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!

A lesson on shoes from Sesame Street: "Monsters don't need shoes. We can do everything in our monster feet!"

Why am I watching Sesame Street? Well, my toddler nephew is a big fan of Sesame Street. When a recent episode featured the "fairy shoeperson" played by Neil Patrick Harris and included a bit of commentary on shoes by way of Telly and Abby, my brother told me all about it. Just the other night, I finally got to watch the clip, and I have to admit, it was pretty entertaining.

You can watch the relevant clip via the two YouTube videos below (about nine minutes total).

The first clip is a little introductory song and dance that is hilarious in its own right as we get to see Neil Patrick Harris doing a song and dance in a suit with wings. He parades about giving shoes to unwitting humans who, of course, break out into song and dance. Note the mop shoes:


And the second clip:


If you want to skip to the punchline, in the second clip the "shoe fairy" keeps trying to find the right shoes for Telly, who finds them all seriously wanting. When the shoe fairy has had enough with trying to please Telly, he disappears leaving Telly unshod [Around 5:00 in the video]. Telly doesn't realize he's barefoot and exclaims, "Hey now these shoes make my feel great! I can move in these! These shoes are perfect!" Here's the remaining dialogue:

Abby: But you gotta have shoes, Telly.

Telly: I don't want any shoes.

Abby: Huh?

Telly: No, no, no shoes. I like my toes to roam and roam free!

Abby: No shoes?

Telly: Yeah, see, shoes are great for people and fairies to protect their feet, but I'm a monster and monsters don't need shoes. We can do everything in our monster feet!

Abby: You mean everything?

Telly: Yeah we can run and jump and dance and hop!

[Both laugh]

Abby: I didn't know that!

Of course, Telly's logic for monsters is just as applicable for humans, but well, you knew that already, right? Perhaps the shoe fairy should have tried to outfit Telly in some Vibram threefingers.

Chalk one up for monster logic.

For a full synopsis of this episode of Sesame Street including a few thumbnail snapshots, see the Muppet wiki entry on episode 4162.

"Monkey Shoes" and Dog Paws from Vibram Five Fingers fan Erik

"Monkey Shoes" and Dog Paws from Vibram Five Fingers fan Erik

In the mailbag comes the above photo of canine and human (both male and female) paws photoed together — the human ones in Vibram Five Fingers. Looks to me like the dog paw is on top. Here's what Erik had to say:

Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows.

My wife hated my "monkey shoes" initially, and now she can't wear anything else. The dog, obviously, doesn't wear the things. Lucky [guy] with his naturally protective pads.

"Monkey shoes" is definitely one of the various names people give to Vibram fivefingers. That said, since human beings are much more closely related to apes than monkeys from a genetic point of view, I submit that VFFs are more appropriately nicknamed "ape shoes."

Then again, "ape shoes" doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "monkey shoes." Oh well.

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 8/02/09

And the past week's latest Vibram Five Fingers reviews are:

  • VFF KSOs: First Impressions at the Road to Comrades [KSO]:

    Yesterday morning I headed out for a 3K walk in my KSOs. That meant another struggle to get into the things, but I found I was getting better with practice. (There are minimal instructions on the box the KSOs come in about how to put them on. But, to tell the truth, the process is more of an Insertion than a Putting On. Maybe someone should write a manual ...)

    The walk was good. I really missed the feeling of road, sidewalk, grass, etc. on the soles of my feet. But the payoff was that I could walk more easily than I had on my recent barefoot walks. Just that little bit of protection at the bottom of my feet meant that I could adopt a more natural stride and gait. That, in turn, meant, I wasn’t punishing my feet the way I had been previously. Less pain, more comfort, resulting in more pleasure. (To say that I’m essentially a pleasure -oriented animal is something of an understatement.) Got a couple of odd looks from the few other folks I met along the way, but they normally see me barefoot, so for them it was probably just another “Here’s the old guy being weird again” moment.

  • Review of Vibram Five Fingers Shoes at Clinton Lake Ultra [KSO]:

    I've had my Vibram Five Fingers shoes for 3 weeks now and have walked on both roads and trails quite a bit...and done a few short trail runs too. My quick summary review: They are great!

  • Barefoot Running in the Vibram FiveFingers at Christopher Cooper's blog [Classics]:

    I found them to be a mind opening experience on any surface that is softer than asphalt. It really was amazing to feel all the intricacies of the ground - the small twigs under your feet, the variations in the level of the dirt below, the tiny bumps here and there, the grass softly cushioning your foot-fall. It was a different experience than I had imagined. Now, I don't typically run barefoot, had I done that on a normal basis, perhaps my first experience with the FiveFingers would not have been so enlightening. Beyond the surreal feel of the earth below your feet, I also found there to be a significant increase in my ability to grip the ground and properly predict how my foot may need to be positioned, my weight balanced, and even how my next push-off should go. I certainly am not a 'professional runner', but I genuinely did notice these new aspects of each step when using my new freak-feet.

  • Vibram Five Fingers SPRINT Review at Smiling Skepticism [Sprint]:

    They’re sturdier than they appear. I do a lot of walking and after each outing I’ve checked the soles for signs of wear and tear. Each time I been pleasantly surprised. Even on the couple occasions I stepped on a sharp rock - an experience you will be profoundly aware of- I didn’t notice any cuts or marks on the sole.

  • Review: Vibram Five Fingers Shoes at All Climbing [KSO]

    I have high arches myself (my footprint in the sand is two unconnected imprints) and have not had a single problem. Two days after my track workout (complete with sprinting) my arches were killing me. And then a strange realization – was this the first time in my life I’d ever felt the need to stretch my arches? It was. The next day I felt fine – and my feet were stronger than ever before.

If I missed any (worth mentioning, of course!), please let me know!

Previous week's reviews:

Sterling Purdy Gets Primal (And primally fit!) in his Vibram Five Fingers Sprints

Sterling Purdy shows off his VFF Sprints while sporting a Mark Sisson "Grok on!" tshirt!
Sterling Purdy shows off his VFF Sprints while sporting a Mark Sisson "Grok on!" tshirt!

Sterling Purdy shows off his VFF Sprints

Name:Sterling Purdy
Birthday:February 28
Regular shoe size:10
VFF shoe size:M41
Feet are:Bueno!

What prompted you to get Vibram Five Fingers?

I first heard about Vibram Five Fingers from Mark Sisson on his website After reading about their utility and their barefoot mimetic quality I decided to investigate their usefulness and safety; I could not find one negative thing about VFFs anywhere on the internet. In fact, I found multiple articles on the benefits of 'barefooting' and of course VFFs mimic going barefoot (I like to call them barefoot mimetics - a sterlingpurdyism). John Sifferman also had a great write-up on barefooting and referenced several sites that supported VFFs as running shoes, hiking shoes, etc. VFFs takes the pressure and work off of the knees and hips and shifts the work to your calves (the way it should be). If you are a virgin VFF user, then be prepared to have some very tender calves after your first running or sprinting encounter. Good stuff!

What type and color Five Fingers do you have and how long have you had them?

I chose the gray VFF Sprints because of the strap that velcros across the top of the foot. This has allowed me to use them in the water without fear of watching 80 bucks float down river. I've had my VFFs for 5 months.

What do you do most while wearing your Five Fingers?

Sprint, bike, jog, hike, repel, zip-line, plyometrics, lift weights, procreate (just kiddin'...or am I?)

Any unusual experiences while wearing them?

Lots of looks of bewilderment and amazement from locals in Puerto Vallarta.

How do Five Fingers fit in with who you are as a person?

They are totally me. I've always been an out-of-the-box person and I consider VFFs not the norm. I'm a different breed: I know it and embrace it. Wearing my VFFs to the movies supports that premise. As a father of 5, you learn to adapt and roll with it and my VFFs help me roll with it in a unique, fun, and healthier way. My kids love them and they all want a pair. My 15-year old is the only one big enough to fit into a pair, but he'll have to earn and pay for his own :)

You were featured on Mark Sisson's blog after transforming your lifestyle to be more in keeping with our hunter-gatherer biological/genetic roots (See below for "More on Sterling's transformation"). Could you briefly talk about how you've changed over the past few years, and what you tell people when they react to your improved health and physique?

Wow, a loaded question! As you'll read in Mark's post about my transformation [See teaser and link below!], I was a big ole boy - 225lbs @ 5'8"; a change had to be made. I changed my life - not a diet, not a 90-day plan, not a get-ready-for-summer plan — none of those. I changed everything I did. I began exercising — everyday. I began eating right — everyday. I began thinking differently about everything — everyday. It was not a fast process. It was a battle for my life. Now that might sound dramatic. But it sounds that way because it was dramatic; I made dramatic changes and had dramatic success and results. I credit 4 people for my success: my wife Donna who is the consummate encourager, Tony Horton, Mark Sisson, and Tom Venuto — google them all (except my wife of course) and you'll find a wealth of information about health & fitness.

Regarding people's reactions? People have freaked out! You have to remember that I went from a size 40-42ish waist to a 28-29ish and a bodyfat of 'really fat' to about 9% at present, so naturally people are going to freak out. It's funny though because when they ask me what I've done to make those changes, it's not the typical answer (and I've sustained my results). Most don't want to hear that I work my butt off through weight training and eat the right things — lots of protein, lots of fat, limited carbohydrate intake, very few grains. Their response is usually a 'well, I really want to get into shape like you are now, BUT...' I could go on on all day about health and fitness...

Anyone looking for insights of VFFs, nutrition, fat loss, weight & resistance training questions feel free to contact me through twitter @sterlingpurdy. I'd be glad to help.

Thanks Justin for the opportunity to share.

Thank you, Sterling!

Below are a few action shots of Sterling climbing in his Vibram fivefingers Sprints. Click any image for a larger version!


* Birthday Shoes readers are encouraged to go check out Sterling's transformation. For just a snippet of the post at MDA, check out Sterling's "Before and After" shots:

More on Sterling's transformation:


Here's a teaser that gives you a glimpse of just how drastic the improvement was in Sterling's life:

Within the next 3 months, not only did my weight get down to 170 lbs, and my waist shrink to 31.5”, but my life had changed forever. Remember the litany list of medications I mentioned before? Depression medication: Gone. Blood pressure medication: Gone. Testosterone: Gone. And for the first time in 30 years…let me say that again…for the FIRST time in 30 YEARS. Asthma medications: Gone. Done. Finished. Wow! What a concept. Proper nutrition and exercise – the best medicine available to mankind. Big Pharma and FDA beware! We are coming after your business.

How did this happen? I started to live more like Grok. I cut way back on whole grains and legumes. I was eating lots more plants and animals, whole lean proteins, fruit, and tons of veggies. I lifted heavy things often. I got 8+ hours of sleep every day and napped when I could; even if only 30 or 40 minutes.

You'll have to read the full entry at Marks Daily Apple for the rest!

Sterling's story is a fantastic example of how your life can be transformed by changing your lifestyle for the better. In addition to to the above "after" shots, check this photo of Sterling at the beach. Hello six pack!

Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing "Vibram Four Fingers" [modification]

Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing "Vibram Four Fingers" [modification]

For a long time, I thought webbed toes were limited to Labradors and Kevin Costner's better-forgotten movie Waterworld. Then I heard would-be VFFers lamenting their webbed toes making it impossible to use Vibram fivefingers. What a bummer*!

For a primer on webbed toes, allow me to quote from wikipedia:

Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly affecting the feet. It is characterised by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. This is normal in many birds, such as ducks; amphibians, such as frogs; and mammals, such as kangaroos. In humans it is considered unusual, occurring in approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births.

If I do the math right (using 1/2000), that means that only about 150,000 people in the United States have webbed toes, which is almost certainly too small a number to make it worthwhile to make a four-toed version of Vibram fivefingers.

So what's a webbed toe individual to do?

Modify your fivefingers to make them into Vibram fourfingers!

One webbed-toe individual named Philip saw fivefingers and had an idea on how he could modify them to work with his webbed feet. First, below is what Philip was working with:

Philip's idea was to cut a U-shaped slit between the two toe pockets that matched up to his pair of webbed toes. The cut needed to go slightly higher than the actual webbing between the two toes were webbed. From there, all that was left to do was to sew together the cut fabric across the toe gap. For this, Philip had help from his significant other who used monofilament nylon thread to join the two toe pockets.

Do that and here is what you get:

V4F Sprints modded for webbed toes

In Philip's own words: "I snip the fabric from the inside using sharp scissors, cutting slightly further than the webbing of my toes. We use nylon monofilament thread to sew the edges back together."

Philip has had such success with this modification that he's also made KSO fourfingers:

As you can see, there is a solution for those of you out there who want to wear Vibram fivefingers but have some amount of webbing between your toes! Mind, it's probably a tough pill to swallow to have to slice into your Vibrams, and your mileage may very in performing this mod.

To conclude, Philip's "Vibram Four Fingers" mod is very workable solution—the only solution I've seen—to wearing fivefingers with webbed toes. I want to thank Philip for allowing me to share this on birthday shoes**!

* A "bummer" only because it overtly eliminates the ability to wear Vibram fivefingers, of course. Webbed toes are actually kinda cool as they are a fascinating reminder of the diversity that frequently lurks unseen within our DNA.

** Philip originally posted this solution to the minimalist runner google group. I asked him if I could share this "at large" on and he graciously accepted.

More on the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila (2010 Catalog Photos)

05.06.10 - The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is out!

Don't ask me how, but I have managed to get my hands on a couple images of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila that were taken from the 2010 catalog, which was on-hand at the recent Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. These images show off one color option each for the men's and women's fivefingers Bikila!

The men's VFF Bikila is grey/green, a color combo which bears a striking resemblance to the grey/green KSO:

And the women's Bikila pictured is orange/pink/grey soled:

The above (apparently) stock photos do the Bikila more justice than the original overhead (cameraphone?) photo we saw via voycontigo. In short, these Bikila's look awesome.

Things I notice:

  • more aggressive tread — reminds me a bit more of the soles you might see on a running shoe. It's partially obscured, but it looks like the focus of the tread takes its lead from the midfoot pad of the foot.
  • heel structure — I don't know what else to call this, but there is a distinctive lip around the lower ankle of the Bikila. Perhaps this is to provide sufficient adherence to the heel (and account for the elimination of a rear strapping mechanism). I also wonder if the bit of added material here won't help with wicking moisture away or at least absorbing it. Based on looking at these photos, I don't get the impression that this heel design actually provides any real ankle support.
  • thin fabric throughout — like the KSO, the upper fabric looks to be a very thin material.
  • some sorta protective covering on the toes — don't know how else to describe the shimmery bit I see on each toe (particularly noticeable on the women's). Maybe this is reflective material? Maybe it provides some structure to the thin fabric toe upper? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • reflective material on the strap — I think I see silverish reflective material on the little dashes on the right side of the strap. This would make sense in light of the Bikila being geared to on-street running.

All in all, like the upcoming fivefingers Trek is geared to trail running or hiking, the fivefingers Bikila seems to be designed to compliment street/asphalt/concrete running. It's exciting to see that Vibram is expanding their line and taking a concerted stab at providing a VFF running solution!

Of course, it's going to take some time for Vibram to gear up and get the Bikila's out on the street, so I for one am already looking forward to 2010!

I wonder how many times we can twiddle our toes to pass the time until then ...

Other posts regarding new models: