essentially, the V Trail is a continuation of the Vibram Spridon MR and like the Spridon MR, the V Trail impressively handles frigidly cold, slippery, sloppy, muddy conditions.
Not only are the Vibram V Trail barefoot running shoes fun to wear, trail-specific barefoot running shoes in general can be instrumental in helping trail runners avoid injury because these shoes feel nearly barefoot, giving you a more natural and stable connection with the ground. This is mainly because the sole thinness gives you a clearer sense of the terrain beneath your feet which helps bring into line more quickly enhanced balance and postural control as well as forefoot strike precision when running.
I always like to underscore that there’s a strong sensory component that goes into running with good form with efficient muscular efforts, better balance and good postural stability, and no where does the V Trail fail at delivering the ground-feedback you need to maintain these mechanical outputs good for injury prevention.
Lets zoom in on all the specifics that makes the Vibram V Trail so appealing as a premium off-road option.
Obviously, the V Trail provides more sensory input at the sole than traditional running shoes, which is going to help keep your forefoot strike running stride within a safe, balanced range.
As compared to other models in its class, the V Trails sole is 5-mm thin, making it thinner than the Vibram KMD EVO. The underfoot-feel is also more cushier than the Vibram KSO Classic and the Vibram KSO EVO. But despite the extra dollops of under-foot cushioning and protections, the underfoot materials of the V Trail are still thin enough to give you a megadose of a similar sensory-feel as being barefoot.
The sole is one of the most valuable assets of the V Trail because its zero-drop (completely flat) which can really help in managing your forefoot strike during running as well as postural and balance stability, and overall helps unify effective mechanical control and movement coordination.
Bottom line, if you really desire moderate under-foot cushioning for the trails, you’re in luck because the V Trail also has a built-in 2-mm EVA insole, giving the shoe a total of 7-mm of underfoot protection which altogether offers a plush landing, suitable for long runs at any pace on rocky technical terrains and other forms of extreme trails.
Another bonus of the V Trail that makes you and the shoe well-prepared for heavy mileage on unforgiving grounds is the midfoot is armed with a rock-plate that delivers more protective underfoot coverage against stone-littered trails and makes the shoe even more mountain running-worthy.
The aggressively traction-oriented sole offers real anti-slip on wet and dry surfaces, but especially on soggy, saturated surfaces, making the V Trail a comfortable and reliable cruiser when flying fast through the trails in the rain.
The V Trail’s upper is from a blend of polyester and spandex that assembles into a flexible, adaptable, stretchable, form-fitting scaffold, so you do not need to grapple with the fit if you have wide feet or a large bunion.
Even better, the V Trail has wider toe-sockets that take perfect form to wide toe shapes. The shoes forefoot is also stretchy and roomy, ensuring the front of your foot can expand and engage to levels that allow greater control over landing stability on uneven terrain.
Also at the end of each toe socket is a reinforced rubber cap to keep trail debris from dinging and stinging your toes.
To improve ride experience, the V Trails one-pull lacing system allows a secure seal of the entire shoe with your foot by effectively cinching a customized, performance-oriented fit necessary for fast cornering and overall, helps you feel more agile on the trails.
What’s the Vibram V Trail Good for?
Thanks to its high degree of flexibility, adjustability, adaptability, responsiveness and grippiness, the V Trail will undoubtedly give you the upper hand as a competitive advantage for running your best mud obstacle course race (Spartans, Tough Mudders, etc.) or ultra trail race.
But the fruitful benefits and uses of the V Trail aren’t just limited to trail running and OCR’s! These running shoes that look like feet are also the perfect choice for hiking on black top trails and gravel/rocky terrain, stair-climbing, water sports and casual walking.
If you’re a trail runner or OCR warrior and you want more protection, yet more ground-feel, you can expect great things from the V Trail as the shoe combines the best of the both! Fit-wise, the Vibram V Trails may run small because of the glove-like fit, so you might want to order 1 full size up from your regular size.
If you want a more clear-eyed view of the Vibram V Trail, I also did a video review of the shoe as well:
If you’re interested in getting your paws on a pair, you can do so at the following:
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you’ll love my other reviews on barefoot-inspired running and causal barefoot shoes here! I also have a YouTube, here, where I discuss evidence-based facts on the health and performance benefits of running barefoot.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my Run Forefoot Facebook page here! It’s a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I’m always happy to help!
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.