May 11, 2014 UPDATE: Seems “barefoot” or “minimalist” shoes have lost their grip in translation….
I currently own five pair (three models) of Vibram FiveFingers and have been wearing them exclusively for a year, primarily for walking and hiking (I can no longer physically run for fitness)! Despite apparent or possible deceptive advertising, I love these shoes!
I’ve given both my lower body musculature and skeletal complexes plenty of time (one year) to adapt to this footwear. I purchased the FiveFingers primarily for the intent of rehabilitating and reconditioning my foot/ankle/knee/hip/low back complex, particularly my knees, which are unfortunately quite damaged (due to an industrial injury I sustained back in 2012). Have they worked? Yes, for the intent in which they we’re utilized and, not exactly, as my knees remain in very poor condition (although they must be better off with FiveFingers on my feet than not). At this time, I do not believe my knees will benefit any further beyond the substantial stabilization and strengthening of my foot/ankle complex. Without a doubt, I believe, my knees would be considerably worse off today if I had not positioned or chanced or believed in these shoes for their intended purpose.
Historically, I had been a runner (long-distance including ultra-marathon, marathon and triathlon) my entire adult life until injury! Every pair of running shoes, prior to my FiveFinger purchase, I have ever purchased, in my opinion, had begun their breakdown period as their break-in period concluded. Never have I felt so comfortable in any other shoe prior to owning FiveFingers and most likely because they are minimal, and allow my feet to perform more work than ever before! I have previously gone through countless numbers of (standard) running shoes, spent oodles of $$$ and deliberation for what was considered to be the best, calculated and recorded distances, always rotating three pair of shoes at a time so that I wouldn’t damage my feet or prematurely wear out each pair, and always conferenced (running shoe supply retailers) and applied every shoe manufacturers claims according to my needs. So what’s the difference this time? Why are there individuals h3ll bent on taking down the minimal shoe industry?
Good questions, and with that said, I wholeheartedly believe the collective benefit minimal shoes, particularly FiveFingers, have created have been immensely greater than any ill-effects contrived and/or manipulated and/or associated, and now branded with these shoes. The problem, more than likely, is the wanton recklessness and trivial attorney contempt, identified with anger and jealousy and the utter lack of control some consumers have over their lives, to subjugate power for their own benefit. My disposition, incidentally, has always been one of integrity rather than convenience and I have always made every attempt to reconcile any characterization or claim through deductive reasoning rather than taking any ones word or testimony at face value. Thus, if you truly believed that a minimal shoe was going to be the answer to all of your questions, and within a 10-week time frame, then, good luck to you.
I do, however, and for the record, find the acts of mislabeling, leading, misinformation, misconstruing, false claims, etc., without scientific integrity and confirmation to defend said statements, utterly repulsive!
Therefore, if you own, like or dislike, or are otherwise considering a pair of barefoot or minimalist shoes for yourself, please review the information contained within the links below, and concede or defend as you desire.
Once again, For the record… there’s not a snowball’s chance in the Sonoran Desert (my humble surroundings) I will ever bench my FiveFingers!
Click link(s) below…
Through this day, I remain independent of Vibram, FiveFingers and any associated minimal shoe manufacturer and retailer, and offer my thoughts and feelings free of any said manufacturers or retailers encumbrance.
Reach Your Summit!
My thoughts about the Vibram Men’s FiveFingers TrekSport minimal trekking shoe…
If you haven’t tried Vibram’s FiveFinger TrekSport barefoot/minimal shoe for trekking you may be quite surprised how well the shoe functions.
Increased foot dexterity on rough terrain
No break-in period required
Not the easiest shoe to put on
Debris easily finds its way into the shoe
After a long hike the interspaces between my toes begin to hurt
Once in a while the 4mm of sole is no match for an intrepid stone
Not at all water resistant
I’ve worn Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) exclusively since May 2013 for everyday footwear, hiking, traveling, etc. The VFF TrekSport model has been my go-to shoe for hiking and backpacking during the same time period.
In all honesty, getting them on is not as easy as your everyday shoe. I’ve been trying these shoes on for years with some frustration always turning my back on them until a friend recommended them for greater stability, foot dexterity and balance. That’s all I had to hear, I was sold! Always interested in finding a better performing shoe I decided I no longer could turn my back on these funky looking footwear.
Rather than try them on at retailer I initially did my research on VFF’s website and ordered them from an online retailer (I believe they were some % off when I ordered them). I figured this would give me the opportunity to get these on my feet, which has not been the easiest task in the past, and walk around some, give them a chance while I’m comfortably at home. The result… how did I ever get along without them?
Most interested in a hiking shoe that is comfortable, stable and lightweight, I still had my doubts, that is until I wore them on the trail. I had two major concerns in regards to the TrekSport structure… is the cleated outsole going to prevent me from slipping in all types of weather, on all types of terrain and will they fully support my body weight as well as the additional weight of my backpack in the same manner as a traditional hiking boot?
The answer to both of these questions, after nine months and many trekking miles later is… yes! The TrekSports 4mm cleated outsole is forgiving enough to actually give me the feeling that I was grasping the ground below me rather than just stomping on it. My foot was absorbing the ground with a feeling I had never experienced before. Honestly, I felt as if I was part of the terrain, soaking it up with every step… I “felt” the ground below my feet!
The only single issue I have with the 4mm sole is that every once in a while you’ll find yourself landing on a smaller objectionable stone tenacious enough to make you want to say, “that hurt”. Otherwise, the 4mm sole is just perfect!!
With that said, it’s important to include statistics… I’ve worn the VFF TrekSport exclusively in southeastern Arizona, specifically the Santa Catalina, Santa Rita and Rincon ranges and the Coronado National Forest. Temperatures during use have ranged from the lower 40’s to the lower triple digits below 105 degrees. I have had no effective issues whatsoever with these temperatures, however, until I’ve worn the TrekSport’s during extreme temperatures, temperatures below freezing and above 105 degrees, I am unable to give a most accurate, temperate report. These shoes have also seen very little rain but some water, snow and ice.
VFF’s are notable for their patented rubber outsole that I have subscribed to, exclusively, for many years. In short, if I’m trekking, for a period close to twenty years, I have only had Vibram between myself and the terrain below me. This is indeed because the product simply seems to last longer and with less break-down than any other material I’ve had in the past. VFF’s are no exception.
Most notable, FiveFingers are regarded for the finger-like pockets designed to contain your toes, each within its own pocket, similar to a hand glove. This has re-invented the shoe, in my opinion, and brought dexterity to my feet. I actually “feel” the ground below me. The upper portion of the shoe is made of a coconut active carbon fiber, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that has not broken down. I’ve been told that these shoes will optimistically last approximately 300 miles before they begin to breakdown and I’m very close to reaching that point without any significant sign of wearing out.
One of the biggest issues I have with the uppers is that they are somewhat porous allowing fine debris to transcend through the material. And, my biggest disappointment with the TrekSport model is that, like any shoe, debris will enter through the cuff. My suggestion to Vibram, if they wanted to improve on this model, is to include a tighter-fitting cuff preventing most debris from entering. I believe VFF’s has a model with such a cuff but said model didn’t have the cleated lugs I needed for trekking.
If you’re looking for a shoe that offers some kind of water resistance, don’t go with this shoe. You will get wet in these shoes if water is involved. The structure of the shoe is minimal, with the upper and outsole joined literally at or below the plane of the bottom of your foot. The lack of water resistance has not been a problem for me although I trek in a very dry climate.
Lastly, in regard to structure, the TrekSport also features a velcro strap to tighten or enhance the security of the fit and motion control. I have trekked with the strap tight and loose. There is a slight difference using the strap for stability and I feel it does exactly what it is designed to do.
In regard to fit and support, the TrekSport fits me very well, but offers little to no support. I have an average size 10.5 foot, slim with a very high arch. My initial and biggest concern with the VFF’s was that because they offer little to no support they would damage my high-arching foot structure. I have not found this to be the case, at least not yet and, to reiterate, I have worn VFF’s exclusively for the past nine months, which includes other models.
Also, I chose to go with a size 42 TrekSport. When I initially measured my foot and compared it to their charts, I was a 42. Now, according to their chart, I see that my foot would be better suited in a size 43. This may explain why the interspaces between my toes begin to hurt after a while, however, the rest of the shoe fits comfortably well. I also continue to be a bit concerned about my high-arches hoping that this shoe is strengthening my foot and not damaging it… thus far, no damage, no pain and they feel great! There is also the possibility that my high arches are falling a bit, maybe strengthening and lengthening to the point where my feet are simply longer causing the inter-spatial pain?
I must also mention that I have never worn these shoes without socks. I wear an Injinji brand Performance Sport sock in their PED length, original weight and moderate interface. I feel the sock will prevent blisters and believe they do, although, I have not worn the shoes without them and this may add to the inter-spatial pain.
The lack of ankle support was also an issue for me. I have never worn anything but mid to heavy-weight hiking boots to trek with in the past so support was another serious concern. Now that I’ve broken free of my heavy supportive hiking boot idealism I feel great, I feel free and with so much less weight on my feet to lug around.
The lack of ankle support presented an additional problem. While hiking in heavier supportive boots I tend to notice that the ankle area gets a bit scuffed up from ankle “dings” caused by knocking my ankles on rocks. This may not exactly be a support issue but it is certainly a protective issue highlighted by support. Heavier hiking boots that offer ankle protection are generally bulky in nature and I find myself catching my ankles on the terrain.
The VFF’s do not offer such protection, however, I’m pleased to report that I have yet to bang or scrape my ankles against rock. I’m assuming that I’m either consciously careful or the bulk material incorporated in the heavier hiking boot is just enough bulk to present a problem.
In summary, the VFF TrekSport model has functioned very well for me, both in the environment I’m trekking in and the rough terrain I’m trekking on. They’re very comfortable and are going to remain on my feet for many treks to come.
It is especially noteworthy to note that I’m backpacking in these shoes, not just hiking. The TrekSport has supported me while hauling a backpack weighing well over 50 lbs. many times now. Although I do not recommend wearing VFF’s and trekking with a heavy pack if you’re not an experienced hiker, I actually find the lack of support on my feet refreshing and primal. This minimal shoe works for me!
I’m also told that I hike and walk with a more fluid gait rather than pounding along the trail. This external observation closely coincides with my natural feeling of increased gait control, movement and productivity. I have clearly become an improved, more-energetic hiker… a direct and considerable position that I enthusiastically attribute to the VFF’s!
With all said… I highly recommend the Vibram FiveFinger TrekSport model and consider them a fine option for most outdoor activities. If you’re at all concerned about getting into a pair, please talk with a fit expert in addition to my review. I’ve given these shoes a 4 of 5 stars simply because of the debris that enters through the cuff (having to take these shoes off to remove debris is cumbersome), otherwise these shoes would have received a very near 5 of 5 stars.
Reach Your Summit!