Where do I start. Simply the Vibram FiveFingers® KSO’s are just awesome!
I would happily end my review at that, but I am sure you would like some justification. So here we go.
Putting them to the test
I bought my KSO’s in time for my Wild Forest Gym Summer Training Camp on the idyllic Balearic Island of Ibiza. Up to this point in the season I had been doing all my running and Wild Forest Gym training barefoot. I had my Vivobarefoot Neo’s and Vivobarefoot Neo Trails but neither of them were going to be experiential to the point of being virtually barefoot. As I said my overall choice is barefoot, however I knew from previous trips to the island, that when I got up onto some of the hill trails the gravel was going to crucify my feet so I decided to make the investment.
Even with the the KSO’s, I could still feel the stones and gravel below my feet, but the KSO’s 3.5mm Vibram® TC1 performance rubber outsole gave me overall 5.5mm of protection. The sole is razor-siped for enhanced flexibility and a sure grip on wet or dry surfaces (but not so when really muddy when back in the UK). Plus I was protected from the scorching heat of the ground.
Literally they fitted like a glove. I have to say it took a while to get used to positioning my little toes so that the shoe would fit on smoothly. A bit of pulling and toe separation work did it. Apart from that it was a snook fit. This is what is recommended. I purchased mine directly from the UK Vibram Fivefingers UK Distributor Primal Lifestyle. I originally purchased a size 45. But they felt a bit loose. Without any quibble or charge they exchanged them for the size 44.
The KSO’s upper covers the foot up to the ankle preventing debris from getting inside the shoe. The Vibram Five Fingers KSO is secured to the foot by a single hook-and-loop system with a nylon strap that goes around the heel and is tightened via a velcro strapping mechanism on the top, instep of the foot. With only one velcro point, the KSO’s attachment method is simple.
The reason I go barefoot is that I can feel the ground or surface that I am on, whether I am balancing on a tree limb, barefoot running, jumbing, climbing a tree I am able to wrap my foot around the surface. When I wear my KSO’s then I can similarly wrap my foot and use the individual toes. It really does feel like you have 2 sets of hands.
Throughout my Training Camp whenever I needed shoes on then it was my Vibram’s. I couldn’t resist it.
The smells & the solution
In the heat of day and night they did begin to smell as somewhat expected. At this stage I really didn’t fully understand the need to clean them as I just left them out on the terrace when not in use. However at 30 ° they were smelly and so were my feet. It was only when I got back to London that I decided to experiment with the cleaning.
Vibram FiveFingers instructions are that all their footwear is machine washable. To use gentle, warm water cycle with liquid or powdered detergent. Hang to air dry.
I didn’t feel comfortable putting them in the washing machine. My preference was to hand wash them in cool water using Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid which is made from non petrochemicals based ingredients and is non-biological. So every weekend I washed them and in between that period I very lightly stuffed them with newspaper (without stretching the top material). The carbon in the paper helps to remove the odours. It is a trick I learnt a while back.
However, my feet were still getting smelly and so were the shoes stinking out the house. What seems to now work is every time I come back from a training session I wash them immediately. Hand them facing downwards and they are dry in the morning smell free!!
Since back in London I went back to barefoot for the rest of the summer and only when the heavy winter came in did I go back to wearing my Vibram KSO’s. I really held back as nothing beats being barefoot and hardening up the soles. For me the deciding factor was not the wet but the cold!
The mud and the cold
So in the cold, ice, and heavy mud I train. I have to say the KSO’s will slip in the muddy trails. When I say muddy I mean shin deep mud. Otherwise they are good in the trails. Just need to watch the slippery bends. But on another level that helps me to develop my proprioception and agility skills and my perception of the environment that I train in whilst developing core leg, foot and ankle muscles.
The only place I find myself limited to is tree climbing when the trunks and branches are wet. The KSO’s have no grip and boy you go sliding. But hey I can live with that.
Six months down the line they look as good as new. No damage whatsoever to the uppers, very little wear to the soles, and I have put them through some hard training! Similarly the colour has held.
To purchase your Vivram FiveFinger KSO’s visit our store.
I have my Tough Guy this weekend and I know my KSO’s are not going to give me the traction to get through the knee deep mud and frigid waters so what am I to do. Do I resort to my Vivobarefoot? Do I even put on my old heal striking trainers?
The solution. On Saturday I was attending the Outdoor Show and I saw Mike at Primal Lifestyle and he is going to let me have a pair of the Vibram FiveFinger Spyridon to test and review. The Spyridon have the XSTrek Vibram Rubber Sole which has ‘aggressive tread design for solid grip in all directions’. Boy I can’t wait! This will be my next review!
VIBRAM from Box to Run Video
Vibram FiveFinger KSO Specifications
UPPER – abrasion-resistant stretch polyamide fabric & Hypalon® straps
SOLE – Vibram TC-1 performance rubber 3.5mm
FOOTBED – Antimicrobial microfiber with 2mm EVA insole
Machine washable. Air dry.
Men’s size 43 – 5.7oz. each, 11.4oz./pair