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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek

Barefoot running with shoes.

by: Joel Nyquist

PAGE 1 2
Vibram Five Finger KSO Trek  (Courtesy Photo)
Vibram Five Finger KSO Trek (Courtesy Photo)

Ed Note: Vibram has notfied BACKPACKER that there are multiple fradulent and counterfeit vendors selling FiveFingers-like products. Please visit Vibram's website for more information.
Vibram recommends starting slowly since your muscles and connectors have a lifetime of atrophy to overcome. Eventually I grew confident enough to wear them on short hikes into the Colorado Rockies around Breckenridge and on dayhikes around northern Virginia. The traction from the grippy Vibram sole is superb, and I liked being able to feel what was underfoot. I really did feel more in tune with my feet while on the trail instead of mindlessly clomping along. Be cautious, though, since stubbing your toe feels pretty close to what it would be like barefoot.

The KSO Trek is the most rugged of the FiveFingers line, designed for light trail walking and running. Some of the other models have stretchy fabric uppers, the KSO Treks have kangaroo leather which is very soft and dries quickly.

You definitely won’t find me running a marathon in these, although I’m sure some people have. The heel strikes while running were too jolting, especially on pavement, for me to enjoy the experience. On hikes I didn’t feel like I had enough support to carry an overnight pack, although I did appreciate the light weight (11.5 oz. per pair) on steep dayhikes. I appreciated the KSO Treks the most during my calisthenics workouts. Jumping, lunging, sprinting and kicking all felt remarkably good, There are fierce advocates on each side of the debate, with boot and shoe companies claiming that you’re risking a broken ankle or stressed Achilles’ tendons. On the other side are the barefooters who insist that a return to nature is the solution for stronger, more resilient legs. I’m not a doctor and won’t comment on the medical benefits, but if you want to dip your toes into the barefoot movement, the KSO Treks are a great option for trying it out while keeping your feet protected.

The Specs
$125
11.4 oz. (men’s 42 on BP scales)
Available sizes: Euro 40-47
www.vibramfivefingers.com
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READERS COMMENTS

Bodie
Jun 01, 2010

I love these shoes, but I wish the construction was better.Other than that, they are fantastic shoes that are super comfortable.

Casey C
May 27, 2010

Fascinating. I read "Born to Run" which also makes a case for barefoot running. I hate running, but love to hike. Maybe I will try these... do they come in pink? ;)

Sierracanon
May 27, 2010

As uber-cool and trendy as those appear, they look like they'd be really uncomfortable. It doesn't look like there's going to be a lot of wiggle room for those of us with extra long toes. I'm just not sold on them, and I think they look dorky (and I'm a primo dork!).

Joel N
May 26, 2010

Hey Austin, I've been trying to modify my form to land more flat-footed and less heel-forward, but after a mile or so I lose focus! I'll keep trying.

Nonoy- Definitely Hobbit shoes! I call them my "Bear Feet" because with the brown leather they really look like animal paws.

I'm going to keep wearing these things, I like them quite a bit, can wear them all day. One more note, though: pine needles can stick through the sides and jab your toes!!
Joel.

Matt
May 24, 2010

I just dropped 125 bucks on the new KSO trecks. I use to do lots of trail running a few years ago before I joined the army and decided I hated running. Well....I love running again. I cant say enough about these shoes. My GF hates them....but I bet you if I boought her a pair she would wear them in secret ha ha. They are amazing and worth every penny. If you have aches and pains its beacuse you are running with technology that messes up the bodies natural running motion. We were given toes for a reason guys! Time to use them. I cant imagine ever wearing a different shoe ever again. 10 out of 10....and your feet will love you

Clynton Taylor
May 24, 2010

I switched to running only in my Vibram Five Fingers (KSO model) last summer after receiving back surgery. I can confidently say that they helped save my back! I wear Vivo Barefoot around the office so I rarely have to wear regular, high-heeled shoes (yes, mens' dress shoes are high-heeled!).

One note of caution, as with any change in your running form, take it slowly and listen to your body. I created the 12 Step Program to Run Barefoot to help folks condition their feet and legs to run naturally because so many people keep doing too much and injuring themselves immediately. Here's a link to the program: http://bit.ly/eGgHm

Thanks for the post and good luck to all!

Nonoy
May 24, 2010

Frodo/Hobbit shoes!

Rana
May 23, 2010

If you want to know more about them, you might check out birthdayshoes.com. The forum, especially, is full of all kinds of great stuff! :)

Jason
May 23, 2010

I absolutely love my Vibram FiveFingers. I recently picked up a pair of the FiveFinger Bikila's(http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/products_bikila_m.cfm?CFID=1325935&CFTOKEN=64664162) after a friend of mine bought his second pair and sweared by them. Each time I put these on I instantly feel like being active. These shoes (or toe shoes is what my children like to call them) are great for any outdoor activity there is. But it does take some time to build up all those little muscles that have been dormant since being a child runing barefoot through the yard. I'm glad to see Backpacker giving the FiveFingers some love. Maybe this will get the name out there and spark a barefoot revolution.

Austin
May 22, 2010

Jarring heel strikes while running in these stems from improper barefoot running form. There is a proper technique to barefoot running that must be adhered to... hence the whole theory that barefoot running is better for you than running in large-heeled running shoes. It's not only the concept of being barefoot, but the idea that the form that today's shoes promotes in evolutionarily incorrect. (that's also why your sprinting felt better as barefoot running is very close to the form used for sprinting, just shortened.) Hope this helps some people!

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