Barefoot Shoes

Chad’s Thoughts and Review of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks [Review]

Runner Chad Randolph provides some initial thoughts on the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek based on his first experiences running trails with these “barefoot running” trail shoes!

Note from Justin: Chad Randolph regularly runs in his FiveFingers. To date, he’s completed numerous races in them including a 10K and 5K in Classics and a marathon in KSOs. More recently, Chad picked up a pair of black KSO Treks and has begun running trails in them. As such, Chad volunteered to put together some thoughts to share with the VFF community on his KSO Treks. Here’s Chad:

My Vibram Fivefingers KSO Treks so far…

Notice that I’m not calling it a review, as there are plenty of other more capable reviewers out there who have done the deed. However, I’ve found that most reviews are done during the initial stage, a.k.a. the “opening of the box.” I’m more interested in how they perform as intended.

I have a route I run every week or so that I call the ‘kitchen sink’ that begins on a hard-packed fire road, transitions to four miles of hilly asphalt, then four miles of narrow rooty and rocky single-track., and then back. In the past I’ve tried this course in my beloved KSOs and they’ve done well with the exception of the single-track. The outsole couldn’t handle the roots and rocks, which resulted in many occasions of me wincing and cursing under (and sometimes much louder) my breath.

I had a couple of 50k trail races scheduled for this fall and knew that my KSOs wouldn’t cut it, so I picked up a pair of Inov-8 f-lite 230’s. The f-lite 230s performed admirably but I found myself yearning to wear Fivefingers.

And so I was very excited to see the advent of the KSO Trek. First impressions were that they fit similarly to the KSOs except that they felt slightly bigger all around, which I attribute to the kangaroo leather being a little bulkier and less form-fitting than the KSO’s nylon.

Over the past two weeks I’ve taken them on various surfaces and can say that they feel good on asphalt, the tread giving a bit of cushioning, which was noticeable on downhills. On simple dirt trails they performed better than my KSOs in that there was better protection from small rocks and other debris. On rooty and rocky single-track trails things weren’t so rosy.

I took my KSO Treks out yesterday to run the ‘kitchen sink’ route. As mentioned, on the fire road and asphalt road they did just fine, but on the single-track portion they didn’t quite cut the mustard. I’m sure I expected too much from them, but even though I did a fair job of dancing around roots and rocks my feet at the end of the single-track portion felt bruised.

Thus, while I would heartily recommend the KSO Treks for hard-packed trails I would hesitate to suggest them for gnarly single-track, unless you are closely related to an ibex.

My plans for the KSO Treks are to run in a 50k trail race this winter, one that’s mostly fire road. I’ll also throw in some road races for good measure.

Chad Randolph
Mooresville, NC

Update Read Chad’s updated thoughts on the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks after running a marathon in them here!

Thanks, Chad! We’ll keep an eye out for updated thoughts on the KSO Treks!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

One reply on “Chad’s Thoughts and Review of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks [Review]”

I’m surprised at the opinion stated here regarding the Trek’s on singletrack. I too have used the KSO on rocky singletrack and also had some bruising of the foot, due to the KSO’s being a bit on the thin side. I switched to using the Trek’s once they were available and found them to be very well suited to the rocky single track trails we have here in central Texas. I found them to be plenty grippy and more than protective enough when running over broken limestone. I do hope the author gives them another try.

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