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Vibram FiveFingers Flow

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
photo: Vibram FiveFingers Flow barefoot / minimal shoe

Let me start off by saying that I am a Footwear Guru at Eastern Mountain Sports and I am ashamed that we don't carry any of the Five Fingers product line.

Unfortunately, most consumers and retailers approach footwear from the standpoint that the foot is an extremely precarious body part in need of maximum support at all times. This is the driving philosophy behind most motion control running shoes and hiking/backpacking footwear.

To be fair, support can and is necessary at times, but not all the time. This is where Vibram Five Fingers comes in. Believe it or not, the human foot did evolve to support the healthy and reasonably weighted human body and if the foot and lower leg are strengthened and used on a regular basis, the need for expensive motion control shoes and orthotics almost disappears.

The Five Fingers Flow:

The flow is the insulated product from Vibram. It looks almost identical the the KSO but uses a thin neoprene upper and a very thin EVA bottom. I purchased these after I had bought the KSO and realized that I wanted something for cold weather running/walking/hiking.

The first problem that I noticed was that my toes were very constricted in the shoes and I don't have massive toes by any means. After walking around town for a while in them, I realized that my toes were getting very cold due to lack of blood flow. Also, these things don't breath so if you plan on wearing them for a long period of time, your feet will be soggy.

Because my toes were constricted and chilly frequently, I came to the conclusion that I should only use the Flow for high output activities in chilly weather like running or hard day hikes. Since approaching the shoe with this mindset, it has been fabulous. Running and hiking in these things after using typical shoes for years is borderline spiritual, I kid you not. You have 200,000 nerves on the bottom of each foot and they are very, very engaged while hopping around in these.

Running takes some adjustment because running with a heel-to-toe strike is simply not an option, you must use a midfoot strike which basically means your heel does not touch the ground. Once my calves were strong enough (a few weeks of running this way off and on is a good procedure for training) I found that I had to increase my mileage and run harder because I was saving energy. Many advanced runners use a midfoot strike I have recently come to find out and now I totally understand why.

I recently spent two weeks hiking around Bozeman and Missoula, Montana, in these and it was great. You can feel the rocks (sometimes to much if you are not paying attention) and the textures on the ground. If you hike to feel more in touch with your surroundings and appreciate the world we live in, then these will be a great addition to your experience.

Overall, these are amazing. They will not be adequate for very cold temperatures but fall, spring and summer activities will be great with these things.

Materials: Neoprene, Vibram, EVA
Use: dayhikes, cold weather running, Ultimate Frisbee, paddling, acrobatics
Break-in Period: non.
Price Paid: $94

I've had issue with 4 pairs.

1 pair bikila 3 days toes unglued. 2nd pair bikila same thing sole separate right off. for my 3rd pair i exchange for kso instead no toe separation but pull tab came stitching came apart after 2h.

4th pair kso mailed to me same size but material is so tight i manage to get foot in i can only where for 5 min and my foot goes lil numb.

am tired dealing with the company. not sure i will buy another pair seems a lot factory defects and inconsistency. i am pissed off at them and i want my money back.

such peace of garbage and no i am not a spammer or getting paid for this. i am a pissed off consumer and will write this wherever i can find a review. don't buy this crap.

Update 2/23/11:

ok so it's all good now. they'er not sure why the material is so tight on this pair and the color is so different the inside is orange not yellow  and the straps are so short might have bee a manufacturing issue but they are shipping me a pair of bikila in the mail. should be here in next 2 weeks so i can go for a jog.

im happy now. took two phone calls and got to talk to ryan and was big help, can't wait to get my bikilas and if this work will be getting bikila ls and a pair of kimodo  and for the winter a pair of kso flow.

Price Paid: $100

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Price Historic Range: $59.95-$90.00
Reviewers Paid: $94.00-$100.00
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