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Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Review | Great for Hiking and Trail Runs?

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The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG is a barefoot shoe designed for tackling trail runs and hikes. This model utilizes the Firm Ground (FG) sole that Vivobarefoot uses in a variety of their outdoor-focused barefoot shoes. This construction feature helps to provide this model with both a comfortable and fairly protective sole.

As I dive deeper into reviewing different barefoot shoes, I’m constantly exploring new models to test and try out. I live in Denver and I’m constantly going on hikes with the dogs and tackling trail runs to up my cardiovascular fitness.

The Primus Trail II FG has been my latest hiking and trail running-focused barefoot shoe. Overall, I like this shoe, but there are definitely areas where I think its construction falls a bit short.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg hiking performance

Who Should Invest In the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG?

If you’re regularly tackling hikes and trail runs in dry climates and you want a shoe that replicates being barefoot, then the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG can be a good model to look into. This shoe provides enough foot protection from sharp objects like rocks and sticks but also has a thin enough sole to replicate moving barefoot.

More specifically, I think this barefoot shoe performs best on light to moderately technical trails. It’s not going to be your best for technical trails that have a lot of loose terrains. The lugs in this model have a depth of 4mm which run fairly on the lower end for traction promoting lugs.

That all being said, I like this shoe for more casual hikes and trail runs where I’m not super concerned about the terrain I’ll be going over. I also like that this shoe can work in gym settings due to the lugs being fairly minimal while not causing stability when working out and weight training.

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG


vivobarefoot primus trail ii

Best For

  • Dry Climate Hikes
  • Easy to Moderate Terrain Hikes
  • Weight Training
  • Daily Wear Shoe
  • Short to Mid-Range Runs

Falls Short

  • For Technical Terrain
  • For Foot Warmth In Colder Climates
  • For Cost-Efficiency

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Pros

If you’re into barefoot shoes and want a new model or your first model for tackling hikes and trail runs there are multiple things to like about the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG.

  1. Good Foot Protection On Light and Moderate Trails
  2. Decent Intro Model to Barefoot Trail-Focused Shoes
  3. Breathable and Easy to Clean

The first thing to like about the Primus Trail II FG is that it provides adequate foot protection on different types of trails. The “FG” in the name of this model stands for “Firm Ground” which is a means of classifying particular soles used in some Vivobarefoot Shoes. The FG in this model basically adds to this shoe’s protection and gives you a slightly more stiff sole to walk on.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg hiking

I personally think this is a good thing because it adds to this shoe’s ability to protect the feet and not beat them up while also giving you enough to simulate being barefoot. This model has a 2.5mm base sole with 4mm lugs which work really well on light and moderately technical trails.

Another perk to this shoe is that I think it’s a pretty good intro model for the barefoot enthusiast who is wanting to wear this style of shoe for more hikes and trail runs. If this is you, then you’ll likely want to acclimate to using barefoot shoes for longer stints outdoors, so this model falls perfectly in line with the trails and hikes you’ll likely initially use them on.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg lugs and outsole

Basically, if you’re just now getting into barefoot shoes for hikes and trail runs, you’re likely not going to bust them for the first time to tackle a challenging 14er. Instead, you’ll probably use them for something more casual, and considering this shoe’s Firm Ground sole and overall build, I think this is a good intro trail-focused barefoot shoe.

The last thing to like about this model is the breathability of the upper construction and how easy they are to clean. This shoe is designed with sustainable materials and the upper is composed of a lightweight mesh build. If you’re using these in warmer climates, then I think you’ll enjoy how well these shoes breathe.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg upper construction

On top of their breathable upper construction, this model is also fairly easy to clean which is awesome because you’re likely going to get these dirty on various trails. The sole and upper are super easy to spot clean and the lacing system helps to prevent dirt build-up in the midfoot.

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Cons

Overall, the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG is a pretty good trail-focused barefoot shoe, but there are a few cons worth mentioning about this model.

  1. Price Is a Bit High
  2. Lacing System Could Be Reworked
  3. Not Great On Technical Terrain and In Wet Climates

The first drawback to this model is its price point and the fact that it’s pretty pricey for what it offers. Vivobarefoot shoes typically have slightly higher price points and this model is no different. For this shoe, you can expect to pay $175 USD which is not the best especially when you consider this shoe’s performance limitations.

If you’re someone that wants to save a little money and you want to go the barefoot trail shoe route, then you might want to look into the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail model. This model will cost you less and deliver a similar performance to the Primus Trail II FG.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg lacing

The second drawback to this is the drawstring lacing system. This model features a drawstring as its primary means of lacing which is good for preventing dirt build-up and limiting lace breakdown, but the system itself falls shorts on this model. I’ve had to stop mid-hike and trail run on multiple occasions to retighten this lacing system.

Plus, there is no area to tuck the excess lace so you have to weave around it through the midfoot which is not ideal for those that have to really tighten these. The excess lace can be more prone to getting caught on things and loosening due to this.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg for technical trail runs

The final drawback is that this shoe is intended to be lightweight, which is a good thing in some settings, but if you’re using these in colder or wet climates, then your feet will get cold pretty quickly. I’d suggest limiting these to dry climates and rocking them in the spring, summer, and fall on warmer days to avoid getting cold feet mid-hike or trail run.

On top of falling short in these climates, this model is also not the best for technical terrain. If you’re tackling gravel, dirt, or lightly technical trails, then this model will excel. However, the moment you hit loose terrain on steeper grades, you’ll start to notice the lugs falling short.


Over the course of my testing, I tried to use the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG on a variety of trails and hikes to help contextualize where they perform the best and where they fall short.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg trail performance

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG for Easy Trails and Road

One of the areas where the Primus Trail II FG excels is on trails and hikes that would be considered light or easy terrain. The lugs on this model will be more than enough on surfaces that don’t require a ton of tread to maintain traction. I like this shoe most for dirt trails since they’re generally fairly flat in the context of the terrain you’ll encounter.

This shoe can also work as a road-focused shoe, too, if you plan to do some running in this model. With the slightly thicker base and Bloom Performance insole, I think this model offers a slightly more comfortable ride than other barefoot shoes. If you’re in need of a hybrid trail and road shoe, the Primus Trail II FG is a good bet to look into.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg for trail runs

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG for Moderate Difficulty Trails

For moderate levels of difficulty on trails and hikes, the Primus Trail II FG can be a hit or miss. If the trail or hike is flatter and the terrain is a bit tougher, then I think this model can work, but if you’re tackling steeper grades on moderate terrain, then you may find yourself sliding and losing grip.

With trail shoes that have lower lugs, you’ll always be capped when tackling different grades on more technical terrain. The Primus Trail II FG is no different and this model can work for moderate trails, but I’d suggest making sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before rocking these, especially if you’re tackling longer trails. You don’t want to be 4-miles in and constantly worried about slipping.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg for hikes

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II FG for Highly Technical Trails

For most technical trails, I’m skipping the Primus Trail II FG. If you’re tackling and bombing steep downhills on loose gravel or going uphill and relying on traction to prevent slipping, then you’ll want a shoe with lugs that can handle this terrain.

This model can technically work for some technical terrain like if you want to use them for rock scrambles that you’ll encounter within your hikes and trail runs, however, for most technical settings the Primus Trail II FG is not my first pick due to their lug depth and traction.

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Cons Vs Primus Lite III

A question that I’ve received a few times on my YouTube channel is in regard to how the Primus Lite III compared to the Primus Trail II FG. These questions are mostly asked by folks who want a shoe for outdoor activities, but also a model that they can train in.

The main differences that I think are worth noting for performance between the Primus Lite III and Primus Trail II FG revolve around each shoe’s sole and the tread they provide. The Primus Trail II FG has 4mm lugs that cover the entirety of the sole, while the Primus Lite III has a smooth outsole construction.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii active sole
Primus Lite III Outsole

While the lugs on the Primus Trail II FG may not be the best for technical trails, they’re not so jarring that they impact lifting and stability in the gym. That being said, I think if you want one of these models for hikes and trail runs that can also double as a good shoe in the gym, then you should go with the Primus Trail II FG.

The Primus Lite III is a great model for daily wear and lifting, but its lack of tread and additional cushion make it less than desirable for hikes and trail runs. Outside of the soles, each model has a different lacing system, but truthfully, this doesn’t really impact performance in the gym.

I prefer the lacing system on the Primus Lite III, but that’s only due to the drawstring coming loose at times on the Primus Trail II FG.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III


vivobarefoot primus lite 3

Best For

  • Heavy Weight Training
  • Daily Wear
  • Casual Workouts
  • Lighter Runs and Athletic Training

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Longer Barefoot-Style Running Workouts

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Sizing

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG should fit true-to-size for most trail and hiking enthusiasts. This model has more than enough width and its length fits pretty true. However, I’d definitely suggest using Vivobarefoot’s sizing tool before investing in this model.

  • Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Sizing Thoughts: Most should be safe going true to size.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg sizing and fit

If you have additional Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG sizing and fit questions, drop a comment below and I’ll try to help accordingly.

Construction Details

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG has a few key construction details that help it to excel for trail running, hiking, and daily wear. Check out some of the key construction details for this model below.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.2 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes (with finished interior)
  • Drawstring Lacing System
  • Firm Ground Sole
  • 2.5mm Sole, 4mm Lugs
  • Recycled Mesh Upper Construction
  • Bloom Performance Insole

If you have additional questions on the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG’s construction or how it compares to Vivobarefoot shoes that I’ve reviewed, feel free to drop a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG good for hiking?

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG works really well for hiking in dry climates, and more specifically, on light to moderately technical trails. I think this is a good intro barefoot shoe if you're just starting to use this style of shoe for hiking.

Are Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG good for the gym?

One of the perks of the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG is that they can work well as a hybrid gym and trail shoe. Since their lugs are only 4mm thick you can use this shoe for weight training without sacrificing stability.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG is a fairly good trail running and hiking barefoot shoe. This model excels for more casual hikes and trails where the terrain is not super technical or loose.

Personally, I would love to see improvements for the next Primus Trail models as this shoe does have areas where its performance falls short.

If you have additional questions on the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

10 thoughts on “Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Review | Great for Hiking and Trail Runs?”

  1. Hi Jake,

    I’m considering a new trail shoe that also can double as a solid all around gym/weightlifting shoe. Which shoe would you recommend for best performance for both occasions: the vivobarefoot primus trail 2 fg or Xero mesa trail?

    Thank you!

    1. Great question! What type of trails are you tackling? Also, do you plan to use these in cooler months? If so, I’d go Xero Shoes — the Vivo run pretty cool and aren’t great all-season. Plus, for Vivo’s price, I’d say wait on them until they roll out a new/updated model because I think the Primus Trail II could be better as an all-arounder especially if you want them for training + all-season wear.

  2. Hi Jake,

    Just a quick question – in comparison to Primus Lite and Geo Racer, how is the fit of Trail II? Do they run smaller than Lite and Geo Racer?


    1. Hey! For the Trail, I’ve actually changed my thoughts on their sizing as I’ve worn them more, especially for longer hikes. I’d suggest going up a half size in the Trail as it runs a little shorter compared to the Primus Lite and Geo Racer!

      1. Hey Jake, I recently bought this model, and you’re right – my Geo Racer’s (US 10) fits perfectly, but with the Trail II FGs (US 10), my toes feel quite stuck towards the top of my shoe.

        My problem is that Vivo doesn’t offer half sizes for a US 10.5. Wondering if you think a US 11 would fit right?

        1. Hey John — I feeeel that. I found this model to run a little short as well and it’s so dang annoying that every Primus iteration sizes slightly differently. IMO, an 11 would be the call. Plus, you could always rock thicker socks in them to help some space if you’re rocking them hiking. If 11 is too big, then at least now you know the Primus Trail is a model that has a last that doesn’t resonate with your fit needs!

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