First run: Vivobarefoot Trail Freak running shoes
The hype surrounding barefoot running seems, for the most part, to have been and gone. But people are still enjoying the sport, and companies are still releasing shoes for those who are interested.
The latest company is Vivobarefoot with its Trail Freak shoes. The shoes replace the company's Neo Trail and Breatho Trail models and promise a lightweight and minimal experience for those looking to go beyond the dirt path.
Pocket-lint has been running and wearing them to find out if they are as good as the company claims.
The Trail Freak is a barefoot trail shoe designed specifically off-road treks and runs, although is just as good pacing around the office too, although the latter is major overkill.
Available in bright red and yellow, or blue and yellow, the lightweight shoe features a reflective mesh on top and a rubber outsole that has what Vivobarefoot calls its V Trek design for maximum surface contact.
The sole's design is best described as something that looks like chicken wire, and lives up to the claim delivering plenty of grip.
As you walk you can hear the sole gripping to whatever surface you are walking on, and whether that's going up a mud slope or down a craggy path, the grip was exceptionally good on our test runs.
That rubber sole and flexible mesh upper make for a very flexible and lightweight sole that is just 2.5mm thick, or 4.5mm if you count the lugs.
The mens version of the shoe weighs around 260g (without mud) and the ladies 210g.
The lack of weight, which obviously adds to the experience, is partly down to a minimalist inner sole and laces.
The inner sole can be removed if you aren't fussed with the extra warmth or comfort it provides and the laces are elastic with a simple toggle to tighten them into place. Perfect for multisports.
For our testing we tried the Trail Freak shoes as a straight forward trainer replacement around town, and on a couple of medium paced 5km runs along trails.
In all cases the shoe delivered a very natural lightweight fit that gave us plenty of flexibility walking and running.
On the runs and off the path the grip is very good, and while the design isn't waterproof, the shoe feels airy - although not as airy as the Nike Flyknit shoes.
As a barefoot experience against the Merrell's the Vivobarefoot Trail Freaks felt a lot more flexible and lighter, which whilst not providing as much protection, should suit most, especially those looking to do longer runs.
We've enjoyed the Trail Freaks, but be wary, barefoot running isn't for everyone, and if you are looking to try it out, it's best to ease your way in slowly rather than expect to be able to run at the same speed and distance as you do with normal shoes.