Muddy Paintball in FiveFingers

Muddy Paintball in FiveFingers

This is the muddiest photo of FiveFingers I think I've ever seen.

What's the story? Enter Michael, who picked up his pair of TrekSports as an all-purpose pair of toe shoes though he specifically planned to use them for paintball:

I've been trying to paintball regularly for a year or so now, something more active then my usual regime of computer games and TV. I'd scoffed at Vibrams the first time I saw them, but the more and more I spotted people wearing them the more I wanted to at least try them on.

Once I started paintball I figured I'd finally had a real excuse to have wear them passed the novelty so I was on a mission to eventually own my own pair. A few months ago I was able to venture to my local Hikers Haven and try on as many pairs as would fit, finally deciding that a pair of KSO Treksport would be the best for the job (as well as seemed to be the only pair that would fit my APPARENTLY abnormally tall dorsal area of my feet). Unfortunately they were lacking on my perfect size and I was lacking in actual funds.

Skip ahead a few months and a new job gave me the opportunity I needed to snag me a pair. They instantly turned into the comfiest and most expensive pair of slippers I'd ever owned.

Eventually I got the chance to head back out for paintball. I generally try to go on dry days, as I hate getting mucky (a bit of an oxymoron when paintballing), but of course that morning was a downpour, leaving the field a minefield of puddles and mud. Within the first 15 minutes of arriving, we had to walk about 50 meters through a river of inch deep mud. At that point I tossed my inhibitions to the wind and had a great time being a mudder. It was of course still winter and the puddles were cold, but the pair of Injinji socks I was wearing were able to keep me warm enough.

I'm convinced that I was more agile, less tired, and much more happy wearing the Five Fingers than I would have been wearing my usual clunky Merrell sneakers, which would have been impossible to clean.

I'll be bringing my Vibrams with me to every paintball day, and hopefully will start doing more things to wear them more often.

Michael T. - Toronto

Glad you've found some use for them!

All that talk about mud reminds me of Stuart running his 255km jungle marathon in Spyridons.

Thanks for sharing, Michael!

Brandon's 5.5 mile road race in KSO FiveFingers

Brandon's 5.5 mile road race in KSO FiveFingers
Brandon shows off his KSO FiveFingers pre-race with a nice VFF kick!
Brandon's 5.5 mile road race in KSO FiveFingers
Here's Brandon running the Tarzan Brown Mystic River Run in his VFF KSOs.

Brandon Marshall (@bmarshallpf on twitter) recently finished his first race running in his KSO FiveFingers. Brandon emailed me to let me know about the race saying, "Love the site! I just wanted to send you a few pictures from a 5.5 mile road race I did in black KSO's this past weekend. It was my first race in them and it was awesome!"

Further, Brandon wrote up his race results at his blog. Here's a snippet from that post:

The results for the 2009 Tarzan Brown Mystic River Run have been posted and I ended up finishing the race with a net time of 46:29 at an 8:27 minute mile pace (the results say a pace of 8:34, but that is based on my final time, not my net time.) My time is the first entry on “page 8″ of the results. Not too shabby for my first race in the Vibram Five Fingers I guess! I’m getting pretty comfortable running in the VFF’s now and with longer and longer runs, I’m noticing less pain the next day or so compared to how I used to feel in my Nike’s. Hopefully the same is true after this race!

Well done, Brandon! Glad your recovery time is improving and best of luck on your future races!

Admin note: For all you RSS subscribers who might miss the updated post, Women's Treks and extended sizes for Men's KSO Trek has indeed been greenlighted for production by Vibram!

Women's KSO Trek Greenlighted for Production by Vibram!

A stock photo of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek for women!
A stock photo of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek for women!

Updated 7/19/2010

The Women's KSO Trek Five Fingers are out!

Updated 11/2/09

Vibram has released an announcement on their facebook page. Here's the snippet you all are waiting for:

We are happy to announce the release of the Women’s KSO Trek, beginning in late Spring 2010. Additionally, the Men’s KSO Treks will be made available in sizes 38 & 39 beginning in March 2010. We know it’s a while off, but it takes a little while to develop the tooling necessary for this new product. We heard you, and we are moving as fast as we can!

Read the rest at the official Vibram facebook page.

Thank you, Vibram! It's great to see they've got their ears to the ground of the VFF community. Congrats to the women and smaller footed men in the VFF-land!

Original Post 10/30/09

A lot is going on this weekend — the NYC Marathon is on Sunday and as what is certainly no coincidence, Born to Run author and barefoot running—or more generally, human—enthusiast Christopher McDougall has been at a number of events in New York the past couple days at both the New York City Marathon Expo as well as the City Sports at the Rockefeller Center. By the way, if you haven't caught Christopher and are in New York, you've got one more opportunity tomorrow (5 - 7pm at City Sports).

And if that's not enough to get excited about, the good word is that Vibram is also in NYC—and has made appearances alongside McDougall at City Sports.

So where am I going with this? Well I've just received information from a "little bird" that Vibram is greenlighting production of the women's KSO Trek and plans to make an announcement to this effect as soon as Monday. It seems my source was a fly on the wall at some of these recent events and picked up this bit of intell—thank you for sharing it with BirthdayShoes!

Now, lest we all get too excited, allow me to add a disclaimer: I've not yet received confirmation of this tip. Until I get confirmation, which may simply happen by way of an official announcement Monday, we all have to hold our breath.

But maybe Tim's petition got the job done. And if so, a great number of women and small-footed men VFFers will soon have something big to smile about.

Stay tuned!

Army PT Heel-Toe Running and Running in 5-Fingers: A VFF Story

Army PT Heel-Toe Running and Running in 5-Fingers: A VFF Story
Dirty black KSO FiveFingers after a run.

From Lou:

Hey Justin,

I want to start off by saying that I think you are running a great site. I enjoy submitting photos of my VFF adventures and reading other’s experiences in them. I love these shoes. My KSOs and my iPhone. If I could wear them everywhere I would and I never part from my phone LOL. Now on to my story.

Ever since my buddy showed up to a bbq at my house wearing his khaki VFF Classics I became interested in them. I wanted to buy a pair for our tubing trip we were planning. I eventually found a pair of KSOs. During my hunt for VFFs I read Vibrams blurb about the health benefits of their minimalist style shoes. So I began doing research out of curiosity. As I researched and read, it made sense to me. I remembered what I as told by my Drill Sergeant about running. Heel – Toe. I wondered about that because when hurrying from one side of my house to the other while barefoot, I never let my heel hit the floor because it would hurt. So it didn’t make sense that we would do that with shoes. But, me being a young Private with no formal training in running prior to joining, I followed orders. I was good to go as long as my running shoes still had cushioning. Once that was worn down I began developing shin splints. Painful shin splints. To the point I couldn’t walk. So ever since, running has been something I wasn’t crazy about. I also found that as I put on weight I was more susceptible to shin splints. To summarize it, I don’t like running in the Army. They don’t give you enough recovery time and their remedy for shin splints is, keep running. Deployments have been good for my legs. I can run at my own pace and distance and give myself the recovery time I need.

After reading and watching videos about running barefoot and how we were designed to run, it really made a lot of sense. Cavemen weren’t running after the Wooly Mammoth in a pair of Jordan’s or New Balance. It really sparked my interest. I wanted to run in my VFFs but was afraid to just jump into it. I had to balance out running every other morning with the Army and running in VFFs. So I decided to try and adjust and improve my form during our morning runs. At first it felt good. My shin pain wasn’t flaring up. The only problem was we ran 4 miles and my calves were not ready for that. I found my legs fatiguing and I eventually fell behind the formation. Once we finished my calves were screaming. I kept at it though. I noticed improvement.

Last week my buddy and I got our soldiers out of doing PT (physical training for those non-military) with the unit and took them out to do PT on our own. I chose to wear my KSOs and brought my regular running shoes, just in case. They all looked at me weird and told me I was crazy. We started off with some sprints on asphalt. I took off, stopped, turned around and bolted back. I was amazed at the fact that it didn’t hurt my feet. It was surprisingly cushioned. The grip was amazing too. It was a great feeling. We did multiple sprints and still no pain. Then we ran around the park. We ran on concrete, asphalt, grass, through mud, over picnic tables, jumped on boulders and ran down a gravel path. My feet held up the whole way. After a while of running on the road and sidewalk my feet began to get a little tender, but that was after a total of two miles of running. To summarize my experience running in VFFs I would have to say it was great. I loved it and plan on doing it more often. I now have a schedule where I don’t do PT with the unit but I have time to do it on my own. This will allow me to run in my KSOs more often. Man I love these shoes. I wish I could wear them more often.

Thanks for sharing, Lou. Many of us can relate to the joy of running with VFFs (or barefoot) — and it comes without pain (aside from muscle soreness from rebuilding your foot, ankle, and calf muscles from years of atrophy!) just makes it all the better.

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 11/1/09

This past week's latest Vibram FiveFingers reviews includes a Performa review by Tina Dubois:

  • Quick Review: Vibram FiveFinger Sprint at Barefoot and Grounded [Sprint]:

    As a barefooter, I was very interested in trying on a pair of Vibram Fivefingers and putting them through their paces to see just how good of a "barefoot alternative" they are. I have worn them a lot and for many different uses -- and therefore taken longer to post a review -- because I wanted to find out just how versatile a set of toe shoes can be. The answer? Very.

  • Review – Vibram FiveFingers Performa at LivingBarefoot [Performa]:

    The Performa is another impressive product from Vibram FiveFingers. This model evolved from feedback regarding the FiveFingers lineup and suggestions by their customers to develop an even more minimalistic indoor model. I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and warmth of these shoes and I greatly appreciate the leather innovations included in the construction of these shoes. They are well ventilated yet warm, water resistant, and have superior microbe protection. They have an unsurpassed barefoot feel and I intend to wear them as my indoor shoe of choice when barefoot may not be the best option.

  • Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, the FiveFingers Performa at BirthdayShoes! [Performa]:

    I wore my Performas for an initial test-run walking around NYC's Time Warner building. The close-to-barefoot feeling isn't neccessarily a good thing when standing on a hard surface for long periods of time or, in the case of Classic, walking miles and miles on concrete.

    Did I need these? Of course not; I just knew instantaneously that I had to have them. I will not be using either model for extreme sports. I will perhaps dance in them, flaunt them subtly. Seduce with Performa.

See last week's Latest 5 Fingers reviews here.

Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, Review of the Vibram Five Fingers Performa

Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, Review of the Vibram Five Fingers Performa

Note from Justin: As I'm not in the position to personally review the new FiveFingers Performa—the all leather, ultra-minimalist, indoor-only, pod-soled VFF made specifically for women—I have been in contact with someone who considers the Performas a decadent treat for her feet! Meet Deirdre. I asked Deirdre to put together some thoughts on her Performas to share with the BirthdayShoes community. If you would like to submit a review of the Performa or any other FiveFingers model to be published on this site, please let me know!

Deirdre on the FiveFingers Performa

Deirdre has the new FiveFingers Performa in "violet," which according to Deirdre is more "'cassis' bordering on 'plum.'"

The minute I saw the the Performa, I had palpitations. I had to have it. For me this is a decadent foot indulgence. It's a fetish shoe not an athletic shoe.

I had my heart set on black until I saw the "violet" online. It isn't really violet. I'd call it "cassis" bordering on "plum." A must have nonetheless. Beautiful.

I raced to City Sports here in Manhattan where the black was available to try it on for proper size. The salespeople were very helpful without being pushy, which I appreciate. I will make it a point to buy a pair of black Performas at City Sports because of this.

At City Sports I encountered a lovely woman from the U.K. buying up many pairs of VFFs because of the price differential between Europe and the USA. We had a great reciprocal girl-bonding time as in "Ooh those look great on your foot/calf."

Despite reports of backorders shipping in December, I ordered the Performa in "violet" from Travel Country and had my Performas on within two days!

The fit is perfect, supple and streamlined; it makes the Classic feel almost not-so-graceful. I am the same size in the Performa as in the Classic.

I wore my Performas for an initial test-run walking around NYC's Time Warner building. The close-to-barefoot feeling isn't neccessarily a good thing when standing on a hard surface for long periods of time or, in the case of Classic, walking miles and miles on concrete.

Did I need these? Of course not; I just knew instantaneously that I had to have them. I will not be using either model for extreme sports. I will perhaps dance in them, flaunt them subtly. Seduce with Performa.

Sock Dreams has every possible type of toe sock (from over the knee to toes only) in fabrics ranging from filament silk to substantial wool blends. I am pictured wearing black, opaque toe-tights (there are sheer toe pantyhose as well) with Performa.

Here Deirdre demonstrates "toe cleavage" in FiveFingers a la black toe-tights from Sock Dreams!

Thank you, Deirdre, for sharing your thoughts on the VFF Performa!

Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole

Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole
Nichole rides her horse in her "birthday shoes" — KSO FiveFingers (in the soon-to-be-discontinued brown color!)
Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole
An upclose shot of Nichole's VFF-clad feet and her horse's horseshoe-free hooves! "Barehoofing" (must be a better word for this!) is a growing part of the natural horsemanship movement!
Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole
I think Nichole's horse likes her VFFs, but I'm no horse whisperer.

Nichole (@nickel07 on twitter) sent in the above photos of her wearing brown KSO FiveFingers alongside her horse who is, himself, free-hoofing it — no horseshoes!

Here's Nichole:


My name is Nichole and I have been really enjoying following your stories of people with their various barefoot activities!

I have been a VFF KSO owner since February of this year, and have recently begun running in them. I am not a runner, in fact I have always hated running because of shin splints, so-called bad knees, and my flat pronating feet. I had been reading a few different blogs on barefooting and decided I would give it a try a few weeks ago, since I love walking everywhere in VFFs.

Lo and behold, I discovered I could run WITHOUT PAIN for the first time in my life, in my knees, feet, or shins. I am still in awe, and have had six or seven successful 2-3 mile runs since then, still pain free and feeling strong and connected to my feet in a new way! I sound like such a gushing convert when I explain to people that yes, I can run in these shoes and no, they don't have support. LOVE THEM!

Anyway, my main hobby is my horse. I am a student and instructor of natural horsemanship, and along with a holistic approach to equine behavior, I do my best to keep my horse's life as natural to him as possible. This includes keeping him barefoot, meaning with no horseshoes. Believe it or not, putting steel shoes on horses can create problems in their gait and health of their feet by restricting blood flow and preventing flexion of the hoof (a very live thing!). In fact, it was a few close horse friends of mine who actually introduced me to the barefooting idea and to VFFs in the first place! My horse has healthy feet and loves being barefoot, and I have recently joined him! I found that playing with my horse barefoot causes me to be much more aware of where my feet and his feet are, as well as causing me to be more polite in my communication!

Happy to hear that you are able to run again, Nichole! Furthermore, thanks for sharing about natural horsemanship.

It seems that natural horsemanship is a kindred movement to barefooting and/or minimalist footwear, which I'll characterize more generally as the "don't fight nature and expect to win" movement. Incidentally, Nichole's account above is the second time I've heard about "barehoofing." The first time I heard about it was via forum member barefootpony, who had this to say about how horses are negatively affected by horseshoes:

There's a lot of evidence that horseshoes are damaging in the same way that people shoes are: they restrain the natural expansion and retraction of the hoof as the horse moves, make it more difficult for the horse to feel the ground (thus more stumbling, which potentially can catapult a rider right off), and generally just weaken the hoof. The horse's hoof also has a structure at the center of the sole called the "frog" (it's made of soft tissue sort of like a cuticle), and that structure acts as a pump to keep blood flowing properly through the legs and feet when the horse takes a step. When you shoe, the frog doesn't properly contact the ground, so the horse also suffers from poor circulation.

Informative stuff all around!

Thanks for sharing, Nichole!

Update / Addition from Fran:

Wanted to append to Nichole's story an email and photo I received from Fran who also practices natural horsemanship:

Just wanted to pass this photo along in response/to go along with the recent article submitted by Nichole Bryant, with her VFFs and barefoot horse. Nichole is a friend of mine, we study the same horsemanship program. She did a brilliant job of sharing about natural barefoot in horses, as well as what these shoes have done for her (and for me, too!) , so I'll spare you that ;)

However, I did want to share my own barefootin' picture! The picture attached was taken last April, just after I had trimmed my horse's feet. (I too practice barefoot hoofcare for my horse). I thought the photo would be fun--natural barefoot for all! Hope you enjoy!

The FiveFingers in the picture are Palm/Clay KSOs, I also own a pair of Black Flows that I'm enjoying now that the weather has cooled off! Loving them so much, they've really done wonders for my posture and body awareness!

Here's Fran's feet alongside her horse's "free hooves:"

Thanks, Fran!