Consultant Justine Lam was instrumental in putting together Ron Paul's online fundraising campaign. She is also a big fan of Vibram Five Fingers. You may remember the interview she did about her KSOs here on BirthdayShoes. Now she has put together a review of her Vibram Five Fingers Women's KSO Treks where she compares them to her KSOs and Bikilas. Here is her review:
by Justine Lam — Guest Writer
Women's Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Review
When I got my first pair KSOs back in June 2008, I had never seen them in stores or on anyone’s feet. I tried them on at a kayaking store in NYC and started wearing them around the city and while hiking or backpacking.
Two short years later wherever I go, I will likely bump into a fellow Vibram Five Fingers fan. For example, I just sat down at Red Rock Coffee Co. in Mountain View, CA to write up my review and next to me a customer was sporting his black VFF classics. He told me he can’t go back to normal shoes, that he feels more aware of his surroundings and in his body w/ his Vibrams. He smiled widely while talking about his shoes. VFFs creates real brand evangelists.
Recently, thanks to BirthdayShoes.com I got to try the new VFF KSO Treks for women. I was ecstatic. I had been jealously admiring the KSO Treks for men for the past year, wishing they would make them for women. Finally my prayers were answered!
Read the rest of Justine's review after the jump!
I love to use my VFFs for various sports (hiking, backpacking, short running sprints, CrossFit) and just walking around. With hiking and backpacking, I love feeling more in touch with the environment around me and being able to feel the terrain. I feel more steady and less likely to twist my ankle (which I do more often with normal hiking shoes).
I’ve used by KSOs and my Bikilas for hiking and backpacking in the past. Loved them, but they didn’t work super-well. They weren’t created to tackle hiking on the rocky, sandy and steep hiking surfaces. Often I’d slide down a bit of hill or a slippery rock which was scary with a large backpack strapped to me.
I bought the Bikila’s because I thought it would work better but the tread wasn’t sticky enough although it did do a better job of protecting my feel from sharp rocks.
Would these KSO Treks work well for my next backpacking, hiking trip?
We’ll get to that later, but first here’s a step by step through the un-boxing of the product.
Opening the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek box, I checked out the detailed instructions on how to put them on, took the KSO Treks out of their wrapping, and was immediately taken by the kangaroo leather. The deep brown looked beautiful — in fact it looked more like a deep purple more than a brown. I also read a bit more about the special kangaroo leather that may keep my shoes from stinking up.
Next I compared the tread of my 2 year old KSOs with the new KSO Treks. No comparison. Afterwards, I compared the new KSO Treks to my newish Bikilas. The new KSO Trek’s had major tread but were still more flexible than the Bikila’s in the toe region.
Definitely could tell that the workmanship was very careful and detailed.
Look, Fit & Feel
The fabric was so soft and luxurious to the touch. The shinier leather also looked very pretty.
I tried them on after a thorough examination. At first it was a bit tight, especially compared to the roomier Bikilas. But they fit pretty good. I’d say that the pinky toe area was a bit tighter than my normal KSOs. I’m hoping that area will stretch out with some more wear.
Here’s a video of the entire unboxing process
On the Trail and in the Laundry Machine
Throughout September to November I put my new KSO Treks to the test on hiking trails and on approaches to various rock climbing destinations around Northern California.
The types of trails I’m hiking on can range from flat, dirt roads or rocky, steep and with pebbles/ other foliage on the ground.
I found the ground feel was very good in the KSO Treks, plus the extra grip worked wonders when I scramble up large boulders to get to a climb. They felt rather sticky, not as sticky as rock climbing shoes, more akin to regular hiking boots.
It was also nice to be wearing lighter shoes, it made it easier to climb up steeper hills with a heavy backpack.
The one problem I noticed was that walking downhill could be rather painful. This is because your toe are pushing right up against the top of the shoe and the heel bed isn’t holding your heel down to prevent that from happening.
So if you’re looking at this shoe to replace your hiking or backpacking shoes, I’d say be forwarned that it could really hurt your toes when you’re navigating very steep terrain. For moderate to easy inclines it wasn’t a problem.
The Care of KSO Treks
The first time I washed the KSO Treks after a very dusty and dirty hike, I threw them into my apartment’s washing machine with some detergent like I normally do with other VFFs. However, this time I didn’t realize that one of my neighbor had left BLEACH in one of the dispensers.
Alas, my KSO Treks came out alive but now the lovely brownish purple color became a light brown color. Not as pretty to look at but hopefully the dirt from the trails will cover that up.
As for the Kangaroo Leather and the smell of these new VFF’s? It’s unbelievable. They don’t smell. I haven’t washed them in a few months since the bleach incident but unlike my regular KSOs and to a lesser extent the Bikilas these KSO Trek’s don’t seem to allow the bacteria to multiply. Woo hoo!
I hope that Vibram will decide to make more of their shoes in the Kangaroo leather.
Thanks so much Justin and Travel Country for the KSO Treks! Happy New Year.