The Joe Nimble trailToes are minimalist trail shoes built on a zero drop platform with a protective and secure fitting upper. The anatomical last of the trailToes provides a wide toebox and a precise fitting heel and midfoot. The Vibram outsole is sticky with a well designed lug pattern for use on varying terrain. I’ve been testing the Joe Nimble trailToes over the past few weeks, and will share my thoughts in this review.
The Joe Nimble brand was one I was unfamiliar with before I was contacted by a rep asking if I’d be interested in this review. Joe Nimble is a German company that has been popular in Germany, Paris, London, and Japan for the last 35 years, and just recently launched in the USA.
Fit and Feel:
When I first put on the trailToes I was amazed with the fit and comfort, these shoes feel like an extension of my foot. I ordered a size 11.5 in the trailToes, which is a full size down from my usual 12.5 trail shoe (Joe Nimble size guide). I have a wide forefoot which means I usually have to size up to get a good fit. The trailToes have a wide toebox which allowed me to order much closer to my true shoe size without fear of blistered and jammed toes. What I enjoyed most about the trailToes is that the wide toe box didn’t make the shoe feel sloppy and loose, like I’ve found with some of Altra’s wide toe box trail shoes.
The size 11.5 trailToes come in at 11.53oz for each shoe on my scale. That’s a little bit heavy for a “minimalist” shoe, and I noticed the weight when I first put them on. The weight is well placed though, as this minimalist shoe has a highly protective and durable upper, with a trail worthy Vibram outsole.
The trailToes have a 4mm microfiber shoe insole. I really liked the light amount of texture these insoles provided. They assist in keeping my foot in place while hiking downhill, without providing too much friction. Over time, the microfiber has packed down a little and conformed nicely to the shape of my feet and toes.
The trailToes have a smooth heel cup that wraps the back of the foot nicely without any rubbing or hot spots. There is no heel counter in the rear of the shoe, so the movement is fluid and flexible.
The upper on the trailToes uses an open mesh fabric with a welded polyurethane (PU) wrap web on the heel and midfoot. Many “minimalist” trail shoe uppers that I’ve used in the past have suffered from a sloppy fit and/or durability issues. The trailToes don’t suffer from either issue, and instead take a penalty on weight. This is a smart trade off in my opinion, as these are one of the few minimalist shoes that I’ve reviewed that feel at home on the trails.
The tongue on the trailToes has no gusset, and is a little on the short side. It would be nice to add about a half inch of length here. Like the heel and midfoot PU wrap, the toes are protected by a sturdy PU toe guard. This toe guard offers ample toe protection from bumps and kicks on the trail.
The open mesh design and PU webbing overlays allow for great breathability and drainage. I’ve worn the trailToes on some hikes in the mid 90s, and my feet never felt stuffy or hot. I also found these shoes to drain water well, and dry fairly quickly. The fabric around the PU webbing stayed a little damp, but I’d still rate this shoe better than average in the draining and dry category.
As a minimalist shoe, the Joe Nimble trailToes don’t have a midsole. The only cushion provided is from the 4mm microfiber insole and 6mm Vibram outsole. The shoe is zero drop, meaning the heel and forefoot are the same height. For those of you that have never tried a “minimalist” or “barefoot” shoe experience, the lack of a midsole can be a bit of a surprise, in both positive and negative ways. The most notable positives for me are natural stability, ground feel, proprioception, and increased muscle engagement. The downside to not having a cushioned midsole is that my legs fatigue a little faster, and rocks underfoot take a greater toll on my feet. I know a lot of people that do all of their hiking and backpacking in minimalist footwear, so it is doable given proper conditioning. I prefer to use minimalist footwear for training and muscle strengthening.
*If you’ve never worn a pair of zero drop or minimalist shoes before, make sure to transition slowly. You will be using muscles in your feet and legs that aren’t usually engaged in traditional footwear. Start by just walking around, and then slowly build up your miles on the trail.
The 6mm Vibram outsole on the trailToes is superb. The trailToes utilize a series of circular and oval shaped lugs on the forefoot and heel, with rectangular shaped lugs on the midfoot and toe-off area. The sticky lugs provide a lot of surface area for traction on slick surfaces, yet still have enough space between them to shed mud. The durability of the outsole has proven to be top notch so far.
The only downside to this 6mm outsole is going to be a loss of ground-feel for those that like a true “barefoot” shoe. I prefer the thicker and protective outsole the trailToes provide, because they keep my feet feeling much fresher over rocky terrain.
The Joe Nimble trailToes are a highly functional pair of minimalist trail shoes that blend a nice balance of “barefoot-feel” without losing protection on rocky terrain. The comfort, fit, and durability have proven to be top notch. At $199.00, the trailToes are by far the most expensive shoe in this category. Similar offerings from New Balance, Merrell, Xero, and Vivobarefoot can be purchased for $60-$100 less. The trailToes are a really nice pair of shoes that come with a very high price tag. I’m not sure if any of this price is due to import tariffs, but I think a price of around $130 would be much more appropriate and competitive.
There is currently an estimated 2-3 weeks shipping time for orders made on the Joe Nimble website, as the shoes ship from Germany. As Joe Nimble continues to expand in the United States, I expect to see this shipping lead times decrease.
Disclosure: The Joe Nimble trailToes were provided to me at no cost for this review. Some product links provided in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made using these affiliate links go to support the content created here at Trail to Peak at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!