This Vibram FiveFingers review is based on our combined 26 years of experience wearing 18 different models of minimalist toe shoes while running, trekking, and working out for over 10,000 hours each.

If anyone can help you decide if toe shoes are right for you, it’s us. We’ll discuss the barefoot running craze, share our experience with Vibram toe shoes, guide you on how to transition to barefoot, and help you select the right pair of FiveFingers.

We’ll tell you which models are the best Vibram FiveFingers based on our extensive testing and experience.

Lastly, available for download is our FiveFingers Selection Chart which outlines a 3-step process to find the perfect shoe.

Once you do, we have a not-to-be-missed special offer for our readers, available only by email! Just enter in your email address below and it will be sent out immediately.

We’re excited for you to begin your toe-tally awesome barefoot journey.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Ryan and Alex Duo Life

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 13 years 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.

Why Trust Us

1. We are not minimalists with minimalist shoes.

First, in addition to our experience with our favorite few pairs of Vibram FiveFingers, we go out of our way to try all the new models too.

In addition to testing Vibram toe shoes, we’ve tried several other brands of minimalist toe shoes and sandals. Most of the shoes we tested had quality or performance issues. For example, the hugely popular Xero shoes were quality but offered no grip. Wet surfaces were literally like ice skating.

Other minimalist shoes, like the New Balance Minimus, performed well but didn’t feel nearly as barefoot as FiveFingers.

Below is our current inventory of FiveFingers, which is a bit ridiculous considering we’re minimalists.

Vibram fivefingers review what are the best vibram fivefingers toe shoes

2. We created a 3-step selection process to beat decision fatigue.

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, training, or running. For many, this can lead to decision fatigue.

Since publishing this review in 2019, we’ve helped hundreds of people get started with FiveFingers and helped answer thousands of questions. We used this information to create a 3-step selection process based on fit probability, ground feel, and foot shape. 

In this Vibram FiveFingers review, we don’t just want to convince you that they’re the best shoe out there, we want to help you pick your first (or next) pair. Keep an eye out for our selection guide which will save you time, money, and disappointment.

In addition to sending out our selection guide, we include a special offer in the email so make sure not to miss that. Vibram is very specific about who can give out special offers, which is why we can only send it out in email and not write it here. Pretty VIP, right?!

3. We wear FiveFingers for the right reasons.

We wear Vibram FiveFingers because they allow us to show up for adventure. They offer an experience and versatility that no other shoe does. Need to scramble up some rocks? Need to scale a waterfall? We’re ready.

We recommend FiveFingers because the toe slots make them the only truly barefoot shoe. Feeling the ground beneath us adds a dimension to our running and hiking that we never knew we missed.

Just this week we hiked rocky switchbacks in Yosemite, waded through rivers, and then ran on the road to catch the sunset. Their versatility helps us show up for life’s unexpected adventures.

Every other shoe is, frankly, boring in comparison. We will talk about how FiveFingers help you shorten your stride, reduce impact, and in our experience, make you more injury-resistant. But, quite frankly, any pair of minimalist shoes will help you do that.

Vibram FiveFinger Misconceptions

There are two major misconceptions about toe shoes that we’d like to address right away. 

1. You have to run on your toes.

Many people think that you’re supposed to run on your toes or strike the ground with your forefoot in toe shoes. You don’t need to and shouldn’t. Instead, run and move naturally.

2. They’re dangerous without support.

Even when we’re hiking in the mountains with a backpack that is half our body weight, we wear FiveFingers. People always say, “I couldn’t do that because I would roll both ankles,” or, “those wouldn’t work for me because I have flat feet.”

Wrong. Just as arch support allows the arch muscles to relax and weaken, shoes or boots with ankle support allow your ankle muscles to disengage and atrophy. 

For many people we’ve talked to, wearing FiveFingers is the best thing they have ever done for their flat feet. We’ll dive into this deeper later in the article.

How The Minimalist, Barefoot Running Craze Was Born

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.

Now Born to Run 2 has been published, which is more of a guide for training and proper form. We have both books on Audible so we can listen on the go.

born to run duo life book club

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. 

Vibram fivefingers toe shoes review for running, hiking, and working out

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. Hiking through wet snow is tough.

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.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Shoe Selection Guide Chart PDF

Download the FiveFingers Selection Chart and Special Offer

After 10,000+ hours of wear time, 19 different models of FiveFingers, and responding to hundreds of emails from 100,000+ readers, we've created a simple 3-step selection process. No marketing or decision fatigue necessary. Also included is a not-to-be-missed special offer immediately sent to our readers.

Our Experience and Vibram Fivefinger Shoe Recommendations

In the following section of our Vibram FiveFingers review, we’ll share our experience hiking, running, and exercising in toe shoes. For each of these activities, we’ll also recommend our current favorite shoe.

Running in Vibram FiveFingers

Ryan and I both run marathons in the Vibram toe shoes. In fact, we have our next one coming up in three weeks, and I’ll be wearing my V-Run Retros and Ryan will be in his Spyridon EVOs.

Anyways, 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, 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 during the Great Wall Marathon in Beijing. 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 opinions about which models are best for road running. 

Vibram fivefingers review running marathons in minimalist toe shoes

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 because of that Ryan’s shoes started delaminating after a few runs. If the V-Runs fit you perfectly, great!

After training for and running several marathons, these are the best Vibram toe shoes for running on and off road (in no particular order).

Remember, before you buy, to enter in your email to receive our Special Offer and size selection guide immediately to your inbox!

The KSO Vintage

Running my first marathon in the KSO Vibram FiveFingers shoes was a powerful experience, and I achieved my fastest time yet. The KSO Vintage (not the KSO EVO) is their most simple, affordable, and durable shoe, which is why it’s an all-time best seller.

Keep in mind, that this shoe has the thinnest sole so it requires more transition time. But it’s amazing to feel the ground until you start running on gravel or a bumpy trail with small rocks. If you’re running on anything but a smooth surface, you might want more protection.

The V-Run Retro

Not to be confused with the V-Run, which neither of us loved. For those of you who have been around for a while, the V-Run Retro is a throwback to the Bikila.

Both Ryan and I love the V-Run Retro. It’s great for running and everything. However, like the KSO Vintage, its thin sole offers a lot of ground feel, so it is not our go-to for trail running.

However, this is the shoe I’m wearing for my next street marathon next month.

The Sypridon EVO

My second 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 Spyridon EVO (back then it was just the Spyridon), which has a thicker rubber sole.

In addition to being Ryan’s preferred trail running and backpacking shoe, he will be running his second marathon in December 2023 in his Spyridon’s.

The V-Trek

Ryan trained for his first marathon in a pair of V-Trek Vibram FiveFingers. While training in mountainous Medellín, 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 he’ll always have a pair lying around, even if they’re less durable. I didn’t wear my V-Trek shoes often because the high ankle caused blisters, and, unlike Ryan, I prefer not to wear the socks.

Hiking, Trekking, or Trail Running in Vibram FiveFingers

We absolutely love doing multi-day backpacking treks in the Vibram FiveFingers minimalist shoe. 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 section 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 KMD Sport 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.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Ryan and Alex Duo Life Appalachian Trail Hiking in FiveFingers

But, 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 of running on rocks. It takes some time for your feet to toughen up.

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 merino wool toe socks (which Ryan loves), FiveFingers 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 — and we’ve lived in two of the rainiest places on earth: Hawaii and Colombia.

In Ecuador, 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!

Vibram fivefingers review best shoes for trail running and hiking

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.

The Spyridon EVO

The Spyridon EVO by Vibram FiveFingers is our favorite shoe for the trail. For both of us, the fit was far better than the V-Trail.

The V-Trek

Ryan also loves the V-Trek by Vibram FiveFingers. They are comfortable, fast-drying, and protect the foot from sharp rocks.

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. 

Vibram fivefingers review best shoes for workouts

The Best FiveFingers for Exercise

The V-Train and V-Soul are great shoes designed specifically for exercise. However, the V-Train shoes didn’t fit us perfectly 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 KSO Vintage

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 V-Run Retro

The V-Run Retro is a lot like the KSO, but with a thicker sole, which makes it great for exercise and pretty much everything else.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Shoe Selection Guide Chart PDF

Download the FiveFingers Selection Chart and Special Offer

After 10,000+ hours of wear time, 19 different models of FiveFingers, and responding to hundreds of emails from 100,000+ readers, we've created a simple 3-step selection process. No marketing or decision fatigue necessary. Also included is a not-to-be-missed special offer immediately sent to our readers.

Our Review: 6 Reasons to 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.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Ryan and Alex Duo Life Toe Shoe Flower

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.

And when you’re ready to buy, enter in your email address to receive a Special Offer immediately that we’re only allowed to share via email and not on our website. (I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but since I can’t share it here directly, I want to make sure you don’t miss it!)

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, former surgeries, 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 (shorten stride and quicken cadence), and drastically reduce the impact on your 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 — and we live in a big, dirty city. 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 BODi.

One of our favorite trainers, Tony Horton, in P90X3 recommends that you don’t wear sneakers when 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!

Vibram fivefingers review exercising in toe shoes

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 but 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.

Vibram fivefingers review water ready

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 Vibram’s toe 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.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Ryan and Alex Duo Life V-Soul in Luggage

6. They are conversation starters.

Ryan and I have traveled to 38 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.

Lastly, if you have a “Type R” foot shape, pictured below, you really need to download our FiveFingers Selection Guide because 35% of the shoes won’t work well for you.

Vibram FiveFingers Shoe Selection Based on Foot Shape

If you still have questions after downloading the selection guide, 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.

Vibram FiveFingers Review Shoe Selection Guide Chart PDF

Download the FiveFingers Selection Chart and Special Offer

After 10,000+ hours of wear time, 19 different models of FiveFingers, and responding to hundreds of emails from 100,000+ readers, we've created a simple 3-step selection process. No marketing or decision fatigue necessary. Also included is a not-to-be-missed special offer immediately sent to our readers.

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.

Weeks 1-2

Wear them for short sessions during daily walking activities such as grocery shopping or moving around the house or office.

Weeks 3-4

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.

Weeks 5-12

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 toe 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 saltwater.

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.

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 fresh water afterward.

Do you wear socks with Vibram FiveFingers?

Ryan likes to wear them with 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.

While training for a marathon, I might get a few blisters as the callouses build up, but it’s not much and doesn’t take long.

 

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 the measurement of your longest foot 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 and stretch a little.

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. Our current favorite running shoe is the V-Run Retro.

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.

After my first 5-minute run, I knew that I loved them. For the first time, I could feel the ground and texture beneath my feet, completely transforming and elevating the sensation of running.

I felt reconnected to prior generations of runners who didn’t wobble down the street on thick, cushioned soles. To me, wearing Vibram FiveFingers is completely freeing and feels a bit wild and animal — like this was how running was always meant to feel.

Vibram FiveFingers lets me show up for life’s adventures. There have been times when friends have turned back while hiking because their shoes would get ruined or are too slippery, but I never hesitate to wade across a river, run through thick mud, or scale up rocks. If something holds me back, it’s not my shoes.

Vibram FiveFingers are my ultimate adventure shoe and I can’t imagine running any future marathons in anything else. Plus, I can’t tell you how many conversations have started over my shoes.

Everyone loves to chat about them and there are few things I wear that makes me as many friends. I guess you could call me a weirdo convert, but I prefer to be known as an enlightened adventurer and runner.

Please leave questions about the article in the comments below. Or, once you download the FiveFingers Selection Guide and Special Offer, you’ll be able to send us an email with questions.

 

Vibram FiveFingers Review Shoe Selection Guide Chart PDF

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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.

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