User Review: Vibram Women's FiveFingers KSO
Materials: thin Vibram rubber sole, mesh upper
Use: trail and some road running
These are great! I decided to try them for running after having an injury (IT band syndrome from too much hiking and running too soon last summer), reading a lot about how running barefoot rather than in big padded shoes is the ideal way to run, and experimenting successfully with barefoot running on an indoor track.
These shoes allow the feet to function pretty much as they would if bare while providing protection from sharp objects on the ground. The mesh/nylon upper keeps sand, twigs and gravel from getting in and causing irritation.
No socks required, although there is the option of using toe socks if you want to add a little extra warmth. I have worn the shoes with and without Injinji toe socks and both ways work just fine.
I have not gotten any blisters from the shoes; so far I am up to 30-45 minute runs in them. Which brings me to a very important point: it is critical to build up slowly to running in these if you are used to regular running shoes.
When you run barefoot or in shoes like this, your foot works differently and there are a lot of muscles and tendons that are working more than they do in regular shoes. Working up gradually allows them to adapt and get used to working as they were designed to do (they have gotten lazy if you have been wearing shoes all the time).
As mentioned, I have been using these for running on trails, roads and on grass in parks. I feel that my form is better and I definitely feel more surefooted and agile. Hopping from rock to rock across streams and balancing on fallen trees/logs is great fun in these shoes.
I may very well try doing some of my hikes in them this year, and will likely bring them along as camp/river crossing shoes on backpacking trips as they are light, comfy and have excellent traction. Plus, they (unlike the Crocs knockoffs I have carried for camp/river shoes in the past) could be used to hike in if there is some problem with the boots.
Vibram claims these shoes can go in the washing machine (but not the dryer). I have not yet tested this as I have just washed them out by hand when they get dirty. One thing to be aware of is that they can get smelly after a while. Soaking for a few hours to overnight in a vinegar/water solution (about 1:3 vinegar to water) and then rinsing well seems to take care of this.
Make sure you look carefully at the sizing chart if you are ordering online; the fit is quite precise. Also be aware that a couple of the models differ from each other in sizing.