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!

New Balance NB Minimus Trail Photos and Video

The New Balance Minimus Trail in black (or very dark grey) and neon yellow.
The New Balance Minimus Trail in black (or very dark grey) and neon yellow.

We've reviewed the New Balance Minimus Trail already, but I got my feet into a pair of the dark grey (I might call them black) and neon yellow New Balance NB Minimus Trails recently and figured I'd do a little video overview and snap some photos to share with the site here for the benefit of those who don't have the ability to run over to a local store and check these puppies out.

So after the jump is a video and twenty-four photos of the New Balance NB Minimus Trail!

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Review Fila Skele-Toes - Four Toed Shoes

The Fila Skele-Toes - toe shoes with four toes!
The Fila Skele-Toes - toe shoes with four toes!

A few weeks back we took a sneak peak at a new brand of toe shoes—as in, not Vibram Five Fingersthey're the Fila "Skele-toes." Comet Shoes hooked me up with a pair to examine, review, and share with BirthdayShoes readers, and that's what I'll be doing today.

If you're new to the 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 — and it's not because shoes with toes are just eye-catchingly strange, either.

"What the heck are those?" may be a good question, but perhaps the better question is "Why toe shoes?" I've explained toe shoes here, but the Cliff's notes version is this: shoes that allow your feet to function naturally—as they would barefoot—when you do things like run, walk, work out, or play—are healthy.

The mainstream thick-heeled, heavily cushioned, arch-supporting sneakers we've come to accept as "normal" are more about marketing hype than actually supporting good foot health. You don't need them at all. Worse, it's possible they're hurting you more than helping by preventing your foot from moving naturally — and affecting your entire body's biomechanics in the process. If you don't believe me, BirthdayShoes.com has hundreds of user stories from people around the world doing everything from running marathons in toe shoes to hiking, traveling, skydiving, or powerlifting. Stick around because more than just a weird novelty in footwear, toe shoes are changing footwear.

The Fila Skele-toes are not actually five-toed shoes because the Skele-toes design gives the smallest two toes one pocket for ease of entry (the "EZ-Slide"). While the Skele-toes' "four" toe design is an obvious difference to Vibram Five Fingers, the Fila Skele-toes are also different than VFFs in other more subtle ways — all toe separation aside. Actually, Fila is marketing the Skele-toes more as a lifestyle shoe than a fitness shoe.

After the jump I'll talk more about the Skele-toes design, function, and differences to Vibrams (you can't help but compare) and wrap up with a little video review action.

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Review NB Minimus Life by New Balance

The New Balance NB Minimus Life (men's version)
Two shots of the New Balance NB Minimus Life barefoot shoes being released by New Balance for Spring 2011. These are meant for casual, everyday wear or light fitness (nearest I can tell).

For Spring 2011, in addition to the NB Minimus Road and the NB Minimus Trail, New Balance is releasing a third minimalist shoe geared towards casual, everyday use with perhaps a bit of fitness (e.g. weight lifting, perhaps) functionality to boot — this third offering in the New Balance's minimalist footwear line is called the New Balance NB Minimus Life (originally the "Wellness").

I've been wearing a pair of the NB Minimus Life shoes almost exclusively since I got them about a week ago.* I'd say this was for testing purposes only (Disclaimer: New Balance sent me these to test), but truth is, I just really like these shoes. They are super comfortable, extremely easy to put on (they lack true laces), have very little sole to speak of (though the sole they have is soft/cushy and there is a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm. More on this later.), no arch support, and they have a good-sized toe box. Plus, they just look really good to me. I've worn them with shorts, jeans, workout clothes, and even khakis. For a sneaker, they're plenty versatile, and though I've only "run" to the car or back and forth here and there in them, I'd imagine you could run in them if you were so inclined even as that's not what they're expressly designed for.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to dive into some details with photos, video, and more after the jump.

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Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS - Review

Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS - Review

A few days ago, I received a pair of the new Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS toe shoes and want to share my first impressions. So far, I've only taken them out on one 2+ mile run, but can already tell they perform very much like my standard Bikilas and in some ways better. Rather than rehash all that has been said about the Bikila, which I think is the perfect hard surface barefoot running shoe (until now!), I will keep this concise by highlighting what is different about the Bikila LS.

The big differences are:

  • Speed lace system
  • Coconut active carbon upper
  • New dotted PU toe protection
  • Color choices

These changes represent improvements over the standard Bikila and I will cover each of them after the jump.

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Pregnant Runner Loves Her Vibram Five Fingers KSOs

Josephine in her KSOs
Josephine out for a spin in her Vibram Five Fingers KSOs.

As you can see from the picture above, there aren't many things that keep Josephine from going out on her daily run in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs. Pregnancy and snow didn't stop her. Here is Josephine's amazing story:

I'm almost 5 months pregnant with twin boys and run daily in my KSO's in Providence, RI. I have had them for over a year and have run in them in every season and in every weather condition that hits the East coast from blizzards, to rain storms, to oppressive heat. I am madly in love with them! I also can't say enough good things about them for running while pregnant. I have had no injuries or problems with them and don't have the "leaden feet" feeling that I remember sometimes having when I ran during my first pregnancy. I also ran daily during that pregnancy up until the day I went into labor and I don't remember feeling as light on my feet as I do now in my VFF KSO's- even with twins. They are awesome! I was a die-hard fan before I got pregnant this time and now am even more so. I definitely did not have an easy go of early pregnancy with lots of all day nausea (and puking!) due to the double dose of hormones you get with twins (which BTW, were a complete surprise and not at all what this runner, or her husband, had "planned"!!!), and running is the one thing that has kept me sane and gotten me through these initial months- running in my KSO's that is! I recommend them to all pregnant women out there and to all runners, pregnant or not!

Thanks so much!

Josephine

Thank you Josephine! Congratulations on the twins! We wish you all the best and hope to see some barefoot baby pics.

We are not advocating that pregnant women can all run while pregnant. Please check with your doctor to see what makes sense for you.