Review: VivoBarefoot Trail Freak Winterproof

IMG_5450I live in Colorado…when winter comes, I can either hop on a treadmill, or head out into the snow for a run!  Perhaps someday I’ll do a review of my treadmill someday…but the mere thought of that beast sends shivers down my spine…so let’s focus on the joys of trail running in winter in Colorado instead.  If you’re going to have fun doing that…you need the right equipment.  There’s nothing better than running at night when it’s lightly snowing!  Assuming of course you’re staying warm and cozy, and slipping and sliding all over the place.  Again, it all comes down to having the right equipment…and after spending my winter training for an April marathon, I’ve found some equipment that works great for me.  Starting from the bottom up, let’s talk about shoes, and my absolute favorite (for winter), the Trail Freak Winterproof from VivoBarefoot.

They’re very similar to the standard Trail Freaks, but with waterproof construction and a removable insole.  These different materials result in a shoe that’s much smaller than Vivo’s normal sizes – I own several VivoBarefoot shoes (both on and off road shoes), all size 44, and these size 44 Winteproofs were really snug in the toe section (compared to the wide, loose feel in the toes in the others).  After 180 miles in them they’ve loosened up a bit, but they’re still nowhere near as roomy as my Neo Trails.  The liner can be removed (which results in a more normal VivoBarefoot fit, still slightly snug though by comparison), but with just a 3mm sole, I want to keep that in there to insulate my feet from the snow I’m running on.  So, I cope, but consider ordering a size up from normal if you get these.  I wasn’t sure how I’d like the drawstring style laces, and while I found they do loosen up a bit, the shoes themselves never felt loose.

Traction in the snow and ice is phenomenal; they use the same tread and sole design as the proven Neo Trails and Trail Freaks.  Traction won’t be a problem.  Running through puddles and slush is a breeze…water does get in around my ankle, but the rest of the shoe does a good job of keeping the foot dry (the tongue is not a loose piece, its sides are joined to the rest of the shoe like a waterproof hiking boot would be, this undoubtedly helps).  Warmth is likewise never an issue, no matter what socks I wore, my feet were always plenty warm in temperatures as cold as 10F.  The 180 miles on these were not easy miles, either…when conditions were good enough (only patches of snow), I’d use my Neo Trails…I turned to the Winterproofs when it was either snowing or there was significant snow on the ground.  Sometimes that meant running on packed snow, sometimes I was breaking a trail through 6-8″.  Whatever I asked of these shoes, they delivered!

Naturally, all this does come at a price…$160 is the latest advertised price on VivoBarefoot’s website.  However, Vivo is always coming out with new colors for their shoes, sending the old colors to places like LeftLaneSports, so if you shop around, you can find a good deal on them (at the time of this writing, $97 at LeftLaneSports for example).IMG_5454