Every Day, Every Surface: Vivobarefoot Magna Trail FG Shoe Review

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Whether you’re just joining the barefoot shoe revolution or looking for a better pair for trail running and everyday wear, the Vivobarefoot Magna Trail FG provides style, comfort, and versatility — for a price.

My inspiration to join the barefoot revolution struck back in 2010 because of two things: Like so many others at the time, I read “Born to Run” and also suffered through my first marathon.

During that race, I struggled through extreme pain from miles 18 to 24. So a week after the marathon, I threw away my shoes and went for a run on the streets of Chicago … barefoot.

About 10 blocks in, I turned around and limped home, glass firmly embedded in my heel. I learned a lot in those 10 blocks — namely, how the streets of Chicago aren’t a safe place to run without shoes. This revelation sent me to Google to find out how to run barefoot without the shoeless part. I first bought Vivobarefoots, then Merrells, then Vibrams, and eventually went back to Vivobarefoots.

Fast forward 8 years and 10 pairs of Vivobarefoots later, and the new Magna Trail FG fills a void in my collection.

Vivobarefoot touts the Magna Trail as a high-performance, multi-terrain hiking shoe that’s as comfortable in the concrete jungle as it is in the most rugged, off-road terrain. While that statement sounds broad, I’ve found it accurate. I’ve worn these shoes almost daily walking my dogs, hiking in dirt and light snow, and to the office. In all conditions, it felt like I was wearing the right shoe for the job.

Vivobarefoot Magna Trail FG Shoe Review

Vivobarefoot Magna Trail FG Shoe

Fit

The Magna fits just like other Vivo shoes I own. With the extra room in the toe box, I bump down one size from my regular shoes — and the fit is perfect. While the thermal insole that comes with the Magna does add stack height and take away from the shoes’ volume, I didn’t feel the need to size up to compensate.

Since wearing the Magna Trail FG, to avoid over-tightening, I’ve noticed I need to take more care lacing them up than I do without the insole. But so long as I do, the fit is great. The wider toe box allows plenty of room for toes to splay and doesn’t restrict natural movement.

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Vivobarefoot shoes have always featured a snug heel cup, but the Magna FG stays extra tight thanks to neoprene ankle protection. They are a little difficult to put on, but once you do, there’s zero slip even on steep inclines and fast descents. That makes it worth the extra effort.

Warmth & Versatility

After wearing almost exclusively barefoot-style shoes for the better part of 8 years, I’ve fallen in love with the feeling of natural foot movement. These shoes give me all of that feeling, plus extra warmth for cool winter months. Unless you’re creating a lot of heat (read: sustained exercise), I’ve found the Magna FG bottoms out at around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temp, I can get an hour of comfort before the cold creeps in from the upper.

On the opposite end of the thermometer, I found my feet overheated around 40 degrees with the insole. Ditching the insole brought comfort up to about 50 degrees before getting a little hot. As a result, these are by far the warmest barefoot shoes I own.

And they are also the most versatile. A large part of that versatility is due to the FG (firm ground) outsole. The low-profile, multidirectional lugs grip just about anything underfoot, from wet grass to chunky rocks.

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Add the removable thermal insole, water-repellent nylon upper, and neoprene ankle sock, and you’ve got a go-anywhere, do-anything shoe. It works like a boot but has the freedom and comfort of natural movement.

Durability

Out of the box, the Magnas feel very stiff. They did break in a bit, but I found that a permanent crease formed at the base of my big toe. I was worried about blisters in that area, but so far I haven’t had any issues. However, the upper material appears to be wearing faster in that area. Time will tell if this becomes more than an aesthetic issue.

Otherwise, the FG sole is super durable with Vivobarefoot’s ultrathin, puncture-resistant layer (dubbed Pro5). Vivo touts this layer as five times more puncture-resistant than a standard sole of the same thickness. In fact, I have the same outsole on a few other models and so far, they seem to last for years before showing significant wear.

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Style

In general, barefoot shoes tend to lack style. But I’ve found Vivo fits my personal styling better than most brands within the barefoot world. Vivo offers the Magna FG in a few different colors, all pretty stylish. Best of all, they don’t scream “I’m wearing barefoot shoes — look at me!”magna_trail_black_1w653h510

Summary: Vivobarefoot Magna Trail FG Shoe Review

Pros

Comfort: The wider toe box allows plenty of room for toes to splay out and doesn’t restrict movement. The rubber outsole provides just enough protection to let you feel the ground without discomfort.

Style: Vivo has done a great job offering a variety of styles to fit every part of life. And the Magna FG is no exception.

Versatility: These really are do-everything shoes. I felt good running, hiking, grabbing a beer with friends, and heading into the office the next day.

Cons

Price: At $210, these run on the higher end of what I’d like to pay for a pair of shoes. But they are very durable and last for a long time. So, as they say, you get what you pay for.

Putting them on: They can be hard to get on. I have to sit down to pull them on versus slipping easily into them like a more traditional shoe. The tight heel cup takes some force to slide over your heel, but once it’s on, the fit is worth it.

Wear: The Magna shoes have shown signs of wear where the toes bend, so I have some concern about the upper and membrane wearing after one season. I haven’t noticed any loss in performance, but I’ll have to keep an eye on them throughout the year.

Vivobarefoot Magna Trail FG: Overall Impressions

If you’re already a believer in the barefoot lifestyle, Vivobarefoot provides an extensive line of options — from deep-lugged trail monsters to everyday casual shoes. For a shoe fits as well in the office as on the trails, the Magna FG is a stylish, versatile addition.

But remember: The barefoot revolution is more than just switching to barefoot shoes. Without this understanding, it’s hard to jump into the barefoot craze and know what you’re going to get out of it.

Barefoot shoes have changed the way I walk, jog, hike, run, and go about daily life. By eliminating the padding underfoot, you’re forced to walk with your body weight more balanced over your feet and big toe. As a result, you stand up straighter, have better balance, and endure less impact on your knees and hips. You also start to strengthen both your leg and foot muscles — and most importantly, the arch of your foot.

Over 8 years, I’ve seen a dramatic change in my gait, my comfort while standing for long periods of time, and the pain and fatigue in other parts of my body (back and knees).

If you’ve never even thought about barefoot and don’t believe the hype, give them a go. You might discover benefits you never knew existed. And for a versatile, stylish, comfortable option, Vivobarefoot’s Magna Trail FG is a great place to start.