Those of us who were even marginally into the running scene during the late 2000s and early 2010s will instantly recognize Vibram Shoes.
Also known as Vibram Five Fingers, the shoes broke through to the mainstream so much so that Time Magazine named them their “Best Invention of 2007.”
So, when Vibram reached out to review some of their new releases, we immediately said yes. For some runners, Vibram shoes elicit the same kind of nostalgia that other sneakerheads get from a pair of Jordans or a re-released Gel-Kayano.
With races on the horizon, we decided to treat this as an all-around training shoe review so as to not interfere with our current training regimens and really see what these Vibram shoes could do for us in a modern training session where we ask our shoes to perform in more areas than ever.
While Vibram was gracious enough to send the WearTesters team pairs of the Vibram shoes for review, the company had no involvement in this review, didn’t receive an advance look at it, and has not attempted to influence this review.
Vibram V-Trail 2.0
Weight: Men’s 6.4 oz., Women’s 5.0 oz.
How Does the Author Train?
Arune Singh (age 42, 5’11”, 210lbs): Trains daily with functional fitness programming from Deadboys Fitness, founded by Colby “Seth Rollins” Lopez and Josh Gallegos, along with logging 30-40 miles of running per week. He also has a medical history of Sleep Apnea and Myasthenia Gravis, meaning Arune’s focus is on lean muscle mass.
What’s the Vibram V-Trail 2.0?
Vibram describes it as:
The V-Trail 2.0 offers the latest and greatest features to conquer trails with ease, including both lamination around the toes to prevent seam splitting and improved upper material which is more water repellent than the previous version. The V-Trail 2.0 features 3D Cocoon mesh woven into the outsole for protection from sharper objects during outdoor training like rocks, roots and acorns. The mesh is tridimensional, it disperses the point of impact across the full bottom of the shoe. Continues to offer excellent proprioception and dexterity. The Megagrip outsole compound offers supreme grip across both wet and dry conditions.
Vibram Running Shoes
Let me start by saying that the moment I put these shoes on my feet, I felt a rush of nostalgia that took me back to 2007 when I had moved to New York City and wanted to finally embrace running.
While I can’t say my actual performance was ever great, the Vibram FiveFingers did something no other pair of shoes had done up to that point – they got me running regularly outdoors, something I hadn’t truly ever done in my life.
And, honestly, putting on the V-Trail 2.0 made me want to run. The natural foot shape of the shoe still makes me want to run even over fifteen years later. And Vibram shoes still complement my natural gait.
However, when it comes to running, this simply isn’t a shoe I am going to pick for my daily runs. At 210lbs, I can feel the impact on my joints when I hit cement. However, I felt like I had a very natural gait in the Vibram shoes and might have even lengthened my stride in ways I don’t do in traditional running shoes. There’s no real pop because there’s no midsole and that’s something that bothered me less on the treadmill but really felt like a difficult adjustment on the road.
That all said, this shoe is clearly designed for the trail and did perform well in some areas of Utah where I tested it as a hiking shoe more than a running shoe. The outsole is surprisingly grippy off-road and did a great job protecting my feet from the unexpected obstacles I encountered on the hills. The weatherproofing is also on point – I ran through some puddles and didn’t feel them on my foot at all, so that’s a nice change from typical running shoes.
I also tested this shoe in other cardio sessions – I found them very awkward for rowing and average on an exercise bike. Vibram shoes are made for running so I wouldn’t dock them any points just because they don’t perform strongly in other areas for me.
In the end, I’ve run in a number of barefoot shoes – from the Xero HFS to the Vivo Barefoot Primus Knit – and Vibram shoes still remain the most comfortable of all those options for me, even if it’s not my favorite experience.
Vibram Training Shoes
As excited as I was to run in these shoes, I was even more excited to train in the V-Trail 2.0 because of the toe splay and how much I enjoyed the in-gym performance from other barefoot shoes.
Overall, the Vibram V-Trail 2.0 didn’t disappoint as a training shoe in most categories. The aforementioned toe splay and outsole that performed so well for running also translated to some really great stability on a variety of surfaces (rubber mats, hardwood floors, carpet).
That means nearly all lifts were really great with these shoes – anyone who’s ever trained truly barefoot will tell you that it’s an especially different experience with lower body work like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. The V-Trail 2.0 really excelled in these lifts, but I did find that single-leg exercises resulted in my knees naturally wanting to tip inwards.
The other area where I found challenges was multi-level exercises like box step-ups where the trail running purpose of these Vibram shoes felt at odds with the stability needed for those exercises.
Overall, the V-Trail 2.0 isn’t my first choice for lifting but they’re not a bad call either. They really allow for a transition from cardio to lifting with less pronounced issues than many of the traditional training shoes marketed as versatile. The V-Trail 2.0 also has truly great lockdown and my feet felt secure in the shoe once I tightened the laces. It’s a nice Vibram shoes bonus that I didn’t experience the heel slip that happens in so many other dedicated functional fitness shoes.
Are Vibram shoes going to be comfortable for everyone? Nope.
But if you enjoy the feel of barefoot shoes, it’s hard not to argue that Vibram makes some of the comfiest options available. Vibram has perfected a foot shape that seems to fit everyone well, even wide footers like me.
I will say that it does take a few tries to get used to fitting your toes into Vibram shoes properly but it becomes second nature quickly. Just don’t try to shove all your toes into the right spaces right away and you’ll be fine.
The one downside is that I found these things get really sweaty really quickly. While they’re washable, the V-Trail 2.0 gets stinkier more quickly than most of my other shoes. I’m sure I should choose something like Injinji socks to wear with these shoes but I’d also love if there was a way to make them more breathable without losing all the weather-proofing.
Like with fit, this is going to be very, very up to the individual.
“Oh, the feet shoes” was the response from a fitness friend when I mentioned testing Vibram shoes. I could hear the disdain in his voice.
Look, I don’t know that many people are wearing the Vibram V-Trail 2.0 out to grab a coffee or get the groceries. If you’re using these for your trail adventures you’re probably switching them off your feet for something else when you’re done.
At the same time, we’re in a world where Crocs and Birkenstocks are now couture, so I don’t see why these couldn’t join them. Shoes are shoes and when it comes to casual usage, I wouldn’t blink twice if I saw someone walking around an Erewhon in Los Angeles wearing these.
Is the Vibram V-Trail 2.0 worth $135?
At $135, this is a great value whether you treat your Vibram shoes as training or running shoes. It feels well below the median cost of both types of footwear these days which seems to hover around $150.
So if you’re getting this to be your one-for-all kinda training shoe, it’s a great value.
Vibram Shoes Review: V-Trail 2.0 Summary
If I were buying a barefoot shoe, the Vibram V-Trail 2.0 would be top of my list but it’s not currently a shoe I plan to include in my rotation outside of any hiking or outdoor adventures. It’s the best Vibram trail running shoe but other Vibram options could be better for the gym or running.
But if you’ve ever been curious about Vibram shoes or barefoot shoes in general, the V-Trail 2.0 is a solid starting point.