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!

Vapor Glove Merrell Barefoot Initial Review

Vapor Glove Merrell Barefoot Initial Review

Merrell Barefoot is bringing to market an incredible minimalist/barefoot shoe in 2013. It’s called the Vapor Glove and when I first pulled the sample pair out of the box Merrell sent me, I thought “Whoa” followed immediately by “Finally!”

Quite simply, the Vapor Glove is the most minimalist, closest to barefoot shoe that Merrell has made. Like other Merrell Barefoots before it, it features a Vibram rubber sole and a distinctly “Merrell” look. But looks might not tell just how simple a shoe the Vapor Glove is. If you’re a fan of the KSO FiveFingers but could do without the toes, you are in luck.

And you should read on for photos and video of what could be the most compelling-yet-simple barefoot shoes in 2013.

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Save Up to 50% Off FiveFingers

Save Up to 50% Off FiveFingers

Flash sale outdoor gear site LeftLane Sports has just announced a new flash sale of Vibram FiveFingers, offering select Vibrams at 50% off MSRP! Here is my invite to sign up and get $10 credit. Here is the sale.

NOTE: If you're not a member of LeftLane Sports, USE MY INVITE TO JOIN and you'll get $10 in store credit towards your first purchase of $50 or more! This means you can get two pairs of VFFs for the price of one when it's all said and done, shipped free (orders over $75). That's a good deal.

Becoming a member is as simple as providing basic info (name/email). There are no strings attached (no fees to join) — membership simply means you will get emailed future flash sales announcements. You can quit the email list at any time.

Here is my invite to get $10 credit. Here is the sale.

What styles of FiveFingers can you pick up with this sale, you ask? For men they've got Sprints, TrekSports, Bikilas, and KSOs. For women, they've got Jaya LR, Bikila, Sprints, and Classics. Here are the shoes/prices (screenshots of the sales):

For those of you who already have a pair or two (or ten!) of FiveFingers but haven't tried some of the original, less-soled models that "started it all," well, here is your chance at a great price. The increased ground feel and foot friendliness you get with a pair of Classic or Sprint-soled, razor-siped FiveFingers as compared to the thicker Trek- or Bikila- soled varietals will blow your nerve-laden foot's proverbial/proprioceptive mind! If you didn't know already, the Vibrams with the original soles-Classics and Sprints-are going away for good, so get them while they last.

Again, here is my invite (Use to get $10 credit). Here is the sale.

Good luck!

Review Merrell Barefoot Flux Glove for Kids, Toddlers

Review Merrell Barefoot Flux Glove for Kids, Toddlers

My three year old Avi has had a couple months to test out the Merrell Barefoot Flux Gloves for Infants and Toddlers* — she's worn them almost exclusively (even setting aside her custom kid's "la-laches" — huaraches by Xero Shoes). Merrell provided these for her to put through the paces and a review is now long overdue.

Backing up a bit, most minimalist shoes enthusiasts know how hard it is to find a shoe for their kids that has a wide toe box, is flexibly soled, not overly heavy, and is neutral from heel to toe (zero drop). There are definitely a few options out there, and actually, at least a few little kids shoe manufacturers tout the importance of some of these qualities for growing feet, but even so, as the kids grow, a foot-minded parent's options seem to become increasingly scarce.

So I had been pestering Merrell (and others like Vivo Barefoot) for some time to put out a shoe for toddlers/little kids with extra small feet. I'm happy to say that the Merrell Barefoot Flux Glove for Infants/Toddlers (kids up to age probably 4?) is a great shoe, satisfying the foot-discerning parent (like me). They'll make your kid happy, too.

Read on for a full review, a three year old's take, and plenty of photos ... get on it!

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Vibram FiveFingers Lontra Initial Review

Vibram FiveFingers Lontra Initial Review

Last week we did an initial review of the new Speed XC FiveFingers, water-resistant toe shoes Vibram just released a few weeks back.

Today, we're going to be doing the same thing for the Lontra FiveFingers, which hit about three weeks ago. The Lontra could be described as a 'roid-raging KSO — outfitted with the most aggressive 4mm rubber, "lightly cleated" "Trek" outsole + 4mm EVA midsole and a wholly new water-resistant, tri-layered upper that's topped off with a very aggressive ankle cuff to seriously keep stuff out. That's how I'd put it, anyway.

Vibram describes the Lontra thusly:

Cold weather running in minimalist footwear can be challenging. Our new Lontra makes the experience fun and comfortable. A multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams provides insulation and water resistance. The micro pile fleece liner is soft against the skin while helping wick perspiration away from the foot. Other features include: a neoprene heel cuff to keep out snow and debris, a reinforced hook and loop closure for a snug and secure fit; and reflective surfaces for safety at night. The 4mm EVA midsole provides insulation from frozen surfaces, and the TC-1 Dura outsole provides traction, durability and superior plating protection. Machine Washable. Air Dry.

[Fabric layers:] UPPER - Laminated Stretch Mesh + Water Resistant Membrane; SOLE - Vibram TC-1 Dura + EVA Midsole; FOOTBED - Micropile Fleece

[Weight:] Men's size 43 - 6.75oz. each, 13.5oz./pair

Intrigued? Want to see and know more? Well, read on! For today's initial review fellow BirthdayShoes blogger Tim Kelley and I will be providing some initial thoughts on these (and double the photo fun!). I also did a video water test, so there's that, too. In the coming week's there'll be a follow-up full review, so you'll want to stay tuned for that.

Let's go!

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Initial Review Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC

Initial Review Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC

The Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC started hitting retailers two weeks ago. I got my pair only a few days back and have been scrambling trying to clobber together an initial review of them.

At $140 a pair, the Speed XC isn't cheap. It's $10 more than the REI-exclusive, leather (but not water-resistant) Speed LR FiveFingers (that updated and replaced the discontinued Trek LS) and $10 less than the just-released Lontra FiveFingers (initial review pending).

What exactly is the Speed XC? Let's start with Vibram's take:

The Speed XC combines the look and comfort of the Speed with Vibram performance. A multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams provides insulation and water resistance. A 4mm EVA midsole offers plating protection from stone bruising, and a lightly cleated 4mm Vibram TC-1 Dura outsole delivers increased traction on a variety of surfaces. The Speed XC offers a traditional lacing system for ease of entry, gusset tongue to prevent water penetration, and seamless polyester lining to keep the outdoor enthusiast comfortable and dry. Machine Washable. Air Dry.

[Fabric layers:] UPPER - Laminated Stretch Mesh + Water Resistant Membrane; SOLE - Vibram TC-1 Dura + EVA Midsole; FOOTBED - Polyester Mesh

[Weight:] Men's size 43 - 5.47oz. each, 10.94oz./pair

In short, the Speed XC is a water-resistant (not waterproof, but what is?), sneaker-styled pair of Vibram FiveFingers.

But how water-resistant is it? How is it built? Want to know more? After the jump:

  • Photos! Lots of them. (Bonus: photos of the blue/orange Speed XC, too!)
  • Initial thoughts.
  • A video review/overview including a water test!

Read on!

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Eat & Run: An Unlikely Combination of Recipes and Racing [REVIEW]

<i>Eat &amp; Run</i>: An Unlikely Combination of Recipes and Racing [REVIEW]

Two of the great ultra-runners from Born to Run, Jenn Shelton and Scott Jurek, have lived in my little town of Ashland, Oregon (Jenn still does). Although Scott’s time here was brief, he forged friendships with other local running legends like Ian Torrence and Hal Koemer.

One month ago Jurek surprised finishers at Hal’s local 100 miler, the Pine to Palm 100, by appearing at the finish line to shake hands and autograph Eat & Run. I didn’t have the chance to meet him that day, but at least I can give a thumbs up to his book, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (2012). It’s a really fun read, and what other running book throws in dozens of recipes for athletes?

Read on for my full review!

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