Saturday, February 14

Gear Test: Vibram Fivefingers KSO (#2)

The first evening the 5Fs were worn around the house. That strange feeling associated (in my case) with the smallest toes never quite disappeared but overall the verdict was positive. Feet, despite the mesh top, remained warm.

On the following day I took them into my workplace. I spend some of my time walking between various indoor locations, on different floors, so a reasonable longer term trial in a "safe" environment.

Howls of laughter greeted the fitting process as my new 'duck foot' was unveiled to its wondering public. But after that initial hurdle most people were intrigued over the design and fit of the shoe.

At lunchtime I ventured out to the local shops a ten minute walk away along a paved street. Despite cold conditions once again the 5Fs remained toasty. I quickly became used to the sensation of near bare feet walking down the local High Street.

If anything I found my walking gait, even on the short outing, had altered. Lighter on the foot my normal pace was slightly extending as if to compensate, unused to the new found freedom and lack of weight. As a result my walking pace was noticeably faster.

And then a strange thing.

After a couple of hundred yards I felt the urge to break into a running trot, which I fought down in consideration of ageing achilles tendons already unused to an unfamiliar extension. But this feeling of wanting to run regularly occurred after a few minutes of street walking. (I can see why
some in the running community have taken to this so avidly. They really do breed converts and acolytes as these links show)

Initially I was wary of toe stubs, but in fact there was never any cause to complain during these short initial trails.

Over the next couple of weeks I have worn them at odd times, but never out in the snow/mud/rain that has been the regular weather pattern during this time. So the next test will be an outdoor/wildcamp outing.

In the meantime I’d offer a few initial thoughts, which may change with further use.

The Vibram FiveFingers KSO is undoubtedly a radical approach to footwear, but one that seems to do exactly what it intends. As to whether it’s a replacement for the lightweight trail shoe user, I think some may be surprised at how well they function after the initial wariness of such an extreme style change.

But - and this is a big one. Two weeks later some side tendons on my feet still have an occasional tendency to remind me that they have been 'forced' into an unfamiliar position. Its not painful, or even uncomfortable. More the sort of feeling that comes after a long run; A sensation that tendons have been used with rather more vigour than usual.

Personally I'm not too sure that I will ever overcome that feeling. But then the bedding in process has hardly started. The real test, use on a wildcamp, is the one that counts.

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Comments:
How do you think they will fair on a 15 mile pathless wet day in the Scottish Highlands? Saying that footwear that allows our feet to function as they are meant to can only be a good thing.
 
Mmmhhh, probably they would function not too bad. My concern would be using on mud and greasy ground. Just a thought, I wonder if Eddy Meecham tried his ultra light crampons on them? Certainly I am sure heads will turn will turn when you get out on the hill John. Mind, I still like them.
 
Martin - I reckon they'd fare about as well as Innov8s to be honest - with the same drawbacks (wet feet!)

Dawn - the soles are smart. Not substantial but definitley grippy in the right places. I think the idea is that to replicate the action of the bare foot they don't need to be overdesigned.

The jury remains out for the present
 
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