My first experience with running barefoot was with the KSO's. After having problems with my legs and feet for over 2 years while running with normal running shoes and having gone through specials shoes and insoles without any result at all, it was time for something new.
I had read about going barefoot or nearly barefoot in a Wired article around the time that I got the insoles and I was already playing with the idea of trying something insane (or so my friends thought and still think). And after reading more and more about it I finally made my decision and bought a pair of VFF KSO's in black.
These gloves for your feet are great and feel very natural. I know that some people have size issues or even problem fitting their toes in the toe pockets but I had none of these problems and they actually fitted my feet like a glove. Putting them on is in the beginning some what of a challenge but after a few weeks you'll become a pro at it and beat anybody with regular shoes with laces.
It it true however that they do start to smell badly. I'm not sure what the smell really is but it seems that it's the rubber itself. Washing it does help somewhat but in the long run I have kept them in a sealed bag.
Another issue with the KSO's is the blisters you get after your reach a certain distance. If I run further than 5 K in them I develop blisters on the knockels of my big toe.
The other problem you might get with minimal running wear like this is cold feet. At least if you have a proper winter like we get in Europe.
However both the blister and cold feet issue is very easly resolved with Injinji toe socks.
The last problem which I have had with 2 pair (first pair was replaced by store for nothing) is that the big toe pocket on my right foot ripped. So the mesh that is attached to the rubber toe pocket developed a hole over time (6+ months). I have e-mailed Vibram about this issue and have yet to hear something back from them on this.
All in all this is a great minimalistic shoe to start of with. Even though it has some issues, which most of them are fixable, I love them! And probably will get another pair or at least to solve some issues I might go for the Vibram KSO Trek with kangaroo leather which should solve the cold and bilster problems.
I made a post about my first experiences with barefoot running in KSO last year. So read more if you like about my early experiences here with the KSO's.
These were my first minimalist shoes, and I really wanted to like them. Unfortunately, they just don't fit my feet. Like John, I'm between sizes and opted for slightly larger. The problem is, my little toe ends up on the seam with the next toe, and after a short period of use, my other toes end up jammed at the top end of the shoe. I like the concept and the feel (for at least a little while), but I'm going to need to look elsewhere for minimalit footwear that will work for me.
Have two pairs and have been using them at the office, some hiking and general wear. No running or anything else too severe.
For the most part really like them. One gripe is the the straps fray against the eyehole and recently one of them broke after about a year + of mild use. The rest of it is in decent shape. Had called Vibram customer service to let them know, but they acted as if they have never heard of anything like this happening and could not do much about it.
Anyways, overall can't complain much, though will look at others when I am ready for the next pair.
These are my first, and so far only, minimalist shoes, so it's impossible to compare them to anything else. That said, I love the way I feel in them. They make me feel more grounded as a person, more energetic, and more comfortable in my own skin. I used them for running on a track and loved it.
The downsides I experienced are:
-They get stinky fast, even though I don't sweat a lot.
-They let in small bits of grit.
-They aren't the best for all trail situations (TrekSports are probably my next purchase.)
-One of the seams rubbed near the ball of my foot, but this may have been poor form on my part.
-If there's even a little rain/wet ground, water gets in at the toes.
However, like I said, I am in love with them in general. I just wish I could wear them always. The flexibility is quite good, and I love having all that toe movement available.
I found that for running on streets or finished trails the KSO worked fine. I often use them sockless, but add a pair of Injinji liners when the temp drops. Good ground feel, flexibility to let my foot flex, the toe separation is just right for me,very breathable. A minor nit that I didn't think about until I read other reviews... they do pick up a stink quickly.
I don't like them for more trail running, especially if the trail is fairly dusty. The dust comes right through the mesh. In less than 30 minutes (often less than 15) enough dust will accumulate to make it feel like you are sandpapering your foot. The other issue I have had (but maybe it's just me since I don't see other people commenting on this) is that I have been unhappy with their traction in a lot of mixed conditions. They were particularly bad on trails with hard packed ground with light debris (tiny peddle, dried leaves, etc).
As a barefoot newbie, I can only give my initial impressions on these (just got them a few weeks ago). So far, they've been great. Really comfortable, surprisingly good foot feel, and a joy to walk/run in.
Taking them on and off takes a while to get used to - my toes don't want to be wide enough to fit in their slots - but I imagine that is the same for most shoes of this type. I've worn the shoes for full days of normal use (walking, driving, etc) and haven't had any problems with blistering yet, though that may be because my running mileage to this point has been insignificant.
I have been running in the Vibram KSO for about a year now and put around 25 miles a week on them. I use them exclusively for running as I do not find them comfortable to walk around in as a daily use shoe. I am currently training for a half and full marathon using them. I have run a half in them and I had no performance issues with them.
My original pair had the Velcro strap issue that others are talking about but a quick e-mail to Vibram with accompanying photos had a free replacement pair in the mail within a week, so I do have to give the company high marks on customer service. As for the smell……I solved this by purchasing a second pair. I now wash them after every use with my regular running gear. This every day washing with the additional shoe rotation has completely solved the problem. There is no foul odor and they still look good as new.
Overall I am very pleased with this product. My only problem is that I cannot wear them in the winter. My feet simply get too cold. The temperatures I am talking about are sub-freezing and it is certainly not unreasonable for a shoe of this design to be a poor choice for this type of running. To solve this I have recently purchased a pair of 5mm scuba booties from my local dive shop. So far they seem to be filling the void that is left by the Vibrams during the winter.
Smooth is fast…..Fast is smooth.
Smooth is fast...Fast is smooth.
I've run in Classics (77mi), Sprints (374mi), Bikilas (320mi) and now KSO's (186mi) and I can say hands...I mean feet down, these are the best.
I do wear them with Injinji toe socks only to insulate my feet from getting blisters or raw spots (see my review on Bikilas). The longest run I've done in a pair of KSOs is 21 miles but there were no problems with my feet.
Injinji's add to the cost, about $9/12 per pair depending on what you get, but so far, the pair I have has lasted nearly 200 miles and is probably going to last a total of 225-250 as they are showing signs of wear.
Not so the KSOs though. At 186mi, these look almost new.
Perfect for any kind of running except trail running. For that, I do my KSO Treks since they have a sole with traction which is needed on the dirt.
I love these shoes! However, I do not run long distances in them. I wear these while working out, doing sprints, parkour, and some light trail running as my "normal" shoes are Nike Free + and Free 5.0. I like how the upper is enclosed to keep our dirt and gunk from entering and it keeps the fit a little tighter in my opinion. The shoe provides a lot of protection but not enough that you can zone out, you still have to be mindful of foot placement. Can't wait to buy another pair soon when these wear out.
The sole is way to thick under the impact zone. There's no real barefoot-like feeling.
Not suitable for greek foot, the other toes ending with blisters.
Got holes on top of the big toe after only 150 miles.
Freelance writer for JOGGING INTERNATIONAL magazine
Freelance writer for http://runners.fr
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