I dug into oceans of reviews on the zero drop running shoes best and most suited for extreme trail running as well asOCR's or obstacle course races and mud runs.
Based purely on wear-tester accounts,here are the zero-drop trail running shoes that have received top-marks for providing top-notch rock protection,aggressive traction and reliable durability on any terrain under extreme weather conditions without compromisingnatural foot motions and ground-feel clarity or sensory feedbackdetection so you can keep effective forefoot strike mechanics in order within a safe rangewith more landing stability during running which in turn really does make the most positive difference for injury preventionas well as giving you a performance edge to help you run your best time.
First up is the Vibram Trek Ascent V-Trek and why wear-testers rave about the shoe for being an extreme trail trooper.
Ifyou are looking for a beastly minimalist running shoe that dominates any snow-covered rocky trailyou'll love the Vibram FiveFingers Trek accent V-Trek because the outsole is fully loadedwith traction and the upper is fully loaded with thermal and rock protection, which altogether?wraps the foot in a soothingembrace that makes long trail runs feel much shorter.
Whether you are climbing slick muddy inclines, trekking throughmuddy creeks or running over jagged rocks the Vibram Trek Ascent V-Trek can easily handle serious mileage on serious off-road terrainterrain.
The V-Trek Accents V-Trek sits on a low-riding zero drop outsole that's thick enough to provide a plush smooth ridewithout feeling bulky on technical trails with loose debris whilethin enough to ensure a balanced and effective for forefoot strike landing during running.
In fact, the lightness of the shoe gives you a little more ignition fluidso your feet pop off the ground when mowing through extreme backcountry trails!Another handy feature of this shoe is its high-topped inspired collar design is intended to keep out the elements.
The Trek Ascent V-Trek rests on ahandmade 4-mm low ride rubber outsole studded with aggressive lugs and added deep grooves, delivering top-notchreliable mega-grip and protection on any terrain, such as sandstonewet boulders, loose gravel, rocky rooted trails, but still offers some degree of ground-feelenabling you to uphold an effective barefoot stride.
The leather hemp upper is mighty durable to last through plenty of mileage while fully protecting your feet and keeps your toes,especially when paired with normal weight toe socks, extra warm in chilly weather.
The Ascents can also be worn without socksthanks to the soft cushy inner-lining, creating a snug fit without any pressure points,even when wet and the shoe dries fast too! Wear-testers also loved the high collarreporting that it fits snug at the ankle and provided extra protection andstopped grit from getting inside the shoe.
Another major asset of the Trek Ascents is its outstandingwidth, easily enabling the foot to expand to its a natural statewhich is also good for improving your foot strength in addition toreinforcing better balanced control.
Bottom line, the Trek Ascents V-Trek is quite the sophisticated protective trail shoethat's a workhorse for all-weather conditions, on any terraindefinitely giving your stride more firepower when running on treacherous terrains.
If you are a high mileage trail runner who loves to go fastand you're looking for a well cushioned barefoot-like shoe, you will feel zippy and protected in the Vibram FiveFingersKMD EVO which is a more stripped-downversion of the Trek Ascents, but is a more rugged version of the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila's.
LS and still produces that classic Vibram peppy, barely-there feel that mimics the effects of being barefoot.
Even though the KMD EVO has a thicker outsole and more padding than the average Vibram shoeYou feel no added bulkYou get a bit of a bounce for faster efforts and the underfoot materials are thin enough to deliver enhanced sensory support,keeping you consistently dialed into feeling your forefoot strike during running.
Unlike most wafer-thinVibram running shoes, the KMD EVO has a thicker rubber outsole that provides more underfoot softness, but doesn't feel squishy.
Itprovides more full rock protection on gravel roads and other rough surfaces and provides enoughdurability for the marathon as well and most importantly the shoe is zero-drop heel to toewhich puts you in a stronger position to uphold a barefoot-like stride on any terrain.
the light, flashyknit weave well-made, ventilated upper moves extremely well with your foot and provides soft comfort plusprotection while hugging to your foot just right.
The overall construction is beyond robust, very sturdy and reliablemaking the Vibram KMD EVO more than capable of handlinghigh mileage and harsh elements.
Like a true Vibram shoe, the KMD EVO's overallsuper flexible design is anatomically sculpted to accommodate to your unique foot structurewhich makes for an overall more comfortable ride forfast-paced, high-mileage running.
These shoes really strike the right balance betweenthinness and exceptional protection.
The bungee cord lacing works great for locking the foot in place, securelyholding the foot inside the shoe when you're cutting sharp angles and leaping over obstacles.
The KMD EVO really moves fluidly with your foot without any stiff.
Ultimately,the KMD EVO functions extremely well in running, sprinting, walking, hiking and jumping on any terrainthey even make excellent cycling shoes!They truly are an impressively versatile multi-purpose workhorse that brings the perfect balance of comfort and performanceon the trails.
Vivobarefoot'sPrimus Soft Trail has put a lot more shoe around the foot than typical Vivobarefoot running shoes.
This is because the Primus Soft TrailsAmphibious upper has more material density, giving it more heartierdurability and features a rugged puncture- resistant rubber outsolewith premium traction that grips well on rocks.
I also love the added protective rubber at the front of the shoewhich is great for taking the 'ouch' out for if you accidentally kick a rock or stub an exposed root.
The veganconstruction Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Soft minimalist running shoe is ideal for runnersseeking a lightweight, fully flat barefoot- inspired shoe that delivers a reliablycomfortable protective ride on rocky trails.
The Primus is full of grip thanks to its rugged multi-directionaltread that gives excellent traction, but still provides good ground feel for the trailbringing a clearer sense of how you are landing on your forefootduring running.
The Primus Soft also performs similar to cleats in that it offers steady footing when running on grass and itsflexibility moves smoothly with your foot too! In keeping with being a true minimalist running shoethe Primus Soft Trail is built low, zero-drop on a 7-mm thin rubber outsole,ensuring a more level landing platform for a balanced ride that encourages a fast and efficient for forefoot strike during running.
The knobby traction lugs are great for helping you climb hills and provide secure traction on rockyrooted and muddy trails.
Evenmore impressive, despite the outsole thickness, the Primus Soft Trail manages to welcome generous amounts of ground- feel,supplying enough sensory feedback to help push your forefoot strikelanding in the right direction when running.
Last but not least, the overall structure of the Primus Soft Trail is very similar to other Vivobarefootminimalist shoe offerings, such as a wide toe-box that'sproved to be very comfortable and functional for optimal toe-splay which is good for foot in ankle stabilityaffording you a more secure, steady connection with the ground, regardless of terrain.
There's no doubt that this durable workhorse isdefinitely a trail runners best friend.
If you are looking for a single barefoot shoe for both obstacle course races(OCR's) and road running for the winter and summer, the zero-drop Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail is it! The Breatho Trailis a well-balanced crossover shoe that takes you from road to trail without missing a step because the Breatho's structuralversatility is ideal for many types of terrainfrom rough grassy grounds to loosely packed sand to wet muddy slick trails to flat fast roadsthe Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail definitely gives you aperformance edge on any terrain.
The sum of all the amazing parts of the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trailadds up to a shoe that runs as well onicy muddy and snowy trails as it does on dry smoothly paved roadsSome wear-testers also reported that the Vivobarefoot Breatho is an excellent lightweight and cheap choice as a golf shoe asit's on record for doing anadmirable job at holding the foot down securely when making long drives or short putts.
The VivobarefootBreatho is an incredibly lightweight package that has the fit and feel of a racing flatand is actually one of the lightest trail running shoes on the market.
The Breatho isfamous for its off-road, barefoot-feeling, traction-aggressive, luggaged rubber outsolewhich delivers a lot of grip on any terrain andcontinues to provide excellent tractionwhen running on water soaked grass and muddy trails while at the same timethe outsole is thin enough to welcome a hefty dose of sensory input to help you effectivelyunify more functional forefoot strike mechanics that are more tuned to being lighter,responsive and more economical while running.
Most wear-testers have all praised the way the Breatho's tread provides outstandingtraction, how it impressively cuts through rough conditions, while keeping your foot dry and warmwhen running on a variety of trails in cold, wet, muddy, slushy, sloppy conditions.
The anti-slip tread also delivers solid traction and more stable landing control onwetter, slicker surfaces.
Bottom line, the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail is an excellent trail shoe for a runnerlooking for maximum traction, who loves doing mud runs and OCR's, but doesn't mind feelingevery aspect of the ground.
All in all, it's the toothy treaded rubber outsole that allows the Vivobarefoot Breatho to performlike a champ during challenging trail runs.
Additionally, for expanded trail/debris protectionthe outsole curves up the lower portion of the sides and there's alsoadded rubber at the toes to further protect from rocks and roots.
Another feature of the Vivobrefoot breathothat wins people over is the wide toe-box, which enables morefull toe-splay which can be the most helpful for greater footstep security and balance control during running.
Theabrasion-resistant upper is constructed with sturdy durable overlays that protects the feet andkeeps the shoe in business for a long-time.
The upper materials are so well madewithout over-built materials that they are incredibly long-lastingCan take a huge beating and still look brand new.
The upper is also light and airy, thanks to the meshmaterial on the top and sides which provides good air flow during hotter temperatures.
The upper also does a great job at shedding water and mud weightfor a more clunk-free ride on wetter,slicker trail days, making the Vivobarefoot Breatho more capable of handlingmud runs.
The Vivobarefoot Breatho also dries very quick as well.
Ultimately,if you are looking to lay down some fast times in your next trail race, orOCR event, the Vivobarefoot Breatho is a solid shoe that performs well under extreme weather conditionsand on rocky terrain or wet muddy trails and is more than ideal forhardcore high or lowmileage trail runners looking for a speed boost!Another OCR favorite minimalist running shoe is the Vibram FiveFingers V-Trailwhich is another trail-specific shoe from the Vibram.
That is an updated version of the SpyridonMR EliteLike the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail, the Vibram V-Trail also received high-marks for performing admirablybeastly in mud runs and obstacle course racesBasically for runners looking for an improved trail running experience, the Vibram V Trail offers everythingthat was in Vibram FiveFingersSpyridon MR Elites, but is a lighter, more comfortable, more barefoot-mimicking, more durable packageThe V trail is also an excellent lightweight choice that delivers an incredibly fluid feelfor water sports, high mileage hiking, the gym, golfing, martial arts and just everyday errandsThe V trail is literallyversatility every day with its ergonomic fit and barefoot-feel.
the Vibram V-Trailperfectly offers most of the benefits of the barefoot running movement, while still providing protection from rocksacorns and twigs.
The V-Trail is rated well on nearly all characteristics, especiallyon its anatomically correct fit and its ability to be very grippy whenbeating through murky trails,when flying up and down hills or when racing on all types of surfaces from rocks to roads.
In keeping with theminimalist movement the Vibram-V Trail is completely flatcompletely flexible and free of arch support, medial posts, heel counters and plastic platesSo, when you run, these shoes definitely run with you; you're not fighting any aspect of the shoewhich is going to be very effective inconstantly improving foot and ankle strength and gait correction.
There are zero durability issues with the Vibram V-Trails out-solethat's because it's heavily armored, without feeling clunky, with excellent quality rubbercompounds, which will appeal to high- mileage trail runnersThe V trail sits super close to the ground on a thin outsole that not only moves extremely well with your footbut almost perfectly matches the barefoot sensory-feelmeanwhilethe outsole offers strong underfoot protection for runners seeking a more plush, smooth, comfortable and balanced ridefor muddy or rocky trail racing or laying down fast trail intervals.
Last but not least, the outsole provides comfort plusprotection from asphalt, too.
One of the lightest trail shoes out therethe V-Trails most prized asset is its grippy 5-mm thinbut very toughly rugged rubber outsole studded with multi-directional lugs that providesstrong traction when running on uneven mountainous terrains,slushy, sloppy paths and loose rocky trails.
Even with all the rugged lugs, the Vibram V-Trail's outsole is remarkably ultra-thin,providing excellent sensory richness, easing the foot to land forefooted during running which is of injury preventionimportance because the margins ofimpact intensity and duration is much narrow in forefoot running than in heel strike running --which is a running style encouraged by thetraditional running shoe --The grippy tread pattern is also supremely useful and agile for rock climbing, biking and bitesreassuringly into the ground when you make sudden stops and starts and rapid changes indirection, like in CrossFit, frisbee'ing, etcThe Vibrams V-Trail's soft, flexible, airy upper wrapssnugly around the foot and is cinched firmly into the outsole with more than enough durability to last through plenty of mileage on technical,gravelly trails.
Most wear-testers were also a fan of the padded tongue and collar.
There'smore padding around the ankle than the Spyridon MR Elites.
For extra comfort, thedrawstring lacing helps lock on the shoe, really securing it to your foot to prevent in-shoesliding and stops debris from coming in.
Another fabulous feature of the upper is it doesn't hold sweat, water, mudor order, so you're not weighed down by the elements when you run.
Rugged Rock protection just isn't at the outsole, thefeatherweight, polyester, spandex upper is of excellent quality.
It is armed with puncture abrasion- resistance that excels at shielding the foot from harm and hugs the foot perfectlypreventing grit from getting insideEven for wide feet, the stretchy upper adjusts perfectly to fitaccordingly and is flexible enough to allow more widespread use of the foot, which is absolutely essential in buildingstronger, more sturdy feet.
Bottom-line, the aggressive traction that performs great in bad weathercoupled with a low-profile, good ground- feel and unmatched durabilitymakes the Vibram V-Trail a seriousOCR shoe that will help you feel stable with good form and balanced on uneven terrain.
I hope this video helps make your selection process easier regarding finding that near- perfect, barefoot-mimicking shoethat is a 'do everything' trail shoe, while providing a base for your feet, anklesbalance control and forefoot running form to get stronger and stay strong long-term.
Thanks so much for listening and watching.
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Have fun out there on the roads and trails.
Bye for now!You.