Water-Resistant Vibram FiveFingers for Fall 2012
As of early October 2012, all of these FiveFingers are now out. The Lontra, SeeYa LS, and Speed XC all became available as of 10/4 (see this post). As for reviews, we've done a first review of the Spyridons, SeeYa LS, Speed XC, Lontra, and Speed LRs — more coming soon (so stay tuned!)
Last week was the Winter Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is an annual event (there's a Summer one, too) where outdoor retailers show off upcoming products, drumming up sales for said products in the coming months. "OR" typically lines up with the leaking of upcoming new models of FiveFingers and sure enough, we've got some new toe shoes in store for Fall 2012!
There's a prevalent theme in the Fall 2012 Vibram FiveFingers line-up: water-resistance! Who hasn't had the unpleasant experience of soaked-through Vibrams? How long have we been waiting for some toe shoes that could stand-up to water? Vibram has heard the call and answered! Bring on the FiveFingers Lontra (and Lontra LS), Speed LR, and Speed XC!
To make things even more exciting (not to mention complicated), Vibram Europe has also been cooking up their next batch of VFFs. What you say? Vibram Europe and Vibram USA don't have the same stuff? Nosiree they do not (always). So pay attention below because some new models for Fall 2012 are only coming out in one place and not the other!
Important disclaimer! In the past some first-look new models of your favorite toe shoes haven't made it into ultimate production (Note: these "doomed" FiveFingers like the "bear" foot Cortina really deserve their own post!), so the following must be seen as at least somewhat speculative as to what will ultimately get put into production by Vibram. Plans change and no one has a crystal ball, so while what we've found below may be in the pipeline, it's all subject to change. If you hear of anything that has changed or if anything below is being reported in error, please let us know!
The below FiveFingers model information was taken from two different (USA and Europe) Fall 2012 FiveFingers vendor catalogs that recently crossed my path showing off six new pairs of Vibrams, many of which feature some element of water-resistance. You can check out the official, leaked specs (and pics) of these models below by scrolling down, or jump to each section of the post using the links below. Be sure to subscribe by email to be alerted when these new models drop!
The Fall 2012 Vibram FiveFingers line-up
U.S. and Europe simultaneous releases
- FiveFingers Speed LR — we've done a first look revivew of the Speed LR here (it was released in August 2012)
- FiveFingers Speed XC — released October 2012 with our initial review here
- FiveFingers Lontra — Update October 2012 Lontra is out and has been initially reviewed
- FiveFingers Spyridon (Laceless Spyridon first seen here — See our first look on the Spyridon here! And the Spyridon LS was released in February 2012
- FiveFingers Classic Fresca
Vibram FiveFingers Speed LR
UPDATE August 2012: we've done a first look review of the Speed LR here (it was released in August 2012):
Official FiveFingers Speed LR specifications: (Men's only)
The Speed LR is a more rugged version of the original Speed. Built on the Trek outsole, the 4mm TC-1 Dura cleated rubber outsole delivers traction on various terrain while the EVA midsole provides exceptional plating protection. The kangaroo leather upper and sock liner are soft against the foot, yet strong and tear resistant with outstanding breathability. Designed for the casual wearer, the Speed LR will accommodate a wide range of foot widths and instep heights, thanks to the traditional lacing system. Machine Washable. Air Dry.
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Speed LR:
The Speed LR is evocative of the Fall 2011 FiveFingers Trek LS as the Trek LS was more or less a kangaroo-leather version of the original Speed Vibrams but with a Trek sole. The Speed LR brings an updated "cut" to the Speed-look, reducing seams (Note the removal of a stitched section where the vamp meets the instep on the Speed LR) and fewer seams at the toes. If I had to guess, I'd say these are just the rebirth of the Trek LS with a bit more attention to detail and an overall more comfortable fit (fewer seams in the toes should do that). Digging the orange color offsets — just wish they'd used orange leather on that stripe (instead of black!).
Note that outside of the kangaroo leather being a bit water-resistant naturally, these aren't overtly water-resistant (the tongue is not gusseted).
Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC
Update mid-October 2012 — the Speed XC was released in early October. We did an initial review of it (photos, video of water-resistance) here:
Official FiveFingers Speed XC specifications:
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.
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Speed XC:
Like the Speed LR, the Speed XC is a reboot of the Speed upper design with fewer seams and a substitution of the Bikila sole with the Trek Sole. What's most exciting about the FiveFingers Speed XC is that it's water-resistant! It utilizes a multi-layer upper detailed by a Vibram Italy press release as being comprised of three layers. Check it out:
The WTR system, designed on these shoes, is a special upper, composed of three tissues assembled together. The first is water repellent, the second is a breathable membrane that resists water, and the third is jersey to strengthen the whole. Even the cover has a structure formed by overlapping three materials: antibacterial the one in contact with your foot, breathable and water resistant the second, strong and in jersey the last third layer. In the end, to make the shoe totally immune from external leaks, the seams of the upper and the lining is welded together.
Tack on the gusseted tongue and you've got some solid protection from the wet elements in a pair of toe shoes! Pretty exciting, eh?
These will also be available in a black (with yellow laces!) varietal for men and a black with light blue stripe (instead of the pink stripe above) for women.
I'm digging these new color options. I wish the black men's versions had a yellow stripe (it looks black) to give them a little more flare.
Vibram FiveFingers Lontra
Update October 2012 — the Lontra was released in early October. We've reviewed it here:
Official FiveFingers Lontra specifications:
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.
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Lontra:
The Lontra FiveFingers is a beast! It's immediately reminiscent of the old-Europe-only Flow Trek (Basically the neoprened Flow FiveFingers with a Trek sole) except with the FiveFingers Lontra, you get a fully baked, water-resistant, cold-friendly (insulation, yes!) pair of toe shoes! I suspect the use of the Trek sole with the Lontra is all about the EVA midsole, as foam should provide a decent bit of insulation from "frozen surfaces."
I can't wait to experience the fleece liner of the Lontra and it's cool to see they used an elevated ankle enclosure out of neoprene to really seal in the heat and keep out the elements.
Meanwhile, the Lontras feature a new strap mechanism that criss-crosses over the instep of the foot. Wonder how well it will work. Further note that Europe is also getting a Lontra LS (detailed below), which has laces instead of straps and drops the ankle enclosure*.
These feel like the winter-friendly FiveFingers everyone's been clamoring for — and they'll be out just in time for Winter 2012/2013!
Vibram FiveFingers Classic Fresca
Official FiveFingers Classic Fresca specifications: (Women's only)
A fashionable take on the FiveFingers Classic, the Classic Fresca adds an element of style to the model that propelled the brand. Designed for barefoot balance and agility, it has a lightweight, stretch upper with a back pull-tab that allows you to cinch the topline for an adjustable, secure fit. A hook-and-loop closure holds the tab in place. The Vibram TC-1 Dura performance outsole with serrated blade lug design provides flexibility, durability and optimum traction. Machine Washable. Air Dry.
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Classic Fresca:
It's a women's only update to the original FiveFingers Classic, replete with a new sole and fancy upper designs that remind me of the KSO Remix. I gotta say, I think these look pretty awesome and if they came in an olive green-derived version for men, I'd be all over them.
Why aren't they coming out for men? Sadly, I think it's mostly due to men passing on the Classics in favor of KSOs or any of the other fully-enclosed FiveFingers. This is a tragedy as Classics, fit properly, are the closest to barefoot you're going to get (the SeeYa may put that in to contention) and are exceptionally comfortable.
For the women out there, what do you think about this reboot? And small-footed men want to pick up the black and grey colorway of the Classic Fresca?
Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon
UPDATE June 2012 — These were released in the U.S. around June 2012! See our first look review of the Spyridon FiveFingers here:
Official FiveFingers Spyridon specifications:
The Spyridon offers the same great trail running experience as the Spyridon LS providing the perfect balance of “foot feel” and protection on rugged terrain. With Vibram’s 3D Cocoon technology, the Spyridon has a multidirectional sole, which allows for impact protection from stones and debris with minimal weight. The Coconut Active Carbon upper breathes naturally using 34% post industrial coconut fiber. It is finished off with an adjustable hook-and-loop closure
ensuring a secure fit and reflective applications for safety after dark. Machine Washable. Air Dry.
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Spyridon:
The Spyridon FiveFingers are a strapped, laceless version of the Spyridon LS (follow that link to enter to win a pair when the LS Spyridon's release in a couple weeks!). Actually, Europe is supposedly going to get the Spyridons any day now and we just have to wait on them in the U.S.
What is the story on the Spyridon? Well, basically, it's a reboot on a Vibram sole for trail running (The Trek sole was the original). Otherwise, it looks like the Spyridon basically takes the round-the-ankle-and-over-the-instep "hook and loop" system originally used by the KSO as well as the KSO's general upper cut (no Achilles' notch) and marries it the Spyridon sole. So what it'll come down to on the Spyridon is whether you like velcro or laces. I'm guessing the Spyridon's will be lighter and breath a bit better in the upper, too.
I'll save further comment on the Spyridon and point you to Leah's detailed review of the Spyridon LS.
Europe-only FiveFingers release for Fall 2012.
Below are models that are slated for release in Europe in Fall 2012, so don't get too excited about these if you're in the U.S. (and don't shoot the messenger either!).
Vibram FiveFingers Lontra LS
Official FiveFingers Speed LR specifications:
A sibling of the LONTRA, the LONTRA LS uses the same multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams providing insulation and water resistance. The micro pile fleece liner is soft against the skin while wicking perspiration away from the foot. Other features include: the removal of the neoprene ankle cuff for ease of entry, the addition of a speed lace system to accommodate wider feet and higher insteps, as well as reflective surfaces for safety at night. The 4MM EVA midsole provides insulation from frozen surfaces, and the Trek outsole provides traction, durability and superior plating protection. Sole: Vibram® Rubber + EVA mid sole - Weight: M43: 7,6 oz, W38: 5,30 oz
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Lontra LS:
So assuming you're read up on the laceless, strapped Lontra, the Lontra LS basically utilizes an upper that looks a lot like the Spyridon LS (to me) laced design and adds on water-resistance via "taped seams" and also includes the Lontra's fleece liner. What it lacks (as compared to the Lontra) is the neoprene ankle enclosure, making these a bit less winter-resistant. Nonetheless, I have to say I dig the aesthetic of the LS Lontras, but for functionality, the Lontra is probably the way to go.
Vibram FiveFingers Trek Flip and Trek Pro
Official FiveFingers Trek Flip specifications:Men's Only
Built on the KSO TREK platform, the TREK FLIP features a high quality kangaroo leather upper with suede leather details and sock liner that is breathable, yet soft against the foot. The 4mm shock absorbing EVA insole protects the foot from bruising, while a Vibram® performance rubber outsole, with typical spikes, delivers improved traction on trails and rugged terrain. A hook and loop closure and unique markings finish off this updated Trek model. Sole: Vibram® Rubber + EVA mid sole - Weight: M43: 7,6 oz
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Trek Flip:
Nearest I can tell (unless I'm missing something), the Trek Flip, as pictured at the top left, is just a reboot of the original Trek FiveFingers with some new colored leather accents and a bit more Vibram branding. Might be your cup of tea — doesn't get me too excited though, to be honest. I kinda like my brown Treks the way they are!
Official FiveFingers Trek Pro specifications:Men's Only
Built on the Trek Sport platform, the TREK PRO offers a three layer water resistant upper, incorporating a breathable membrane and tapped seams. The lining is also made of three layers of fabric. The first layer, that touches the foot, has undergone antibacterial treatment. The second layer is a breathable and water resistant membrane. The third is in Jersey that reinforces everything. The stitching of the upper and the lining were heat sealed to make the shoe water resistant. The 4 mm shock absorbing expanded EVA insole protects the foot from bruising. The lightly cleated Vibram® performance rubber outsole delivers improved traction and plating protection on a variety of surfaces. A hook and loop closure finishes off this performance driven design. Sole: Vibram® Rubber + EVA mid sole - Weight: M43: 7,95 oz
BirthdayShoes' Quick Take on the Trek Pro:
Now the Trek Pro looks interesting (compared to the Trek Flip). Basically, it's a water-resistant version of the original Trek. Why would you go with this over the Lontra? Well, maybe you like the fit of the KSO Trek but want some water-resistance. Maybe you like the original hook-and-loop enclosure. I could see some favoring this over the Lontra; of course, you're gonna have to be in Europe (or buy from there) to get them!
Parting thoughts on Fall 2012 FiveFingers
I'll wrap this up as it's getting a bit long in the toe, but we've got some very exciting toe shoes slated for Fall 2012! Water-resistance and minimalist footwear do not always go hand in hand — it's a big problem that VFF fans have been dying for a solution to for quite some time. Meanwhile, toe shoes that can fight off the wintry cold will be a boon for runners, walkers, and hikers who have had to shelve their toe shoes for months out of the year and resort to clumsier, heavier alternatives.
Now what do you think?? Sound off below in the comments!
Vibram Italy Press release
It's such a big deal to have water
proof-resistant "barefoot shoes" that Vibram Italy put a press release out about it (I can only assume the somewhat awkward sentence structure is due to the Italian to English translation!):
Do you like water but only for bathing? Do you love the sound of your foot when it encounters a puddle during your morning jog, but not as wet socks? Is "Singing in the Rain" your favorite song, but, while you’re running, you prefer to sing dry? Vibram FiveFingers® then just thought of you. If walking on water remains the prerogative of God, from this year at least walking in, without dunking the shoes, is the goal of the most famous brand in the world of shoe “with five fingers”. The first brand, and the only one, that has changed the world and the sports footwear market forever by introducing the barefoot shoes: a bet fully won!
Vibram FiveFingers® every season looks for new challenges to overcome. For The next winter the one is WTR, Water Resistant, an innovative formula which makes the lending of these products even more performance, and especially recommended for outdoor sports in the presence of wetlands, rain, and, in general, adverse weather conditions. The WTR system, designed on these shoes, is a special upper, composed of three tissues assembled together. The first is water repellent, the second is a breathable membrane that resists water, and the third is jersey to strengthen the whole. Even the cover has a structure formed by overlapping three materials: antibacterial the one in contact with your foot, breathable and water resistant the second, strong and in jersey the last third layer. In the end, to make the shoe totally immune from external leaks, the seams of the upper and the lining is welded together. The inevitable tread in Vibram® rubber with spikes, making each step secure and reliable on any surface, complete all the structure.
With this innovative concept, Vibram FiveFingers® arrives on time to the winter appointment at Pitti Uomo, Hall Cavaniglia - Stand 28/B, bringing the unique wealth of tradition and technology that characterizes, for over 75 years, the company Vibram®. It was in 1937, in fact, that Vitale Bramani (Vi-Bram) creates the "Carrarmato, rubber sole for mountain shoes that has totally revolutionized the approach of outdoor activities.
The Vibram FiveFingers® are the result of this process, in which technology and innovation are interwoven with the know-how and handicraft of the Varese manufacturing company. The result is a new concept in footwear, directly inspired by the phenomenon of barefooting, the practice of walking barefoot. From here, the main feature of this extraordinary footwear: the Vibram® rubber soles for the feet with five fingers that, as a flexible glove, facilitate a natural articulation of the foot, cause the stimulation of the muscles of the lower limbs, and a sense of increased well-being throughout the body.
The Fall-Winter 2012-13 marks a further step of this journey, and promises to impress yet again with a range of high technology products, always original and from this year, enhanced by the "plus" of Water Resistant formula.
The proposal is broad and present various types, each with different characteristics and purposes. Among these, the TREK PRO, ideal for light Trekking and the SPEED XC, for running. Some models have interesting variations, such as LONTRA, which has adopted a "Hook-and-loop" closed in velcro to optimize custom fit, and a greater volume in the form to wear a lightweight socks during winter training. The LONTRA LS model (with WTR integrated) has a lace closure system with coulisse that speeds up the closure and makes the shoe snug to the foot, improving the dressing-foot into arch area.
* It's kinda wild that for Spring 2012, Europe got a strapped Spyridon in addition to the Spyridon LS while the U.S. only got the Spyridon LS; now with the Lontra, we get the straps only this time around — does that mean the LS will be coming in Spring 2013? Time will tell, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that at least a few are going to want the ankle-less, laced Lontra LS over the beefier Lontra. Thoughts?