This time a non-technical blog post, although it is about footwear hacking. Vibram released an innovative and clever product with their Five Fingers, which is getting increasingly popular. Baffled looks and curious questions guaranteed.
I started to love the Five Fingers after I bought my first pair – a KSO one – a couple of month ago. The feeling similar to walking barefoot with the protection of a sturdy Vibram brine is extraordinary. The KSO model covers your complete foot with a lightweight and thin textile making the shoe a pleasure to wear. However, the textile is not water-resistant or particularly warming, which makes the KSO uncomfortable to wear in the late autumn and winter periods. I wore my Five Fingers with socks still in the beginning of winter with a few degree Celsius, but when the first snow fall and temperatures dropping below zero the KSO was not suitable anymore.
A winter model of the Five Fingers had to be ordered and Vibram recently released the KSO Trek Tex.
My pair recently arrived and I already did some regular walking in the city with them. This post is describing my first impressions since I have not wore them long enough to do a proper review. My first positive impression was the rugged tread, which should give you enough grip for slippery surfaces, and the thick neoprene textile covering your whole foot, which should keep it warm and dry compared to the regular KSO model. Two fasteners, one at the heel and one at the upper foot, tightens the shoe properly.
The negative impressions I got so far are the following ones. The thick neoprene textile is a bit uncomfortable at the toes, because they feel quite packed due to the thick and sturdy textile. The regular KSO feel more airy compared to the Trek Tex. This fact especially becomes apparent in the first few minutes of wearing them, because the neoprene seems to loosen up a bit after wearing the KSO Trek Tex for a few minutes. Then the textile is getting a bit more comfortable, but not as comfortable as the regular KSO. The other negative impression is that either the neoprene is not completely water-resistant – as they advertise – or your feet getting quite sweaty while wearing them. After wearing them with a pair of socks for a couple of hours walking around in the city, the socks had a few wet spots. I can not tell yet if it is due to the water-nonresistance or sweat induced by the textile. The neoprene is also not suitable to keep your feet warm enough while doing light walking for couple of hours in a winter environment with a few degree Celsius below zero.
Overall I am pleased with the Five Fingers KSO Trek Tex due to the sturdy appearance, especially the tread provides a good grip on slippery surfaces. It is a winter version of the regular KSO, but not a proper winter shoe, which can be wore all day long in winter temperatures while doing light walking. I guess sporty activities in the winter should keep your feet warm in the KSO Trek Tex, but I have not tested it yet. I would not permanently exchange my regular KSO for the KSO Trek Tex, but temporarily for winter temperatures is acceptable.
I have completed my first run in the KSO Trek Tex today with temperatures around -4 degree Celsius and about 3cm of snow. I can confirm my earlier hypothesis that the Trek Tex will keep your feet warm during sporty activities. My feet were comfortably warm during the 30 minutes run and they were also pleasantly dry, although the shoe was covered in snow occasionally. Running in similar conditions with my regular KSO resulted in soaked socks and ice cold feet. Furthermore, the KSO Trek Tex provided enough grip on the snowy running track for a comfortable run.