Beginning Barefoot Trail Running/Trekking

1:28 p.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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There are a lot of postive reviews on this site of the Vibram Fivefinger KSO's. And I happened to have purchased a pair this week after reading the book "Born to Run" and seeing it mentioned on a couple of blogs. But the book really motivated me.

That being said, I just put them on 10 mins ago. I've read various blogs about how to get started, but mostly from fitness freaks or runners.

I wanted to hear some feedback from people who used these on the trail. And has anyone tried them on long treks over 5 miles? 

Of course I have zero experience beyond 13 mins now, but my thinking is, if I fall in love with these shoes like so many of you, I might buy the KSO Treks for my trip this summer.

Would love to hear your experiences and recommendations for a beginner to barefoot hiking/running.

Thanks! =)

5:19 p.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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 I would be reticent to were them jogging.  The lifeguard agency claims barefoot jogger have literally crippled themselves, encountering broken glass on their sand slogs.  I would reserve wearing Fivefingers for activities generating less force, unless these dogs have a sole whose durability is comparable to conventional jogging footware.

Ed 

7:28 p.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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I bought a pair of the Fivefinger Classic's last summer. I have riden my bicycle and walked in them on some trails close to home. I think they should make them a wee bit thicker on the bottom, as they are'nt too much different than walking barefoot as little pebbles feel like I am barefoot.

I plan to have mine modified with a instep strap as I think they would come off too easily in some of the muddy areas I plan to use them in this summer.

And I still think they should call them Fivetoes not Fivefingers!

I will be able to give a better review after this next summer.

1:43 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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Gary, you should consider the KSO Trek or KSO. As they have a thicker sole and are designed more for the trail. The Classics' essentially the first one they developed really are like wearing socks.

 

I spent today wearing mine out and about and came across some pebbles with no problems.

 

One thing though, driving stick shift, isn't fun with these. I need shoes.

 

 

1:53 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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That's one thing I have never done, drove a car or any gasoline vehicle, least since a Czeck Moped when I was 16 forty years ago in 1972.

12:04 a.m. on February 6, 2011 (EST)
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Bought a pair of KSOs  about a month ago. I'm in CA for a six-month leave, a good place to try them out. I've been running in them quite a bit, alternating runs with conventional running shoes, on somewhat steep and rocky trails, up to about 5-7 miles, probably less than 100 miles total so far, I do my longest runs in conventional shoes. I can feel coarse gravel through them and slow down on that, and try to pay extra attention to foot placement both up and down hill. Great to partly feel the ground. I have stubbed my big toe pretty bad a couple times (I've also done that in conventional shoes, just clumsy I guess). I absolutely do not miss the ankle and arch support. My feet feel "tired" after a good run, but I think they're getting stronger. Comfortable when I first put them on, except maybe my little toes which are kind of deformed from all those years in shoes, but I'm also pretty glad to take them off after a good run. I'm not completely sold -- I figure I'll keep using them until they wear out, then decide if I want another pair. They should be ok in the summer in Norway, but the trails there are a bit muddier and in Oct and Nov I'll need something warmer.

I guess I should post a formal review, but I'm still trying to make up my mind on the whole "barefoot" issue, and want to do some more miles before I pass judgement. I don't know if it would be a good idea to carry a load, at least until you build up some foot strength...

4:40 p.m. on February 8, 2011 (EST)
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I've used the KSO TrekSports extensively for the past few months, and I can comment on their it a performance a bit...

I find wearing the shoes unlike any other shoe-wearing experience in that they make it feel as though your feet have been dipped in liquid rubber. It is almost unfair to call them a shoe, really. They might be best described, or thought of, as a reinforced sock. There is minimal cushion, if any. No lateral stability in the least, so you need to use your ankle more to keep your foot/leg aligned.

It is very true that one's foot feels tired after running any significant distance in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes. I have not been able to run more than 5 miles in mine yet, but hope to be able to soon. I probably could do it, but I think that in doing so I would put myself at too much of a risk for injury at this point. I've heard of people running Marathons in VFF's or Huraches; what stout legs they must have.

My recommendations would be to resist your urge to sprint off in them as soon as you head outside. They make you feel like a kid, but you're not a kid, so easing into them can be a decent idea.

6:42 p.m. on February 8, 2011 (EST)
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I have a number of issues with my right ankle after years of repeatedly rolling it during high school and college basketball. Because of this, I've never dared to give them a try, I need the high ankle support.

 

My friend does have a pair, but I haven't heard him say much of anything about them. If he has worn them, I will see what he thinks.

 

Vibram also makes some pretty sweet dog shoes - I bought some for my retired racing greyhound who's feet are used to soft dirt on the track.

2:03 p.m. on February 9, 2011 (EST)
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I would never run in those for many reasons:

1. I'll admit to having a flatter foot than average, and I weight in at 240lb. Right there, not the best idea I'll give you that. But I've seen a few reviews about people running in fivefingers, and it discourage's it if you have chronic foot problem like flat feets, or if you an over supinator. Also, since there is no absortion your knees absorb the full shock and consequently the rest of your body. So you gotta watch-out.

2. Ed brings something that every trail/beach/even pavement runners should watch out for. Injury due to surface your running on. Be it glass, rocks, twigs that get stuck between toes or just smacking your toes on stuff.

3. What is your goal? For me running is the means to an end. It helps me stay sane, in shape and fit for my main activity: Climbing. I choosed my running shoes to fit my foot and terrain specically, that way I reduce the stress on my body from a repeated activity.

In any case it,s to think about before starting. It can seem cool to jump on the new wave, but not if it bad for you in the long run.

8:19 p.m. on February 12, 2011 (EST)
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Considering how many people all over the world go daily without the advanced footwear we have and don't suffer half the problems we do, I'm a firm believer in the concept that our modern conventional wisdom is wrong.

I've had glass go through a pair of boots, so that's a threat anywhere, and comes down to how much you're paying attention.

I've only had these shoes since last Saturday, and I've spent the week wearing them every day. They are amazing. But I have spent a lot of time reading about proper form and training.

One of the concepts that has come up in multiple places is that really these shoes are more for walking and sprinting rather than long distance running. 

Because of our modern shoes and tendency to jog 5 miles at a consistent pace we think we can do it barefoot. In reality, these shoes are designed to match human form and the way we where designed. Consider the the primal human probably wouldn't ever just run 5 miles for no reason. We are however born sprinters by nature.

You'd go chasing after dinner and catch it. Or run away from a predator and be done.

If you are interested in this, I seriously recommend you read "Born to Run", the author spent a great deal of time studying tribes around the world where people don't wear shoes.

Anyways, I'll give a full opinion of these things once it's been more than a week. Probably in a couple months. I'm working my way up training in them. 

I haven't had any pain issues, but something I do after workouts is an ice bath, this soothes almost all my muscles.

BTW, there are some long distance barefoot runners, I found this guy : http://barefootrunner.org/  who runs marathons with no shoes. Not even the Vibrams. I bet he avoids nails with his eyeballs.

I do have one piece of advice, buy the black ones. My wife has the black ones and you don't notice they are weird looking shoes. Everyone noticed my bright colored ones, and I get plenty of stares and questions of what the heck am I wearing.

8:39 p.m. on February 12, 2011 (EST)
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I maintain we are not sprinters. Bipedal ambulation is, biomechanically, more suited towards longer-duration exertion than its quadrupedal version in organisms with an flexible backbone. The fastest animals are four-legged sprinters like cheetahs and antelope; the fastest two-leggers top out something like 20mph slower...your ancestors ran all day long, barefoot.

1:25 a.m. on February 15, 2011 (EST)
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just a bit of humor, Didnt Al Bundy try and market these called the ZUESS

10:20 p.m. on February 15, 2011 (EST)
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Point of clarification:

Our ancestors rarely ran any distance for any reason.  Likewise sprinting was not part of the typical survival skills, regarding hunting prey or fleeing four legged predators.  In any case most running and sprinting probably had to do with running against other humans for sport, or to escape other humans, such as spurned mates, suitors or other territorial disputes between other clans.  If one wishes to base an argument on ancestors that were more proficient sprinters and runners, then one must climb back down the evolutionary tree so low they will be referencing kin that have a completely different skeletal configuration than the one we cruise around with.  Not much point in that comparison, at least in this context.

Actually our ancestors (those that walked on two legs only) are neither accomplished sprinters nor long duration runners.  We are pathetically inept compared to most other species in this regard.  But we always were top rate endurance walkers.  Traditional hunting techniques utilizing kill zones and traps, required very little traveling under speed.  Most pursuit of prey occurred only after wounding them with poison tipped projectiles.  That pursuit was not a foot race – the hunter merely followed their prey (almost always walking) until it weakened and could be taken down more safely.  Our ancestors simply walked their prey into exhaustion.

Ed

3:00 p.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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If you're interested in barefoot running or hiking, read this review we just published of the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSports:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/vibram/fivefingers-treksport/review/22061/

Pillowthread was one of the testers, along with trouthunter and leadbelly2550.

The big takeaway is to start small.

 

4:53 p.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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Whomeworry--

I suggest you read Born to Run or maybe some of its sources (sounds like you haven't read it yet? Fun book...) before you categorically deny that humans are built for endurance running. The author makes an interesting case -- based partly on our cooling capacity via sweating and that our breathing can be independent of gait, as well as one anecdote -- that humans were "persistence hunters" built to run all day. Maybe, maybe not, but it at least raises questions about the orthodox view that we suck at running.

5:31 p.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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@Alicia, good read. Although I am wondering if your reviewers had proper knowledge or previous experience with barefoot shoes. From some of the remarks it seems as though they didn't give themselves the proper training or time to adjust to the shoes. I'd be interested in a review after more time, not just X miles on the trail.

 

You can't just buy these shoes and start going at it. Even Vibrams site recommends taking upwards of 3 weeks to adjust to these shoes.

 

@BigRed, that book is what got me interested. And it makes sense when you consider how many tribal cultures don't wear shoes. Even if you consider most primitive foot coverings, they in no way or shape have anything resembling todays modern shoe and sole. They mostly just focus on keeping the foot warm.

 

 

6:38 p.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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@Alicia, good read. Although I am wondering if your reviewers had proper knowledge or previous experience with barefoot shoes. From some of the remarks it seems as though they didn't give themselves the proper training or time to adjust to the shoes. I'd be interested in a review after more time, not just X miles on the trail.

You can't just buy these shoes and start going at it. Even Vibrams site recommends taking upwards of 3 weeks to adjust to these shoes.

Good points, Mike. We did give them some basic info, and two of the three had running backgrounds, but they tackled the shoes from more of a novice barefooter's perspective.

All three reviewers are sticking with the shoes, entirely by choice, so we'll likely hear more in the long-term about how they do (or don't) work out.

Stay tuned and we'll have a skills article on this topic this spring, with info from the experts, on how to use and how not to use barefoot/minimal footwear for trail use.

A lot has been written and promoted about barefoot footwear specific to running, but we want to cover it specific to trail and backcountry use (running, hiking, fastpacking, etc.), with quality information about what to consider.

5:28 p.m. on February 18, 2011 (EST)
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I would be interested in trying the footgear, but i am not aware of ever seeing one in a store over here. I have thin water shoes that I use to hike in watery areas and streams. They are probably the same without the seperation of toes. The stream rocks hurt sometimes with these shoes. I would probably be the guy you hear swearing "ouch, eww!, darn!" along the trail until I get use to the new footgear. I still want to get my hands on a pair though.

As a side and a bit of humor,

German for gloves is translated as "hand shoes". I wonder if they would call the fivefinger TrekSports "foot gloves".

5:42 p.m. on February 18, 2011 (EST)
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Then it would be "foot and shoes" wouldn't it?

4:27 p.m. on February 19, 2011 (EST)
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Both me and my wife are experiencing improved good posture after using these shoes for two weeks. 

 

Anyone else using these notice the same thing? 

4:37 p.m. on February 19, 2011 (EST)
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After giving my feet plenty of time (3 weeks around home and nearby woods) to get used to the Treksports I found they still took some getting used to when walking on uneven ground even though I am used to going barefooted.

I think a large part of that for me was that the Treksports toe spaces are more or less fixed, they move, but may not fit your foot  like a pair that were made to exactly match your own toes shapes and angles. So your foot does have to conform to the shoes to some extent.

I think anytime I go barefoot, or wearing the Treksports for that matter, I pay more attention to posture and foot placement.

I also tend to notice things along the trail (underfoot) that I may overlook at times when I'm wearing more substantial footwear.

I intend to keep wearing these and would love to do a long term report.

5:06 p.m. on February 19, 2011 (EST)
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Yeah, it should be noted to folks, that the only difference between men and women's shoes is the width. My wife actually ended up buying mens because of what you mentioned, women's just didn't match her toes right or size up right. Mens did.

 

I would almost be willing to pay a much higher fee for a custom set. That would be interesting.

 

The only problem I've had is the back of the ankle, although I think I solved that, as I was strapping them too tight.

11:15 p.m. on February 21, 2011 (EST)
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You can't just buy these shoes and start going at it. Even Vibrams site recommends taking upwards of 3 weeks to adjust to these shoes.

Mikekey,

I'd give it more than three weeks.  My experience has been with Nike Free running shoes, the Vibrams I tried on didn't fit my feet well and I don't have a lot of options when it comes to stores selling running shoes.

I've been working up, over a period of months, to running 3-5 miles in my Frees.  My ligaments, tendons and muscles have been thanking me for taking so long.  The one thing I have found is that as you run farther and farther you get pretty ripped calves.  Running with a fore or mid foot strike seems to require a lot of calf strength and flexibility. 

I'm not a fan on Nike because of their business practices so when New Balance and Merrel come out with their minimalist shoes I'm going to give one of them a shot.

8:26 p.m. on February 22, 2011 (EST)
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Good points dm, I haven't really run with these long yet. I have however been wearing them just about everyday as regular shoes.

 

Your foot strike really changes though. I always walked on the balls of my feet, my parents used to hell at me, but I've found myself adapting to the shoes pretty quickly.

 

In a couple months it should be interesting to see how it's going.

8:26 p.m. on February 22, 2011 (EST)
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Good points dm, I haven't really run with these long yet. I have however been wearing them just about everyday as regular shoes.

 

Your foot strike really changes though. I always walked on the balls of my feet, my parents used to hell at me, but I've found myself adapting to the shoes pretty quickly.

 

In a couple months it should be interesting to see how it's going.

11:04 a.m. on March 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I have a pair.  I DO NOT recommend.

OK for 'novelty'-value / alternative to real shoes / boots to 'impress' people.   Actually, they are 'goofy'.

Simply not worth the risks.

9:44 p.m. on April 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I bought a pair of KSO's a couple weeks ago and have tried them a couple times since. The first time I wore them I did a 5 km run and felt completly fine. The second time I did a 10 km hike with a light pack. I have never been so sore in my life! Not injured pain, but the pain after a good workout. I am a relativly active person participating in organized sport as well as hiking. I've read a couple times that its the second or third time that gets you but I'm an admitdly stubborn and impulsive person and of course thought I'd be different. Wrong! Feeling better now and back at it (lesson learned!).

 I have noticed the same thing Mike in my posture and as well with my running form.

11:35 p.m. on April 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I would agree with pillowthread on the Treks.

6:22 a.m. on April 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I feel it is another NOVELTY item ... very well marketed by the manufacturers.

 

When was the last time you saw anyone roller-blading ???

 

I am guessing (?) pogo-sticks will one day be all the rage, along with unicycles.

 

 

r2

6:51 a.m. on April 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I feel it is another NOVELTY item ... very well marketed by the manufacturers.

 

When was the last time you saw anyone roller-blading ???

 

I am guessing (?) pogo-sticks will one day be all the rage, along with unicycles.

 

 

r2

FYI: Rollerblading is alive and well along So Cal beaches.  But I agree, this footware doesn't have the legs to endure.

Ed

9:16 a.m. on April 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Rollerblading is extremely popular here in Toronto. Maybe its because its the closest thing to skating Canadians have in the summer!

3:29 a.m. on April 10, 2011 (EDT)
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There is a report on various running shoe fads included vibram on Yahoo.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_weekend/20110408/ts_yblog_weekend/do-the-latest-fitness-shoes-work

 

9:40 a.m. on April 10, 2011 (EDT)
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I feel it is another NOVELTY item ... very well marketed by the manufacturers.

 

When was the last time you saw anyone roller-blading ???

 

I am guessing (?) pogo-sticks will one day be all the rage, along with unicycles.

 

 

r2

You may well be correct that these are a fad, or novelty item.

I personally enjoy using mine because I love going bare footed and wearing the Treks lets me do so, but with a great deal more protection for my feet. I don't run in mine, just hiking and exploring.

As for pogo sticks and unicycles, I don't know about pogo sticks, but unicycles are making a huge comeback right now much in the same way skateboards have. It's amazing what some of these guys / gals are doing with unicycles on courses set up to test their skills.

I haven't seen anyone ride a unicycle in barefoot shoes yet though.

12:31 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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What are restaurants and eating-places going to do about upholding their "Shoes and Shirts" requirements ?

 

BTW -- Don't your feet sweat a little in those things ?

 

 

r2

 

Comfort the disturbed ...

Disturb the comfortable ....

1:36 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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What are restaurants and eating-places going to do about upholding their "Shoes and Shirts" requirements ?

 

BTW -- Don't your feet sweat a little in those things ?

 

 

r2

 

Comfort the disturbed ...

Disturb the comfortable ....

Haha....that's a keen observation about restaurants! I would hope they will be counted as shoes.

As far as sweating....I guess they do a little, but I haven't found it to be a problem because a large part of the pair I have is constructed with a tough mesh material.

2:16 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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You could wear Injinji toe socks.  http://www.injinji.com/

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