I go barefoot as much as possible in the summer months on grass, but I want to extend this to include other surfaces and possibly other seasons.
Does anyone have any honest advice on Vibram's five-finger shoes or similar barefoot simulation footwear? (I will not be running on concrete with them (I read Gillebean's post). I have heard of many people raving about them and read the official blog, but has anyone had any NEGATIVE experiences with them?
Could I tackle a mountain path (rocky) in them for instance?
Does it take long for your feet/body to adjust to having no sole and are there adjustment 'pains' involved?
Are they really worth it or would it actually be more economical to sew my own moccasins out of fine leather? Or should I just stick to my crocs??
Last question: What do people do in the colder months, has anyone come across an all weather boot (snow/rain/mud) or is it back to the sewing machine to make a fur lined moccasin, inuit-style?
I wear Vivo Barefoot brand shoes every day, and I love them. (no affiliation to the company, I assure you.) I have two pairs, one casual for weekends and one dressier for work. I will not wear traditional healed or padded shoes any more. I have mild scoliosis and used to see a chiropractor regularly. Since I began wearing the Vivo Barefoot shoes, I have no longer needed to seek any back related medical services. I feel myself walking straighter and more comfortably. They have a way of retraining you to walk the way nature intended. They're not that expensive and I have been wearing mine for almost a year and they're still in good shape. They're a great option if you want the barefoot experience on a daily basis. I feel bad when I see people uncomfortably clomping around in overly padded shoes and throwing off the natural gait created by millions of years of evolution!
I picked up a pair of VFF KSO Treks a few weeks ago, and have been trying them out in my environment (rural Ontario; fields, pastures, dirt roads, stone fencelines, lots of snow and meltwater). Back issues have prevented me from running in them enough to evaluate them, so I've just been walking a few kilometers a day in them.
My conclusions so far (in no particular order)?
1) They're neither warm nor waterproof, but I knew that :). 2) I like the sole thickness; I can still feel pebbles, but they aren't uncomfortable to step on. 3) No adjustment pains so far. 4) I'd certainly wear them on a day hike; I prefer something with ankle support for backpacking. 5) You can get used to putting them on pretty quickly; they stay on well under use, and mold very well to my feet. The footprints I leave in the snow are hilarious :). 6) Traction is excellent. 7) I do tend to modify my stride with them; in boots, I tend to step heel-first; in the VFFs, I find myself walking more on the full foot or mid-and-fore foot. 8) I like them. I'm certainly sold on the concept for walking, and can't wait until I can try running in them.
Oh, and as for winter barefooting options, there's the Terra Plana Kariba: http://www.terraplana.com/kariba-p-1037.html?colour=245
I run barefoot and in VFFs (I try to do every other run barefoot) and I hike exclusively in VFFs, both regular KSOs and Sprints. I would start with VFF Sprints because they are much, much easier to fit (because of the double straps). They are great for running or hiking on any surface with two and a half caveats:
1a. Hikes that are composed entirely of loose toaster-sized rocks will probably never be fun.
I went "barefoot" a few months ago. You will find many of the common injuries you may have suffered in the past will go away, but you may emerge with different injuries to different places. For example, my knees no longer hurt when I run further than 5 miles, but in the initial few weeks running barefoot, my calf muscles were in agony, as barefoot running puts a lot of strain on your calves and ankles. Once you get over this and build a bit of strength in these places it is a good transition, and you will begin to understand what it is all about. Try starting out completely barefoot (on grass) to develop a natural style, and then from there on you can progress to a "barefoot" shoe like VFF's or Vivo's.
I wear Vibram FiveFingers on hikes and runs and love them!
To answer your questions..., you can definitely tackle a mountain path in them... you can feel the rocks and stones beneath your feet a little but it just requires being a little more aware of the ground around you so you can avoid any major rocks.
When i first started to wear mine i did have an adjustment period of a few weeks. The best advise i can give you is to just take your time with them when you start off, if you don't have experience of running and walking barefoot on more solid surfaces then it might feel strange and uncomfortable at first. But persevere with it and it will be worth it in the end!
Defo don't wear Crocs! Having a clumpy clog on your feet won't let you experience the full joys of being barefoot! Once you are completely used to your FiveFingers they allow you to move your feet and toes pretty much as you would when barefoot. They are also secure on your feet and will offer you more protection than a moccassin.
In the colder months i wear my FiveFingers with a pair of Injinji toe socks underneath! They keep my feet snug!
I wear Vibram KSOs in NYC and even during the winter they were fine -- you just need to be slightly more aware of where you are walking...I'd been exercising in flat sole shoes for a while when I made the transition so I guess the transition has been less extreme for me...that said, my calves still aren't fully adjusted to the increased work during runs, but I find they make sprinting much more fluid
Read the fitting instructions carefully if you order via internet. There are lots of disclaimers. VFF's are not recommended if one foot is larger than the other, if your 2nd toe is longer than your big toe, if you have flat or narrow feet, or if you're an over-pronator--whew! How many people does that leave who CAN wear VFF's?
My 2nd toe is (slightly) longer than my big toe, and I've had no problems with my Vibrams. Depending on the model, you might want to avoid wet/muddy ground, unless you don't mind some mud and water getting into the shoe. I had no adjustment problems, but a friend of mine had pretty sore calves after his first foray out with his pair.
Not really a good answer, but a memory. When I was a kid I was able to run barefoot down a gravel city alley in Vancouver with no problem. The more you run barefoot, the tougher you get.
I am much more of a tenderfoot now, and walk carefully on the cement and sand around my casa!
I won't try Vibrams, but I will walk barefoot at home as much as I can. I am not a runner even though as a kid I was.
This might sound simple and stupid, but I usually just have some very thin flip flops and a purse large enough to hold them for when I decide I want to be barefoot. I realize this doesn't really work if you're...not a girl.
<3, the girl who goes into 7-11 barefoot.
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