Being the first barefoot shoes I’ve ever worn, I wanted to get the full experience, so I ditched my socks and headed out for a light trail run. It took roughly a mile for some pretty nasty raw spots to set in on the top of both feet—weirdly, in two different spots.
First, I tried taking out the insoles, thinking this might give me more leeway on the top of the shoes (they’re almost annoyingly shallow).
This didn’t help, and it made the lugs dig into my feet on harder terrain, so I put the insoles back in. Thankfully, I cheated and brought a pair of socks with me, which I slipped on—that plus loosening the front laces all the way made a big difference. I still got a tiny bit of rubbing and slipping (because of the looseness), but this improved after I went on a few more runs and figured out how to dial in the laces.
The Primus SG runs true to size (a hair long, if anything). The width is perfect, not constrictive or sloppy; it fits like a sock. Flexibility is fantastic on this shoe—you can bend it in half in any direction.
I’m not entirely happy with how the shoe feels as it bends forward, however, because the laces and outer wrap crease badly into the top of your foot if you tighten the front at all.
VivoBarefoot does provide you with a set of tie laces, and I wonder whether they might be more comfortable than the thinner, more rigid pull laces. I want to give them a few more runs, though, because it appears as if you have to cut them off to switch sets.
UPDATE (5/10/18): I reluctantly cut the pull laces off and switched them out for the regular tie laces. While I miss the convenience of the pull laces, the fatter tie laces are more comfortable, and don’t dig into the top of my foot.
I’ve yet to take these on steeper hills, but they performed fantastically on grass and mud. Although the Primus SG’s are clearly overkill for firmer terrain, the wider lugs make them surprisingly comfortable for short road crossings.
One caveat is slick, smooth surfaces. I had to stop and walk across a boardwalk that was too slippery to run over.
The mesh and low cut of the shoes obviously lead to water leaking in, but the shoes drain almost instantaneously, and I never got that squelchy feeling after forging through muddy puddles. In fact, an afternoon run would leave them completely dry by evening.
Roughly fifteen miles in, there are no signs of wear. I did feel a few sharp rocks, but the outsole does a great job of protecting you without sacrificing flexibility or sensitivity.
I can’t say much more about durability this soon, but the minimal stitching and meaty lugs definitely make me optimistic. I feel that I’m running much lighter in these than in any other shoe I’ve had, which (I suspect) will improve the last significantly.
What can I say, the Primus is a great-looking shoe! To be fair, I’ve been wearing Altra’s, so I’m used to wide toe boxes.
I like the simplicity of the design—there’s only one color, if you’re not counting black and white. Overall, it feels very austere and carefully constructed, like everything has a definite purpose.
At $150 the Primus Trail SG is not cheap. But, in this case, I do think that less is truly more. The absence of weight, stiffness, and cushion are benefits, not detractions from the overall quality.
These are easily the most natural shoes I’ve run in—they’re the kind of shoes that make you regret every moment you’re not out on the trails. Assuming they hold up, I think they’ll be well-worth the price.
The Bottom Line
Given what I’ve experienced so far, The Primus Trail SG would be a great choice for anyone looking to shed the bulk or rigidity of a traditional trail shoe, and really let their feet run wild.
The positives far outweigh issues with comfort, and I’m excited to see how VivoBarefoot improves upon them in the future.
Still not sure? Check out the Primus Trail SG on RunRepeat for in-depth specs, expert reviews, comparisons, and more.
*I’ll be updating this review as I get more miles in, so check back for more info on long-term durability.