review: Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG2 & Low – THE hiking shoes??

James

Big price tag and a shoe to finally ursup the Vivobarefoot Primus Trial? This Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon review will go over all the important questions you might have about these $200+ shoes including durability, comfort, grip, and more.

Created for hiking, scrambling, and adventures, the Tracker Decon FG2 and Decon Low are seemingly the answer we’re been looking for in terms of a hardy mountain & trail capable shoe. I’ll cover both in this review.

For 10-25% off Vivobarefoot shoes use the affiliated code CNOMAD10 on the Vivobarefoot website and to support me πŸ™‚

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Comfort

Vivobarefoot shoes for me have almost always been stellar in terms of comfort even right out of the box. However with all their boot-style shoes like the Magna FG and Tracker FG there was a notable break-in period of between 2-4 weeks.

This sentiment is similar for the Tracker Decon – the sturdier build makes for a slightly longer break-in period, particularly around the toe-box and after a bit the leather is better than the non-leather Vivobarefoot models for raw comfort due to it taking shape around your foot better!

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The wool upper is great for breathability and thermoregulation!

However moving past this, the comfort really feels great and as long as your thermal management is on point, these can be worn for days on end without issue or hint of a blister. The leather becomes quite soft after a while and on the low-cut model with the wool top the break-in period is nearly zero.

Highly recommend these for comfort and are comparable to the Tracker ESC/FG, Magna FG, and Primus Trail (depending on if you get the high-cut or low-cut version).

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Grip of the Tracker Decon shoes

A renewed tread pattern offers more than anticipated! These definitely have better traction both up and downhill in comparison to the FG lineup of Vivobarefoot shoes while being only marginally different than that of the Magna Forest ESC shoes.

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Chunky, self-cleaning sole!

In fact, these perform very nicely on loose choss, scrambly mud, and slick conditions when hiking/scrambling. I’ve never found myself asking for more grip and I feel like more tread would reduce the barefoot feeling a little too much.

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Temperature & water resistance

The regular hi-cut Tracker Decon FG2 are water resistant but not waterproof. Rather, they remain permeable to allow for some moisture and temperature regulation, though protected and warm. I wouldn’t take these on hikes with ambient temperatures of more than 20°C/68°F as my feet would get too sweaty even with thin merino wool socks.

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I wouldn’t be in too deep of snow without snow gaiters on though!
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The low-cut Tracker Decon have a nicely breathable merino wool top-panel which breaths and regulates temperatures very nicely, even when it gets cooler out! Definitely better for summer hiking and even capable of spring/fall and winter hikes where you won’t be ankle-deep in snow – I definitely prefer them overall for temperature management.

Therefor, choose the high-tops for cooler spring, fall, and winter climates and pick the Tracker Decon Low for summer, fall, and spring temperatures.

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Tracker Decon Build quality/durability

The build quality of both pairs are top notch. Vivobarefoot has consistently made high-quality shoes and in my experience I’ve never had any issues. Stitching, materials, design, etc – they’re great!

Both shoes use a wildhide leather, merino wool, and rubber sole template with variations to the lacing and ankle and material placement between the two models.

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More protection than the Primus Trail FG

The main reason I would pick the Tracker Decon Low vs Primus Trail FG is due to that band of leather above the sole – I assume it to do a great job for longevity when passing through loose rocky terrain when hiking (like in the Canadian Rocky Mountains!) I need more time and hikes with these to really attest to that though.

Overall, a very good quality construction from the Tracker Decon shoes – and they should be at this price point!

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Performance

The real metric where these shoes should be measured – the practicality and performance. So far so good! The Tracker Decon FG2 high-cut shoes are way better for scrambling on terrain which will subject you to infinite rocks in your socks and scrapes on your ankles.

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The abrasion resistance from the leather helps a lot!

If you find yourself continually getting rid of stones in your shoes and needing the ankle abrasion protecion, the get the Tracker Decon FG2 hi-tops.

Otherwise, the agility, lighter weight, and better breathability of the Tracker Decon Low is much preferable from a raw performance standpoint. Unfortunately just like with the Primus Trails I get infinite pebbles in my shoes when going down steep scrambly terrain (see vid for reference…). I wish they had a highly elastic collar to keep debris out.

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Otherwise, the sole is perfectly grippy, the feedback from the surface is excellent and the ability to have precise placement/agility is a big benefit when tackling technical terrain in comparison to traditional hiking shoes/boots.

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Tracker Decon FG2 vs Tracker ESC vs Magna Forest ESC

This is where Vivobarefoot has me a bit confused. While the Tracker Decon Low are a separate entity entirely when compared to the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG/SG/All-weather, the Tracker Decon FG2 hi-top seem like a redundancy when compared to the Tracker and Magna ESC shoes.

Yes they have a different sole and aesthetic and minor differences across the board, however they all fill the same role: a high-quality technical leather barefoot hiking boot. I can’t tell you which I prefer because I need more time with the Tracker Decon FG2 to tell, but so far they perform pretty darn similar!

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Aesthetically it’s all a matter of preference and I find the city-style of the Magna Forest to be appealing and the traditional leather-boot looks of the Tracker Forest to be charming. The Tracker Decon with the multi-coloured sole is more bold and either good or bad, depending on who you are.

Some quick thoughts on them all though:

  • Tracker Forest ESC has highest collar, best cold-weather performance
  • Tracker Decon FG2 most robust for more intensive activity
  • Magna Forest ESC more lightweight and city-styled

Check out my individual Vivobarefoot Magna Forest ESC and best Vivobarefoot winter shoes reviews!

Tracker Decon Low vs Primus Trail

A similar footprint but overall quite different in terms of functionality! While I absolutely adore my Primus Trails for hiking, scrambling, and climbing, they get beaten up pretty bad especially around the footbox where the sole ends.

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Scrambling with the Primus Trails – great performance!

The reinforced leather is more comfortable and durable and the traction is even better. For me now the Primus Trail are a better trail running and lighter hiking shoe, while the Tracker Decon models are what I’ll pick to conquer nastier Rocky Mountain scrambles and climbs.

Check out my Vivobarefoot Primus Trail review to see my thoughts on my favourite shoe ever! πŸ™‚

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Ethics of Vivobarefoot

Morals and ethics is a major thing for me when it comes to products.

Vivobarefoot is a shoe company which has impressed me overall with their social vision and implementation. While in the end they’re still a multi-national corporation, they have some pretty good sustainability programmes for re-conditioning their shoes, ethical employment, and material sourcing.

However without actually being an employee and overseeing their practices, that’s all I can say! Regardless, they’re far better than 95% of shoe brands out there!

Overall

Finally! A lightweight barefoot hiking shoe which is rugged and able to help conquer gnarly hikes, scrambling, and climbing! I’ve been abusing Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG shoes for a half decade now and unfortunately the wear and tear from the Rocky Mountains has been a bit too much for many pairs.

The Tracker Decon Low are IMO the best barefoot hiking shoe out there currently what with the grip and durability improvement. The only alternative I can think of is the Vibram V-Trek.

The Tracker Decon FG2 boot is also excellent but not too much different than the Tracker Forest ESC and Magna Forest ESC – pick whichever you feel calls to you more!

High ~$200 price tag, but I like the saying “spend the most on that which separates you from the ground – mattress, tires, and shoes“.

For 10-25% off Vivobarefoot shoes use the code CNOMAD10 on the Vivobarefoot website!

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View current price of Decon FG2 & Low

Check out my related Vivobarefoot articles like best winter barefoot shoes guide, Ultimate Vivobarefoot buyers guide, and Sizing Vivobarefoot guide.

If you have any questions please ask here or on any of my social medias – always glad to help! Peace πŸ™‚

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Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG2
Vivobarefoot tracker Decon shoes boots review

High-quality barefoot hiking boots made of leather and merino wool - durable, grippy, comfortable, but very expensive.

Product Brand: Vivobarefoot

Editor's Rating:
4.8

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Top notch comfort
  • Good grip

Cons

  • Price
  • Gaiter compatibility

21 thoughts on “review: Vivobarefoot Tracker Decon FG2 & Low – THE hiking shoes??”

  1. How do the decon lows fg2 compare to the primus trail knit? I’ve used my primus trail knits a ton when going hiking, but they are starting to wear out so I’m just wondering. The biggest thing is are the decon low fg2 too warm? I’ll be mostly using them in summer with highs from 80-90, and don’t want them to be too hot. My primus trail knits have been fine, just wondering how the compare to each other. Also if the ESC sole was a 10/10 how would you rate the fg2 sole? Thanks

    Reply
    • Decon Low aren’t too warm and they’re tougher and more spacious than the Primus

      They’re the better hiking shoe while Primus Trail better trail running shoe

      Reply
  2. Could you tell me, how the width of the Tracker Decon compares to Magna Trail or Primus Trail FG? I have both and they are on the verge of being too narrow and Decon looks narrower on photos, so I wonder… (can’t take a bigger size, as they would be too long).

    Reply
    • I’d say it’s actually in between the two – my Magna Trail are wider than my Tracker Decon Low, which are wider than the Primus Trail FG

      Decon Low is pretty much right between both models

      Reply
  3. Hi there James.

    Thank you for the very useful discussion. Your site has been of great value to me in my Vivobarefoot journey.

    Regarding the Decon low, I have a question: How is their traction on wet rock? (And wet surfaces in general). I’m asking as this appears the be a major concern in another review that I watched. I just ordered a pair of these to do a strenuous hike here in South-Africa known as the Grand Traverse, which takes your +-230 km along the Drakensberg mountain escarpment between Lesotho and South-Africa. I’m planning to do it in summer, and summer in the Drakensberg means a lot of wet rock. The route is still mostly on firm-ish ground, but there are some key points that involve navigating sloped wet rock face. I have done this route before in horrible snowy-wet weather in Lone Peak 6’s, so that’s my point of reference (I survived, but they were very slippery in the snowmelt).

    I currently have a pair of Magna ESC but they are a bit too large, and whilst I have taken them on some proper hikes without any issues apart from the toe scraping a lot and the sensation of my foot gradually sliding back in the shoe on long steep ascents, I would like something better fitting, lighter, and less warm for the summer Berg hikes. Also, when doing the Beg in summer, one tends to cross many calf-depth but wide streams. Usually this would require you to take your boots of, cross barefoot, and put them back on, on the other side. Something that I really enjoyed about the altra’s was that I could just walk through with them on, and they’d be dry quickly thereafter. This is another reason why the Decon low would be a better fit than the Magna ESC I reckon.

    Anyway, thanks for reading the essay if you did, if you didn’t the important question is: HOW’S THE DECON LOW’S GRIP ON WET ROCK?

    Kind regards,
    Pierre
    from South-Africa.

    Reply
    • Hey Pierre!

      I personally have good traction on wet & slippery surfaces with the Decon Lows – plenty of hiking in the Alps on snow and wet terrain without issue

      If you’re anticipating a lot of rain though I’d probably opt for one of the more waterproof options – of course your feet will get hotter and more humid as a result so that’s a tradeoff for you to decide on.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply. I’m certainly going to give them a go then.

        As for the waterproofing, in my experience I’ve learned to strongly prefer the “get wet quick, get dry quick” approach (like those military jungle boots), as this works well in most South African situations. I don’t find walking with wet feet very uncomfortable in the right shoes, especially with my Merino-wool toe-socks like Injini’s.

        The only reason why I would go for a properly watertight shoe was where getting wet would be dangerous (i.e. really cold climates) or when the shoes wouldn’t be able to dry out easily afterwards (i.e. cold or very damp/continuously wet climates). The Drakensberg in summer can be very wet, but things tend to dry out very quickly as well.

        Thanks again for the feedback,
        Regards,
        Pierre

        Reply
  4. Hi James,

    thanks for everything you share and do! Really nice, I found your website now through the Decon review and before I think I saw your video on the FG review on youtube and recently the excellent deformed feet video :D.

    Could you help me decide a bit better between the Tempest and the Decon (maybe V-Trek also) for the Alps mainly in Germany or Austria?

    I am thinking about more difficult via ferrata, C and upwards as well as mountain tours with UIAA II-grade climbing (4th class), which is already a bit more serious and can be mixed terrain or slick even.

    You mentioned you think the ESC sole on the tempest would only be marginally better? Then I would prefer the more mountain-built Decon I believe, even over the Vibram V-Trek I guess (some people mention the toe material can be more fragile on them). But if it is a whole lot more grip and confidence boost the ESC tempest or the V-Trek Vibram Megagrip could be nice.

    What are your thoughts on this for more challenging terrain? It seems to me you prefer the Decon Low over the other alternatives. Thanks! Would be super happy to hear your take.

    Blessings Almin πŸ™‚

    P.S. I hope in a new better world without AI depopulation craze all people will have barefoot shoes, they are so amazing and I favour them by far!

    Reply
    • hey Almin thanks for your good words! Appreciate it πŸ™‚

      Tempest are definitely no good for climbing/hiking as they’ll wear our very very fast.

      Decon are perfect for anything up to ankle-deep snow or very big scree descents – that’s when I put my gaiters on anyways.

      If you really want the absolute best agility and toe placement for more technical climbs I’d hop for the Primus Trail instead of the Decon – the Decon are certainly more durable bit a little less precise and agile

      Personally, the Decon reign surpreme – I did a chunk of climbs and Via Ferratas in Switzerland this summer (check this post: https://canadianomad.com/3-best-via-ferratas-interlaken-easy-hard/) and used the Decon FG low and was super happy πŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. Hi James, great review! Was wondering though: could it be that in the comparison of the
    Tracker Forest ESC, Tracker Decon FG2 and the Magna Forest ESC, you mixed up the Magna and the Decon? Seems like the Decon is the more city-styles shoe, and therefore Magna being the most robust?
    Anyway, my concern is what shoe to use for 1000 km on the pasific crest trail (Oregon and Washington) in september/october (so rather wet I guess).
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Actually the Decon models are better suited to hiking and the Magna models better for casual and street use. About to hit the Swiss Alps with the Decon Low ;D

      Reply
  6. Hello, can you tell me wich size did you had for the Tracker decon low? I have the same size of the foot like you, 28-28.2cm and mountain or greek type of foot. I want to get them, but I’m not sure if I should choose 44 or 45. I have from vivo the Addis model in 44 and it’s fine, just my second toe that is the largest one, it’s close to the edge. But I don’t know if the 45 will be a bit large. thanks!

    Reply
      • Hi there James. I have a sizing question.

        My feet are slightly shorter than yours, 27.5 but they are wider at 11cm. My feet are quite high volume, fan-shaped. I have the Magna ESC in size 45 and it does fit, but the fit is too long for my taste. Do you think the Decon low in 44 will work for me? I see that length wise I might be closer to a 43, but I can’t help but feel that that will be much too narrow.

        Reply
  7. Hello, I’m looking for my next pair of vivos but strugling to decide between the Tracker decon low’s and the Primus Trail knits as everyday shoes. I live in thailand So its quite hot, but it also rains and when it does, it rains alot. Ill mosly be using them for everyday wear and hiking time to time. Which out of these two would suit me best? Also open to other recommendations (I already have a pair of primus lite III”s.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hey Louis I’d say the Decon Lows would be better since the upper is better when wet and they’re more durable. Also maybe consider the all-weather primus trails as they do great in the wet (not waterproof but stay very warm)!

      Also some Sealskinz socks are a great addition if you want to keep your feet dry.

      Reply
    • I would say the is Primus Trail much much better – lighter and more comfortable for that long distance – your feet will get sweaty and too hot with any boot-style hiking shoe and the tread pattern is the same.

      Either the Decon Low or Primus Trail is your best friend for the Camino. October is also still quite warm!

      Reply
  8. Hi, I’m looking forward to buy a new pair of vivo. I already wear Gobi 3 for an everyday use and the fg all weather to run some easy trails.
    I hesitate between the decon low and the forest ESC. I’ looking for a more wet and colder weather daily shoes. I’m leaving in Belgium so the weather is not that cold but it’s raining often, also I’m using a bike to go to work and it’s always a bit colder on a bike.
    Do you recommend one of those shoes for walking, biking, hiking, every day life?
    Thank you very much.
    Have a great day.

    Reply
    • Yeah, go for the Magna / Forest ESC with wool – they’re mostly water resistant and the wool will help keep the feet warm. Those are what you want from November-April in Belgium πŸ™‚

      Reply

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