Sunday, November 29, 2009

In which I'm sucked in by another fad - Review of Vibram Five Fingers Shoes.

You just had to know, that it was only a matter of time before I progressed from this:

to this:

Earlier today Sweet Baboo and I hopped into the car and headed up to Santa Fe to a store called, "On Your Feet" where they had Vibram Five-fingers in stock.

I've been somewhat intrigued by these since I first heard about them.  I grew up in Alabama and rarely wore shoes.  I was constantly admonished by my mother for this, For goodness sake, Misty Jane, put on your shoes.  We are civilized people, not hillbillies but in the south where grass is thick and soft and cool, it behooves you to feel it under your feet and between your toes.  There are streams to run around in, and wet clay earth is pretty nice between the toes, too.  But I digress.  In any case, my mother's voice was later replaced with Sweet Baboo voice who suggested that perhaps it was unseemly for a civilized, educated woman to consantly be picking thorns and briars out of her blackened feet. I relented--to him, and to the thorny, sandy, gravelly terrain, and stopped going barefoot.

What I did instead was to wear socks everywhere.  Not everywhere, I mean. but around the house, for just running out and getting the mail, or into the garden to dump coffee grounds or ask Baboo if he wanted dinner soon.  My poor, poor socks, with their tattered, grey-brown bottoms, no matter their original color.  And, my children picked up my bad habits.

Then Vibram came out with these shoes.  DP and Bones each got a pair, and I was envious, but I figure that if you're unemployed, you don't get to buy expensive toe shoes.  Sweet Baboo had other ideas, especially after reading, "Born to Run".

My reason for wanting to try these on before buying them was because that I fully intend to wear them always with my Injinjis.  I have reasoned, and Baboo has read or heard, that they can get a little smelly otherwise.  The physics of adding an extra layer to ones feet inside shoes would suggest a different size, but how different?  We aimed to find out.

The shoe store ("On Your Feet") for anyone who visits here, is awesome.  It is the best place, in my opinion, to get whatever hippie healthy shoe you want to get.  By "healthy" I mean in terms of what is good for your feet or posture, not for the poor animals that were killed to make most of them.
But anyway.  They carry Clarks, Teva, Merril, and Keen - I could have easily taken out a 2nd mortgage to do some serious shopping in here.    The salespeople know shoes, too.  They didn't just sell them, they knew their product.
I tried on the KSO model (KSO = Keep Stuff Out) and Oh, My, Gosh - they felt great.  I felt like I was barefoot, only better, because I wasn't going to pick thorns out of my feet.  Wow.

We each got a pair of the KOS model, and then drove back to Albuquerque.  Immediately Baboo and I went for about a 2-mile hike up and over some sandy hills containing some gravel, and I could feel that my ankles are going to need some work, because with each step my feet were so firmly planted that everything else rotated and moved over them.  I could feel some of the gravel under my feet, but it wasn't painful.  Nevertheless, I can tell that I'll have to work my way up to wearing these for long distance hikes and/or jogging on trails.  Running up and down short inclines I  felt pretty secure, even the ones covered with slippery sand and gravel.

I've been wearing them all day, including around the house, and they feel great - snug and comfortable, but not in that creepy, sweaty sort of way that some shoes can be.  Vibram also makes the TREK.  I will definitely be looking at these for trail running.  Look at these soles:

I'm under no illusions that my spine and feet will have some adjusting to do.  SOMETHING has to adjust to that lack of stiffness and padding. I was told in the recent past by the guys at Albuquerque Running Shop,  that I have an advantage in the long history of running around barefoot and in the nine years I spend standing and walking around on a slab at work, but even so, it will be an adjustment curve to get to wear these for running trails.

In the meantime, I'm of the opinion that once you hit 40, you get to be as weird as you want, so I consider these completely acceptable for my bluejean world of school and for seeing clients, as well as workouts and yoga.

For more fancy or formal occasions in the world of non-profit, like interviews and meetings, I'll hang onto my Keen Mary Janes.



  1. Cute! Looks like Shrek-feet! But what if you have the weird thing where the #2 toe is actually taller than the captain toe?

    Big Clyde

  2. big clyde - you can't wear these if you have 'morton's toe'. Turns out there is a wealth of other minimalist footwear if you want to try; look up the Feelmax Niesa if you're curious.

    these are the first things on my feet before and after work - and they do get a bit niffy after awhile (but I hear they de-stink after a wash). I've noticed, since i bought them, how lazy my feet are in shoes. Very interesting.

  3. Oh, I'm waiting for the day when these might be available in XL sizes. Glad to hear y'all like them. That's a good sign.

  4. I added these to my Christmas list over the weekend. Hope Santa Claus bring them to me ;)

  5. "once you hit 40, you get to be as weird as you want" ~ Amen sister! I've got three months to go and I am ready.

  6. Did you have to size up to fit the injinjis underneath? I've seen a fair amount of reviews that say they just can't wear socks with them, no matter what.

    Also, the sizing chart says if your second toe is more than 1/6 of an inch longer than your big toe, it probably won't work.

  7. Colby, I honestly don't know how to answer that, because I just told the saleslady I intended to wear injinjis and she fitted me. Baboo read that you have to go 1/2 size up to do it. I'm not having any problems wearing the injinjis with them, and I've heard that plenty others are doing it, too, so give it a try.
    I don't know about the Morton's foot profile, either. I heard Baboo and the saleslady talking about it, but then I was distracted by cool shoes all over the store.

  8. I measured my feet acording to the Vibrim website and it suggested that I wear a size 44 but I had also read that you need to size up if you want to wear socks, in my case injinjis. I tried on both a 44 and a 45 and went with the 45 so I would say that you do need to size up. Remember that the size differences in the five fingers are not as dramatic as they are in regular shoes.

  9. I'm so happy you reviewed these and that you like them. I'm starting in the Nike Free, which I bought on sale, and I so, so, so want to move on to try the Vibram FF's. And since I'm nearly 50 and my kids are the only ones who see me at home, or before and after runs, as I wouldn't dream of actually running with anyone else, I can surely be as weird as I want, right? Right? That's what I thought.

    Thank you for sharing!


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