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!

Alternative Names for Vibram Five Fingers

(Update 10/07/09: See the alternative names for VFFs wiki entry here!)

Vibram FiveFingers wearers and gawkers alike all have come up with a slew of alternative names for "VFFs." I chalk this up to the unique footwear niche of fivefingers — they aren't quite shoes nor are they socks, and since they look like feet, well what on earth are they?

So here's an attempt to have the "definitive guide" to alternative names for Vibram fivefingers. If I am missing anything on this list, do comment below as I will update this post. From the obvious to the silly, here goes nothing:

Category

Alternatives to "Fivefingers"

Similar names (those resembling "Vibram fivefingers" or that employ the "Vee-brum" name):
  • Vibram five toes
  • Vibrams
  • Vibes

Acronym-based names:
  • VFFs
  • V5s
  • V5Fs

Descriptive names (those based on trying to understand VFFs via descriptive or analogous words):
  • toe shoes
  • foot gloves
  • barefoot shoes
  • sock-shoes
  • water shoes (or kayak shoes)
  • ballerina shoes
  • freakish slippers

Names based on animals:
  • ape feet
  • gorilla feet
  • monkey feet
  • frog feet
  • gecko feet
  • cat feet

Names based on characters:
  • ninja shoes
  • pirate shoes
  • caveman shoes
  • Spider-man shoes
  • Aqua man shoes
  • muppet feet
  • hobbit feet

Names pulled from pop culture (TV in both cases):
??? names:
  • happy feet
  • second skins
  • claws
  • skinnies
  • foot condoms

Finally, there's this site's namesake — birthday shoes! Any I'm missing? What do you call your fivefingers? What about others? Let me know!

Hat tip to "kakez" for creating a forum thread to get the ball rolling on this naming task!

Ben finishes first half-marathon in VFF KSOs

Ben finishes first half-marathon in VFF KSOs

A shot taken by Ben's wife mid-race — click for a larger version!

I first heard from Ben back in May with regard to his question about how people are walking barefoot and then again after he submitted a shot with POSE running founder Nicholas Romanov.

As you might recall, Ben was planning on running the NYC half-marathon in his Vibram Five Finger KSOs. Well, just this weekend, Ben completed the half marathon and posted a detail account of the race at his blog — even despite a recent bone bruise. Here's a snippet from Ben where he describes persevering through the last few miles of the race:

There were some DJ's in tents every five to ten blocks or so who blasted some great tunes that lifted my spirits. I remember hearing Lenny Kravitz's "American Woman" and then the beginning chords to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" a few blocks later. It seemingly took forever to get to mile 10, and then there were no signs for a long time. I figured the next sign I'd see was mile 12, and then I'd only have 1.1 miles to go. Sorry, Benny Boy, the next sign was mile 11. Ugh. Needless to say, it was slow going the rest of the way, and I just tried to keep up with the people ahead of me. When I saw the sign for 800 meters, I felt great. But after what seemed like 5 minutes there was the sign for 400 meters, I think I swore out loud. It's like time slowed in the last mile or something. I finally saw the finish line and made one last sprint to finish my first half marathon in strong fashion. Ahhhhh!

Must have felt good to cross that finish line. Congratulations, Ben! And thanks for sharing!

Conor Kayaking and Longboarding in Five Finger Sprints

Conor Kayaking and Longboarding in Five Finger Sprints
Conor Kayaking and Longboarding in Five Finger Sprints

Conor had uploaded to the Birthday Shoes / Vibram Five Fingers Facebook page the above photo of him on his longboard wearing his grey Vibram Five Finger Sprints. I sent him a message asking about how they performed. A bit of a conversation ensued and here is what Conor had to say:

Yeah Ive skated a bunch in them. They are really great. My foot moves more naturally than it would in a flat skate shoe. Doing slides and carves feels really cool because there's no padding do dampen the feel of the board.

I asked how the Vibram soles were holding up given I've heard that skateboarding can require a good bit of sole-breaking power, which might wear the VFF soles down excessively. However, Conor indicated that they are holding up great — though he doesn't foot drag at all in them.

Finally, I asked Conor how his Sprints fared with kayaking. He said:

They arent bad at all. It's generally pretty rocky where we were so I wasn't worried about sand and sediment getting in. And being able to hop out of my boat anywhere and not worry about slipping or hurting my feet underwater was awesome.

Thanks for passing on your experiences, Conor!

Tripp's 5K in Vibram Five Finger Classics

Tripp's 5K in Vibram Five Finger Classics

Got an update from Tripp in Austin regarding his Five Finger Classics. He recently ran a 5K race in them - the 5K for Clay. His conclusion: VFF Classics are fun and raceworthy!

Here's Tripp:

Hey Justin,

You'll recall that when I first got my VFFs, I said I might "eventually" think about doing a 5K later this year. Well, call it enthusiasm about the shoes (or just stupidity), but less than a month after getting my Classics, I decided to race in them.

The good news is that the race itself was fun. Didn't get a PR or anything (more on that later) but my feet, ankles, achilles and calves all feel relatively good. Amazingly, I wasn't the only one in the race wearing VFFs. One of my fellow Crossfit athletes ran in his KSOs, and did pretty well too.

I was particularly pleased that running on asphalt wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. (I typically run on the golf course in our neighborhood). But I think it was just because the pavement was a welcome relief from the gravel path we ran on for the second mile.

Now, the VFF's are great on jogging paths with cinders or fine grain gravel. But I'd never tried to run at a good pace on sharp, golfball-sized gravel. Gotta be honest: my soles took a beating. I'm convinced that, because I was dancing around the rocks, it added about 2 mins to my second mile split. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it...)

As you can imagine, there were a lot of furtive glances at the shoes and a few folks asked about them before the race. After I finished, though, people were much bolder about asking what they were, where I got them, and of course, how did they do on the gravel! But, as you can see in the photos, I really enjoyed the run.

All in all, I'm sure I'll be a bit sore tomorrow, and I will probably have to get more work on trails in the VFFs. But these shoes definitely proved themselves to be race-able.

I'll be in touch!

"Tripp In Austin"

Thanks, Tripp!

Hiking Bethabara Park in Vibram Five Finger KSOs

The above photos, which I assimilated into a collage (click the image for a larger version), were taken by Calvin on a recent hike through Bethabara Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Calvin wrote in about the experience:

Hey Justin, I went for a hike through Historic Bethabra yesterday, and I took some pictures during parts of the walk. ...

This was actaully my second hike in my KSOs, I find hiking in them to be extremely eye opening — the feelings of the cold dirt, the warm pavement, the crisp grass its all very natural, very right. I love hiking in them.

Yesterday I played paintball in them, it was an interesting experience, the field where we were playing has a small stream running through the middle but the way thw "valley" was worn it left the wall at about 75 or 85 degrees and that was easily scalable with the KSOs, the only thing I don't love is sharp rocks; I landed on a few in the beggining, after a while I got used to watching my periphery and adjusting my selected path accordingly.

Thanks for sharing the experience. "Fivefinger view" hiking photos seem to capture the experience of covering varied terrain in VFFs — you really do feel the ground and experience the hike in a new, more elaborate and sensational way through the lens of your feet.

Sidenote: I think the smidgeon of EVA material in the soon-to-be-availble Vibram KSO Trek fivefingers is intended to help reduce "stone bruising."

The primary way to minimize the potential for hurting your feet while barefoot or VFF-shod when trekking over hard, rocky, rooty, and varied surfaces (like gravel) is to relax, take more steps, feel light and nimble, and let your feet (and knees and hips) handle the shock-absorbing calculations rather than trying to brain it and think your way through the terrain*. That's my take, anyway!

Feet are powerful pieces of equipment. Our goal is not to impede them from doing their job!

* this requires having logged some hours minimally shod or barefoot on varied terrain. I say this because most of us have learned a great deal of bad habits with regard to walking, running, etc. thanks to the "foot casts" that are modern footwear. These bad habits have to be unlearned and/or we have to reteach our feet how to handle shock absorption.

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 8/16/09

Another week goes by and we get a bunch of new reviews, including a "big one" by crunchgear.com.

  • Review: Vibram Five Fingers Classic at CrunchGear [Classics]:

    However, running barefoot in Brooklyn is a bad idea. So I ordered the Five Fingers Classic for about $75 - I bought 44 for my size 11.5 foot and they fit very well - and waited. I ran. My knees were screaming. My ankles hurt. Then, a few minutes later, all the pain was gone. I was running normally and, thanks to the light weight and comfort I could run longer than I ever could. I could run without stopping, which was a big change for me. I could run for quite a while. The only limitations were the blisters I got during the first few runs. Even those went away.

  • Vibram Five Fingers Product Review at MadetoRun.com [KSO]:

    It’s thin, lightweight, offers little to no arch and heel support, and only sports a then rubber sole meant to prevent cuts and abrasion wounds and a breathable mesh top to keep out dirt and rocks. In this video I review the Vibram Five Finger running shoe and point out it’s strengths and areas of improvement. Enjoy!Video after the jump!

That's it for this week!