I have been in love with Vivobarefoot shoes for a number of years now. I like how they look and feel and often pick Vivobarefoot footwear when heading out. That said, I approached this Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review the same way I did many of the best hiking boots in the past – professionally and without bias. Not everyone likes barefoot-style shoes, and even if they did, not all of them are mind-blowingly amazing.
It wasn't easy, mind you. I fancied the boots online, and they look even better in real life. If the compliments I was getting from people are anything to go by, most people like the shape and colour of the Tracker Decon FG 2, too. Good looks won't get you far outdoors, though, so getting out and putting some miles in the boots was paramount before I wrote this review, which is exactly what I did.
What I found was precisely what I hoped for, but if you want to read more about the experience, keep scrolling to see how the Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 fits and performs under real-life conditions. Should you get one? Let's find out.
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review: Price and availability
The Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 is available to buy now at Vivobarefoot UK and Vivobarefoot US for a recommended retail price of £180/ $230. I couldn't find the boots on Vivobarefoot's Australian website, but similar shoes retail for around AU$ 400. Many of these are on pre-order, so I can only assume the Tracker Decon FG 2 will land soon enough there, too.
The shoes are available in four colours: Ancient Scroll (beige/brown), Obsidian (black), Moonstone (grey/black) and Sage (green). I tested the Sage colourway, which, from a performance point of view, is exactly the same as all the others. However, it looks the most handsome, at least, according to me.
Vivobarefoot often recommends going a size up if you're in between sizes, although I always go with my 'normal' size, and the shoes fit me like a glove.
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review: Specifications
- Type: Mid-height hiking boots
- Upper: Responsibly-sourced leather
- Fastening: Traditional lacing
- Midsole thickness: 3 mm
- Insole: Built-in temperature-regulating technology
- Lug depth: 4 mm
- Rockplate: No
- Weight (men's EU 42/ UK 8/ US 9): 495 grams
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review: Design and build quality
In case you're unfamiliar with the brand and its footwear, Vivobarefoot shoes are all about reconnecting your feet with the ground. Unlike modern shoes with a narrow toebox, Vivobarefoot shoes have a wider toebox that allows your feet to spread. They also tend to have a thin midsole to help you feel the ground better.
The Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 fits this description perfectly but adds a few outdoor-focused features, such as the updated Firm Ground 2 Outsole with deeper lugs, a 3mm base, and a 4mm lug height. It's made from a sticky rubber compound with sharpened hexagon shapes and has a textured arch for zonal grip. (ideal for technical trail movement), providing excellent grip and ground feel on everything from wet and dry to rocky and firm terrain.
Another upgrade is the thermal insoles with a built-in temperature-regulating technology that absorbs, stores and releases heat. A thin layer of Pro5 Puncture Resistant finish is applied to the outsole to k"eep painful bits out, but still letting all the feeling in," as Vivobarefoot puts it. There is no rock plate or any other protective element in the sole – you'll feel the ground almost the same way as if you walked barefoot.
The boots have a soft integrated tongue and traditional lacing that holds together the responsibly sourced upper. The construction is as premium as possible; I found no loose threads or excess glue anywhere.
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review: Performance
I couldn't wait to put on the Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 as soon as they arrived. The box came just before I set off to Italy to do some trail running, so I decided to take the Vivos with me to see how they performed in that environment. I didn't use them for running, but when I was wearing the trail running shoes I was given for the event, I had the Tracker Decon FG 2 on.
As mentioned above, I've been using Vivobarefoot shoes for years, so I'm used to moving around in them. It's not like how dancers move – placing the forefoot on the ground first, then lowering the heel – but you end up not whacking your foot down as hard as you would in shoes with tons of foam underfoot.
I enjoyed using the Tracker Decon FG 2 for hiking, for the same reason, I use the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG for everything else but running. You find your balance quicker and feel the ground better in Vivobarefoot shoes. The updated Firm Ground 2 system felt grippy underfoot for anything from light off-road walking to scrambling on more technical terrain.
I ventured out one morning just after sunset and trudged through some thick undergrowth with plenty of dew on the leaves (see image above). I noticed that the Tracker Decon FG 2 isn't waterproof; if anything, the tongue almost soaks up moisture as soon as it touches it. On the other hand, the boots dried quickly, using only the heat emanating from my feet (the sun was only just coming up).
As for comfort, the Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 does a brilliant job of making your foot feel right at home. I have wide feet, which is one of the reasons I prefer Vivo shoes. I never once felt discomfort caused by compression. The shoes' flexibility is a big bonus that helps you easily climb over more technical sections.
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review: Verdict
I appreciate that the Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 hiking boots aren't for everybody. The sole is pretty thin, and the design, no matter how eye-catching, might be off-putting to people used to more traditional hiking boot shapes. However, if you've ever toyed with the idea of trying barefoot-style footwear, I'd argue that the Tracker Decon FG 2 is your best option, thanks to its versatility.
The multi-terrain approach lets you wear the boots as intended – for outdoor use (i.e. hiking) – while also allowing you to mix things up and use the Tracker Decon FG 2 as an everyday shoe. The grip is excellent, and the ground feel is second to none, which you'll appreciate both inside and outside city limits.
The boots aren't waterproof; if you need weatherproof footwear, check out the two suggestions below. For anything else, I highly recommend the Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2, especially to those adventure types who sometimes jump up on rocks or climb a sturdy-looking tree when they hike for no apparent reason. These boots will help you rediscover the joy of movement in the funnest way possible.
Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG 2 review: Also consider
If you're looking for more ankle support and the same barefoot-style walking experience, give the Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG a try. This version is waterproof and an excellent choice if you need sturdier hiking boots without the bulk. Read Sian's Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG review.
For the most technical adventures, try the Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC. They're extremely comfortable, and the flexible, pared-pack design feels much more freeing than traditional, bulky hiking boots. The sole provides enough of a buffer that they're still suitable for wear on rough terrain, and the revamped sole provides reliably good grip on slippery and rocky ground. Read Ruth's full Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC review.