Vibrams can stake a very strong claim to being the barefoot shoe.
Their look is iconic, they came up with the idea of a shoe with toes in it, literally a foot glove and perhaps did more to popularise the notion of barefoot or minimalist running than any other company out there.
Vibram as a company have a long history of creating high quality soles for climbing shoes and walking boots. Interestingly you will see their names adorning the soles of many of their barefoot shoe competitors (Merrill for example).
Their iconic look makes them a love/ hate shoe. You will either think they look ridiculous and won’t be prepared to wear them or you will think their quirkiness is what makes them.
Whatever you think, be prepared for a lot of funny looks from other people when you wear them, even now after all these years people still can’t get their heads around them.
Early Five Fingers had a very minimalist design, providing very little protection and relying on rubber quality for grip. Over time, assumingly in response to consumer demand, the shoes have become more elaborate, with more intricate designs, lacing systems and grips to allow for a greater range of use.
Vibram over the years have developed a solid range of shoes that allow you to do almost anything. The range is based around a few core models with tweaks here and there to keep you purchasing. This post will look at some of the best of their range. For a more complete look at their range visit their website at http://us.vibram.com/ or shop their range on Amazon.
The current rock star of the Vibram Five Fingers Brand. The Spyridon is their Trail Running offering. It comes in different styles to allow for different terrains, the differences are evident in the depth of the grip. The Spyridon MR, meaning Mountain Racer. Has a more aggressive, deep grip for more challenging conditions. The 3.5mm sole is relatively cushioned by Vibram’s standards and will give extra protection from rocks and pokey bits. An all round really good shoe that gets really good reviews wherever you look e.g. Amazon. One thing you lose out on a bit with this shoe is ground feel because of the more aggressive grip, but the trade-off is that it gives you access to more gnarly terrain than other barefoot shoes would allow.
For those of you who want a more pure running shoe, with a little extra underfoot padding, The V Run is an excellent choice. The V-Run is the go to Vibram Shoe for road running , and also for taking on paths and easy trails.
The V-Run replaces the previous Bikila EVO, retaining many of the previous shoe’s features. It’s super comfortable, with a very breathable upper and with 8.5mm of total stack height, is one of the most padded Vibrams, making it a great transition shoe if this is your first pair of Vibrams.
The Trek Ascent is the Vibram shoe for you if you want to get out on the trails and hike. It comes in two main styles (lots of different colour variations – check out the full range on Amazon) – as a simple hiking shoe and alternatively with added insulation for longer, colder weather walks. If you are going to wear these on a cold weather hike you will definitely need to add in a pair of Injinji socks.
The deeper tread on these shoes will give you added stability and security on difficult trails, but will also allow you to retain that barefoot feel on a full day’s hike.
The uppers provide excellent protection from the elements whilst not restricting movement giving you a great all round hiking shoe
The KSO (Which stands for Keep Stuff Out) EVO is the go to shoe for anyone wanting a minimalist cross training shoe, or for anyone wanting a more traditional Vibram with a minimalist sole. With just 4mm thickness, this is one of their thinnest offerings. Whilst it is largely advertised as a cross training indoor type shoe. I have happily run in KSOs for years. They will struggle with more rugged trails but can handle pretty much anything else you throw at them.
If you want a traditional, simple Vibram Five Fingers shoe then choose this one. They are also one of the cheaper offerings because of their lack of structure.