The type of shoe I choose to wear depends, largely, on the specific activity in which I am to engage, and the features of the particular surface, underfoot. Lately, I’ve been testing several models of, so-called, minimal shoes. The idea behind minimal or, “barefoot,” shoes is simple. In fact, “simplicity,” is the main concept underlying minimal shoe design and function.
Human architecture and biomechanics are the result of more than just a few years of evolution. Since the day our shaggy forebears peeked their heads up over the tops of tall grasses, our bones, muscles, and connective tissues have been evolving to equip us with a seamless, efficient relationship with the most jagged, slippery or uneven landscape. The job of a good shoe is to keep the foot performing safely on a particular terrain, while neither interfering with perception of the ground nor affecting proper coordinated movement. After a week of testing this shoe, I’m not a bit reluctant to say that it’s one of the best I’ve ever owned.
The Vivobarefoot Neo Trail is designed for just what its name suggests; trail running. I spend a lot of time off-road, but I mostly keep my running, jumping, lunging, and squatting to flat, synthetic surfaces, roads, and some grass. It’s not that I don’t enjoy trail running. I just happen to live in New York City, where the terrain is, regrettably…city.
The shoe has an extremely rugged outsole, rigged with multidirectional lugs which are designed to grip terrain. These cleat-like lugs (attatched to Vivobarefoot’s ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole) feel like they’re giving my foot an advantage in sturdiness, even on pavement and gym flooring. Everything from sprinting to deadlifting feels awesomely natural and well-grounded.
The zigzag, lace-lock structure of the upper shoe looks like something Batman would wear to soccer practice. It’s damn badass and tough-looking for a zero-drop shoe. As secure as my foot feels, the first thing I noticed when I tested the shoe, was the ample roominess in the toe box. In retrospect, it was this unrestricted opportunity for my toes to splay and my foot to flex, which instantly sold me on this shoe. Since I picked up the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail Men’s shoe a week ago, I’ve been nothing less than elated to look great and move naturally as I rip through workouts, pedal my bike, and zip past poorly-hoofed pedestrians on the sidewalk.