For those of you who haven’t heard of Vibram’s Five Finger minimalist shoes, you are in for a treat and a surprise.
Vibram developed a shoe in response to the need for a shoe which provides a minimum amount of actual shoe material while still maintaining protection. Originally, this requirement was desired by sailors on yachts who needed a lightweight, high-grip shoe while manoeuvring around boats at sea.
Traditionally, this would have involved developing a shoe which had a high amount of traction, and possibly a thinner sole. Not in Vibram’s eyes, they saw the oppurtunity to develop a shoe that would change the way minimalist shoe wearers thought of both minimalism and their actual own feet.
What was the result of all that research Vibram did on the human foot’s physiology, mechanics and sensitivity? Well, the Vibram Five Finger Classic shoe.
These shoes blew the market wide open, with people jumping at the chance to own a pair of the “gorilla shoes”. They began being used for many more uses than originally imagined, such as running, walking, hiking and just general day-to-day footwear. Marathon runners started to use them to run ultramarathons, and they exploded into a sensation.
Books wrote about them, people blogged about them and they have even made red carpet appearances. People commented on how they were more in touch with the ground, and spoke about how their feet were now points of contact, rather than just a means of transportation.
Vibram then began to naturally expand and develop several models, beginning with the KSO:
The KSO was a more rugged, protected shoe than the classic, and had a more secure fit. The KSO’s have subsequently been the “go to” FiveFinger shoe, being featured more than any other FiveFinger model. They are simple, comfortable and practical for any application. I have a pair, and they are fantastic. Towards the end of this article, I’ll write up what I think of each of the pairs of Vibram FiveFingers that I own.
At about the same time, Vibram released the Sprint…
The Sprint was developed in response to customer feedback. The classic, while being awesome on its own, wasn’t as good for running as it could be, and so Vibram developed what is essentially a classic with a strap. The strap secures the shoe to the top of the foot, and by doing so allows much more aggressive use. The sprint was a hit and is one of the most popular models currently available, even though it’s one of the first models sold.
After these three iconic models had made their mark on the minimalist footwear community, the bug had bitten people hardcore. Vibram, now committed to developing more models to cater for more usage scenarios, developed several additional models. These include the following models:
And more recently,
These aren’t even all the models though. There are several more models which feature things like leather uppers, boot style uppers and some which are purely designed for martial arts, yoga and indoor use. There are also models like the Flow, which feature a neoprene upper for water sports.
Wow. What an incredible range of shoes. Each has a specific intended application, but they can all be used for barefoot activities.
Which models do I have?
In order of acquisition:
I bought the KSO because it was the most “all round” Five Finger shoe. It served my everyday use needs as well as got me into barefoot running. It was quite a different experience first slipping my feet into the KSO’s for the first time, as I had never really paid much attention to my feet, other than when I had stood on something sharp while barefoot. My KSO’s don’t get worn much anymore, but they are without a doubt the most versatile FiveFinger shoe I own.
I LOVE the TrekSport’s, they are great for hiking, running and anything outdoors. The sole is a bit thicker than that of the KSO and Classic, and has light cleating to deal with the need for additional traction. The TrekSports were developed for trail running and hiking, where the user might find mud and steep, slippery slope obstacles. I have used the TrekSports for hiking and some running, as well as everyday use and they are very comfortable, and very durable. The upper on the shoe is made from coconut husk, and is very thin, but does not tear.
These are my favourite Five Finger shoes, hands down. They are the most comfortable of the entire range(that I have tried), and feature a lightly cleated, slightly thicker than the Classic and KSO sole. They are designed for sports applications where lots of lateral cutting is done, like rugby or football. They feature breathing vents on the shoe, and have a removable insole. The insole makes them VERY comfortable, and it often just feels like I’m wearing socks when I’ve had them on for a while. I have used the Komodo Sports for running, hiking, cycling and everyday use, and so far these are my go-to Five Fingers. I would recommend them to anyone.
My girlfriend Carrie has a pair too, and she think they are awesome.
These are probably my least worn Five Fingers. Not because they are inferior or less awesome than the other pairs I have tried and owned, but because they are open shoes. I mainly wear jeans so having closed shoes is a style must, haha. I do like them, especially when I wear shorts and am on holiday, as they are great to slip into a bag to take to the beach, or if I go running barefoot, I take them with in case of any hairy terrain.
The Bikilas are great at what they were designed to do, run. They are lighter than some of the other FiveFinger shoes I own, but they are slightly more rigid. I’ve found that they support my feet differently than my other FiveFingers, and are better for running and hard surface contact.
So there you go, that’s my write up on the differences between the Five Finger’s I own. I love these shoes, and I generally wear them all the time. They have a bit of an adaptation curve, but they are great when you get used to them. My feet, legs and back are stronger from wearing them, and I can feel the ground, wind and generally speaking, whatever I’m walking on.
Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.