Vibram V-Alpha: Barefoot Toe Shoes For Hike and Trail Run

March 29, 2024Barefoot toe shoe with a 3.7mm sole, wool blend upper, drawstring laces, and trail tread.

Hello, my name’s Andrew and these are the Vibram FiveFingers V-Alpha, a lightweight barefoot toe shoe with a wool blend upper and aggressive tread for hiking and running on roads and trails.


For the past seven years the Vibram V-Trek has been my favorite barefoot shoe of all time, because it’s super light, flexible, and durable for pretty much everything from road running to hiking to gym workouts.

But the flatter tread’s not as aggressive for steep muddy hills or faster trail runs, so I asked Vibram for a pair of V-Alpha’s to test and at 0.3mm thinner but also more aggressive, they’re kind of like supercharging a Subaru Outback with a spaceship engine and Mad Max tires.

Vibram V Alpha Features Showcase Desk


Because the V-Alpha has an extra-wide toebox with separate toes for agility, a breathable wool blend upper that’s reinforced for support and durability, velcro drawstring for quick on/off, and padded heel to prevent rubbing.

Inside the collar, tongue, and sole are perforated to improve airflow and moisture wicking, while the midsole is made up of a 2mm foam layer for some minimal padding.

Vibram V Alpha Toebox Desk


Underneath you’ve got an thin 3.7mm zero-drop sole that’s extremely flexible in all directions, as well an aggressive Vibram Megagrip tread that’s tough yet grippy and angled for creating excellent traction on both dry and wet terrain.

Vibram V Alpha Tread Desk


While the Vibram V-Alpha is technically designed for trails, the more aggressive lugs are flat enough that they’re also great for pavement and concrete.


So heading out for a walk on roads they felt even more natural than the V-Trek’s, while the minimal foam gave me a tiny amount of padding for longer miles without affecting the flexibility or ground feel whatsoever.

Vibram V Alpha Flex Toes Front Sidewalk

Road Running

Like most thin barefoot shoes, the V-Alpha’s practically begged me to take off running, but with the lightweight wool blend upper for breathability and the separate toes for a smoother landing they immediately became my favorite barefoot running shoes of all time.

Vibram V Alpha Run Side Wide Overpass


Doing sprints and mid-distance intervals at the track the triangle tread dug in like mini spikes and the side reinforcement panels added some nice support for box jumps and stair workouts, while the thin tread and foam midsole provided a solid base for weightlifting and even biking.

Vibram V Alpha Squat


Switching over to hiking the V-Alpha’s velcro drawstring was great for quickly shaking stones out and the more silky upper was slightly better at shedding mud than the more felt-like upper of the V-Trek, although neither shoe has any waterproofing whatsoever.

Vibram V Alpha Front Trail

Trail Running

Speeding up for a trail run the separate toes and thin 3.7mm sole had me skipping over logs and streams, like I was about to go full Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon at any moment and start flying up through the trees.

Lastly, the Megagrip tread handled all but the steepest/muddiest hills with ease and while the wool blend upper felt amazing to wear barefoot, a pair of Injinji merino wool toe socks improved moisture wicking, as well, and did kept the V-Alpha’s a bit cleaner.

Vibram V Alpha Trail Running Down Hill Front


Overall the Vibram FiveFingers V-Alpha is the best barefoot shoe of all time for trail running and it also puts up some stiff competition for the top spot in walking, hiking, road running, sprinting, and cross-training.

Vibram V Alpha Review Toes Flex


Because the separate toes are extra-wide and super agile, the wool blend upper provides some excellent breathability, and the minimal 3.7mm Megagrip tread is ridiculously flexible, durable, and versatile for both firm and soft ground.

However, the thin upper isn’t warm or water-resistant for cold/wet conditions, the lightweight tread doesn’t provide enough protection for large, shifting rocks, and it’s a good idea to towel the V-Alpha’s off after each use and keep them away from hot dry air to protect the glued sole.

Vibram V Alpha Track Start


In terms of similar barefoot trail shoes…

  • Freet Vibe: wide toebox, breathable mesh upper, and semi-aggressive tread for walking and running on roads and trails.
  • Vibram V-Trek: extra-wide toebox, breathable wool blend upper, and semi-aggressive tread for hiking and trail running on firm ground.
  • Be Lenka Trailwalker: extra-wide toebox, water-resistant leather upper, and minimal tread for casual hiking and trail running.
  • Vibram V Alpha Sprint Side Track


    If you’d like to support the channel, you can shop with the links above/below to automatically get 15% off Vibram FiveFingers, browse and filter more products at, or watch my Zero-Drop Transition video to learn more about barefooting.

    Finally, if you have a question about the V-Alpha, or about barefoot shoes in general, let me know in the comments.

    Thanks for reading, catch ya next time. Peace!

    Andrew Folts

    Andrew is a writer/filmmaker who creates video guides and reviews for a community of 25K+ creative rebels on YouTube.