Barefoot Shoes for Hiking and Backpacking

Barefoot Shoes for Hiking and Backpacking

Talking about and showing a comparison of the Merrell Vapor Glove, the Merrell Trail Glove and the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG.

I have moved to only hiking in barefoot shoes and will never look back!


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Video and Audio Equipment:

Main Camera – Sony AX100
Other Camera – GoPro Hero 7 Black
Audio – Rode
Lapel Mic – Sony

Edited using iMovie

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  • So I heard the Trail Glove 5 and 6 have a high arch. That isn't barefoot style.

  • I love my vivos. I have the exact same pair and I've been wearing them for working out and hiking for about 2-3 years. But I do have vivo hiking boots for tougher/longer hikes. They're amazing.

  • Red

    What's the best barefoot shoe for running?

  • Merrell Grove series are innovative shoes, many peoples still unknown though. Really underrated ones ever.
    Only the weak point might be a part of the upper mesh, you could moan and say WTF just in case you hit something solid to this part of it.
    I have already well-experienced😂

  • 4.5 inch wide foot with high arc, which ones will fit? I dont think there are any bare foot shoes that will fit these flappers, i cant find regular shoes that fit 🙁

  • I have the vaperglove and primus FG. I totally agree with your conclusions. The VG is insanely comfortable but keep away from rocks. The FG insole feels weird but I am getting used to it. It is a much more robust shoe than I was expecting but is also very comfortable. Great for almost any activity but not so great for winter. 👍

  • Have you tried the Trail Glove 6? I started wearing Merrill barefoot shoes when they first came out. I had several models but currently only have the Trail Glove 4 which I use at the gym. Looking for a new day hiking / exercise walking shoe. The TG4 is a bit too narrow for me on long walks (5 miles).

  • Thanks for the review. I just moved from the trail Glove 4 to the Trail Glove 5. The 5 has a higher arch support than the 4, but that's perfect for me because I have flat feet. I love the Trail Gloves!

  • I used to use trail glove 2, but since then I feel an agressive arch. I bought the 5 and they hurt. I wise they would make a one like my old 2.

  • I too have to feel the ground and have given up the full trail runner years ago,. I became super fluid, lighter and able to blend with the terrain in a much more synchronized cadence. Just ordered Vivobarefoot 12.5 Wide Primus Trail Fg Mens, Recycled Breathable Mesh Off-Road Shoe with Barefoot Firm Ground Sole Charcoal Black. Will report back on my finding on Dec 21 after my 100-mile endurance run at Ancient Oaks 100 in Titusville FL

  • like for being so handsome, and that's a great shoe. thanks for review man

  • thank you that was helpful, I've got ton of vivos, only wore those for years and swear by them (gone through journey similar to yours, nothing compares to feel of the ground and everything that comes with it )… but I'm curious about the new trail gloves, also they got leather or suede upper version on the 5s, looking at reviews because critical thing for me is the sole is not too thick. its stated at 11.5mm on merrel website, which is more than any vivos. to see how bendy, pliable and light they are in your hands is kind of reassuring. thanks

  • I have always heard Merrill pronounced "Meh'rill". I have a 5 year old pair of minimalist street shoes which I took as backup during a 100+ mile AT section hike and ended up wearing them for most of the hike after developing heel blisters in relatively new Ventilator Lows on the first day, all uphill 8 mile climb in the rain. Except for the lack of protection from stone bruising, they were a joy to walk in. I bought a pair of Vibram Minimus shoes about 2 years ago. They come without an insole, but I stuck some basic ones from another pair in them. They weigh 254 grams per shoe and have a very sticky Vibram sole that could benefit from a lug redesign. They have proven to be very durable with the exception of the heel liner fabric. I would be curious to see how they would stack up against the Vivo shoe that you showed. They appear almost identical. Btw, I weigh around 210, so I am tough on shoes. I will probably start my 500 mile section hike next year with Altra Lone Peaks, for the cushion, with some kind of insole. Just before the COVID situation I was fitted for custom orthotics at $400.00. They suck, and I'm going to get them redone.

  • Do you wear these all year round

  • I still wear my merrell trail glove 3. They are beat up, but my favorite shoe. They are a little narrow which is good for my slightly narrow feet. I like a shoe that is snug. I tried the trail glove 4, but they started hurting my feet, probablybecauseI have low arch feet. Thinking of going vapor glove or vivo. I prefer barefoot/zero drop shoes. I'm either in my trail glove 3 or my vibram five fingers.

  • Sitting here, having ordered all three, I feel I have made a fairly wise decision. 😀

  • Thanks for the review, this sort of indepth comparison is exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to push the button on a pair of Trail Gloves now….

  • The Vivo shoes look like the New Balance Minimus shoes that I've used for the past 3 years. The sole is definitely gripper on smooth rock than the Merrill Trail Glove, but doesn't do well in mud. Both shoes have amazingly durable uppers and soles. My preference is the New Balance shoe, which has a stiffer midsole for a little bit better stone protection. It is STILL a minimalist shoe, and I bought a pair of Altra Timps for my last AT section hike. They gave me heel blisters. I bought some Lone Peaks to replace them, but haven't used them with a heavier pack yet. The Merrills have a soft heel counter, as do the New Balance shoes, which are friendlier to my bony heels. We'll see how the Lone Peaks work out. Thanks!

  • Great video! I'm a Xero guy myself, they work great for me on the trails (not so much on sidewalks/concrete but maybe that's because I'm still a big guy).

  • Did you wear one of these on your last ERL trip? The rocks out there as you know are brutal! Not to mention very slippery in the water.

  • Thanks Mark for the great shoe review. I wish I could enjoy them, but I'm stuck in Altras, Olympus 3.5 trail runners. I have to have the cushioning, but I appreciate the time and effort you put into this video. Keep them coming brother!

  • Nice review and interesting thoughts, thanks. I moved from my Merrel Moab 2's to Altra Lone Peak 4.0's and really liked the more flexible, lighter shoe. Yesterday, I received my Xero Shoes Mesa Trail shoe and can't wait to try them out. I hope they are comfortable as they are listed as a very light, flexible, and durable barefoot style hiking shoe. Who knows though as time will tell.

  • I have have the trail Gloves for a couple years now….I love them. I think they are the best on the market in my honest opinion

  • Interesting thanks for sharing. I'm still hooked on a lower ankle support and for now I'm using the Vasque Breeze and may try the shoe this summer. Maybe I'll try some lighter types in the future. Tks

  • Would you recommend these shoes for someone who has big wide feet sz13 4 EEEE with fat wide toe. I'm worried about the top sides blowing out in the toebox. Thank you

  • For the past few years I have been using Merrell Moabs (low cut, not boots). This is a much heavier trail runner than what you are using but for me they have provided great protection on rocky trails. We have some rocks in Pennsylvania. 🙂

  • Great, comprehensive review Mark. I'll have to check out the versatility of the last shoes, Vivobarefoot Primus FG.

  • I had some type of Adidas trailrunner. [Will edit comment should I find model]

    Shoes worked well in Boundary Waters for canoeing and portaging long distances and time.

    Did go to Red River Gorge in them, hiked 20 miles, but they sadly gave out.

  • You need to check out the Xero shoes. Men’s HFS shoe. I have considered the vivo but the price is a bit steep. I have thought about the new vapor gloves which have a diff and thicker sole on them and also the Xero men’s hfs looks like a perfect all rounder. The Mesa trail prob fits more terrain with the aggressive tread though.
    The new balance minimus trail 10v 1 I used to have those and they felt glovelike or sock like and had great foundational stability. The thing is you have the vivo’s and those are flat awesome. You may need a little time to get them worn in.

  • I've worn Vibram Five Fingers for years. Started backpacking last year. Haven't tried Vibram's trail shoes, but I mostly hiked in their CVT-Hemp shoes. The CVT had better traction on wet rocks then their EVO shoes. Note: My hiking area is the White Mountains in NH and my typical distance is 4 to 8 miles.

  • Great video as usual. I have been hiking in hiking sandals for years. I don't like carrying extra shoes and sandals work well for trail, camp and river crossings. I used to always wear River Rapids (I don't think they have made them in years) . The last few years I've worn Tevas. I have wondered about the whole barefoot thing , so I just ordered a pair of Xero Z-Trails while they're half price and DIY minimals. I guess I'll find out what 5.5 oz and 4.3 oz shoes are like.

  • Great review. I was a huge barefoot fan until I started having top of the foot pain through the roof. I had to transition back to supported trail runners to make the pain go away. Have you ever visited Colorado? I make mountaineering and hiking videos out here. Keep at it!

  • So Rainman only sees the Vivo's?

  • Keep us updated on these. They look pretty promising!

  • My wife loves her trail gloves coming from timps and lone peaks, since they don't last long. I wear NB minimus for years now, wish they were a little wider in the toe box. Love minimal shoes coming from wearing crocks for years in retail. Ugly but the only thing that was comfortable for 8+ hours. I've thought about getting the trail gloves but the sole on the minimus is slightly thicker which I like.

  • I have worn those vibram toeshoes for years, running,hiking etc, most recently Nepal last year in november. It is great when you are ascending! Very agile and fast, when descending though, I switch to something with a harder sole.

  • Might want to consider Xero shoes as an option too. Thanks for the video. I wear minimalist shoes most of the time, including hiking. Just a little nervous to use when carrying a pack (25lb or so total weight) for a longer backpacking trip. Any issues in that scenario?

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