Vibram FiveFingers Golf Shoe V-Classic LR
Last fall we found out about a new Vibram FiveFingers style designed specifically for golfing. The "V-Classic" (Non-leather, new golf sole) and "V-Classic LR" (leather, golf sole) finally arrived for Spring 2014, and Vibram was kind enough to send me a pair of the LR to test out.
I have to say I was really excited to wear these, since Vibram discontinued their entire previous kangaroo leather lineup (the original Trek was one of my all time favorites). I wasn't sure what to expect as I'd almost stopped golfing in Vibrams with the variety of other "barefoot" golf options available. However, having tested these for awhile now, I can honestly say that they're more comfortable than any other FiveFingers I own and I haven't once hesitated to grab them when I head out for the course.
Read on for more pictures and to find out how they've worked out on the course!
When I reviewed my first pair of barefoot minded golf shoes (TRUE original tour, now the updated tour), I couldn't help but do so in reference to Vibram FiveFingers. My ultimate conclusion was the Vibrams were still the most barefoot feeling (obviously since they're a foot shaped glove), but they weren't specifically built for golf and ultimately there were a variety of factors that led to a more structured "barefoot" shoe being better suited for the golf course.
My most recent Vibram review for golf was the Speed XC lite, and while they were listed by Vibram as suited for golf, and they certainly worked well with the Trek sole, they still felt better suited for me as a casual shoe. In fact, it felt like most of their "golf" category shoes were just relabeled as suitable for golf (since most FiveFingers can work for just about whatever you want them to).
I never had a problem with my FiveFingers not looking like golf shoes. My biggest problem for golf was occasional wet toes, as just a little bit of moisture was quickly wicked through the stretch fabric lining the toes. Now along comes the V-Classic LR, which Vibram has truly created specifically for golf.
Look and Feel
One of the hallmarks of classic looking golf shoes is a two-toned saddle look. The LR model doesn't have a saddle, but gives off a classic vibe with a two-toned upper combined with a wingtip design over the toes. At first glance there is clearly more to these than your average FiveFingers. The upper is composed of kangaroo leather which is amazingly soft and supple. The white leather upper extends into the tip of each toe pocket, so the entire top of your foot is against a smooth piece of leather. The white leather is overlaid with the brown leather, which is even softer than the white, and this leather is what encompasses the sides of the toe pockets. Needless to say it feels really good on my toes.
At first, the design seemed a bit too ornate for my tastes. I think it's probably the jagged edge of the brown leather, and I might prefer the look of a smooth edge although I've grown to really like the look as it is. I was curious about how the look of the shoe would work, but let’s face it, wearing toe shoes on the golf course looks a bit out of the norm anyway. These actually blend in much better than my other VFFs, and the upscale look might override the casualness of "toe shoes" on the golf course.
The laces are brown tightly woven waxy laces, and they tie and hold nicely. I've never had to retighten or relace them after initially tying them. Usually I don't even lace them that snugly because they fit like a glove, but the nature of the laces means they hold their knot well. My only problem here (and really the only problem with the entire shoe) is that the laces are too long. Even on my semi-wide feet and very loosely laced, the laces are pretty big and floppy. I feel like they could be about 2-3 inches shorter to avoid giant loops. It’s a really minor thing that makes them look just a bit sloppy, but in reality, who’s going to notice the look of the laces when you’re sporting fancy leather toe shoes. However, an optimal looking lace length would be nice to complement the otherwise high quality materials and feel of the shoe.
The inside of the shoe is lined with the white leather which also wraps the padded tongue. There is also a 2mm TPU insole that is glued in. Pulling up the edge a bit shows a bottom material that doesn't seem built for wearing sans insole -- this is similar to the KMD Sport. Don't freak too much, because the overall thickness of the sole is a max of 6mm (at the lugs). The insole feels great and my feet don’t notice any edge or transition into the walls. It doesn’t feel any different from other Vibrams.
The outsole is clearly designed specifically for golf, with its orange circular lugs placed throughout various regions of the sole. There are also small ridges running lengthwise at strategic locations along the edge to provide grip. The placement of the lugs seems clearly designed with golf in mind, and you'll notice there are even little traction pockets carved out on the toes which seem designed to help grip when rising onto your toes. The sole is really thin, but has a max thickness of 6mm through the lugs. This gives an overall flexibility that is potentially better than the Trek soled "golf" styles which had an EVA layer. My only issue here is that the orange lugs really stand out. I actually think it's a really nice contrast with the white and brown, but you'll have to sport orange spots if you want to use these for casual use away from golf.
Overall, the V-Classic LRs had plenty of traction and I never once slipped (although this generally isn't a problem for me in any golf shoe). The sole definitely feels a bit more "grippy" than the trek sole, but either sole functions just fine for me on the course. The overall barefoot function is obvious if you're at all familiar with normal VFF feel and function. They fit like a glove and allow movements pretty dang close to what would be happening if I were actually barefoot.
Where the LR's stand apart from other FiveFingers is obviously the leather design. The leather isn't like any of the previous leather Vibrams. First, the feel of the leather is amazingly soft and comfortable. One of the reasons the original KSO Trek was my favorite VFF was its really thin and soft suede leather upper. The V-Classic LR leather is smoother, sturdier, and feels really durable. I've primarily worn them barefoot, but socks have worked just fine as well. Did I mention this leather is really comfortable?
The main function I wanted to test was what has bothered me most about golfing in Vibrams in the past. While I haven't seen any mention of being water-resistant, the V-Classic LRs have been pleasantly surprising. A couple times I didn’t watch my step and found myself jumping out of swampy grass waiting for the cold wet soggy toe sensation that never actually came. The problem I’ve had with Vibrams in the past have been the synthetic sides of the toes quickly wicking water in. This type of leather is thick enough that I’ve not noticed anything when walking through damp and mushy areas. I haven't been brave enough to tromp through standing water, and I would still recommend avoiding overly wet areas, but these seem to be forgiving when you forget. They also seem to breath fairly well because my feet don’t get quite as clammy inside as they do in the TrekSports or even the XC Lites. Even when they do get a little clammy, the natural leather material seems to absorb it well and they still feel great against my bare foot.
So far I've golfed with new strangers every time I've worn these and a few times they either never notice, or more likely just never say anything about them. It’s usually around the 8th hole that someone says something. So far no negatives (that they care to share to my face), and all seemed intrigued since they knew about Vibrams, but didn’t realize they had a pair designed for golf.
Sizing and Price
The V-Classic LR fit true to size compared to all my other VFFs. The leather gives a bit overtime, but not enough to alter the fit. And of course, the price for having such high quality leather is, well... the price. If you've gotten this far without knowing anything about the retail price of the V-Classic LR, please don't be alarmed.
Well ok, you might be alarmed. The leather version retails for $190. I don't know how much of this is due to the quality of the materials and the detailed construction, versus the elite golf category it's being placed in (because quality golf shoes are definitely up there in price). Ultimately, I can't shake the feeling that for these to be successful, they've got to come down a bit in price. That said, I haven't stopped wearing them on the course and I really hope people will give them a chance.
The V-Classic LR currently comes in only the white/brown color option, but the non-leather version (V-Classic), has the same sole and similar upper style which replaces the leather with polyester mesh. It comes in two colorways (white/grey and black/black) at a much lower price of $130. I haven't had a chance to try them out, but I'm happy sticking with the leather and wouldn't go back to the synthetic for golfing.
As I said at the start, the V-Classic LR FiveFingers are the most comfortable VFFs I've owned. I absolutely love the feel of these shoes and they currently sit as my go to shoes for golfing. The best part for me is the leather. It seems to have solved or at least limited my water problem plus it is just downright comfortable.
But is it worth the pricetag? Honestly, I don't know. Prior Vibram leather options, like the Bormio boots, were at a lower price (albeit using a different type of leather and simpler construction) and history has shown that the more expensive leather VFFs don't get as much love as they probably should. I really do hope these stick around and people will give them a chance.
Golf is an expensive sport, but quality equipment should last you many seasons on the course. These seem to be holding up really well and I feel like they will last quite awhile. I’ve always said that FiveFingers have been the closest thing to golfing barefoot, because they fit your feet like a glove. The V-Classic LR definitely provides the best barefoot feel, are fantastically comfortable, and appear to be durable enough to handle my adventures (and misadventures) on the golf course for many rounds to come.