Thursday, February 12

Gear Test: Vibram Fivefingers KSO (#1)

Ever on the look out for lightweight or multiple purpose wildcamping gear I was intrigued when the Vibram Fivefingers (5F) footwear appeared last year. My initial interest waned as the shoe (for want of a better descriptor) looked rather too minimalist for my multi-use requirements.

A good idea. Definitely a radical approach to footwear. But rather too restrictive was my feeling at the time.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the PR company representing Vibram in the UK with details of an increased Fivefinger range following feedback from many of the converts to this approach to foot cladding. For converts is the term that best describes those who've taken to this approach, especially amongst the running community in the USA.

The marketing blurb told me that the "KSO (Keep Stuff Out) model was developed in response to feedback from runners who wanted a more closed-in shoe to protect them from debris, such as gravel" Now this was more like it. A fully fitted shoe, Vibram soled, offering protection to the whole foot.

A couple of enquiries later, the usual visit to the Post Office to pick up the "you were out" parcel, and I my hands on a pair to try out for myself.

The technical stats first. The UK's offical supplier website's fitting guide suggested a snug fit (there's lots of information over on the site about the background/benefits for those so inclined)

Normally a UK size 7 (EU size 41) shoe fitting I decided on a EU size 40, which in hindsight may be a little snugger than I'd like, but that could be the familiarisation phase that such a different approach to foot wear requires (an initial two weeks acquaintance is Vibram's suggestion)

My fitting tipped the scales at 285g - a substantial weight reduction when compared to my usual trail shoe weight of around 800g. And as a fully flexible shoe they can be easily stuffed inside a side pocket or down the side of a backpack. Cost - around £75-£80 on the UK websites I looked at)

Putting on the 5Fs for the first time takes you back to childhood.

Remember the trouble you had in fitting all those pesky digits into their respective glove finger?

That's the sort of re-discovery I found putting the 5Fs on for the first time. Most toes fitted quite happily, until I came to the two smallest. Especially the last one. The one who went wee wee wee. Always was a recalciant bugger.

This individual, usually very matey with its bigger neighbour, pressed together after years of standard footwear, objected loudly as it was spread-eagled away from its normal position and slipped into the nominated 5F toe slot.

Looking down I could see all five toes splayed out like a duck's webbed foot. It looked natural, well sort of, but the little toes spent their 5F residency reminding me that their position didn’t feel quite right. The foot tendons, unused to the new position, always felt slightly strange.

Funny really as the 5Fs position is the more natural. Its just my own feet that have developed otherwise.

For the moment I resisted the urge to snap off the offending toes or commit a yakuza style act.

Once the toes are positioned the 5F is peeled back along the foot, over the heel, and a Velcro cinch strap pulls the shoe tight around the base of the ankle and top of the foot. A simple and firm attachment. Not much to go wrong there. The result - a very snug fit. One that isn’t going to come off in fast flowing water and defeats most attempts for gravel or sand to work its way inside.

So far so good.

Initial feeling - something akin to a climbing shoe, but much snugger. It really did feel as if I was bare footed except for a slight noticeable cushioning effect from the Vibram sole, and the rands over each toe providing some toe stub protection. The sole appears to mimics the location of normal foot calluses, providing a definite cushioning but not being invasive. And of course the whole sole is very flexible. Very very flexible.

But how do they feel out in the real world?


Eddy Meechan reviewed them in the TGO if I recall. One of his better less ridiculed articles. In fact a good write up. I don't know if I would use them John. TNF Hedgehogs will not let you down and they have Vibram soles. I will look out to see how you get on with them.
where did you get them? I've seen them on the internet a few times in different places but usually in the states...

I am a big advocate of barefoot walking etc so it would be interesting to try these.
Have to say they did look a little odd with suit trousers when you showed them to me...
Howls of laughter, trouble is I like them, despite the mental image of you walking down the street followed by a trail of ducks. To be honest if I could afford them, I,would invest in a pair
Thought these might raise some differing feedback

The website has a list of stockists and their shoppage lists the KSO model
got them book marked John. Do you realise that you can get socks for them as well? Lovely multi coloured five toed socks!!!!!!!!!!!!1
I've missed the socks tie-in DAwn

Got a link? hang on

That's sarcasm. Isn't it?
nope John my lad, stumbled across something by the name of INJINJI. They do all sorts of five fingered socks for running, walking and outdoor activities
The Injinji socks work very well for sucking up a little excess volume. I just got a pair of the merino ones and can now run in my 5 fingers for the first time since last November. The shoes were the right size for the first 4 months I had them but now I need a whole size down as my arch has risen shortening my foot. I'll be getting a pair of the correct new size soon as I don't fancy wearing thick socks in the height of a New York summer
vibram fivefingers are one of

the product that are good and leave no room for argument in my life. Vibram

fivefingers not only dependent on its looks but on its performance. vibram fivefingers will be a

good taste on the feet , so it might be a good idea to test them on your feet.
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