Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Oct

Vibram FiveFingers

If you are a regular reader of Mark’s Daily Apple you are probably well aware of those funny looking Vibram FiveFingers by now. They’ve been mentioned in our barefoot running post, featured in a Top 10 Ultimate Fitness Gadgets post and showcased in Mark’s sprinting video. What can we say? We’re huge fans! The only thing FiveFingers hasn’t got is its own post. It is high time this performance footwear we love oh so much got the attention it well deserves, so here goes nothing.

How can these foot protecting oddities be described? I suppose if Toe Socks met Combat Boots, fell in love and had a shoe baby you would have Vibram FiveFingers.

Or maybe if Bunny Slippers wooed Climbing Shoes with her undying charm, and also somehow managed to birth unconventional hybrid foot-protection offspring you would end up with Vibram FiveFingers.

Flip flops and waters sock?

Ballet slippers and cross trainers?

You get the picture. They are the best of both worlds. They provide the physiological benefits of going barefoot with the advantage of having some level of armor against the elements. You don’t have to worry about stubbing your toe, or cutting your feet on glass or other sharp objects you are bound to come across in your travels. And you also don’t have to fret over the damage years of sneaker wearing would invariably do to your feet.

They take some getting use to, and Vibram warns you as much. Most people’s feet have been wrapped in leather, supported by padding, constrained by laces, and pampered since the day they were born. Since when was the double-stitched, steel-toed, double-buckled, laser, orthotic boot a prerequisite to human locomotion? (I just threw in the laser for fun. Though, if you know of a shoe with lasers please comment below. I am very interested.) Not long it turns out. Our feet developed without all this stuff, and they are better off without all this stuff save for minimal and basic defense.

You are bound to get some looks and see some heads turn if you walk around town in these. This probably isn’t of much interest to all of our trend-setting and trailblazing Mark’s Daily Apple readers. Besides, I am sure they are looks of envy rather than utter confusion or concern anyway.

Seriously, though. FiveFingers are light and malleable, yet durable. It’s as if Dr. Scholl went crazy and let his foot gels creep up around the heel and toes like a mutant foot-protecting demon. That’s it. FiveFingers are like a mutant demon that protects your feet. Yet also like your grandma, soft and protective.

Sorry. Back to serious. It should be clear at this point that Vibram FiveFingers are multifaceted, and a perfect gadget to help live the Primal lifestyle. If there is any criticism I can offer it is that they are a bit difficult to get the right size via post. They are adjustable and Vibram does offer pretty detailed guidelines on picking the right size, but best case scenario would entail you trying them on in-shop before purchasing. Also, if you have webbed feet these aren’t for you.

Do you have FiveFingers? How do you like ‘em? Hit us up with a comment!

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Vibram is a weak company that can’t seem to figure out how to manage an inventory that includes products for the smaller sizes (38M, 39M…) Instead, we’re left with 3 models to choose from, and no choice of color. That said, I do like my KSO’s, it’s just that they’re getting worn, and even a year and a half after I bought them, the product choice is exactly the same as it was then, even though they’ve introduced 4 or 5 new styles. Weak Vibram… (and the female versions do not fit)

    Kenny wrote on February 6th, 2012
  2. I have ahd these shoes for just under a year now. I’ll be honest and say that I wear them on and off(more off then on), I really love the concept of being able to walk virtually barefoot, but with protection. I forst heard about them when reading born to run (which I recommend)
    As it turns out my pinky toes still KILL me when wearing them to this day. I’m not sure if they’re too tight OR working. My pinky are pretty f’d up from all the shoes I’ve tried to squeeze my feet into all these years lol.

    Melissa wrote on February 9th, 2012
  3. Well I reluctantly just sent back my 3rd pair o VFF’s. I measured my foot according to their website, and my first pair of kso’s were too small, so I went up a size. Perfect fit other than my pinkie toe, which happens to be bigger than the toe next to it. I could wear them a while, then my baby toe would kill me! So I sent them back for the next larger size, and they are too big in all the other toes…I found the second pair amazingly comfortable except the little toe issue. And it wasn’t like an annoyance pain, it was a straight pressure pain. Would they finally stretch that last little bit? Or am I one of the un lucky ones :-( I absolutely am in love with the kso’s and would love to have a few different pairs for different activities.

    Aaron wrote on March 9th, 2012
  4. so, I’ve read many of the comments but not all I’ve read a bit from beginning middle and most of the current ones. I’ve been wearing VFF for months now and have several pairs. I also have several pairs of “minimalist” footwear like my Stem/LEMings for work…my suggestion to get many answers for the questions I’ve seen about is check out a website called it’s a all in one place that answers many questions and is incredibly informative and full of helpful people who have been “sans shoes” for quite awhile.
    my two cents

    Cubicle51 wrote on March 19th, 2012
  5. I have been wearing VFF’s for several years now, and the only issue I have had was when I stopped running in them consistently. I ran a 15k race in them after not really using them for 6 months, and boy did my feet complain! I had a very minor case of plantar faciitis in my right foot, but it went away after 3 weeks or so.

    weebl411 wrote on April 11th, 2012
  6. What are the model of FiveFingers in the first picture? They look like a good trail boot sort of thing.

    Michael wrote on April 23rd, 2012
  7. Based on the info here on MDA I bought my first pair of FiveFingers a couple of weeks and after seeing the information online about counterfeit products etc, thought I would buy direct from their website. Unfortunately being in England, you need to go through the Italian website. :(

    Well I received them yesterday after chasing them on several occasions as to the whereabouts of them. Sadly they don’t fit and now I need to try and get them exchanged… which is an grumpy experience in itself.

    Unfortunately I don’t think I will be a repeat customer of Vibrams unless they decide to actually have a retailer close to where I live. The service from the Italian office is very poor and I just don’t want to go through it again. Which is a shame as I believe that the benefits of these shoes are there. I suspect that it will be at least another two weeks before I get my replacement shoes, if I get them. The element of doubt they have given me when I requested to return the ones I have means I am not confident that they will honour the return.

    At least I have learned a lesson to some degree.

    Travis Koger wrote on May 9th, 2012
  8. I’ve bought my first Vibrams two days ago, love them! Although I’m hesitant to wear them for work though … maybe first start with wearing them in my free time and then buy a KSO Trek Soft later on to be worn more widely :)

    Jerome wrote on May 20th, 2012
  9. Would love these, but they simply don’t make them in my size. I would need something like a women’s 42 ultra narrow (my foot is 11AAA, and I have [genetically] flat feet). The whole lateral side of the shoe is empty, my foot simply won’t fill it out, let alone come anywhere near to reaching the pinky toe. Yes, I’ve been fitted professionally. Wish there was a better option for those with long narrow feet.

    Dizzy wrote on June 13th, 2012
  10. I feel like this is bigotry against us web-footed mammals! I demand we protest! who’s with me??! *silence ensues*

    Erik Boyd wrote on December 28th, 2012
  11. I have wanted these “shoes” since I first saw them years ago. However, they don’t make them in size 15-16 US Mens and neither do any of their competitors. I am stuck with shoes I can find and barefoot at home.

    Josh Nicholls wrote on January 20th, 2013
  12. I have two pairs of classics (one pair I wear at work and one at home), and one pair of KSOs that I bought last week for running in. I absolutely adore them. I have very wide feet, longer second toes, and my two smallest toes are rather bent under. I had a bunion removed from one foot about 15 years ago, and have always had enormous difficulty finding shoes that fit properly. Most of the time I end up with the ones that hurt the least, rather than the ones that fit the best.

    The first time I tried on VFFs, I decided not to buy them straight away because the colours they had in my size were not to my taste. I planned to find a nicer colour online. But, on the way home, my feet were practically screaming to have those wonderful shoes back. I went back the next morning and bought them regardless of the colour.

    Yesterday I went out for my first ever run wearing my new KSOs. It felt amazing. I am not an experienced runner, and usually feel like a baby elephant pounding down the street. I felt light, and free in the KSOs and felt like I could keep going forever. I did, however stick to my schedule and heeded the advice on the Vibram website about not over-doing it until your body adjusts to the shoes.

    I just love these shoes and I can’t say it enough. I actually feel sad when it’s time to take them off and go to bed. If my partner would tolerate me wearing them in bed I probably would :)

    Rachel S wrote on April 4th, 2013
  13. I got my Vibrams last summer, and I will never, ever go back to exercising in normal sneakers. Not a chance.If they were allowed at work or in the bars/nightclubs I frequent, I would literally wear them at all times. The one and only issue I have with them is that my pinky toes are unusually short in proportion to my other toes so they don’t even come close to reaching the end of their toe slot on the shoes. That, however, is very a minor, ineffectual issue completely and overwhelmingly outweighed by all the benefits Vibrams provide.

    Mark Pompeo wrote on April 17th, 2013
  14. I am in the market for a pair of VFFs. I tried two on yesterday. Both felt AMAZING! Now, how to decide between them? The one (komodosport) has a softer sole. The other (Spyridon) has more tread and some arch support with a hard sole on the arch for protection when off roading. I plan to use my VFFs for everyday use, from walking with my kids, going to the park, biking and hiking. The Spyridon is recommended on the Vibram website for multiuse, but will I get the full benefits of barefooting with this slightly more rigid sole?

    sarah wrote on July 30th, 2013

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