If you’ve seen the infamous Vibram Five Finger shoes before, you would know. Since they first began hitting the streets, the Vibram Five Fingers have been turning heads. That’s because they have individual slots for each of your toes that allow them to move freely. They also don’t incorporate laces, relying on a combination snug fit (made all the more so by each of your toes being hugged individually) and some combination of an elastic strap and cord that wraps around the ankle. The Vibram Five Fingers have been at the forefront of the minimalist running fad and are the closest thing to actual barefoot running, without actually running in bare feet.
This idea made popular by the Vibram Five Finger shoes is that the human foot is already a perfect design which takes advantage of its twenty six bones, thirty three joints, twenty muscles and countless sensory receptors, ligaments and tendons to perform perfectly. When you add in all the modern amenities of the majority of shoes, athletic and otherwise, you’re interfering with what nature intended: to move by foot comfortably and efficiently. That’s because like every other feature of our bodies, they need constant stimulation and exercise. Shoes largely limit what they’re able to experience.
Being one of the kings of the minimalist running hill means the Vibram Five Finger shoes make no pretense about cushion. There’s just enough protection to keep your foot from getting banged up by the modern environment and that’s about it. The whole philosophy behind them is that shoes with extra support and cushion are actually one of the main problems affecting athletes who suffer from foot, leg and even back issues. However, if you’re a proponent of minimalist or barefoot running, this is exactly what you want to help perfect your running technique. It does offer two millimeters worth of an EVA insole to provide some cushioning and protection, but that’s it.
Although they proudly lack support, Vibram Five Finger shoes do not lack for grip. They have three and half millimeters worth of Vibram TC1 Performance rubber for an outsole, which won’t leave any marks on the surfaces it contacts. This rubber offers great traction and the grip is accentuated by razor-sided features—great for a traceur.
As I mentioned earlier, Vibram Five Finger shoes provide a snug fit which provides plenty of comfort, although it might take getting used to. The whole design of the shoe basically mimics a glove’s effects so don’t be surprised to find your Vibram Five Finger shoes “fit like a glove.” In fact, once you’re used to them, you may stop noticing they’re even there. Once you’ve adapted, these shoes could be great for your parkour game, allowing better functional foot grip and feel for the surface you’re traversing.
One complaint many people have about the Vibram Five Finger shoes is their durability. It seems to be pretty hit or miss and based largely on what you use the shoe for. While many have reported still being on their first pair, others have complained their breakdown started early on. This is an obvious concern for a traceur who plans on putting them through the many obstacles of parkour. Look for future generations of the shoe to continue to address these concerns.
As with any minimalist or barefoot shoe, it will take time to get comfortable with Vibram Five Finger shoes. In fact, there are whole websites dedicated to how to slowly transition into them. These are not shoes you can simply take out of the box and start running with. Doing so will mean sore feet and legs the next day. That’s because your muscles have adapted to the modern athletic shoe with all their trappings and all the poor habits that come with them. The manufacturer will provide further instructions on how to safely work your way into running with the shoe constantly.
There doesn’t seem to be any end to the minimalist shoe trend in the near future. Even major shoe companies, once the banner men of traditional, bulky sports shoes, are throwing their weight behind shoes with less flash and more demands on your feet and legs. If you’re already sold on the benefits or have already enjoyed using minimalist shoes in the past, Vibram Five Finger shoes might be exactly what your parkour game needs.
These shoes receive an overall score of 7.9/10.