At the Strange Loop conference last month, I met a couple of guys wearing Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They both highly recommended them, so I figured I’d give them a try. I went for the KSO model in black and orange (shown at right). I’ve been wearing my KSOs pretty much everywhere for the past week and can honestly say I love them.
Here’s how Vibram introduces Five Fingers:
Remember going barefoot as a child? It’s the way you first discovered and conquered your world—without the constraint of shoes. Or the sense of duty you acquired later on.
Now you can experience that same physical and visceral sensation in Vibram FiveFingers—the only footwear to offer the exhilarating joy of going barefoot with the protection and sure-footed grip of a Vibram® sole.
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call going barefoot an “exhilarating joy”, but I do have a tendency to go barefoot whenever I can, and the Five Fingers do give you the feeling of being barefoot. The bonus, of course, is the protection that the shoe provides. When wearing them you still feel all the bumps and rocks (and sticks or whatever), so you should watch where you’re walking, but you’re protected from all the sharp edges. You also don’t have to worry about your feet getting dirty or otherwise covered with gunk.
Some friends who are runners swear by Five Fingers as a great shoe to wear if you prefer to run barefoot. It has been a (way too) long time since I’ve done any running, and I’ve never run barefoot, so I can’t really comment to that. But I can say if you like to run barefoot, I can’t imagine these not being great.
A couple of things to keep in mind with Five Fingers:
- If you don’t go barefoot much, take your time getting used to it. The instructions that come with the shows recommend starting with just an hour or so a day at first, and building up to longer.
- Putting on Five Fingers is a bit more involved than slipping on a pair of shoes. You have to make sure that each toe goes in the right pocket, and there is definitely a trick to it. Just read the instructions, they will help.
- It feels weird at first having your toes in pockets in the shoes.
- These are very minimal shoes, and though they do provide protection from the physical elements they don’t help at all against the cold. You can get socks to wear with Five Fingers, but even those will only provide a little bit of warmth.
As I mentioned earlier, I really like these shoes. So much so that I’m planning to buy another pair as soon as I can find the style I’m looking for (the KSO Trek) in my size. If you enjoy walking barefoot, or think that the benefits Vibram describes might be something you’re interesting in, I highly recommend these unusual, but great, shoes.