This Vibram FiveFingers review is based on our combined 24 years of experience wearing the minimalist toe shoes while running, trekking, and working out.
We’ll discuss the barefoot running craze, share our experience with Vibram toe shoes, and guide you on how to transition to barefoot.
Since shopping online for the right pair of Vibram FiveFingers can lead to choice overload, we’ll tell you which models are worth buying.
Lastly, we have an offer for our readers who are ready to shop Vibram FiveFingers and begin their toe-tally awesome barefoot journey.
vibram fivefingers review
Barefoot running and minimalist running are surprisingly controversial, with strong proponents both for and against.
We wanted to write a Vibram FiveFingers review because, even for us engineers, the opposing scientific studies are dizzying enough to make our heads spin.
From reading studies like …
‘Shoes alter the spring-like function of the human foot during running‘ to ‘Economy and rate of carbohydrate oxidation during running with rearfoot and forefoot strike patterns,’
… one thing struck us both: the great barefoot running debate is nowhere close to being settled.
As two engineers who have worn the minimalist, barefoot toe shoes for over a decade each, our Vibram FiveFingers review is a summary of what we learned.
We’ve tied in our experience wearing Vibram FiveFingers shoes while running marathons, working out at home, and hiking the Appalachian Trail, with what’s out there for running research and science.
The goal of this article is to help you decide if you want to be a foot glove user. If you do, we want to help you pick a pair.
Unfortunately, we can’t shop for FiveFingers in retail stores. What’s also challenging, is that Vibram offers several models for a specific activity such as hiking or running. For us, this can lead to decision fatigue.
Below is our current inventory of FiveFingers, which is a bit ridiculous considering we’re minimalists. What’s more, is we don’t recommend all the models pictured below.
Also, see the Xero shoes we added to the mix? We’re currently testing other minimalist footwear without toes. The Xero shoes were quality but offered no grip. Wet surfaces were literally like ice skating.
We test our shoes hard, and other minimalist models lacked quality and performance. As of now, we are skeptical of any minimalist shoe that doesn’t have a Vibram sole.
How It Began: The Minimalist, Barefoot Running Craze
Like so many, Ryan and I were first introduced to minimalist running by reading the wildly popular 2009 best-selling book, Born to Run by Chris McDougall.
In an unbelievably true story, Chris tags along in an epic 50-mile ultramarathon race deep in Mexico’s Copper Canyon in 2006.
The race pits America’s top ultrarunning talents (including the legendary Scott Jurek) and all of modern running science against a reclusive and ancient indigenous tribe famed for long-distance running called the Tarahumara.
And guess what’s on their feet? Not much: thin sandals made from old tire rubber and leather string.
Without giving away the race (because it is a fantastic and fun book that everyone should read), the fact that the Tarahumara compete at such an extraordinary level despite abject poverty, isolation, and the most basic of footwear over dangerous terrain is mind-blowing.
Plus, running injuries are unheard of amongst the Tarahumara despite running up to 200 miles (320 km) at a crack. When was the last time you heard of a runner never getting hurt?
According to the book, 65-80% of runners every year get injured. The book cites studies pointing fingers at cushioned sneakers as the culprits, and the minimalist shoe revolution got its bible.
Barefoot Running Vs. Minimalist Running
While wearing a minimalist shoe like Vibram FiveFingers may look barefoot enough, it’s not barefoot running. That status is reserved for the people who are running literally barefoot and unshod, with skin on the pavement.
There are many legendary barefoot runners who have gone down in history. Heck, the very inspiration for the modern-day marathon, Pheidippides, supposedly was barefoot when he ran the first marathon after the Battle of Marathon in ancient Greece.
Or take Abebe Bikila, the first African to ever win an Olympic gold medal, who broke the marathon world record while running barefoot in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
I’ve seen several groups of barefoot runners at marathons — even during the Shanghai Marathon which is particularly filthy. But aside from the dirt and potential glass, it has always fascinated me. Unmistakably, it’s possible even in today’s modern world.
Instead of leaving my shoes behind though, I’ve opted to wear the minimalist shoes Vibram FiveFingers. Like all minimalist shoes, they have a “zero drop,” which means the heel is at the same height as the ball of the foot.
Vibram has published studies that claim their shoes are as close to barefoot running as you can get without the dangers of stepping on the bad stuff.
Our Vibram FiveFingers review corroborates that. With some soles as thin as 3 mm of rubber, you still get the ground feedback without the glass.
Since then, many other brands from Nike to Xero to Vivobarefoot, now offer minimalist running shoes and sandals. But, they are not the same shoe or the same experience as the Vibram toe shoes.
Why? Because there are no toe slots. It doesn’t feel truly barefoot unless your toes have the freedom to move individually. Plus, when your toes are free it feels like you could scale the side of a building if you needed to.
What are Vibram FiveFingers Good For?
If you ask Ryan, he would say that there is nothing Vibram FiveFingers aren’t good for. He wears them grocery shopping, running marathons, out to dinner, paddle boarding, and everything in between.
The only things they are not good for are the combination of cold and wet conditions.
Even though they are a great conversation starter out in public, I typically only wear my Vibram shoes while working out, running, or hiking. I love them most for running.
Next in our Vibram FiveFingers review, we’ll share our experience hiking, running, and exercising in toe shoes.
A gift for our readers:
We have partnered with Vibram FiveFingers to bring you a special offer.
You can claim the special offer below by providing your name and email. We’ll send you the offer immediately.
Running in Vibram Fivefingers
Ryan and I have both run marathons in the Vibram toe shoes.
I ran my first two marathons in 2008 and 2009 before I had ever heard of barefoot running. Atop thickly cushioned New Balance sneakers, my training had all the usual laments you hear from runners: one injury after another.
In my case, it was runner’s knee, allegedly from running on uneven sidewalks. Still, I happily ran and completed my marathons, thinking no more of it.
When Ryan started exercising in Vibram FiveFingers, the appeal was instant. It felt like a return to nature and natural posture.
I bought my first pair and loved the feeling of the thin soles and the completely new experience of feeling the ground beneath my feet. It added a dimension to my running that I never knew I missed.
All those miles I had spent in sneakers, I never once thought about actually feeling the ground.
Running in FiveFingers, I soon grew to enjoy the unique and different feelings of running on stone, grass, pavement, or dirt. With the toe slots, they felt natural and fit literally like a glove.
My initial Vibram FiveFingers review: I’d never worn a more comfortable shoe, and I loved that you could wash them in the laundry.
After two months of transitioning my running form from a heel striker to a forefoot striker, I signed up for my next two marathons. Ironically, it was during my next marathon when I saw my first group of barefoot runners.
Not in toe shoes, but without shoes at all with their skin on the pavement for the full 26.2 miles of the Shanghai Marathon. That blew my mind. While I had transitioned to minimalist running, I’ve still never committed to barefoot running. My mother would definitely freak out on me if I did.
My feet got lots of stares, but I ended up finishing as the eleventh female finisher in the race. My feet and body felt invincible, although admittedly, my feet hurt a bit on the apple-sized rocks. Nothing to stop me, though!
After that, I took a few years off, and when I started running again, I got injured. The official diagnosis from my physical therapist was a vague “too fast, too soon” but he didn’t point to my shoes as the culprit.
I ended up finishing my fifth marathon half walking and half jogging. So, did Vibram FiveFingers cause my running injuries? No. I wouldn’t say that they did.
But, both Ryan and I have experienced injury from potentially transitioning too fast, so we’ll talk about that in-depth later on in our Vibram FiveFingers review.
Now that both Ryan and I have run a marathon in Vibram FiveFingers, we have strong opinions about which models are best for road running.
What are the Best Vibram FiveFingers for Running?
In our opinion, the answer is not the V-Run. That shoe didn’t fit either of us very well, and Ryan’s shoes started delaminating after a few runs.
After training for and running several marathons, these are the best Vibram toe shoes for running (in no particular order).
Running my first marathon in the KSO Vibram FiveFingers shoes was a powerful experience, and I achieved my fastest time yet. The KSO (not the KSO EVO) is their most simple, affordable, and durable shoe, which is why it’s their best seller.
This shoe has the thinnest sole and it’s amazing to feel the ground until you start running on gravel or a bumpy trail with small rocks.
My next marathon was equally successful. Since I’d be running over cobblestones, rocks, dirt, trails, and pavement all during The Great Wall Marathon, I switched to the V-Trail Vibram FiveFingers, which have a thicker rubber sole.
I liked the V-Trail more than the V-Trek because the low ankle doesn’t rub and cause blisters. Ryan, however, wears Injinji socks and didn’t get blisters with the V-Trek shoes.
Ryan trained for his marathon in a pair of V-Trek Vibram FiveFingers. While training in mountainous Medellin Colombia, he needed more rubber to cushion his heels. By the end of training, the soles were good but he was patching holes in the toes with duct tape.
This wasn’t ideal, but the comfort and experience in the shoes were so good that we’ll always recommend them, even if they’re less durable.
The KMD Sport 2.0
Ryan has owned four pairs of KMD Sport toe shoes. They have always been long-lasting and extremely comfortable.
Unfortunately, as of now, the KMD Sport 2.0 isn’t on Amazon. The shoe is only for sale on the Vibram website. More details below about where to buy your next pair of FiveFingers.
Hiking, Trekking, or Trail Running in Vibram Fivefingers
Call us crazy, but we’d say the best shoes to wear on the Appalachian Trail are not hiking boots.
We recently set out on a section hike through the White Mountains in New Hampshire — a notoriously knee-busting scramble. Ryan and I wore our warm, waterproof, and clunky hiking boots.
Loaded down with heavy packs, we slowly climbed over huge boulder fields while the lightweight, trail-legged thru-hikers bounded past in trail running sneakers and ankle trail gaiters.
This was the first clue that we probably didn’t need our boots. The second and third clues were our injuries: my bruised toe and the return of Ryan’s hamstring tendonitis (a heel striking injury) had us calling it quits halfway through our 100-mile hike.
A few weeks later and rehabilitated, we hit the trail where we left off. This time, we left our hiking boots behind and brought two pairs of FiveFingers each, the KSO and the V-Trek. The difference was immense.
We felt lighter and more balanced than ever. We breezed over the top of Mount Washington (the fourth highest peak on the Appalachian Trail) and the surrounding presidential mountains.
Plus, with all of the rocks, the no-slip grip on the bottom of the FiveFingers was game-changing.
Considerations Before Hiking or Trail Running In FiveFingers
Before chucking your hiking boots after reading our Vibram FiveFingers review, there are a few considerations when choosing minimalist shoes while on the trail.
1. Make sure the bottom of your feet can handle it.
The padding on minimalist shoes is barely there. You want to make sure that your feet won’t get sore and tired after a day running on rocks. This takes some time to transition.
You’ll always feel the rocks (so you do want to avoid the sharp ones), but your feet won’t be sore at night if they’re accustomed to hiking in minimalist shoes.
2. If it’s cold and wet, bring boots.
Even with socks (and yes, there are toe socks for FiveFinger shoes), sneakers won’t ever be as warm as high-top waterproof hiking boots. If the temperatures dip below 50 °F, consider bringing warmer footwear. This is extra important if it’s wet and rainy.
We used to live in Ecuador, which was the rainiest place we’ve ever hiked. The high-altitude páramo was like walking on a cold, wet sponge. We would have been miserable hiking without our waterproof hiking boots.
The best part about bringing a pair of shoes like FiveFingers on a hike is that they are lightweight, dry fast, grip well, and can be washed with the laundry afterward!
The Best FiveFingers for Hiking or Trail Running
The shoes we’ve already recommended for running offer the best fit, durability, and comfort. We also recommend these shoes for the trail, but here are a few things to consider.
We wear the KSO Vibram FiveFingers shoes for everything (again, NOT the KSO EVO). For hiking, we love them because they’re light, dry quickly, and take up no space in our packs.
However, for trail running the shoe’s sole is too thin. Gravel or a bumpy trail with small rocks will be painful unless your feet are really, really tough.
The V-Trail by Vibram FiveFingers is my favorite shoe for the trail.
I prefer the V-Trail more than the V-Trek (Ryan’s favorite) because the low ankle doesn’t rub and cause blisters.
Ryan’s go-to trail running or hiking shoe is the V-Trek by Vibram FiveFingers. They are comfortable, fast-drying, and protect the foot from sharp rocks.
The KMD Sport 2.0
The KMD Sport 2.0 is a lot like the KSO, but with a thicker sole. If you want a shoe that’s good for the road, trail, gym, and maybe even the grocery store, this is the perfect shoe.
Working Out in Vibram Fivefingers
From HIIT to barre to weight lifting workouts, we prefer to work out in minimalist shoes like the Vibram FiveFingers.
For years, we worked out barefoot. But once we started lifting weights and incorporating resistance bands, we needed shoes to protect our feet. However, not every sneaker is a smart choice.
Many of the HIIT moves we do like skater jumps shouldn’t be done in a normal running sneaker but instead in court shoes that allow stable pivots and balance without slipping and sliding.
For us, with the rubber grip on the soles, nothing works better than FiveFingers. We keep a pair in our gym as our indoor workout shoes.
Plus, have you ever tried doing a balance routine in sneakers?! It’s like trying to stand on one leg on a fluffy marshmallow.
One of the easiest exercise hacks is to work out barefoot. You’ll immediately improve your form, stability, balance, and body awareness, helping you avoid injury.
However, apart from yoga class, barefoot exercise is not acceptable in the gym and if you’re at home shoes are still useful to prevent blisters. You’ll enjoy feeling connected to the ground and the shoes also start a lot of new conversations.
These are the best Vibram FiveFingers for working out.
The Best FiveFingers for Exercise
The V-Train and V-Soul are great shoes designed specifically for exercise. However, we have had some quality issues with the V-Train shoes, and while the V-Soul shoes are perfect for exercise, they’re not a multipurpose shoe.
Based on our experience, these shoes are best for working out and offer the most value.
The simple KSO by Vibram FiveFingers is perfect for working out. They fit like a glove, grip well on all surfaces, have the most barefoot feel of all the Vibram FiveFingers, and you can put them in the wash machine every week and they’ll still last forever.
The KMD Sport 2.0
The KMD Sport 2.0 is a lot like the KSO, but with a thicker sole, which makes it great for exercise and pretty much everything else.
A gift for our readers:
We have partnered with Vibram FiveFingers to bring you a special offer.
You can claim the special offer below by providing your name and email. We’ll send you the offer immediately.
But Why Try Vibram Fivefingers?
Not convinced about barefoot running shoes? Especially the funny-looking ones with toes? I’m not surprised.
You can find research both supporting and opposing minimalist shoes. Yet, consider the gigantic red flag in all of these studies: they’re all too small.
Every study I read drew drastic conclusions — for and against — with very few research participants. In one, only eight participants. In another, with nineteen participants.
What about the infamous study that spurred the Vibram lawsuit a few years ago? Ninety-nine participants. How does this provide trustworthy, replicable data to analyze?
Considering the numerous factors that go into a runner’s health, claims made based on so few data points are absolutely ridiculous. It’s no wonder that everything is so contradictory and conflicting.
And we get it. How on earth can you find identical runners to study, with no injuries, running the exact same way on the same training program, of similar speed and body composition?
The science is unclear if minimalist shoes will keep you healthy or make you run faster. So, we’re not going to dive into that in our Vibram FiveFingers review. Nor will we claim that the toe shoes have made us injury-proof.
Yet, without a doubt, we give a 10/10 rating for the experience of wearing barefoot shoes and another 10/10 for convenience, travel, and cleanliness. Putting them on our feet each day puts a smile on our faces.
We encourage you to experiment with minimalist shoes. The results of that test are far more reliable than any scientific study. So, here are six reasons why you should try minimalist running shoes.
1. Minimalist shoes provide a refreshing experience and connection to the ground.
Cutting out the sensation of feeling the ground is like ordering an ice cream cone without the ice cream. You’re missing a big part and you may not even know it.
Your feet are the third most connected to your nervous system after your face and hands. That’s why tickling someone’s feet paralyzes their whole body.
I love to go on runs to explore, get outside, and clear my thoughts, and part of exploring is feeling a connection to the ground.
I can’t explain the joy and fun it is when you change up street running versus trail running on your feet when you’re wearing minimalist shoes. It’s awesome.
2. Health and injury prevention starts with awareness, not the shoe.
The truth is, runners seem to get hurt. And often.
Both Ryan and I have been injured before and it’s not fun. Some of these injuries are from stress, falls, or imbalances. We have learned to take it slow, work on perfect form, and become aware of our bodies.
In our opinion, minimalist shoes help with awareness because bad running form can’t be hidden in barefoot shoes. Why? Because there is no padding.
Just like how wearing helmets spur football players to hit each other harder (yes, this is scientifically proven), wearing shoes with cushioned soles encourage runners to stomp down on the ground harder.
The increased rate of concussions in football and injuries in runners shows that this padding isn’t providing the protection we think it is.
We can confidently report in our review that Vibram FiveFingers encourage you to touch the ground lightly, optimize form, and drastically reduce the impact on lower extremities. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt.
If you’re wondering, we have never been injured stepping on sharp objects or stubbing our toes. The vast majority of injuries with Vibram FiveFingers happen during the transition.
We can’t stress enough to take your time to transition into these shoes. This will help you analyze your body and running technique at a deeper level.
3. They’re great for other, non-running workouts.
We love to work out in our home gym with Beachbody On Demand.
One of our favorite trainers, Tony Horton, in P90X3 recommends that you don’t wear sneakers working out. You should actually wear court shoes.
For dynamic cardio moves where you pivot, squat, leap, and jump, you can’t be balancing on top of marshmallow cushioned sneakers. Nothing works better in our home gym than our grippy Vibram FiveFingers.
Once you get your new shoes, test them out with our Couples Workout Routine!
4. Ready for the water.
Vibram FiveFingers were originally made for yachters to navigate slippery boats.
Once, we were exploring the Santa Elena Canyon and the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park with friends. There was an amazing cave downriver and the water was shallow enough to wade through.
However, our friends’ sneakers were filling up with sand and getting ruined. So, unfortunately, they had to turn around and we continued to explore.
With FiveFingers, we never have to worry about mud or water. We were wearing the Vibram FiveFingers KSO shoes, which literally stands for “Keep Stuff Out.”
We find these shoes are better than any sneaker for hikes or walks that get us wet. Plus, you can air dry them quickly or throw them in the laundry.
5. You can easily travel with them and clean them in the laundry.
Okay, sometimes Ryan’s shoes downright stink, which is why he started wearing toe socks (this is the best brand of socks).
For me, I prefer the feeling of no socks, so once the shoes start smelling, I simply wash them in the washing machine and air dry them in the sun. Voila.
Another benefit we must mention in our Vibram FiveFingers review? They’re lightweight and take up barely any space in a suitcase.
Now, you don’t have to decide between extra work clothes or your sneakers on your next business trip. And when I say lightweight, I mean it. My V-Soul FiveFingers weigh 0.2 lbs.
6. They are conversation starters.
Ryan and I have traveled to 33 countries together since 2010 when we first started wearing toe shoes.
Our shoes have turned thousands of heads and started hundreds of conversations. The most entertaining conversations happened while we were living in China, where everyone called them frog feet.
Which Vibram Fivefingers should I buy?
Now that is a loaded question.
There are a lot of different models of Vibram FiveFingers, none of which you can find in stores.
Hopefully, that changes in the future, but for now, we have to compare specs online, read reviews, ask our friends for a recommendation and hope for the best.
We have worn almost every shoe in almost every environment, from the desert in Texas to the jungles of Colombia. And here’s the thing….
There are a lot of shoes that we don’t highly recommend, either for performance, fit, or durability reasons. Additionally, the shoes that we do highly recommend, are not ideal for certain activities.
We’ve already shared our best recommendations for running, hiking, and working out. Additionally, we talked about some shoes that we didn’t have a great experience with, like the V-Runs and the KSO EVO.
If you don’t know what to buy, you’ll never be disappointed with the KSO shoes. They’re the best seller for a reason. They have been around forever, the design is simple, and the materials are quality.
If you still have questions, we’ll provide recommendations in the comments section of this article. Please share as many details as possible, such as how you plan to use the shoes and what FiveFingers you’ve worn previously.
Additionally, if you have your own experience or recommendations to share, we’d love to hear from you in the comments as well.
A gift for our readers:
We have partnered with Vibram FiveFingers to bring you a special offer.
You can claim the special offer below by providing your name and email. We’ll send you the offer immediately.
How to Transition to vibram fivefingers?
Transitioning is critically important. Since you’re reading Vibram FiveFingers reviews and considering the minimalist toe shoe, take this seriously.
If your goal is to run in your Vibram FiveFingers, the transition should be done slowly and gradually.
For lower impact activities such as hiking, yoga, lifting weights, CrossFit, or paddleboarding, the transition is not intense.
Just take your time and listen to your feet and legs.
Running in FiveFingers for the first time
Before I started running in my FiveFingers, I could easily run 15 miles in my traditional running shoes. When I started in my Vibram shoes, I ran one block and increased my daily distance slowly.
After 2 months, I was able to run 10 miles in my toe shoes. I could have run more, but in my mind, I knew that I was supposed to stick to a slow transition plan. I stuck to that plan and did so with no issues. This was my plan, but make your own based on your comfort and ability.
Ryan, on the other hand, tried to transition more aggressively. He would regularly run 3-4 miles in traditional running shoes, so he started with a 1/2 mile run in his FiveFingers.
The following day, he had to pump the breaks due to extreme muscle soreness and stiffness in his Achilles tendons.
Over the next two months, he wore them during all of his HIIT and bodyweight resistance workouts, errands out and about, and runs, which he increased by 1/2 mile per week.
Transitioning again in the future
Just because you transitioned to running in minimalist shoes once doesn’t mean you’re set for life. Let’s say you transition to FiveFingers and then either take a break from wearing them or take a break from running.
When you restart, you need to re-transition. I have always been an avid runner, but Ryan loves yoga and HIIT workouts and sometimes takes breaks from running. There have been times when he returns too quickly from a break and feels the warning signs.
Any time you make a significant change to your running footwear, you need to listen to your body and transition.
Vibram’s recommended transition plan
This transition plan is provided in a pamphlet that comes with your new Vibram FiveFingers.
Wear them for short sessions during daily walking activities such as grocery shopping or moving around the house or office.
Work out in your FiveFingers for 10% of your overall routine every other day. If you normally run 5 miles, do 1/2 mile in your toe shoes.
Each week, increase the length of your workouts in Vibram FiveFingers, but no more than 10% from the previous week. Continue to use them every other day.
Week 13 & Onward
From here, you’re the best judge. Increase the number of workouts or the intensity as you feel appropriate. Always remember to listen to your body.
Remember, just because you buy minimalist sneakers, it doesn’t mean you need to run only with them. We’ve read studies showing that many people found their sweet spot in performance and personal best times by training in barefoot shoes 35% of the time.
As we’ve explained in our Vibram FiveFingers review, Ryan wears his 90% of the time (during all exercise, adventures, and out and about) and I am closer to 40% of the time (only during all exercise and adventures).
Frequently Asked Vibram Fivefinger Questions
Are Vibram FiveFingers good or bad for your feet?
Based on our experience, FiveFingers are good for the health and function of our feet and lower extremities. But the formal science out there is contradictory and the evidence is lacking.
We have clients who have converted to FiveFingers and eliminated plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee. Conversely, we have flat-footed clients who swear by the arch support provided by their orthotics and are unwilling to make a change.
The best way to figure out if they are good for you is by giving them a try.
How long do Vibram FiveFingers last?
Based on our combined 20 years of experience wearing at least a dozen pairs of FiveFinger shoes, they last longer than the typical shoe. They last between one and five years depending on use.
Ryan goes through shoes faster than I do because his feet sweat more and he needs to wash them frequently. When he exercised daily without socks, his shoes were too smelly and worn out after one year, about 210 workouts.
Now that he wears Injinji socks, they last two years or more. He wore his last pair for 2.5 years and only replaced them to try a new style.
My FiveFingers have lasted an average of two years, about 800 miles. After that kind of use, the fabric became worn out and torn around the toes.
If you have a pair that isn’t for everyday use, they could easily last up to 5 years. In our experience, salt water can quickly reduce the life of your FiveFingers. Make sure you wash them in fresh water after immersion in salt water.
Also, it’s true that Vibram FiveFingers have had some quality issues in the past. We have had shoes that quickly start delaminating or get holes in the toes. Those are shoes we will not be recommending in the comments.
Can you wear Vibram FiveFingers in the water?
Yes. You can get them wet and they are great for use in the water. If worn in saltwater, make sure you rinse them in freshwater afterward.
Do you wear socks with Vibram FiveFingers?
Ryan likes to wear them with socks, and he has about 12 pairs of the Injinji Toe Socks. They extend the life of the shoe and reduce odor. Some avid hikers we know also say that the socks also help reduce blisters.
I prefer to wear FiveFingers without socks because it feels more like I’m barefoot. Sure, I’ve had some blisters in the past, but they usually happen only during the transition period and not once your feet have toughened up.
Are Vibram FiveFingers good for flat feet?
Our best answer for this Vibram FiveFingers review: there is only one way to find out! Try them!
The whole theory behind barefoot running is that Mother Nature knew what she was doing. Your feet are incredible works of art. Each one of your stompers has 26 bones, 30 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
So, why not run barefoot as humans have done for millennia and stop wrapping them up in cushion-like a cast? That includes the folks with flat feet.
Arch support is a very popular buzzword when buying shoes, and it’s not without basis. People want shoes that prevent injury, make them run faster, offer stability, and improve recovery. But does arch support actually do that?
According to a thorough investigation by the runner’s website RunRepeat which reviewed 150+ studies, arch support does not help with risk of injury, balance, or running economy. It does help treat certain injuries, but they’re very specific. These include MTSS, ankle internal rotation, and certain plantar pressures.
Therefore, think twice before changing sneakers based solely on arch support. The most guaranteed thing we found is that more arch support = more money.
How to size Vibram FiveFingers?
Knowing how Vibram FiveFingers should fit is a bit tricky. First, you need to measure the length of both feet from the heel to the tip of your longest toe (not always your big toe).
Use that measurement to reference the Vibram FiveFingers sizing chart for men and women. Keep in mind that the website labels some styles as “Runs small! Go up a size!”
We always prefer our FiveFingers to fit very snugly, without any extra room in the toes if possible. In our experience, the toe shoes do break in.
Will Vibram FiveFingers stretch?
Yes, they do break in a little bit, which is why we like them to fit tightly when they are fresh out of the box. Just make sure they fit the shape of your foot.
Your foot should slide into the shoe, and then into the toe slots fairly easily.
Which Vibram FiveFingers are best for running?
Again, making these recommendations are really tough. The best pair for running is the classic Vibram KSO. It’s their best seller and in our experience the most durable and versatile shoe.
But, it has a very thin sole. Therefore, small rocks or gravel roads will be pretty painful. My favorite running shoe is one of their older trail shoes and Ryan prefers to run in the V-Trek.
You’d think the V-Run shoe would be the best running shoe, but for both of us, it just doesn’t fit our feet right.
Closing Thoughts on Vibram Toe Shoes
We hope that you have found our Vibram shoes review helpful. The experience in the toe shoes is like no other, and in our opinion, they train you to walk, run, hike, and move more naturally.
Please leave questions about the article in the comments below.
A gift for our readers:
We have partnered with Vibram FiveFingers to bring you a special offer.
You can claim the special offer below by providing your name and email. We’ll send you the offer immediately.
8-Week Bodyweight Workout Plan
Download and instantly access the 8-week bodyweight exercise program including the following.
- Videos of the 70 best upper body, lower body, core, and total-body cardio exercises with professional instruction to ensure proper form.
- An 8-week workout calendar and rep tracker sheet with built-in variety and periodization.
- A program guide built for your current fitness level: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
- Access to all future revisions to the program.
Plus, we're always here for support.
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
Join our 120,000 monthly readers
Receive our newsletter bringing healthy couples practical tips and life-changing ideas based on science.
As engineers, we know these to be true:
1. What gets tracked, gets improved
2. If you fail to plan, plan to fail
Therefore, when you join, you get our Goals and Habits Bundle to track and plan your best 2022.
Would be very interested in your code/offer. I have done the kso, v train and trail and all start breaking down on me in a matter of months so if you also have more tips on helping these last just a bit longer (I run a few miles daily) I would really appreciate! Love the feedback they provide but rather costly to have to buy 2-3/yr (or, most often, run a good while with holes in toes lol. Not too bad but no longer kso!)
Hey Anna, great question. You’re right, the shoes have been less durable in the last couple of years. When we first started to wear them they would last for years. Lately, holes in the toes have been more frequent. The good news is the company is focusing on quality and bringing back fan-favorite shoes from the past, such as the KomodoSport and the Bikila.
Here are our top 3 recommendations. I will include pictures in the email we send with our special offer.
My first recommendation is the basic KSO shoe. It is their best-selling model (and has been forever), and in our experience, it’s the most durable and comfortable. Make sure it’s the KSO, not the KSO EVO. The most recent KSO EVO model didn’t hold up as well for us. If you haven’t run in the KSO shoes before, they do have a thinner sole and more barefoot feel. I love this, but only for road running as a piece of gravel can be pretty painful.
I just finished running my first marathon and I trained in multiple pairs of FiveFingers. While training, I picked a favorite that was comfortable and held up well (going on 500+ miles). It’s the V-Trek. In my experience, this shoe held up better than the V-Train and V-Trek. But, this shoe also fits my foot better. Sometimes if the shoe doesn’t fit the shape of your foot very well, there can be added pressure on the sidewalls of the toe slots. This is what leads to holes faster. Also, I like my shoes small, so that they are snug and feel like bare feet. This also puts more pressure on the seams. Just a few other things to consider.
Lastly, Vibram just launched the second version of the KomodoSport (KMD 2.0) shoe about a month ago. I have a pair and I already put about 50 miles on them. They are a perfect fit and really comfortable. Based on the design of the shoe (very similar to the KSO but with a thicker sole) and the materials used, I expect these to be long-lasting shoes and a new favorite of mine. The first version of this shoe was my all-time favorite shoe.
I hope that helps and us know if you have other questions.
Which shoe do you recommend for strenuous hiking?
Hey! Great question. Alex and I are divided. My favorite shoe right now for strenuous hiking is the V-Trek (non-insulated). Alex doesn’t love the V-Trek because the high top ankle gives her blisters. Her favorite shoe for hiking is the V-Trail.
Thank you for this in-depth product review.
I’ve worn VFF’s on & off for years but stopped wearing them due to severe plantar fasciitis & heel pain. Podiatrist told me to start wearing Brooks wide toe box shoes. It must’ve helped because the pain is gone & I’m ready to wear my VFF ‘s again. The two things I did not like about my VFF’s were one, they didn’t protect my feet from the Hawaiian heat while hiking on lava beds & even out on their paved areas. The intense heat went right through like I was standing on a hot grill. Secondly, as Alex mentioned above, they don’t keep the feet warm, so trail hiking in the PNW in temperatures below sixty degrees was a no bueno. So, do you still recommend the the KSO Sport 2.0 for the thicker sole? I’m going to order a couple of pairs so I can always have one in rotation. Thanks again….Brian
You’re welcome! I’m glad your new shoes helped with the plantar fasciitis and heel pain. It’s not a bad idea to give your feet variety. Keep wearing the Brooks and start supplementing with the VFFs.
One question: Which pair of VFFs were you wearing on the lava beds and in the Hawaiian heat? There is a chance that a thicker sole (I like the V-Trek sole) might help. I find that wearing socks keeps my feet slightly cooler too.
Regarding cold temperatures, I tested the insulated V-Treks this winter in Minnesota. It was a 40 degree day and my feet were warm, but only while they were dry… which wasn’t long. Until there is an insulated and waterproof version, I still don’t think VFFs make a lot of sense in the cold weather. Just wear your brooks with some nice warm socks.
I love the KMD Sport 2.0. It’s a great fitting, robust shoe. Please answer the above question and that will help me recommend a second pair for you. Thanks!
Thank you for the article. I have been wearing vibram toe shoes since they came out. I don’t remember the last time I owned sneakers. I wear them every day pretty much for most things especially hiking. I’m not sure what pair I’m on but I just got the new insulated water resistant ones and I cannot express how much I love them. Thanks again.
Hey! You’re welcome. That’s great that you like your new insulated and water resistant shoes. I have the insulated V-Treks. I love them in the rain but haven’t tested them in the cold yet.
I have tardive dyskinesia and have constant movement of my feet and toes. I have found if I keep my toes separated they will stop moving. So I am considering your shoes to help with that. Do you have any recommendations as to which pair? I am not a runner I have rheumatoid arthritis but I do a lot of walking so I need something as cushioned as you have but I definitely would love to try a pair of these. I haven’t read your return policy in case they do not help. But thank you very much
Hey Lisa, thanks for reaching out! It sounds like the shoes (and the socks too) might help stop your toes from moving. For walking, I would recommend trying out the V-Trek or the KMD Sport 2.0. Send us an email and we can share our special offer.
Vibram does offer a 100% guarantee (on full priced shoes) in case they do not help or you’re not satisfied. Here’s the guarantee details:
Within 6 weeks of purchase: 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on regularly priced Vibram FiveFingers. Any regularly-priced FiveFingers purchased at us.vibram.com can be returned for any reason within 6 weeks of the original purchase date for a full refund, no questions asked
Not applicable on sale or discounted items.
Thanks for the code! Appreciate it! I just received my KSOs today and tried them on inside the house. I haven’t run in case I need to exchange them. I noticed that the toe area has a lot of stitching on the inside where the toes sit. Is this normal? I was expecting a glove like smooth area for my toes, but rather has the insole that is stitched creating an uneven surface where the upper and insole meet. I tried them on with my injini toe socks and it was better, but I really was looking forward to using this without toe socks.
Second question, how much gap do you leave between the largest toe and the toe guard? If I slide my feet all the way back to the heel cup, I have a thumbs width space which felt like a lot for these. If I push my feet forward and strap in tight, then it’s better with just a little space. in both cases my other shorter toes have a lot of space and don’t fill up the toe slots. Should I have gone for a size smaller?. And for the pair you did your marathon in did you factor in feet swelling during longer runs?
I’m just unable to go to the store right now to test sizes and pairs due to the pandemic. If you can respond, it will be great help, thanks in advance!
Yes, the toe stitching is normal. I know exactly what you mean. When the shoes are new and snug, the interior seams can indent your skin after wearing them. What I find is that the shoes will break in over time and soon you won’t feel the stitching, and pressure from the seams will no longer leave marks on your skin. In time, you’ll be fine wearing them with and without socks.
It sounds like these shoes are too big for you. It’s up to your preference, but I think extra shoe at the end of your toes detracts from the barefoot feel. I like the end of my toes to be very close or touching the toe guard. Based on your measurements, I would go one size smaller and get the 46. I did not factor in foot swelling during the marathon. I did have some blistering at the end of my second big toes, however, I still wouldn’t get the size up just because I prefer a snug shoe.
I’m glad you reached out, and I actually get this question a lot. Could you do me a favor?
It would be helpful if you just copy and pasted your below questions into the comments section of our Vibram Review Then I’ll post my response there too so other readers can benefit. I would appreciate it!
Let me know what other questions you have too.
Thanks for the article – great review. I’m writing to find out if any of the FiveFingers shoes would be good for running on the beach – both on packed and soft sand. If so, what shoe would be a good (or the best) option and is it best to get toe socks to avoid chaffing from the sand or can this be done without too much trouble minus the socks? I understand that some shoes can get in the water but my hope is that won’t happen too much. I did not run much for many years but used to when I was younger. I might consider running on other surfaces at some point. I have not seen too many detailed reviews online about the pros and cons of running with minimalist shoes on a beach environment. Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Hey Jordana! Thanks for posting your question.
The best FiveFingers we’ve found for running on the beach are the KSOs (aka Keep Stuff Out). With that said, they may not be perfect, depending on the consistency and depth of the sand, but better than most sneakers and of course all running sandals. There are also some FiveFingers that go higher up on the ankles, such as the V-Neops but I haven’t actually tried these before. They look like they could be perfect for you, though.
I’ve used high ankle V-Treks before and they work well keeping dirt and sand out, but they’re insulated and I think a bit too warm for running on the beach (depending on where you are!)
We haven’t trialed other minimalist shoes specifically on the beach and can’t make a great comment towards those.
Hello! I’m looking for shoes that are good for walking. I’m not going to try with running yet, but is there a pair that would be perfect for both walking and MAYBE some light jogging (short distance)?
Also, if I were to get toe socks, should I size up? Thanks in advance!
Hello Kelly! We like the simple KSO shoe for walking and jogging. Alex doesn’t like wearing socks but I prefer them. I like the socks (and the shoes) to fit snugly. Otherwise the extra material takes away from the barefoot experience. For both the shoes and socks, I recommend buying the correct size according to the sizing charts (for the shoes you’ll have to measure your feet). If you’re in between two sizes, I usually select the smaller size. Both the socks and the shoes can stretch. I hope that helps and send us an email if you want our offer.
I’ve been in minimalist shoes for a few years now but am finally getting up the courage to try the vibram 5 fingers. I’m specifically wondering about what style you would recommend for trail running?
Hey Emily, that’s great that you’re going to start trail running in the 5 fingers. I love the V-Trek (non-insulated) for trail running. Alex doesn’t prefer the V-Trek because the high top ankle gives her blisters (she doesn’t wear socks and I do). Her favorite trail running shoe is the V-Trail. Both are excellent options. Shoot us an email if you have other questions or want our “special offer.”
I have a wide foot. Looking for an all around shoe for walking, hiking, playing with 5 yr old outside. Mixed terrain like gravel, side walk, grass, and mountains. I live in Colorado. What would you recommend?
Hey! The KMD Sport 2.0 is good for wide feet and the sole is my favorite for mixed terrains. I think that is the perfect shoe for you but send us an email if you have more questions (or want the “special offer”).
Yes I called you two kids. Only because at 67 I may be old enough to be your grandpa. Really liked your review. It’s filled with good info on the use of these shoes.
Anyway, I began wearing Vibram’s full time when I retired over 7 years ago. 5 years before that there has always been a pair in my gym bag. I have over 9 different pair at the moment but have owned quite a number of the styles Vibram offers over the years. I did the slow transitioning into my first pair as the company suggested. Eased into the shoe with no problem. Always go sockless and just toss them into the washer every so often.
Before wearing them full time I had chronic lower back trouble. I still do. But, I noticed after playing golf in them my back trouble eased. The only evidence I can offer is through my golf game. No I didn’t lower my handicap by wearing Vibram’s. In regular shoes I might go 6 to 9 holes before pain set in. After wearing a pair to play in I played a complete round of 18 holes without experiencing any pain at all. Done so many times since. The only thing I can think of which supports my relief is I came out of shoes with heels to Vibram’s, no heels. With the Vibram’s my heel was lowered to the ground stretching my Achilles, calf muscles, hamstrings, and rocking the top of my hips back, straightening my spine. That seems to reduce the pressure on my L1 through L5 Lumbar discs or at least evened them out. No more pain from golf. That’s my story. It worked for me. Will it for anybody else? Don’t know but it worked for me.
I run in Vibram’s. Lift weights in Vibram’s. Hike in Vibram’s. Do triathlons in Vibram’s. Grocery shop in Vibram’s. Work around the house in Vibram’s, Even have a pair I wear to formal events. I have a couple of pair that are a size or two small I wear for my open water training. I can’t afford a foot injury such as a cut right before a competition. When entering the lake the smaller size I wear prevents that and they stay on my feet as I swim a mile or two. Tried the Aqua shoe but even with the strap they came loose as I kicked.
Sorry for the long dissertation about my use of the shoes. But I feel their use has really changed my life for the better. At least I can play a complete round of golf without pain adding to my frustration.
Hi Steve! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing experiences with Vibram FiveFingers in such detail for everyone to read. You’ve done so many sports in them — more so than us — and we’re inspired by how active you are into your late-60s! (As an aside, we’re flattered that we look so youthful because you’re just the age of our parents, not grandparents 🙂 !)
Off the top of your head, do you know your favorite shoes for each activity? Or do you stick with one style for all?
Thanks again, and we wish you all the best with your golf game!
Hello, I have been wanting to try these shoes but I haven’t been able to afford them. A few years have gone by and I’m finally in a place where I can. Which would you recommend? I live in California, but despite being near the beach I prefer the mountains. Yosemite is my go-to hiking spot. I would also appreciate it if you could send me the special offer.
Hey! I think you should go for the KSO shoe. It’s simple, durable, has the best barefoot feel, and is also the most affordable pair. If you need something with a thicker sole for the trails of Yosemite, go for the KMD Sport 2.0. That shoe is very similar to the KSO but has a thicker sole so small rocks don’t hurt. Let me know if you have other questions.
Hey Ryan and Alex. Found your website doing a google search. I have a structural question for you guys. Hopefully one of you is a MechE or something of that ilk. I have several pairs of vibrams. Love the idea of a minimalist shoe but they have been sitting in my closet rather than on my feet. I also had a stroke many decades ago as a child. My ankle stability on my weaker side is poor at best, so there is lateral movement in my shoes which is causing friction at where the achilles tendon connects to the heel bone. I already wear socks. I’m wondering if there is anything that you can recommend?
Hey Tino! That’s a tough problem to solve. I am assuming you tried this, but do you have the same problem without socks? Sometimes I have more friction with socks. The only solution I have tested is a band aid. There are special band aids for blisters which work quite well. We always bring them backpacking with us because our hiking boots can rub on steep inclines.
One thing I haven’t tried (something that’s less of a band aid fix) is the silicone heel cups. I am not a MechE, but my experience as a ChemE tells me that’s the prefect material to reduce friction. I would try them if I were you. Also, silicone is really easy to clean and usually has antibacterial properties.
Lastly, all of my FiveFingers fit snug like a glove. In the future, you could try a size smaller. I hope that helps.
Hi Ryan and Alex!
Firstly, thank you very much for the extensive and informative review.
I decided to try on KSOs as my first VFF model. It seems like yall highly recommend it for most activities, as well as on other sites (where it is said to be the “SUV” and most versatile of the VFF models). I also like that it seems like it’ll keep being made for a while, so I can just keep getting a new pair if my old pair gets too worn out. I tend to do a lot of research and trials when settling on a new model of everyday shoe, which I could save if the model will still be being produced.
It seems like I’m in between size 42 and 43. Since I’ve read that feet usually grow throughout the day if one is moving around, I waited until the end of a normal “sedentary” day (mostly sedentary, with some yoga, short walks, and yard work). I would usually walk more since I live in a more walk-able city without a car, but am visiting family in a “car-city” and am using one of their cars. To test the KSOs, I walked around in them for 3-5 minutes on vinyl flooring.
For the past 2 or 3 years I have been wearing the same pair of “minimalist shoes” (Merrell Trail Glove 4 which has a Vibram sole) and really enjoying them. Before then I went through 2-3 pairs of Adidas Sambas over 5 or so years. I almost always wear socks. With my thin-outer Merrell’s, I will often wear thicker wool socks with shorts since my feet seem to feel colder than the rest of my body.
re size 42:
With socks it seems like it’s too small. Without socks, it definitely feels “snug like a glove.” Each toe seems secure and less likely to fall out of their pocket. But it seems like my longest toe (left big toe) is squeezed with no room to the end of the shoe. After a few minutes of walking around my living room, it seemed like I could feel the constraint in my big toe even more.
re size 43:
Without socks: While my big toe feels secure with a little room to the end of it’s toe pocket, my smallest toe seems barely secure in it’s pocket and as if it will likely come out of it’s pocket with so much extra room. It seems that there’s lots of extra room in my smallest 3 toes on both feet. Socks help to make each toe feel more secure in their pocket, although there still doesn’t seem to be that “snug like a glove” feeling.
I don’t plan to run in these nor any shoes I would get in the foreseeable future (only when I’m late for the bus! etc.). I rarely run – I don’t enjoy it and it seems to weaken my already weak knees.
I do love to walk though! Especially when traveling. I’m usually walking on city streets. Sometimes dirt trails and sometimes I’ll get off the path and explore. Consecutive days of 10+ miles of walking are common whenever I’m traveling. Sometimes I’ll be loaded down with a backpack, although I’m trying to get away from that (to avoid even more knee – and back – pain//damage).
My difference in the length of my toes seems to be greater than in many Youtube review videos I’ve seen and I suspect is the main factor of the 42s possibly being too short for my biggest toe, but the 43s leading me to feel like my smallest toe will fall out of it’s pocket and the smaller toes rubbing against their pockets.
Do different VFF models have significantly different ranges of toe-pocket lengths? If so, are you aware of which models might be worth me trying? In other words, models where the length of the toe pocket for the smallest toe is even shorter than it is in the KSO (where, theoretically, the toe pocket for the biggest toe would be the same length as that in the KSO).
You seem to advocate for choosing the more snug fit and that the shoe should break in and stretch a little. In this case, would you still recommend I consider keeping the smaller size even though it seems like my big toe is already touching the end of its toe pocket?
Since I don’t plan to run in my VFFs, would you recommend that I consider other models considering what I wrote?
In sum, I expect to use them mostly for casual use, but with more walking than most people, often with a load of bags from the grocery store or while traveling.
I’d hope for a shoe pair which I can almost always wear, wearing them with thicker socks on most winter days (which I did with my Merrell trail gloves), and saving thick, heavy winter boots for extreme weather. I imagine that most of the lightweight everyday-style models don’t block against rain well though and that the most waterproof VFFs I saw would not do well in hot weather as they might hold in sweat (V-NEOPs). The V-NEOPs are my favorite-looking model though. Might you recommend them in my case or do they indeed hold in a lot of sweat or offer another negative compared with the KSOs which I may have overlooked?
(I’m betting that I’ll end up getting multiple models for different occasions (V-NEOP for rain, another for extreme winter days), but would really like to check the most boxes with my first model, and try to have as few models as practical.)
Thank you very much for reading all of that and considering it! And thank you again for your very helpful article and answers to the comments.
Oh! And I remember reading that feet may “grow//extend” after going from a cushioned shoe to a more minimalist shoe and/or using toe spacers. Have you read or experienced such a thing happening? My feet didn’t seem to grow noticeably in my Merrell “minimalist” shoes, but me thinking about the possibility makes me lean more towards picking the 43s over the 42s if I stick with KSO as my first VFF model.
Hey Rich, great question. I have heard about this but never experienced it. If you didn’t notice it in the Merrells I don’t think you will in the VFFs. With the KSOs (an excellent choice for your first VFF model), you want them snug. The materials in this shoe stretch. When I measure my feet in inches, I fall right between a 42 and a 43. For all VFF models, I always get the 42s and have never had a problem with them being too small. All the 43s I have tried are too big and the extra toe space takes away from the barefoot feel. My recommendation: start with the 42s. I hope that helps!
Hey Rich, this is loaded with great questions. As you saw, I already replied to your second comment about the 42s versus the 43s. After reading this comment, that recommendation holds.
After reading through all your information and questions, I ended up digging out all of our FiveFingers shoes (now pictured in the article) to analyze the toes. Here is what I found and these are my best answers to your questions.
1. I think you should still consider keeping the smaller size 42s even though it seems like your big toe is already touching the end of its toe pocket. Correct me if I am wrong but it sounds like you have only worn them around the house. It’s totally normal for them to feel too tight at first. With more use, they will stretch and I don’t think your left big toe will be bothered. This is a great shoe as you said, it will be around forever. Next, if you really want to wear socks, it’s possible that the KSO 42s will be too snug. Still, there’s a chance they will stretch over time but I can’t say for sure. Remember, Vibram offers a 6-week guarantee if the KSOs end up not working for you.
2. After looking at all the toe pockets of all the Vibram FiveFingers I currently own, I think you should try this shoe: The Vibram FiveFingers V-Train. It doesn’t look like your size is available on Amazon so send us an email and we can share our “special offer” to buy on their website. This was the only shoe that looked like it would fit your toes better (the big toe is a bit longer and all other toes appear to be the same as the KSOs), and I still recommend the size 42.
3. I think you need to get a couple pairs of shoes for different occasions. The KSOs (or V-Trains if those end up working) are great for warm weather. If it rains, your feet will get wet. There isn’t a pair of VFFs that is good for wet conditions and I don’t recommend the V-NEOPS (your feet will sweat). You only need two pairs of shoes to cover all your needs. The KSOs is the first. They are good for everything except the rain and cold. For those conditions, I recommend hiking boots with a waterproof liner and a Vibram sole. I like the Merrell and Lowa boots.
I hope that covers all your questions.
Thanks a million for all the effort you put into answering my questions! Your perspective on the KSO//VFF sizing, V-Neops, toe boxes, and everything else is very helpful.
I will definitely try the V-Trains and Xcursion Fusions. Both look and sound very promising!
Thanks again, another million times over,
I’ve run in vibrams for over 10 years and love them, never going to stop.
As a 5K racer though, I’ve recently started wondering if a lightly cushioned racing flat is quicker. Something like a Newton Distance Elite. It has a wide toebox for that type of shoe and they sell it as a fast racing shoe. (obviously they would). All my training would still be in vibrams.
Is there any evidence of cushioning vs barefoot regarding speed.
Hey Laurence, great question. Once you go with the toes you never go back! I love that you’re a 5K racer too. I like to go fast so those are my favorite.
First, we haven’t come across any evidence that cushioning is faster than barefoot or the vice versa. Honestly, I think the shoe that makes you run the fastest is the shoe that makes you feel like the fastest runner. If you want, give the shoes a try and see how it feels. However, I highly recommend training in the shoes that you’re going to race in. I hope that helps and enjoy 5K season!
HI! I own several pairs of Vibram Five Fingers and every time I get a new pair I hem and haw over the fit. I just got some leather CVT and am wiggin out because they are a 36 when I usually wear a 37. I have a bunion that has been bugging me, so I wanted another pair of leather. These seem to fit well in the heel and my toes can wiggle, but don’t slip out. My big toe is up against the toe tip but isn’t uncomfortable. Will these loosen a bit or should I try the 37? I seem to remember my last pair of kangaroo leather shoes stretching out a bit. Thanks for any insight.
Hey Kimberly! I hear you. Based on the details you’ve shared, unless you want to wear them with socks, the 36 sounds perfect. The leather will break in and stretch. Also, just curious, what are your favorite pairs of Five Fingers?
you guys are awesome. such an honest and true to life experience.
Now i really want a pair or toe of these free toe shoes🤭
Thanks Azri, we’re glad you enjoyed the review. I hope you join the toe shoe club soon!
You guys are such a breath of fresh air! I’ve been looking for something new to break with any activity or discussion on vffs. And now I finally stumble onto your website. Definitely a pleasant surprise! I’ve been wearing these shoes exclusively since 2010. I’ve been looking over the Vibram website every week for nearly 2 years waiting for a return to the models I’ve always loved. I’ve worn several models and quite a few pairs over the past 12 years. I’ve been sticking to KSOs for gym workouts and casual wear. Been using VRun for road and track running for the past 2 years or so. Don’t do much trail running. I wear an old worn out pair of the original Komodosport around the house (man they don’t make them much more comfortable than those). But, ya know – Bikilas were THE most comfortable vff’s I ever put on my feet. I still have an old pair of Bikila that I stopped wearing ONLY because I don’t want to wear them out beyond hope….I’m too afraid Vibram won’t make them ever again. But I just read that you said Vibram is bringing them back….but when, where? I’m so ready for that! Anyway, I’ll come back to a question I have for you. I currently wear KSO Evo at work. (I’m a hospital nurse.) I agree with you that they aren’t durable at all, but I only wear them on tile flooring and they’re great for keeping agile, and constantly on the move – a must for a fast paced unit. But I desperately want to have a vff with a thicker sole that will give more warmth through the winter months. The KSO Treks climb too high around my ankles and I’m almost certain they would cut into my ankle. I’ve worn toe socks with these KSO Evo, but that always makes for a tight squeeze on all my toes inside the KSO Evo toe pockets – which quickly gets uncomfortable. And my shifts are 13 hours long – so can’t tolerate “tow squeeze” for 13 hours. So, you intrigued me with your take on the KMD 2.0 – saying they’re great for wide feet. (My wide feet is the biggest reason I’ve returned so many new pair of vff’s in the past. I have small feet for a guy and in the early years I had to buy women’s vff’s because they didn’t have my smaller size in the mens. And all too often I found the women’s shoes to be too narrow for my ever-widening feet. But my only option was to wear women’s sizes, or quit wearing vff altogether, and that was NOT part of my plan.) So, my problem now with the return of KMD 2.0 is this: I need a MEN’S size 39 – which they don’t have. So, should I try the WOMEN’S 39? Or will that be too small or too narrow again? Any advice you guys can give will be greatly appreciated! Oh, and btw, I’d also like your special offer please.
Hey Gene! It’s always fun connecting with another VFF junkie. We have big news: the Bikila is back! However, they have a new name: the “V-Run Retro.”
Alex and I have been testing them for two weeks. They are just as awesome as they were 10 years ago! I ran 6 miles in mine today both on and off road. So far the comfort and quality are perfect. The sole thickness provides a nice balance of ground feel and protection (similar to the KMD 2.0). Most importantly, though, they have the MEN’S size 39. So, forget about the KMD 2.0 and get yourself some V-Run Retros.
I also recommend trying the KSO ECO. They are the same shoe as the KSO EVO but more casual and less sporty. The ECO is more durable than the EVO and the fabric is super comfortable. Just in case you want to try those for your next work shoe.
Let us know if you have other questions. Lastly, for the special offer, please sign up through the form on this page and we’ll send you the info.
I am in complete agreement with Gene regarding the VFF Bikila’s: most comfortable footwear ever worn. They’ve trekked me around the world: Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, Uganda, India. Sadly, mine are well past the worn out date but I just haven’t had the heart to recycle them.
Just took delivery of m V-Run Retros and they are looking and feeling good, but not as form fitting around the ankle area as the original Bikila. These are not FiveFingers I would use in wet conditions.
Also have a pair of the CVT-Hemp for casual wear. Like wearing Denim on your feet.
As others have said: you two are a breath of fresh air, and the comments from other readers are informative.
Gratitude to all!
Hey Alex! Wow, impressive travel resume. Those are some epic adventures in your toe shoes. The Annapurna Circuit is high on our list of bucket list treks.
Thanks for the great feedback on the Bikila versus the V-Run Retros. I’m glad you were so kind hearted to keep the originals around for all those years. Question: Do you have a pair of FiveFingers around now that you would use in wet conditions? The KSO is the only pair I can think of that is really form fitting around the ankle area.
Thanks for the kind words and the helpful comment!
I’ve used Vibrams off and on over the years. My 1st pair was a water show which I still have and use. I used it minimally as a normal shoe. However maybe its the adult in me but I don’t like the idea of wearing a shoe with velcro straps as an adult. Water shoes is fine.
I honestly can’t recall the shoe type I had but I wore them into the ground until fabric was falling appart and the sole wore out.lol
Its been at least 6 years maybe more since I had a every day so of VFF’s. And was looking to get another pair or 2. I ordered a pair of CVT LB’s and love them as a house slipper type thing.
I really wanted to get the V-Runs in the Blue/Black in 42 but they are sold out and discontinued which makes me a sad panda.lol Just loved the look and color of those. I ordered a V-Alpha blue pair they are ariving next week.
I’m thinking of ordering another pair of another model though I am a little disappointed in the color options in a lot of the styles, what can I say, I’m picky…lol
I’m not a runner or hiker, beyond chasing after my 10 kids around the house. None of that goes into my decision to purchase. Just want something that looks and feels great.
I usually wear an 11-12 US size shoe depending on brand. In these i wear a 42 which they say is a 9/9.5 US size which is odd to me, but hope that helps anyone coming into this. Also I have monkey toes as my wife and kids say and my 2nd toe over from big toe is longer and find this a pain with new VFF’s but they do wear in after some time.
I do both with or without socks and usually use injini’s which I love. Tried others and not worth it.
Once people look down and see your toes in individual sockets they won’t even notice the velcro straps haha! I don’t mind the velcro but I prefer their fast lacing system. Grass and dirt can get stuck in the velcro. That’s awesome that you love the CVT LBs.
What do you think of the V-Alphas?
Wow, 10 kids. I am pretty sure that makes you a runner! They come out with new shoes and colors pretty frequently so wait for something perfect. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. I totally agree with you on the socks. Let me know if you need more help finding the perfect shoe.
Thanks a bunch for the article. It seems I’ve ended with too many competing choices. Where do I begin? I’m a daily casual hiker with my dog, mostly wooded, but some gravel trails too. We live in Maryland with a moderate climate. What should I start with? Socks? Thanks a bunch for all you are doing!
Hey Clarke, you’re welcome! Thanks for asking. We would hate for option overload to make your Fivefinger future anything but exciting hahaha.
Begin with the KSO. It’s consistently the best shoe. Your feet are going to be a bit tender at first walking on roots and gravel, but they will toughen up. Socks are totally optional. I like the feel of no socks, but on a cold or wet day they can be nice. They also make the shoes smell less.
Make sure you measure your feet and get the right size. I hope you love them. Feel free to circle back and let us know.
Hi! Thanks for the review and opening the comment section. Deciding which one to buy is not easy. 🙂 I’m thinking to try Vibram for walking (min.10,000 steps/day), some indoor training, and 1-2 times/year (beginner level) hiking. Any recommendation? Perhaps, different types just in case one is not available in my country (Indonesia).
The KSO V-Run Retro or KMD Sport are all great options. Depending on how aggressive the hiking is, we would recommend the KMD Sport over the KSO. Best of luck, have fun out there!
Thanks for the discount link! I am trying to figure out what should best replace my old KSOs (BTW, do not put them in the dryer, they will fall apart beyond Shoe Goo healing capabilities!). I have 10.5″ long feet so I should be a 43 in women’s sizes yet KMD Sport 2.0 for women go up to only 42. (And I realize the discount is for full-priced items and KMDs already on sale.) My old KSO were not properly fit to me many years ago at the running store that has since stopped carrying them (no wonder); they put me into size 38. Following the charts, I should have been a 43. I’d like to try the KMD Sport 2.0 and I see a comment from someone who has 10″+ foot fitting nicely into a 42 women’s. But I believe you can’t exchange sale items. Or I could just replace my KSOs for treadmill and gym work (and be prepared to replace early when I go hiking or use in garden, etc.) and try the 43 and exchange them if they don’t fit. Your thoughts? (Also, it’s sad they don’t still make sage green KSOs anymore. If it was such an iconic shoe, why change it? Was white EVER an option before?!?! Just complaining, ignore.)
Hey Kathy! I’m glad we can help with the discount link! Definitely air dry all shoes in the future. Sorry you learned the hard way but I’m sure it was time for a new pair anyway.
Actually, the KMDs aren’t the best shoe to replace your KSOs. Alex and I have been wearing the V-Run Retro shoes lately and they have quickly become favorites. They fit exactly like the KSOs. Compared to the KMDs, they have a thinner sole with more ground feel and the material is stretchier, forming to your foot and toes better. We have been testing them for the last 6 months and the quality is great.
We recommend you buy the V-Run Retro shoes (similar to the old Bikilas) in a 42. It’s not a sale item so you can use our link and you could also exchange them if the fit isn’t right. I agree, the sage green KSOs were epic. Vibram is slowly reintroducing the classic shoes so hopefully our complaints will be heard haha. Out with the white. In with the bright green!
The V-Run Retros are available in a red/orange color if you want to stand out. Let us know what you decide and how they fit.
Thanks! I got the V Run Retro women’s size 42; too long, each toe can fold back about .5-1″ with my toes in them! And with my toes pushed all the way forward, I can put my thumb behind my heel in the shoe. I should have said that I didn’t want to have to wear socks. But if I stay with this model, I might have to wear gaiters! The overly padded opening around the ankle has lots of gap even with laces pulled tight (as other reviews have noted); I shouldn’t be able to scratch the bottom of my foot while in a shoe. And if my fingers can get in, lots of trail dirt and debris will, too. The original KSO swimsuit-like material actually fit against your skin. Really tempted to get KSO vintage but I’m going to try to make V Run Retro’s fit properly first; will try to exchange for size 41. More review: I tested on the treadmill to keep them clean; the ankle padding and the material in general made feet very warm in an air-conditioned room. Due to the slightly thicker sole of the V Run Retro, I could not curl my toes in the V Run Retro which sort of defeats the purpose of VFF. To be clear, when I tried curling my toes, the shoe stayed rigid and my toes slide that much inside them like they were in regular shoes (which could be new shoes just needing to be broken in, too). VFFs should allow your toes to grip, not rely on tread pattern for the only grip. Also, by having to overtighten the laces to address gap, I got big lace loops on top of my foot that flopped about. (sigh) Will let you know how the 41s fit.
Thanks for the thorough comment, and wow, we’re surprised that the V Run Retros are so big! Like you, I wear my Vibram FiveFingers without socks and prefer them that way. From what you’re describing, it sounds like the KSO is a perfect fit and the only shoe that will give you that minimalist sense with the toe curl and the tight, but breathable, material. Let us know how the 41s go, or if the KSOs will be the winner. Good luck!
V Run Retros, size 41: massively disappointing. Design flaw in the interfacing on the top at the “V” of the vamp nearest the toes. It’s very stiff and goes down to the base of the toes; I got blisters on both feet at the base of the middle toes on top of each foot after just a 30-minute treadmill walk. It doesn’t bend with the foot at the junction of toes and foot and it doesn’t look like it will “wear in.” I’m looking at spending another $12 to send yet another pair back to Vibram. I’m done. I don’t think this company makes quality products anymore. I doubt the KSOs will be anything but equally disappointing. Even the box these replacement V Run Retros arrived in was torn inside the flimsy plastic mailing envelope, meaning someone knowingly sent out a torn box. I’m out. Great opportunity for another company to make a five-finger shoe ‘cuz Vibram doesn’t seem to be in the business anymore. Sad. Too bad I can’t send a photo along with the comment and you can see where even the glue of said interfacing has been glued wrong and the material of the outside of the shoe is bunched up, glued in wrong place. I could try to wear band-aids on my feet to lessen the blisters but not going to use a literal band-aid fix on a $134 pair of shoes…! Note to anyone following this thread: I have a feeling the company knows this and that’s why the 42s were too big – they expect you to wear socks to lessen chance of blisters from their bad design and construction. Does anyone have an old pair of size 41 KSOs from about ten years ago (before the lawsuit against Vibram in 2014!) in good condition they’d like to sell?
Hey Kathy, it definitely sounds like your V-Run Retros were defective. I would talk to customer service (show them the picture and mention the box condition as well). We have 3 pairs of them in our house and none have the design flaw you described. Also, the KSOs are the ONLY pair of VFFs that allow you to freely bend your toes down at the foot junction.
I understand your frustration as I have had a couple of pairs over the years that had poor construction. I have talked to the design team about some of my complaints and they reminded me that A) each pair is stitched by hand (they start by sewing the toes while the shoe is inside out and then stitch the side seams while turning them right side in… something a machine cannot do) and B) everyone has unique foot and toe shapes and sizes.
These shoes are very tricky to make and sell. I don’t expect any new companies to try in the near future. Fortunately, Vibram is very much still in business. In fact they have a FiveFingers team traveling around the USA as we speak introducing the shoes to coaches and trainers of college and professional athletes.
Again, every pair of VFF shoes is handmade. The defect on your shoes is not right so I hope you got them returned successfully. Even without the defect, though, it sounds like you prefer the toe flexibility in the KSOs. If you change your mind about FiveFingers, get the KSOs. Alex has a pair of pre-2014 KSOs and color aside they are identical (fit, quality, design, durability) to the pair she bought in 2020.
Hello Ryan and Alex, tysm for the detailed article! I’ll be working in a campsite all summer long and was looking to buy my first pair of vibram. Based on your article, I’m torn between the KSO, Vtrail/Vtrek or the KMD 2.0. I am looking for something durable to walk in the forest for the whole summer, and maybe even go hiking with them, would you have a specific recommendation?
Ps : im used to walking barefoot and have a great pain tolerance for stepping on things, if it matters for my decision
Hey! You’re welcome. Sounds like a really fun summer. Since you’re used to walking barefoot and already have a pain tolerance built up, we recommend the KSO. They will be durable, great for hiking, enjoyable to walk in, and excellent in wet conditions. Have fun and congrats on your first pair!
Hey! I’m from the UK and looking for the vibram KSO but can only find the KSO EVO… any tips on where to get the KSO?
Thanks, great review to read!
Hey! You’re welcome. Are you set on the KSOs? If so, you could try Amazon. I’m not sure why they’re not for sale on Vibram’s UK site. If you’re open to trying a different pair, I recommend the V-Run Retros. That’s our go to shoe right now and has been for the last year. I hope that helps!
Just a little question, do you guys use the heal strike when hiking (not running) or the forefoot/midfoot strike? I have been trying them both and can’t find the best way so any advice from you should be nice.
Thanks a lot for your website and keep up the good work!
Hey, great question. There’s no right or wrong answer here. The best way is doing whatever feels natural. Generally, we heel strike while hiking downhill and on flat trail. When hiking up hills we forefoot strike. The Fivefingers train you to shorten your stride and soften your strike which is most important. Thanks for reading and let us know if you have more questions!
I’ve been using Five Fingers since 2010. I was in the Marine Corps Reserve at the time & would consistently get shin splints. The Marine Corps requires a 3-mile run as part of their standard physical fitness test. I didn’t have the time to rest so I started looking at ways to run without getting shin splits. During this time, I was working at a hardware store & a customer came in wearing a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I asked him about them & then went home did some more research & read about minimalist running, etc.
I ended up buying a pair. My shin splints went away & I haven’t gotten them since. I swear by them.
I’m glad you talked about running a marathon in them. That is my next big goal!
Hey Justin, thanks for sharing your story. I bet you’re glad you initiated conversation in that hardware store. That’s great that you’ve never had shin splints again. A marathon is a big goal but you should totally do it. Just sign up for one this fall and stop thinking about it. I just signed up for one in December. If you do, make sure you check out our 3-Month Marathon Training Plan.
Hi thank you for the great article!
Question: I see your recommendations above. Thank you! yet did not see a mention of the Spyridon EVOs
Which do you recommend for trails? Womens V-trail 2.0 vs. Spyridon EVO – for trail running?
I have read good reviews for both, with different challenges for both.
I have been running for years it began barefoot like many country kids through the woods creeks alfalfa fields and gravel lanes.
We prided ourselves on who could walk freely on the gravel drives each spring as we rebuilt our calluses.
As a swimmer, we were always running around barefoot. Gym class was the only time I really used shoes for athletics.
Until college, we cross-trained with running etc. they required shoes…and that is when my knee started to cause me issues.
Later in life I switched back to barefoot, and the issues went away. As I got older life I did not have as much time to build my feet up so looked for running shoes.
I tried the Vibrams when they first came out yet still felt too constrained so I moved to ballet toe pads and taping my feet. This worked great for a few years.
Next, I moved to Western ND and more trail running and loved it as it reminded me of my youth and the freedom to escape into nature again. Yet now I had issues with sharp rocks cactus etc.And again no time to build my feet as I did when young. Also, my youth was not without close calls almost stepping on broken glass bottles…so after meeting a friend and author Richard Manning (great human and supporter of all things running), he introduced me to the Book you reference Born to Run. It was a great read and then I moved to minimalist shoes. I have used Inov-8 and Merrells yet still, it is far from barefoot.
So as I work around a bunion (can no longer ignore – hoping to get fixed next year) I am circling back to the Vibrams in my attempt to gain back my barefooting…at least somewhat.
Long story, thank you for reading it is so nice to find like-footed folks!
Thank you for your information and inspiration!!
You’re welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried the Spyridon EVOs yet. I really need to so thanks for reminding me. Alex and I didn’t love the V-Trail 2.0. The V-Trek is one of my favorites for backpacking and trail running, but Alex didn’t like the high top ankle design (it rubbed and caused blisters). YES!! I was the same way. Rebuilding those calluses every spring was serious business. It sounds like you need to free your feet again. The Fivefingers are going to feel much more barefoot than the Inov-8 and Merrells. I loved your story and we are definitely like-footed folks! With your background, I don’t think you need to limit yourself to the trail VFFs with the thicker soles. I am sure your feet are very tough and if not they will toughen quickly. You could also consider the KMD Sport 2.0 or the V-Run Retro. If I were to hit a gravel road or a rocky trail in the morning I would slip on one of those. Good luck with your decision and let us know if you have other questions!