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!

FiveFingers Jaya LRs, Bikila LS, More TrekSport Colors Hit the Streets!

FiveFingers Jaya LRs, Bikila LS, More TrekSport Colors Hit the Streets!

Looks like Vibram has been playing Santa to retailers across the nation with the new 2011 Vibram Five Fingers!

Just as CitySports got stocked up on new FiveFingers earlier this week, I've gotten word that Travel Country also got a smattering of the new Spring 2011 Vibrams! Some of them I hadn't seen at CitySports, so if you're looking for other color combinations of the new Jayas, or want the leather lined Jaya LR (Note: Jayas are women's only), or want some grey/green Bikila LS, then keep reading.

OR you can check out the purple-y (women's) or orange-y (men's) new varietals of FiveFingers TrekSports! Personally, I really dig these new color combinations with the mono-toned uppers and black bottoms. Slick.

Here are the details:

  • Men's Bikila LS — black/grey or grey/green — Find them here for about $100 with free shipping — Sizes like the Bikila except with speed lacing you get a bit more of a custom fit on the top of foot. Theoretically, you folks (like Mrs. BirthdayShoes) who have high insteps should find the Bikila LS much more comfortable than the sometimes-tight Bikilas (Mrs. BirthdayShoes can't fit Bikilas and I've ordered her some LSs so we'll see how that goes!).

  • Women's Bikila LS — black/grey or grey/green — Find them here for about $100 with free shipping — just like the men's but for the ladies!

  • Jaya LR (Women's only) — white/grey leather or grey/black leather — Find them here for about $100 with free shipping — Reminiscent of an isotoner glove for the foot, the Jaya LR (And Jaya, too) features a brand new sole technology that makes the VFFs lighter, and perhaps even more flexible in the long-run due to the use of a foundation of foamy EVA with little pods of rubber at high-contact points. These are only available for women. They size similar to Classics, but being a new model, the sizing is a bit untested at this point. The difference from the Jaya LR to the Jaya involves the use of leather strips on the top for a more refined look, and the Jaya LR doesn't have the padded ankle point (see the photos above). Oh and the LR will cost you another 15 bucks ($100 vs. $85).

  • Jaya(Women's only) — black/grey, red/blue, and white/pink (not pictured above) — Find them here for about $85 with free shipping — like the Jaya LR but sans leather and sans ankle padding. Plus they're $15 less at $85.

  • Women's KomodoSports — blue/yellow — Find them here for $100 with free shipping — the KomodoSport is a brand new VFF that is geared towards cross-training. It has a brand new sole pattern and a new sole tech. Though this new platform hasn't yet been tested at large, my initial testing of the KomodoSports has been pretty positive. Ground feel is akin to Bikilas though the upper is less built up (no sock-liner). They also feature a double strap mechanism where one is over the top and a separate strap runs around the ankle. If you're into sprinting and CrossFit or just like the look, you'll certainly find the KomodoSports have a place in your five-toed shoe repertoire.

  • Men's Orange TrekSportsFind them here for $100 with free shipping — By now TrekSport FiveFingers are old hat, but if you need to read up on them, start here.

  • Women's TrekSports in new colorsnew! purple top/black bottom or blue/grey top/bottom — Find them here for $100 with free shipping. I actually dig on both these new varietals of TrekSports.

That wraps up this update. We're still waiting on any retailer to have men's KomodoSports in stock. I'm guessing they'll show up any day and we'll be sure to announce when they arrive here on the blog. If you want ongoing inventory alerts, be sure to subscribe by email here! It's easy to unsubscribe later and you can hunt me down (stealthily in your toe shoes) and beat me up if I ever pass on your email to anyone else (which is to say I won't).

Good luck! And for those who brave these new pairs, be sure to tell us how you like them once you've put them to some good use so we can share your experiences here on the blog!

Teva Zilch Preview - Barefoot Friendly Sandals

Teva Zilch
The Teva Zilch.

Here's a quick look at the new Teva Zilch sandal which will be available March 1, 2011 mid-April retailing for $80. It is being billed as the "thinnest, most minimalistic sport sandal" that Teva has ever made. It is designed to be very thin and flexible while offering great traction and protection. The hardy straps and big toe loop should securely lock down your foot too. Could this be a high-tech alternative to the primitive huarache? We haven't tested it yet, but a pair is on its way to us so we can bring you a more detailed review.

Here are a few more design highlights from Teva:

  • Sole designed to grip like crazy in wet and dry environments.
  • Topsole with slow recovery material to give everyone a custom feel.
  • Outsole slightly wraps up for a secure fit.
  • Minimal 10mm total sole from foot to ground.
  • Rolls up making it a great travel shoe.

Below is an image gallery of all the photos we've got to date. Click thumbnails to Zoom.

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Whatcha ya think? Is there a need for a barefoot friendly sandal? Are sandals barefoot friendly already? Anyone think you can run in these puppies? What say you? Sound off in the comments!

HT: KayakShed.com

Vibram FiveFingers Jaya, KomodoSport for Women Available Now!

Vibram FiveFingers Jaya, KomodoSport for Women Available Now!

Plus the new Bikila LS and TrekSport in new colors for both men and women!

Big news! Five Fingers retailer CitySports has just put up for purchase women's KomodoSports (This is the first they've been made available! No men's yet!), women's Jayas (A women-only shoe), men's and women's Bikila LS, and two new colors of TrekSports -- red/black for men and blue/grey for women!  As far as I know, this marks the first online retailer to actually have any new Spring 2011 Vibram FiveFingers in stock, ready to ship (As opposed to the psych-out by REI a couple weeks back)!

Here are some details and links to go pick up a pair of the new Vibram 2011 line while they last:

Just as soon as I hear anything regarding availability for the other 2011 VFFS -- the Jaya LR (women), and KomodoSports for men -- I will send out another alert! !

CitySports offers FREE GROUND SHIPPING on all VFFs!  What more could you want?

You can learn more about the Jaya here, the TrekSport here, the KomodoSport here, and the Bikila LS here. As for sizing, Jayas should size similarly to Classics, KomodoSports, Bikila LS and TrekSports should size similarly to Bikilas. As with all VFFs, sizing varies from model to model and sometimes even from color combination to color combination!

Merrell Barefoot, Minimalist Running Education Site Launched

Merrell Barefoot, Minimalist Running Education Site Launched

Merrell Barefoot, the new line of footwear from popular shoe manufacturer Merrell, has just launched their Merrell Barefoot microsite, which features minimalist and barefoot-minded content. This includes blog posts focused on barefoot/minimalist running, videos on how to run with a barefoot style featuring barefoot running guru Jason Robillard, and more.

More details about the Merrell Barefoot launch, and the answer to if you can buy them after the jump!

Read the rest of this post »

Soft Star RunAmoc Review

Soft Star RunAmoc
Soft Star RunAmoc.

Guest post by Matt

Matt is an avid minimalist hailing from the great state of Oregon, home of the minimalist shoe company Soft Star. He recently set out on an adventure that put his Soft Star RunAmocs to the test. Enjoy Matt's take on these elegant but durable minimalist shoes.

The Test

Not unlike many of the people who's stories are here at birthdayshoes.com, I've been intrigued with testing the limits of my minimalist obsession. In this case, it meant challenging Oregon's South Sister mountain in footwear a mere whisper of the massively thick soles and steel toes of traditional hiking boots.

About RunAmoc Lite Shoes

When I received a pair of RunAmoc Lite shoes from local minimal shoe maker Soft Star Shoes to test, it seemed the opportunity had arrived. If you are not familar with Soft Star or their RunAmoc model, let me bring you up to speed. They are made by elves. It's even run by two Chief Elf Officers. Of course, these elves are not of the short stature, pointy ear variety. Just dedicated shoemakers working from the factory in Corvallis, Oregon. But the RunAmoc's do have an elfish quality in their simplicity. They sport merely a few pieces of leather stitched to a Vibram sole. And with a close look at that handiwork, you see these are as much hearty as simple - not to mention ridiculously comfortable.

Read on for the full review after the jump!

Read the rest of this post »

Fila Skeletoes Toe Shoes Exclusive Sneak Peak

Black Turkish Sea Men's.
Fila Skeletoes Black Turkish Sea Men's.

"What the heck are those" Fila Skele-toes??

If you must know, just skip this post and go straight to our detailed review: we've photoed and videoed the "heck" out of the Fila Skele-Toes here!

FiveFingers Look Alike?

If you're new to the crazy concept of "toe shoes", you might benefit from a brief history on their origins. Believe it or not, they got their start almost five years ago by an Italian company called Vibram — they produced the first five toe shoes called Vibram FiveFingers and have turned traditional footwear paradigms upside down.

Though the Fila Skele-toes look conspicuously similar to Vibram Five Fingers, our contact assures us that, "Fila does not see this product as a direct competitor to the Five Fingers." How so? Well, this shoe is being marketed as more of a casual activity shoe. They see them being used for activities such as biking, boating, swimming, and walking.

They are not designed for running, which is one of the primary uses of our beloved Five Fingers. Instead they are intended to be more of a companion product. A comfortable and affordable casual alternative to slip your toes into after a hard work out in your Five Fingers. Skeletoes can give you the barefoot experience while reducing the wear and tear on your performance oriented Five Fingers. At least in theory, on review of the Skele-toes they're not quite as barefoot as we would like.

Men, Women and Kids!

The Fila Skeletoes are barefoot shoes targeted to active men and women and Fila is even offering this product in kids sizes. It is great to see kids included in the mix. They are certainly priced right at $59 for Men and Women and $49 for kids (MSRP).

Under the Hood

Though in the photo above, the upper material looks like Neoprene, it is not. Skeletoes are made of four-way stretch, two ply nylon. They have a bungee cord for ease of entry and velcro straps for a customized fit. They have a multi-purpose slip-resistant rubber outsole. That's the basics — more detail about them (and photos/video) can be found in our Fila Skeletoes review.

There are two things that really differentiate the Skeletoes from the original "toe shoes" (Vibram FiveFingers):

  • The bottom sole of the Skeletoes do not cover the top of the toes as this might infringe on a Vibram patent.
  • Skeletoes incorporate what they call an EZ slide feature that combines the smallest two toes for ease of entry. For some people that have issues with their toes and can't wear Five Fingers, this feature alone might make the Skeletoes an attractive option. Our contact claims testing shows that Skeletoes were much easier to put on than Five Fingers.

If you're wondering why we compare Skele-toes to something called "FiveFingers," it's simply because the concept of "toe shoes" was pioneered by the first toe shoes on the market, circa 2005-2006, Vibram FiveFingers: get caught up on what you've been missing a la the barefoot revolution.

Availability

The Skele-toes started showing up around mid-February 2011! That was when our buddies over at Comet Shoes started carrying them.

What say ye?

Do you like the look and would you consider buying a pair? What about that combined pinky/fourth toe thing?