It took around a year of proclaiming the merits of fivefingers before my sister and brother-in-law, Lindsey and Michael, finally caved and got matching pairs of VFF Sprints. Since then, Michael's been using his for various activities including running and kettlebells. Lindsey has been using hers primarily for yoga.
Less than a week ago, Michael and Lindsey returned from a vacation to Hawaii. Yes, I'm jealous, too. Being the pushy brother I am, I requested they document any travel use of their Vibram Five Fingers. Since they are great family (or they just don't want to hear me pester them!), Michael and Lindsey delivered the goods!
I specifically asked Michael to talk about his experience and here is what he had to say:
I recently visited Hawaii and from my wife's recommendation, I only took flip-flops (i.e. thong sandals) and VFFs. I planned to spend time at the beach and in the water, snorkel, play golf, and relax.
For some reason, I was extremely forgetful on this trip. This allowed for some interesting moments, starting with an early sunrise at Maui's dormant volcano, Haleakala. I somehow lost my fleece pants between the room and the car, so when we arrived at the volcano, I planned to freeze. Armed with my VFF's and a towel, I braved the cold and survived the sunrise, but not before trying to wear regular socks with the VFFs. Don't try this at home. Obviously, VFF sprints were not designed for warmth, so I don't recommend spending a lot of time at the top of a volcano where the winds are blowing and it's about 50 degrees.
I was concerned that I wouldn't be permitted to play golf in my VFFs. If you're not a golfer, you may not have experienced the sort of snottiness that you can find at golf courses. Many courses have a no jeans policy and require collared shirts. Some courses don't allow you to wear shorts. I was a little concerned that the VFFs wouldn't fly. Maybe Maui is relaxed, or maybe the staff was caught unawares, but I was able to get on the course with the VFFs (the couple with whom I was paired commented on the VFFs saying they had played the prior week with a local Hawaiian who played golf barefoot).
For most play, I did not even think about the fact that I was wearing the VFFs. Like most of your life wearing shoes, you only notice them when they're uncomfortable or they fail in some way, such as a rock in your shoe, a blister forming on your heels or toes, or when the shoe slips.
To my surprise, I absolutely forgot that I was wearing VFFs for the bulk of the golf game. The only time I thought about my shoes was when I was in the sand trap. Sadly, the VFF sprints are not suited for sand traps. I wound up in the sand a few times in my round of eighteen and managed to get quite a bit of sand in my shoes due to the trap. The sprints worked flawlessly on the tee, in the rough, on the fairway, and on the green. I highly recommend golfing in VFFs (but remember to put sunscreen on your feet - one of the few things I did not forget this trip).
KSO's might be better suited for golf given the fact that the open design of sprints (and probably classics) allows sand to get in the shoe. So unless you are good enough to stay out of the sand, I don't recommend sprints for your next round.
Prepare for another tale of forgetfulness. One of our days was spent taking a catamaran sailboat trip from Maui to Lanaii. I planned to wear my VFF sprints on the boat, then wear my flip-flops at the beach. You guessed it, the flip-flops didn't make the boat. The sand at the beach was blazing hot, so I couldn't go barefoot, so I was forced to try out the VFFs on the beach. When wet, just like your bare feet would, the VFF's pick up a lot of sand. You'll see from some of the pictures that the sand built up on the shoes, particularly around the toes. I was impressed, however, by how easily the VFFs came clean under the shower. I don't necessarily recommend VFFs for the beach because sand gets into the shoe, but in a pinch they perform satisfactorily on the beach. I wish I had tried snorkeling with them, but I didn't try out the sprints with fins.
Traveling to and from Hawaii (long flights; unpredictable temperatures at 30,000 feet), the sprints proved themselves to be comfortable and worked well. Although Justin had indicated that he sailed through security without being required to remove his VFFs, and even though the airport security in Atlanta, Georgia, the busiest airport in the world, let me sail through VFF-shod, I got busted on the return trip by the security in the airport in Maui.
Believe it or not, the Kahului airport security made me take of my VFFs to run them through the x-ray machine. I almost made it as the man standing in front of the walk-through contraption waved me through, but then the guard manning the conveyor belt said, "what are you wearing?" Thinking she was admiring my beautiful feet in the sprints, I happily explained the shoes. She then made me go back through the walkthrough and forced me to remove my fivefingers. She did joke about how it looked like feet passing through the x-ray machine.
So, VFFs will garner attention - perhaps too much if you're running late and want to try to speed through security without removing them. I'd say you've got a good shot at getting through, but you might have a curious security guard who'll stop you.
Great field testing, Michael, and thanks for sharing (And be sure to check out Michael's blog!).
TSA is definitely inconsistent in how they handle VFFers. I've had good luck passing through airport security unchecked while sporting my KSOs (and once in Classics), but have received mixed reports from others wearing Classics and now Sprints. It's a roll of the dice to try going VFF-"shod" through the airport checkpoint, but if you want to live dangerously, go for it!
Because there were so many photos as well as a couple of videos from Michael and Lindsey's Hawaii adventure, I threw together a video compilation and put it up on YouTube. The accompanying music is some song by the King of Hawaii. Enjoy!
You might have noticed the photo in the video of Michael desperately trying to make a square peg fit in five round holes—a.k.a. trying to make regular socks work with the five-toed Sprints. I felt like this photo warranted a fivefingers-fail graphic. Kids, don't try this at home:
Now who wants to go to Hawaii and play some golf in their birthday shoes?