July 30, 2012

Review : VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail

  • Type : Barefoot / Minimal
  • Use : Trail running
  • Price : About $120

The Breatho Trail looks to me like the next evolutionary step from the Neo Trail model. Taking it out of the box, the first thing I noticed was that VIVO changed the lacing, something I had done early on with my Neo’s, whose ribbon-style eyelets are abundant and close together.

The Breatho features the same “zigzag webbing”, but has only 3 contact points and one plastic eyelet, which works much better. The shoe’s tongue has a sewed-on weaving ribbon that allows the laces to go through at every contact point, making it impossible for the tongue to slide around while running.

The sole has been modified, too. While it keeps the same lug pattern, it has less of the grainy, super soft texture of the Neo that wore so fast on hard surfaces. Only time will tell for sure, but the Breatho’s sole material looks like it’s going to last much, much longer, which is another welcomed improvement.

First impression
The Breatho runs exactly like the Neo Trail. It offers very good protection while allowing surprising proprioception (ground feel), feels solid on slippery surfaces and features a roomy toe box with a TPU toe guard that will help you keep your toenails where they belong. Protection comes with the price of added weight, however: at 9.6oz, it’s not the lightest minimal shoe around.

Where I think the Breatho is superior is in the lacing; the improvements VIVO made over the Neo really impressed me. And if the sole does last longer because of the new material, I think the Breatho will impose itself as the de facto hardcore trail shoe.

Trail test
I ran in the Breatho over several types of trails, from gravel paths to gnarly technical single track. They provide a sure footing while maintaining the “minimal” or “barefoot” feel, which is not an easy feat. The Breatho succeeds where a lot of minimalist trail-wannabes have failed. The removable insole system allows the runner to play around with the level of cushioning (although minimal) they want, and offers the added benefit of making the shoe last longer. Last but not least, the upper fabric is definitely on the thicker side, a blessing for us trail runners who live in the cold and run through the hardships of winter.

With the Breatho, VIVO demonstrates that they can improve an already impressive shoe and deliver a solid choice for the serious minimalist trail runners out there.

High points
  • Zero drop
  • Improved lacing
  • Aggressive traction
  • Excellent proprioception
  • Can be used for winter running
  • Replaceable / removable insole

Low points
  • Waterproofing fades as usage increases
  • Puncture resistant, but not rock-plated

The equipment for this personal review was supplied by VIVOBAREFOOT, free of charge, without any conditions.


  1. I am considering buying these, but wonder about sizing? I wear a size 8 shoe, and ordered my Evo IIs in size 39 - had to change them for size 40. Would these be the same? I live in Canada also (BC) - have you found a supplier in Canada?

  2. Hi there,
    Sizing is a little tricky for me, too. I am a small size 8 (I guess I would qualify for a 7.5) but I'm prone to black toes, so I like some room at the front of my trail shoes. In VIVOs, I wear size 41.

    For everything VIVO, I get my stuff from www.insport.ca, they are the Canadian distributor (no customs hassle) and really good people.

  3. I've been using Vivo Breatho trail shoes for about 6 months and can recommend them highly. Great grip and confort in a minimalist trail shoe. As Flint's review mentions they does lose some of their water resistance after a (good) while.

  4. I am writing to a lot of reviews I am finding for these shoes to get opinions: Do you believe that these would be good shoes to wear during a spartan race? I was going to get Innov8s but found that these are getting really amazing reviews. Thanks so much for letting me know! I'm not sure if replies get emailed automatically, but if not please email me at greenhudler@gmail.com