I finally got my hands on (I mean, feet in) a pair of fivefingers – the glove-like running shoes. Don’t tell Vibram, it might hurt their feelings, but I picked them up in one of those gag, “white elephant” holiday gift exchanges. They are the Sprint model.
I think they might be about one European size too small for me, although according to the Vibram shoe sizing chart they’re actually a size too big. Feet and shoes, though, are not mathematical equations – hence the saying, “if the shoe fits, wear it.” I haven’t run in these yet because they feel too small so maybe I’m not qualified to write a true and fair review yet but here are a few (mostly negative) thoughts. I’ve worn them around the house and am wondering if maybe they’ll stretch out just a bit so I can give them a run but not sure yet.
These shoes seem to pride themselves on being minimalist. To me, they still seem over built. The two Velcro heel straps and one larger Velcro strap over the top of the foot seem unnecessary. If I keep these I’ll probably cut those all off. Keep in mind my perspective, though, as I’m the guy that doesn’t tie his regular running shoes either – they’re knotted loosely enough to easily slide on and off – that works well for me. They don’t fall off. And neither would these fivefingers without their straps. The inner lining is more than enough to secure them to the foot especially since you’re supposed to make sure they fit just right to begin with.
The rubber soles are much beefier than I expected and really too much for my liking. The worst part of the sole is where it wraps up and around the front of each toe. My toes end up sticking and clicking together. Maybe with use this problem would wear itself out as the rubber lost its tackiness. They should keep the sole on the bottom. I’m not planning to be kicking around a bunch of rocks, although I suppose that is the intended purpose of the rubber toes for people that use them out on trails – anti-toe-stubbing technology.
I’m wearing the fivefingers right now as I type this. They’re starting to feel a little better as I wiggle my toes around but they’re still a little annoying. The idea behind these shoes is make you feel like you’re running barefoot but at the moment they feel even more restrictive then a regular light shoe like the cross country racers I ran in during the early part of this year. And at least with those, I can wear them out to the pub or wherever if I feel like it. There’s no way I’d wear the fivefingers anywhere/anytime but night runs or in the ocean or a river rafting trip. At least these are all black so they’re a little less noticeable than the other bright colors available.
I’m not sure how much these cost as I got them for free. I think they may be sort of expensive – in the $80 range. It would feel a little strange to take the scissors to such a valuable shoe but I think I’d like them more if I cut the tips of the toes off and all the straps. I think at some point though you just have to avoid the silliness of trying to mimic the natural human foot and just go out running barefoot.
Oh, and one more thing, Vibram. You really (obviously) ought to call these FiveToes as hardly anyone runs on their hands.