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FiveFingers in Jamaica? No problem, mon!

Click for full sizeYou might have noticed it was fairly quiet around here over the past week.

You might have noticed it was fairly quiet around here over the past week. That’s because I was in Jamaica. My wife and I were celebrating our “babymoon:” this is the last ditch pre-first-child vacation for expecting parents. Yes, I think “babymoon” is a goofy sounding name for a vacation. Some people think it sounds “cute.”

The only footwear I brought along for the trip were my Classics, KSOs, and Chacos. I wear my Chacos less and less these days as they just feel increasingly heavy and clumsy. I wonder why. I normally would have brought along some flip-flops, but I couldn’t find mine.

Beach Impressions: My Classics served as my all-purpose footwear and I wore them throughout the resort with the exception of dinnertime when I needed to wear more acceptable footwear. As it went, the 5 finger Classics worked exceedingly well for time by the pool, gallivanting about the resort, and for brief walks across the beach (Normally, I took them off for beach-time!).

I was surprised to find that the gaping open-topped Classics allowed very little sand into the shoe. My hunch is that, unlike “flip”-flops, the integrated foot/sole design of VFFs reduces the flipping of sand particles into the air (and thereby into the footbed). Don’t hear this as saying you won’t get any sand in your fivefingers at the beach, and furthermore, you shouldn’t be wearing your fivefingers on most beaches, anyway (excepting cases of overly shelly beaches or in times of beach sprints): beach time should be 100% barefoot time! Take advantage!

Other notes from the trip: virtually no one remarked on my fivefingers. This was a break from the gawking norm, and I can only assume it was due to the prevalence of traditional water shoes (Most people likely just assumed I had eccentric taste in water shoes).

I also got busted by the resort fitness director for being in the gym in my Classics, which weren’t “proper footwear.” I attempted to explain to him that I lift in my VFFs all the time, and that sneakers aren’t going to protect your feet much from the crushing force of falling iron. It didn’t work (And I had just finished my brief 50 pull-up workout, so I didn’t press the issue) and I went to the pool.

Shortly thereafter, he sought me out and we had a very long conversation about fitness and I learned about his five year stint as a Jamaican cage fighter. And he acceded my point and said I could still workout in them. CYA is the same in Jamaica as anywhere else, I suppose.

More TSA experiences with birthday shoes socks! Egged on by a new fivefingers friend, “MC” over at, who has yet to be asked to remove his VFFs (Flows, I believe) while proceeding through airport security, and wanting to see if I got a repeat performance of TSA stink eye, I wore mine through all security checkpoints on the return to the states. As you might expect, there was “No problem, mon!” in Jamaica — not even a pause from their security. After proceeding through U.S. customs at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, you’re required to go through TSA security. I did, and here’s what transpired:

TSA Lady: [Waves me to proceed through metal detector]
[With a chuckle …] “I have never seen anything like that!”
[Holds up her hand to halt anyone from following me through]
Me: [Unsure if she’s also wanting me to stop] “They’re called five fingers”
TSA Lady: “No, they’re called socks!”

And that was that. She loved my birthday shoes … er … socks!

Stay tuned! I got to test out my KSOs on Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls (Wiki), which is a large waterfall that flows into the ocean. Visitors get to climb up the falls directly in the water, on the rocks. I wore my KSOs and my wife, who opted to pass on the experience, took a few shots. So I’ll be blogging a review of the wet ware use of KSOs soon!

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.

2 replies on “FiveFingers in Jamaica? No problem, mon!”

Outstanding post – man, looks like a great time for all. I am so in need of a solid trip with the constant companion of my VFFs. I’ve not taken to airports with them to date, however, anxious to make it happen.

Interesting comments on the Chacos. I’ve been wearing them for almost 12 years and I find my desire to put them on to be decreasing. I’m a huge fan of the Chaco Flip Flops, if one has to put something like that on. I wish the flips were slightly thiner in the heal, but the molding effect of the flips are better than most. I WISH the sandals were the same sole as the flips – it would eliminate the chunkiness and bulk and make them more feet friendly. Again, not my fav, but could be better if minimized. We should contact Chaco for a low profile sole in thier Z2 or Z1 product.

Man, you’ve inspired me for an international adventure in my VFFs. Congrats on the baby – kids are a blessing.

Flying in the VFFs is the best — the comfort of barefootedness on uncomfortable planes? Hard to beat it.

I’ve not tried the Chacos Flip Flops. My go-to sandals for years have been Birkenstock Milanos, which I wear until the leather upper gets a hole in it. Birks are very light-weight and I enjoy the texture of the leather on my barefeet. I’m also a huge fan of Birkenstock Bostons (the clogs) for wintertime.

I need to check out TOMS, too.

Totally agree with your comments about Chacos needing to come up with a low profile and lighter sole. I hope they do this sometime soon — the beefy sole looks good on paper but in practice, it can be a bit clunky. Good for rainy days I suppose (elevates you above the puddles a bit).

Of course, I’d take just about any sandal over a sneaker.

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