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Vibram Five Fingers KSO early review


The Vibram Five Fingers aren't just a little bit different. They're a lot different. I recently got the KSO ('keep stuff out') model and have been trying them out for hiking and a little running.

Serving the category of 'barefooting sports', they are lightweight (11 oz) and comprise a rubber sole with a fabric top (in the KSO case, covering the foot entirely). Each toe has its own pocket and the sole is flexible allowing independent movement of the toes and shaping of the foot arch. They have a small strap but I don't know that it's needed, the close fit keeps the footwear snug to the feet with a remarkable freedom of movement yet not chaffing.

The idea definitely appealed but I held a few reservations: will they rub against my feet, what happens when they get wet, how will they handle rocky ground, walking on hard surfaces like concrete, smell and maintenance. I've been pleasantly surprised. The fit is ideal, no complaints there, even when wet. Crossing rocky ground is a little interesting, you definitely feel everything although jumping onto small rocks is probably to be avoided. That said, the hike up to Rattlesnake Ledge today was easy and the lighter weight is definitely noticable on climbs. Concrete and other surfaces are a bit less forgiving and I would probably worry about my knees over time. So far, I haven't have enough time to comment on how the hold up over time.

They do look a bit silly. Amy will still walk with me wearing them (bonus) and while passers-by can be heard saying 'look at that guy's shoes', I am hoping they are doing so with envy.

It's still early days but I am enjoying them so far.  The best analogy I can think of so far is the difference between driving a car with manual transmission and an automatic. They require a little more concentration but the reward is in the feeling of more control, better balance and an overwhelming desire to climb things.