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    Xero Shoes - Barefoot Running Sandals

Flying "barefoot:" TSA reaction to Five Fingers

Last weekend Patri Friedman was donning his Five Fingers while traveling about to present on Seasteading. Having anticipated TSA's security check requirement to remove your shoes, Patri had removed his birthday shoes before going through the metal detector at the security checkpoint. The TSA reaction was as expected — absolute "furor" — the TSA folk were all fascinated by the "foot gloves!"

As chance would have it, the same day I had been traveling to LAX (from ATL) and was donning my fivefinger KSOs. I didn't take them off, not realizing that it was a requirement. The TSA reaction was a bit less cordial (even though they never made me run them through the x-ray machine).

Thus what we have here as far as Five Fingers and TSA regulations is a mixed bag. On the one hand, if you don't take off your VFFs before you go through the airport metal detector, you might end up like me and only get some curious questions, questioning looks, and maybe a few "bad vibes" from the Transportation Security Administration.

Or you could just take them off and be the talk of the TSA. Simply put: there are pros and cons to each approach.

About BirthdayShoes (It's a pun for "barefoot shoes")

Justin in his Vibram Five Finger ClassicsThis site was created in mid-April 2009 to be a central hub for reviews, pictures, ideas, experiences, activities, and everything else relating to Vibram FiveFingers. It has since evolved into a site that covers all minmialist shoes or "barefoot shoes" including footwear from manufacturers Vivo Barefoot, Merrell Barefoot, New Balance (NB Minimus), Luna Sandals, Invisible Shoes, and more (see them all here).

What's the big deal about FiveFingers? Simply put, they are footwear designed to accord with our biological or evolutionary engineering (the "invisible hand" of evolution or the divine hand of [your belief system]).

Vibram FiveFingers and other minimalist footwear are perhaps best understood by describing what they are not rather than what they are: Vibram Five Fingers are not thickly padded, high heeled, motion-controlled shoes that effectively prevent your feet from being feet, which in turn impacts (negatively) your natural walking/running/playing gait. Rather, by being little more than a thin rubber covering on the bottom of your foot (with practically zero arch support or cushioning), Vibram Five Fingers empower you to trod the earth unshod and free — at least, as close to it as you can imagine while still providing minimalistic protection from the concrete jungle of our modern times.

I wish more products fit as harmoniously with our core, animalistic humanity!

A quick tour of some of what you'll find at BirthdayShoes

If you're new here, be sure to check out:

In short, take a look around and welcome!

Who runs this site?

BirthdayShoes is over three years old and has been visited over 5 million times by over 3 million people around the globe. It's been cited by CNN and Inc. magazine and even been spotted on TV on occasion. It's widely considered to be a "go to" source if not the go to source for all things minimalist- or "barefoot-" shoes related.

If you can't tell, "bdayshoes" is a labor of love built, maintained, and furthered through the help of people like you (It's not my day job — it's what I do when I'm not working or parenting two girls or just having fun).

While most of the reviews here have been written by me (Justin), in no way could this site be a success but for the help of many, many others. In fact, you'll find plenty of reviews and articles written by BirthdayShoes bloggers who have graciously lent their time and expertise to making BirthdayShoes even better. I simply couldn't keep this site without a lot of community support. Thank you!

Finally, just to be transparent BirthdayShoes is not a retailer of shoes though it does have relationships with various online retailers through which the site generates some revenue to support ongoing operations. In the course of building this site, we've also made contact with various shoe manufacturers who have usually been pretty helpful and always hands off — we've gotten some free shoes to review out of these relationships but never been directly compensated nor would we take any such compensation from manufacturers were it offered! We want BirthdayShoes to be a legit, authentic source of useful information on the web — if you ever question our veracity, do not hesitate to email me directly at justin [at] birthdayshoes.com!

Justin Owings, Founder

Vibram FiveFingers — Revolutionary toe shoes or "Barefoot Shoes"

The origins of "toe shoes" — the original "barefoot shoe"

Five Fingers were the brainchild of Italian designer Robert Fliri. Fliri first had the concept of a foot glove with articulated toes — what are now colloquially referred to as "barefoot shoes," "minimalist shoes," or "toe shoes" — back in 1999. Fliri had been spending a good deal of time outdoors in the mountains of Italy, periodically taking off his shoes. It was from these experiences that he conceptualized toe shoes, remarking that, "We have five toes: when they can move and grasp the ground independently, and when you can really sense the surface under your feet, your body is able to do what it is designed for by nature. That is a powerful feeling."

Fliri was making a simple case: if feet evolved to experience the world "naked," why are we strapping heavily cushioned, "high-heeled" marshmallow shoes like Nikes onto our feet in order to walk around "safely" or without hurting ourselves? Did [Mother Nature | God | Evolution | insert your higher power here] churn out a foot that was broken by design? Surely not!

Vibram LogoDespite the almost obvious power of toe shoes — foot gloves that let feet function and feel similarly to how they would barefoot, Robert Fliri's toe shoe concept languished until a fortuitous meeting with Marco Bramani, the grandson of Vitale Bramani. Vitale Bramani is the founder of the Italian company Vibram (pronounced "Vee-brum"). As the legend goes, Bramani believed that "Five Fingers" (So named because the Italian word for "fingers" is the same as that for "toes") might make a novel choice of footwear for use on sailboats or in other activities that required greater ground-feel. Sometime in the early 2000s (perhaps 2004?), Bramani brought Fliri into his grandfather's company to develop the world's first toe shoes.

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