Vibram FiveFingers Classic
After years of trying various shoes, boots, orthotics,…
Materials: Vibram, some kind of synthetic fabric upper
Use: Hiking, city walking
Break-in Period: None
Price Paid: $75
After years of trying various shoes, boots, orthotics, socks, etc., and never being quite happy with the way my feet feel, I tried the Vibram Classic. What a difference!
Hiking/city walking both work well. Your feet feel very light. After not running for the past 20 years due to bad knees, I'm tempted to break into a run just because it feels like it would be so much fun with these on. You do have to watch where you put your feet; gravel of a certain size can give you quite a poke in the heel or mid-foot.
It takes your feet and calves a while to get used to walking without all the structure of a regular shoe. I recommend using Glide or something similar in them; I was getting some friction under the joint where the big toe hits the foot. Throw them in the washer with your dark clothes each time you do laundry so the footbed doesn't get gross.
I knocked off half a star because of some very minor quibbles. First, while the individual toes do give you a greater feeling of stability, the extra fabric between the toes can get irritating -- especially between the little toe and the next one. Second, your feet can get pretty cold if you walk through damp grass or anything damp -- in that way, they are EXACTLY like being barefoot. Third, even if you don't walk through something damp, they tend to get a bit clammy after a while.
Don't believe the sizing chart; I wound up having to go down 2 sizes from what the chart said I would need (they use European sizes, so I went from a 39 to a 37), and after a month of use I think I might have been happier going down one more. So go to a store to try them on; or, if you order them by mail, be sure you can return them for a smaller size.