Vivobarefoot Primus Trek

As the name of the brand suggests, Vivobarefoot specializes in footwear for those who enjoy a barefoot construction. So its new Primus Trek hiking shoe is no different, thanks to its flexible yet stabilizing design. Its Firm Ground outsole covers the underfoot and offers incredible traction on everything from rocks and mud to paved roads. Its upper is made from pre-treated leather and supplemented by a neoprene ankle sock for water repellency and protection against debris. And instead of a midsole, it has a removable thermal insole for comfortable cushioning and much-needed warmth during cold weather.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons

-Lightweight wear


-Fits true to size

-Protective and secure

-Great for all seasons


-Unappealing design

-Expensive price tag

Key Features
Vivobarefoot has used its Firm Ground outsole design for their Primus Trek model, complete with a non-marking sticky rubber compound for an extra strong grip on almost all types of terrains. Its tread pattern is entirely made up of tri-pointed gripping lugs, with some hexagonal lugs at the heel, to ensure not only greater stability but also better multi-surface traction. Each one measures 3mm, which is considered low profile, to ensure that it's effective without being cumbersome.
Due to its barefoot construction, the Primus Trek doesn’t have a designated midsole unit. Instead, it relies on a removable 3.5mm thermal insole to cushion the underfoot area and help the inner chamber maintain the proper temperature in cooler weather. On the outside, the sticky rubber of its Firm Ground outsole curls up and hugs the entire bottom area of the foot to ensure complete stabilization that would otherwise come from a midsole. Although this design isn’t meant for everyone, many reviewers say that it leaves them feeling perfectly comfortable and pain-free during their walks.
Wide hide leather is used to construct the bulk of the Primus Trek’s upper unit, ensuring long-lasting stability and incredible protection against rough weather. It also has tiny dents and proves all along its forefoot and sides to enable better flexibility and support. It has also been pre-treated with a hydrophobic spray to prevent water damage. A neoprene ankle sock completely hugs the instep, ankle, and heel in order to keep water and debris out of the foot chamber. And a Mountain Lace system, loops constructed from the leather material, guarantees an even more secure fit. While it’s not exactly waterproof, this unit’s overall design allows for terrific water repellency and makes it great for hikes through rain and snow. Unfortunately, however, the use of genuine leather does mean that it’s not for those who are vegan-friendly.
Even though the Primus Trek looks like it would weigh less than ten ounces, product listings show that it's actually quite substantial. Men's sizes are known to average at around 13 oz., while women's sizes round out to 12 oz. These measurements could definitely have a lot to do with the amount of protective and supportive features that are included within this particular model. Still, not surprisingly, buyers say that they feel perfectly unrestricted and light on their feet whenever they wear this shoe, no matter what type of terrain they walk across.
While buyers love the protection and stability offered by the Primus Trek’s leather upper, it does lessen the shoe’s overall breathability quite a bit. The only fabrics used throughout the upper is the protective neoprene ankle sock and soft textile lining, which work to insulate the foot chamber and keep out water and debris. Its thermal insole does ensure a very warm wear during cooler weather, but there’s no indication of whether or not this reverses when the outside temperatures go up.
Those who are used to a barefoot construction seem to be very happy with the Primus Trek’s comfort level. Despite its lack of a proper midsole, its thermal insole still supplies enough cushioning for those who need neutral support. Its textile lining feels soft against the foot as the leather upper material, as does its supportive neoprene ankle sock. Not only does the leather material strike the perfect balance between flexibility and stability, but it also provides incredible water repellency to keep the foot nice and dry. This also pairs amazingly well with the thermal insole, which regulates the inner temperature and allows the foot to stay warm during cooler weather. It should be said, however, that those who need more substantial ankle support should either use their own insole or find another shoe altogether.
While its wear is protective, supportive, and comfortable, the Primus Trek’s appearance seems less than impressive to some. Its flat, barefoot construction is accompanied by a secure lacing system, snug-fitting collar, and pull tabs for easier insertion. Some buyers are also a bit disappointed that it’s only available in three neutral colors of brown, black, and tan. Although it would be nice if this model was sold in more vibrant hues, it does mean it’s incredibly easy to pair with different looks for both hiking and everyday life.
Although there have been some reports of the leather material crinkling a bit, the Primus Trek still seems to be quite a durable piece of footwear. Its outsole’s sticky rubber compound is able to hold up to incredibly rugged terrains and even maintain its overall shape after use on paved roads. The use of leather for most of its upper maintains its overall shape and resists damage for much longer than any kind of mesh or knit fabric. Even its neoprene ankle sock doesn’t seem to lose its overall grip.
Since the Primus Trek is designed to be a hiking shoe, it obviously has to provide the wearer with a great deal of protection. The Firm Ground outsole covers the entire underfoot area, and even wraps around the lower part, safeguarding the rest of the shoe from potential damage. Its wild hide leather upper already does a lot to shield against possible damage and impact, especially at the toes. However, it’s also been treated with a hydrophobic spray to ensure water repellency and keep the inside of the shoe dry. The neoprene ankle sock wraps around completely to not only prevent over-flexing but also prevent debris from getting into the shoe.
Because it does not have a designated midsole unit, it's difficult to determine just how responsive the Primus Trek's wear actually is. On most similar models, the shoe's insole would offer some amount of shock absorption in order to keep the runner safeguarded. But this shoe's insole focuses more on insulation in order to keep the foot warm during the winter and cooler during the spring and summer. Reviewers do seem happy with its level of cushioning, however, noting that they feel protected and pain-free as they move around. It should also be mentioned that this shoe is not intended for running or for hardcore athletics, so a responsive midsole isn't really necessary.
The Primus Trek offers a pretty snug fit which already ensures amazing support for the entire foot, especially the top and sides. It has a 3.5mm thermal insole in place of a standard midsole unit, providing sufficient cushioning for neutral hikers. The sides of its upper are thicker than the top of the forefoot, and they form the loops of the lacing system for a fit the truly wraps around the midfoot area. And as the neoprene ankle sock keeps water and trail debris out of the foot chamber, it also completely supports the instep and ankle. The only downside is that this model isn’t suitable for those who need greater arch support.
While the Primus Trek has a lot of things going for it, one of the shoe’s greatest overall selling points is its incredibly versatile wear. The Firm Ground outsole’s rubber compound and overall design allow the shoe to perform incredibly well on both rocky and forest hiking trails as well as mud, sand, and even snow. Even better, it’s able to transition onto paved roads and sidewalks without feeling cumbersome or wearing down. Its thermal insole is able to keep the foot nice and warm during cooler temperatures, and its leather upper has been treated with a hydrophobic spray to allow for water-repellant hikes through rain and snow.

Read also about winter trail running shoes.
Although most reviewers seem to be very happy with the Primus Trek, many agree that its price tag is way too expensive. Across all online retailers, from Zappos to Vivobarefoot’s own website, it runs for a staggering $190. Even though it offers an extremely versatile wear, a lot of buyers still feel that this model costs way too much for something that could be used daily. On the other hand, there are still quite a few people who feel that this shoe is an excellent investment. Those who hike in almost all forms of weather, and prefer their footwear to be versatile and comfortable, are okay with paying full price for this highly durable model. Of course, there are still some amazing deals on Amazon and eBay for buyers who still want a great deal.
Buyers are extremely happy with the Primus Trek’s level of traction, all thanks to the design of its Firm Ground outsole unit. The sticky rubber compound and shape of its multiple tri-pointed gripping lugs allow for an incredible grip on most hiking surfaces including rocks, forest trails, mud, and sand. Many reviewers say that it performs just as well when used on everyday paved roads and sidewalks. Even better, it never loses its grip even if the surface is wet or covered in snow.
The multiple tri-pointed lugs on its outsole, along with multiple flex grooves, enable the Primus Trek to provide a lot of flexibility. Its 3.5mm thermal insole and lack of a designated midsole unit add to its overall range of motion as well. And despite the fact that its upper is made primarily with real leather, which is noticeably thicker at the sides, its lack of any hard support features gives the wearer a controlled yet completely natural gait cycle.
Even though it has no midsole unit or corrective features, the Primus Trek is still able to provide the wearer with a great deal of stability. The shoe already has a very snug fit on its own to start off with. And its wild hide leather is thicker at the sides, heel, and around the toes to maintain the shoe’s shape and prevent over-flexing. These sections also form the base of the Mountain Lace system to ensure a truly secure fit. Adding to this overall quality is the neoprene ankle sock, which wraps around completely to keep the foot locked into place. Furthermore, the Firm Ground outsole curls up and wraps around the lower part of the foot to prevent any kind of wobbling or slipping.
Because it features a barefoot design, like all other models within the brand, the Primus Trek has a zero drop platform. This, in turn, gives the wearer an incredible amount of balance and control over their movements as they walk across almost every type of surface. Despite this particular design aspect, its 3.5mm thermal insole still offers a significant layer of comfortable cushioning.
Key Features
-Firm Ground sticky rubber outsole
-Removable 3.5mm thermal insole
-Water-resistant leather upper
-Neoprene ankle sock
-Mountain Lace system
-Three neutral colorways
-Expensive $190 price tag
Bottom Line
Those who enjoy a shoe with barefoot construction could get a great deal of use out of Vivobarefoot's Primus Trek hiking shoe. Not only does its durable and flexible outsole provide amazing traction on rugged terrains, but it also performs just as well on everyday outdoor surfaces. Its leather upper comes complete with a snug fit, water repellency, and an ankle sock that offers support and protection against wetness and debris. And while it doesn't have a designated midsole unit, its thermal insole still cushions the foot as it encourages warmth during colder weather. Although it lacks overall support, and its price is incredibly expensive, those who find this shoe comfortable will get a great deal of use out of it.
Where to Buy
By Jessica Pilla
Last updated:
Where to buy
Best offer on: Jul. 28. 2021

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