Primus Trail: Designed in the mountains

This is a little story about taking shoe design off road. A story about getting our feet wet and our hands dirty. At Vivo, we are constantly learning, adjusting, stepping back and pushing forward, in our quest to make the best shoes for your feet, for your life. Just like the other parts of your kit, shoes are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Some terrains require traction and bigger lugs. Some terrains call for water adaptability. For trail runners, your terrain calls for both. Back in November 2014, we realized that our trail and mountain shoes were simply not good enough. We knew we could do better. For the past two years, a dedicated and talented team of designers, developers and athletes, from Sweden to China, have been devoted to a single mission: create the perfect trail shoe. And this is where the story begins: PART 1: THE DESIGN Back in November 2014, we began developing a new upper for what was, at that time, the Trail Freak outsole. However, our shoe design might be born as a sketch, and then a prototype or 5, but that’s just the beginning. Great off road shoes come from getting out in the wild and woolly environments for which they are designed. We knew that we needed to work with some genuine mountain people, who not only understood our ‘feet first’ values, but also called these tough, wild, beautiful terrains ‘home’! That was when we met Sweden’s own Anders Nordström, a local trail running wild man with a tough-as-nails following of runners, willing to tap into this project. We started with long conversations over Skype with Anders around GRIP, DURABILITY, WET WEIGHT, MATERIALS and the mountains. Using our old Trail Freak model as the starting line, Anders cut the off lugs and we shared ideas on the best elements of trail shoes, from properties of the rubber sole compound, to the best materials for running through water. These early models really racked up the airline miles - popping back and forth from our London HQ to Anders in Sweden. Uppers, outsoles and molds all started to come together and the new shoe began take shape. It became obvious that to do this category properly, we needed one sole for firm, harder surfaces and one for loose, super soft terrains. With the FIRM GROUND and SOFT GROUND issue settled, we sent more specs for the new soles and uppers to our development team in China. PART 2: GOING OFF ROAD New prototypes in hand, we headed to Åre, Sweden, to work with Anders and the gang. This is where it got physical. For three days we walked, ran, climbed, swam, scaled and slid through breathtaking (and heart-pumping) mountains and trails. It was an adventure that I (and my calves) will never forget. Most importantly, we finally got up close and personal with the OFF ROAD trail shoes in their natural habitat! Needless to say, we learned a lot about what these shoes do well and what they needed to do better. PART 3: BACK TO THE CITY, AND THE DRAWING BOARD After saying goodbye to our incredible hosts, we gathered all this new feedback and returned to London, inspired to begin the next round of prototyping. Our time in Sweden reaffirmed our goal: make the lightest, toughest shoe possible with heaps of grip and durability, to give the wearer a ‘close to nothing’ running experience. Simple! So back to china we flew, armed with new designs, and bags of worn shoes for a further few months of development. PART 4: GOING OFF-ROAD…AGAIN. A handful of prototypes and hundreds of hours later, we returned to Sweden for another feet first off road experience. The next two days were a blur of running, moving and talking about the new shoes while refilling on wild boar steaks and local brew. The following day we took a boat to meet Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott, the originators of ÖTILLÖ Swimrun. Swimrun is an amphibious endurance race, that began as a drunken bet among friends. It’s now the fastest growing adventure race on the planet, of which we have since become proud sponsors (watch this space). The fellas led us on a long, very rocky off-road run: our first swimrunning experience and the first round of shoe testing in open water swimming. Luckily, the soft ground shoes did as well as we thought they would. They went in and out of the water like true amphibians, unlike their humbled wearer… me. Fall of 2015 was a whirl of sales meetings and product presentations. We roped in athletes from the US, Canada and South Africa to alpha test our newest trail shoes along with our Swedish crew : the PRIMUS TRAIL SG & PRIMUS TRAIL FG. The new shoes led us to a new year. 2016 went something like this: PART 5: THE PRIMUS IS BORN It’s been another beautiful Vivo journey, working and moving with some incredible mountain talent, designers and suppliers willing to go the extra mile. What we have created together is the ultimate tool kit of shoe's that lets you move through nature and experience an enhanced sensory feeling of running like no other. As our sore muscles can attest, the PRIMUS TRAIL shoes are the ultimate shoe to take your life off road. Joel and I had an amazing time bringing these shoes to life and made some lifelong friends along the way. We hope you feel the effects of a new generation of off road shoes come to be known at the Primus Trail SG & FG. “I have been running in nature my whole life and as long as I can remember, I have been very interested in shoes. When you have been running in all kinds of nature, all year around, since you were a kid, you know what works and you know what doesn’t. Long before I went into this amazing project with Vivobarefoot, I was thinking about how to make the best shoe for running in nature. So, when this opportunity came, I felt like a kid at Christmas! It’s been so much fun and extremely interesting to be part of the making these shoes - built from scratch, from the foot and from natures perspective. The coming trail shoes from Vivobarefoot are a result of letting nature and the human foot dictate the materiel, design, function and overall look.” Anders Nordström, Art of Running Words, story and photos by VIVOBAREFOOT Creative Director Asher Clark, Assistant Designer Joel Salamin and Art of Running's Anders Nordström Our full off road collection will be available soon. You can buy the Primus Trail Firm Ground now. SHOP OFF ROAD


 Barefoot Diaries: Learning to run again

The first blog in a four part series. Dan from Run With Stockholm tells us about his experiences as he transitions into barefoot running, from a lifetime of running in 'normal' shoes. I took my running shoes with me on a recent holiday to Slovenia, with the aim to fit in some running in between relaxing and enjoying time in the sun by the lakes and in the mountains. Packed with me were a pair of road training shoes and my Vivobarefoot Primus Trail SGs. My intent is to start transitioning into more barefoot running, after a great first experience at the off trail race in Trillevallen (near Åre in the Swedish mountains) . “There is something really special about the feel of your foot and the connection it feels to the ground.” Going to Slovenia, I was also looking forward to finding some more off-trail mountain running, the type I do not get in Stockholm. My first two runs in Slovenia were around Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, two beautiful lakes in the north-west corner of Slovenia. They are picturesque in the summer, and the perfect place for people who love being in nature with a mix of lakes, rivers and mountains to choose from. My next two runs (6 km and 8 km) were trail and off-trail, so I wore my barefoot shoes. There is something really special about the feel of your foot and the connection it feels to the ground in this minimal shoe. I noticed this from the first time I wore them. For me it is the most noticeable difference between traditional shoes and barefoot shoes like the Primus Trail SGs. Because I have worn shoes with thick soles for so long, I had become used to this disconnect between the feet and the terrain you are stepping on. Now I was feeling the ground, whether that be dirt, grass or stones. In barefoot shoes, I became more aware of where I was stepping, how I was stepping, and my stride length. There is no doubt that having greater feel for the ground in the soles of the feet was the cause of this. The feedback you get from a stride with more of a heel strike is immediate, and this can only be a good thing for improving my running technique to more forefoot landing. “In barefoot shoes, I became more aware of where I was stepping, how I was stepping, and my stride length.” At the same time, as I started to run barefoot in Slovenia I felt a little nervous, and this is because I have heard of problems during transition like plantar (the tissue at the bottom of the foot) fasciitis or Achilles issues. For some people, issues can occur when the muscles that support the foot are too weak, which is a concern for me given I have always run in shoes. But I did not have any soreness after my barefoot runs in Slovenia, or any pain in the Achilles, so was very happy. Overall I feel like the first barefoot transition runs in Slovenia were a great success, and I will continue to incorporate barefoot running sessions into my routine in Stockholm, where I am currently training for the Lidingöloppet. Hear more from Dan on Dan was off-road testing the Primus Trail SG. It's on it's way to VIVOBAREFOOT will be available soon for pre-order. FIND OUT MORE


 Handcut : The Story of Barefoot Luxury

The VIVOBAREFOOT HANDCUT range is designed in London, crafted in Portugal by highly skilled artisans, and is made using only the finest Tuscan leather. To tell the story of our luxury Handcut range, we took a select group of journalists to Portugal, to show them the unique process of craftmanship every VIVOBAREFOOT Handcut shoe goes through. Our journey started in the beautiful countryside around Porto to visit our two specialised factories. These guys understand our philosophy and we trust them to make footwear that stays true to what we believe. Each factory has their own unique way of working. The teams here specialise in making certain types of shoe constructions, that match the two main types of HANDCUT shoes we design. Limak is where the Opanka is made. Opanka is made using a Moccasin like construction. A single piece of leather or suede is wrapped around the foot from the footbed and stitched to the upper, finished with a bold hand-stitch. Pilar Here we make our stitch down soles, like you see on the Porto Rockers. The upper leather is stitched directly onto the sole unit. It wraps around the heel and up the back of the foot, following the shape of the ankle, with our striking Heel Rocker. Our trip to Portugal was a chance to showcase our exciting future productions, our SS17 HANDCUT range and some exclusive new collaborations. It was also a great opportunity to introduce a group of relative barefoot newbies to the biomechanical thinking behind our designs. The Heel Rocker. We make all our HANDCUT shoes with a curved, heel shaped heel. It follows the natural shape of your foot, allowing for a smooth, natural walking motion- a heel stroke, not a heel strike. The leather foot bed. Natural leather moves and breathes as you do, so the foot bed, over time, will take the natural form of your feet, helping you move as nature intended. After a few days of barefoot education, custom shoe designing and a few too many bottles of Portuguese wine, we headed back to London, where it all began, for an intimate follow up event at The Blues Kitchen. A night of live music and chicken wings, with the chance to hear what our journalists really thought of our footwear. “The shoes…equal parts rustic and stylish, are top quality too.” Lucy Sheref – The Express We caught up with the guests from our Porto trip and they each collected their pair of custom designed Vivos. It was great to hear such positive feedback, not only on the look of the shoes but also about our philosophy, and the importance of looking after your feet – the natural way. So will our HANDCUT guests be ditching their padded trainers and going barefoot? Maybe not full time, just yet, but if we’ve convinced a few more people to start thinking seriously about healthy, natural feet, we’re walking in the right direction. See the whole VIVOBAREFOOT HANDCUT collection. SHOP HANDCUT


 Testing Primus SG at Swedens Fjallmaraton

Having just returned from Trillevallen, Sweden, for the AXA Fjallmaraton and weekend of brutal Primus Trail testing, we hear from Dale, our international Sales Manager, resident trail enthusiast and the smiliest man at Vivo. Jennifer Asp after her race win. I had the pleasure of combining my work with my passion at the recent AXA Fjallmaraton trail festival in Sweden. It was supposed to be a week of product testing with 4 of our elite team; Ola Nyburg, Scott Cole, Darryl Ball and Jennifer Asp with few of them racing and myself doing the 44km AXA Race. We brought along our Primus Trail test samples too, and figured we could get some great feedback on our SS17 products. Ola Nyberg from our elite team. It turned out that the product was tested in the most rugged, beautiful and muddy conditions mountains can offer, with 1000m climbs and descents; roots, rocks, rivers and lots of mud. At the end of the week, VIVOBAREFOOT clearly came out on top with our ELITE TEAM getting three firsts and 2 seconds over the four races. I didn't get on any podiums, but ended up doing 4 of the races, as the spirit of the event sucked me in. Our Primus Trail test pairs after being put through their paces. It turned out that I ran just shy of 100km with nearly 5000m of climbing. It was tons of fun and hard work, with my Primus Trail Firm Ground and Soft Ground shoes came off better than me and my tired legs. Let it be know my feet and toenails are fine! Vivo Co-founder Asher Clark...concentrating. We had the pleasure of sharing the trails with VIVO owners Galahad And Asher Clark, along with a few families, pros, kids and newcomers to the trails. I cannot recommend this event enough if you love being outdoors. The food, scenery and people were all amazing. It is hard to say who had the most fun. Me at the finish line at the end of an amazing weekend. If I was a betting man I would say it was definitely myself who had the most fun and collected the most mud. In a nutshell, I will be the first to sign up for 2017 and I’m really excited to see how our customers fall in love with our new, updated Primus Trail. Primus Trail SG and FG are available now as part of our new off road collection. SHOP OFF ROAD


 Barefoot is best for little feet

Children need full freedom of movement throughout the day in order to develop the body and the senses properly. The feet are no exception. Children greatly benefit from walking barefoot to foster strong and capable feet and to safely navigate their surroundings. When children are required to wear shoes, I highly recommend Vivobarefoot . These shoes allow children to walk in stores, schools, and in other buildings, while still reaping the many benefits of being barefoot. My own daughters have Vivobarefoot and they ADORE them! They are super comfortable and I love that they are also supporting healthy foot development at the same time. - Angela Hanscom, founder of TimberNook and author of Balanced & Barefoot Angela J. Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook - an award-winning developmental and nature based program that has gained international popularity. She holds a master's degree in occupational therapy, and an undersgraduate degree in kinesiology (the study of movement) with concentration in health fitness. Awarded a "Hometown Hero" by Glamour magazine for her innovative work with TimberNook, Hanscom has also been a freuquent contributor to The Washington Post's "Answer Sheet" column, and was featured on the NPR education blogs Children And Nature Network and MindShift . Hansom resides in Barrington, New Hampshire. FIND KIDS SHOES


 Zooman to Human

“Mechanics, chemistry, and physics have progressed much more rapidly than physiology, psychology, and sociology. Man has gained the mastery of the material world before knowing himself. Thus, modern society has been built at random, according to the chance of scientific discoveries and to the fancy of ideologies, without regard for the laws of our body and soul. We have been the victims of a disastrous illusion--the illusion of our ability to emancipate ourselves from natural laws. We have forgotten that nature never forgives.” Alexis Carrel, Man the Unknown , 1935, (Nobel Prize winner) Too many of us live our lives in concrete Zoos, unaware that we are increasingly suffering from N.D.D (Nature Deficit Disorder). Today, we see our offices as opportunities for better lives, and our screens as opportunities to escape the monotony of our everyday routine. We may not feel domesticated, but we are caged in structures we have built ourselves. If you saw an animal in a small concrete cage, you would be outraged. More humans (over half of the world’s population) are now living in cities. Our existence has become mentally and physically damaging. Our minds lack stimulus and the muscles in our bodies atrophy from lack of use. But there is a way to escape from being a ‘Zooman’ and become a wild human again… VIVOBAREFOOT makes shoes to bring us closer to nature, reconnect our feet with our brains and inspire us to move more. But us changing your feet is only part of the story. To transition from a ‘Zooman’ to a wild human, you have to actually use your feet, get dirty and reconnect your sensory system to the world around you. It can be as simple as sitting in a park during your lunch break, listening to the birds and eating a meal that you have prepared yourself, bringing plants into your office, walking or running home along tree-lined streets. These small steps can make a huge difference… Show us what small changes you can make to your life to help you transition from a ‘Zooman’ to a Wild Human, and be in with a chance of winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Borneo with Wild Human with VIVOBAREFOOT. In Borneo, you will master how to move fluidly through the landscape, enjoying the freedom to run, jump, climb, swim and explore. And, crucially, learn the skills that define our species – conjuring fire, craft, fishing, foraging and tracking. This experience is designed to take you from a ‘Zooman,’ fueled by caffeine and cortisol, to a Wild Human, nourished by Mother Nature. WILD HUMAN in BORNEO Join us on Wild Human’s first seven-day adventure retreat in the rainforests of Borneo, combining natural movement training with jungle-craft, and the opportunity to unwind from the stresses and strains of modern life. ACCOMMODATION Your own private stilted tree house, with a double bed, air-conditioning, modern en-suite bathroom and balcony. The only thing missing is wifi, for a total technology detox. ACTIVITIES MORNING: begins with an acclimatisation walk or run, with a refreshing waterfall shower half-way along the trail, and a plunge into the cool ocean at the end. Your mornings will then be focused on practical wilderness fitness and movement skills. AFTERNOON: will be spent learning jungle-lore and survival skills, with evenings on the beach, perfecting running technique, swimming techniques, and having some fun, followed by a hearty meal and an evening campfire. End your life-changing trip with a chartered boat ride to a secluded cove, where we will hike through the rainforest and camp on a stunning completely secluded white-sand beach that is only accessible by boat FACILITIES: The eco-resort has forested mountains on one side and the ocean on the other with a private palm-fringed cove, sandy beach, rocky foreshore, lush rainforest interior, streams, pools, tropical waterfalls and cloud-shrouded mountains. FOOD: Nutritious, fresh and locally sourced, with succulent exotic fruit and coconuts served every day at an open-air restaurant with a rustic dining platform, open to the sea breeze. On some evenings we will enjoy a beach barbeque at the private cove. CLIMATE: May/June marks the beginning of the dry season, with sultry 29°C weather with just few tropical downpours and evening thunderstorms. LOCATION: The tropical forests of the Damai peninsula, on the South China Sea. PRICES : £3,995: Includes airport transfers, accommodation, food, instruction and specialist equipment (excludes International flights and personal travel insurance) DATES : Sat 27 th May – Sat 3 rd June 2017 (If traveling from the UK you can depart London on Friday night and be back early in the morning on Sunday-week). “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” – Oscar Wilde FIND OUT MORE


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