Barefoot Shoes

Initial Review Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC

The Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC started hitting retailers two weeks ago. I got my pair only a few days back and have been scrambling trying to clobber together an initial review of them.

At $140 a pair, the Speed XC isn’t cheap. It’s $10 more tha…

The Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC started hitting retailers two weeks ago. I got my pair only a few days back and have been scrambling trying to clobber together an initial review of them. At $140 a pair, the Speed XC isn’t cheap. It’s $10 more than the REI-exclusive, leather (but not water-resistant) Speed LR FiveFingers (that updated and replaced the discontinued Trek LS) and $10 less than the just-released Lontra FiveFingers (initial review pending). What exactly is the Speed XC? Let’s start with Vibram’s take:
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. [Fabric layers:] UPPER – Laminated Stretch Mesh + Water Resistant Membrane; SOLE – Vibram TC-1 Dura + EVA Midsole; FOOTBED – Polyester Mesh [Weight:] Men’s size 43 – 5.47oz. each, 10.94oz./pair
In short, the Speed XC is a water-resistant (not waterproof, but what is?), sneaker-styled pair of Vibram FiveFingers. But how water-resistant is it? How is it built? Want to know more? After the jump:
  • Photos! Lots of them. (Bonus: photos of the blue/orange Speed XC, too!)
  • Initial thoughts.
  • A video review/overview including a water test!
Read on!

What’s in the box?

My pair of Speed XC FiveFingers came in the black, dark grey, and canary yellow colorway (Note: if you prefer navy blue with orange accents and a black stripe, check out Tim’s awesome photos of the other men’s Speed XC colorway below). What you see above is that when you get this colorway, they come laced in dark grey but you get an extra set of canary yellow laces.

Meet the Speed XC

The Speed XC FiveFingers donning the included canary yellow laces instead of the dark grey.
The Speed XC FiveFingers donning the included canary yellow laces instead of the dark grey.
The Speed XC’s claim to fame is that it’s water-resistant, featuring a multi-layered upper and a gusseted tongue (so water can’t get in via the tongue of the toe shoes), and borrows on the highly popular FiveFingers Speed aesthetic. The FiveFingers Speed (see my review back in 2010) continues to make it’s way into my weekly shoe rotation via some of the colorways released earlier this year. I like the Speed that much — and so do friends, co-workers, and random onlookers, from what I can tell. The Speed XC uses a Trek Vibram sole as opposed to the Bikila sole. While the Bikila sole isn’t the most minimalist Vibram sole (you’d need to go old school KSO, Classic, or Sprint for that), the Bikila sole is more minimalist than the Trek sole, which is in my opinion the most rugged, thickest, and most aggressive FiveFingers sole available. Here’s a walk-around the product in both sets of laces. Note that I quickly swapped over to the yellow laces to imbue these puppies with a bit more personality:

Building for Water-resistance and Weather-proofing

Why did Vibram use the Trek sole? I can only speculate, but forced to do so, I’d say that the Trek sole gets you just that much more off the ground (we’re talking a millimeter or two) and also has a 4mm EVA midsole. Both of these factors will improve their functionality in inclimate weather. For the cold, the extra thickness in the sole and foamy insulation will work to keep feet protected from freezing ground. For the rain, the extra thickness will reduce, albeit hardly at all, the amount of the shoe submerged in puddles. Then again, maybe I’m reaching and Vibram went Trek on the Speed XC for entirely separate reasons. Your guess is as good as mine. What about the upper There are a couple standout features of the Speed XC upper. It’s multi-layered, using an external fabric that is a “laminate stretch mesh,” a water-resistant membrane, and a footbed (Which is more like a sock-liner in my view) made of polyester mesh. How this all comes together isn’t totally visible (one layer is completely hidden). That said, what’s most interesting is how the “footbed” is sewn together.
The Speed XC utilizes three layers of fabric and a whole new method of stitching (including taped seams which you can't see) to make the FiveFingers water-resistant.
The Speed XC utilizes three layers of fabric and a whole new method of stitching (including taped seams which you can’t see) to make the FiveFingers water-resistant.
Essentially, all vertical seams run down the middle of the toes and the foot, and don’t have extra fabric sticking out. This is a big difference in the toe pockets compared to other Vibram FiveFingers which usually have some fabric running the periphery of each toe pocket. Also, the tongue gusseting and construction is interesting and allows for a huge amount of space to get your foot into the Speed XC. Just look at this picture and note how far off my foot I can pull the tongue. Inside the Speed XC at the tongue, the seams are minimal like the toe pockets. It’s a nice, well done touch. And of course, all these seams were reduced to improve water-resistance. Take a look at these pictures to help clarify whatever I failed to explain in words above!

Ground feel, breathability, and function

It’s too early to go in depth on function for the Speed XC. Note that they aren’t being marketed for running. Can you run in them? I see no reason you couldn’t though it may make more sense to pay the extra $10 to get the Lontras, which will keep more debris and water out on the trails in a high-impact running or hiking situation. The biggest drawback for day-to-day wear on the Speed XC, where I sit, is the Trek sole. It’s just a little much for casual wear. Most specifically, I find the lugging under-toe to be very aggressive and since it’s fully Vibram rubber, it’s just hard compared to, say, the forefoot section of the Trek sole, which is a combo of Vibram rubber and EVA. Do you need this sole for casual wear? I don’t think so, and can’t imagine they provide so much more insulation against cold ground to make it worth the loss in ground feel over say a Bikila sole. I’d even like the Spyridon sole on these over the Trek sole. The Trek sole does break-in a bit over time, which means that aggressive toe tread will wear a bit and soften somewhat. That’ll help with ground feel on the Speed XC. The other aspect of the XC — the water-resistance — means that the upper won’t let in much water, but it also can affect breathability. Wearing them for a few hours, they do seem to keep in a bit more moisture than other FiveFingers. Whether that is due to the extra layers of fabric or the lack of water-permeability isn’t clear. And speaking of those extra layers, the XCs don’t seem to overheat my foot for casual wear, but it’s been very mild in Atlanta the last week (and not cold). So how they’d feel in summer heat or 20-30 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures is yet to be seen. The extra fabric and choice of materials also make the XC less loose, stretchy, or flexible in the upper. They aren’t stiff or unforgiving (the SeeYa LS is stiffer even only using a see-through mesh fabric), but they aren’t going to be as soft as the standard Speeds. Also, my feet tell me that my trusty size 43 sizing fits slightly smaller in the Speed XC than other Trek-soled Vibrams. If you’re on the border for sizing, it might not hurt to try a size up. I don’t feel I need to size up in mine, but it’s close. The ultimate question is: where does a Speed XC fit into your shoe closet? What would you wear them for?


Overall, if you like the Speed aesthetic, you’ll probably like the Speed XC. The outermost water-resistant fabric has a bit of a wrinkle to it, which is visible in the photos so you can be the judge on if you mind it or not. It’s not that big of a deal to me. I think the extra thread accents are a fun way to pop the XCs and appreciate the yellow laces on the dark gray pair Vibram hooked me up with to review. Given the choice, I’d probably go with the navy colorway simply because they’re a little more fun. Overall, the Speed aesthetic works. And while some deride FiveFingers with laces (“They shouldn’t look like traditional shoes!”), personally, I think the laces work and the retro look of the Speed family is great. Most folks I run with consistently like the looks of my Speed FiveFingers the best. If you want the Speed look but with the ability to stand in water and keep your feet dry, well, the XC is for you.

Video review and water-resistance test

Below is a video of the Speed XC. It’s about 10 minutes long — sorry for that — you can jump to the water-resistance if you’re in a hurry. It’s somewhere in the second half of the video and includes a comparison test to the regular Speeds. Take a look!
So in short, it looks like the Speed XC is in fact highly water-resistant. Will this water-resistance wear out over time? Don’t know. How long could you stand in a puddle without the water getting in? TBD. As it stands, the lowest point of entry for water on the XC is at the base of the ankle opening. A splash could net you a good bit of water here, but so long as you’re treading mindfully, your feet likely will stay pretty well dry in puddles and rain.

That’s a wrap, for now!

So there’s an initial review of the Speed XC. It’s an interesting pair of toe shoes that should be a hit if you live in areas with highly unpredictable (rainy) weather and want to keep wearing your FiveFingers without water-logging your shoes. The water-resistance seems like it’s been well designed and implemented. The drawback, as I see it, is that the price on these is steep. Buyers will have to ask if they must have water-resistance in their casual toe shoes. Given the XC is priced so closely to the Lontra ($140 for Speed XC and $150 for Lontra), many will ask if they’d be better off with the Lontra for wear in wintry and water-y conditions. These are good questions to ask, and I don’t have the answers. This is where you come in. What do you think? Speed XC for you? Trying to decide between the XC and the Lontra? Which one are you leaning to? Why? Let’s hear it in the comments! And if you’re looking to pick up a pair, the men’s are out now at retailers like REI and TravelCountry, but in select colorways and sizes. Women’s and more sizes are coming soon!  

Photos of the Blue/Orange and gray-soled Speed XC FiveFingers!

The Speed XC in navy blue with orange accents, a gray sole, and black heel/stripe.  Photo by Tim Kelley!
The Speed XC in navy blue with orange accents, a gray sole, and black heel/stripe. Photo by Tim Kelley!
Fellow BirthdayShoes blogger Tim Kelley took some awesome shots of his blue/orange/black and gray-soled Speed XC FiveFingers to share in this initial review. Take a look:

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.

44 replies on “Initial Review Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC”

The blue orange looks kinda cool, but if this is a shoe that is even stiffer than regular Trek shoes, no thanks… I think the Trek LS already does quite a good job for rainy weather…

I need a pair of water resistant VFFs as my Komodo LS are useless when it rains. I’d like to see the Lontra LS and decide between the two. The regular Lontra holds no interest for me.

These look good, like the brown/yellow combo.

Good review. Thanks for dunking them to test water resistance.

Maybe a better real world test is to put on some gray or tan Injnji socks, pit the shoes on, stand in 1 inch of water, then see how wet the socks are when you take the shoes off.


I guess the added pressure of standing in the shoes might degrade the water permeability and the toe socks would help show water in the shoes (if any), I’ll tell you straight up — no water got in these from this testing (and I actually tested it twice, once per shoe — first video was messed up!).

Thanks for the feedback!


Yes Justin. The other thing the socks would show if there was any water anywhere, like on the very edge of the 3rd toe for example.

Just a thought for the next review.

Meanwhile, I guess I will have to wait. Did a quick check and no one that I can find has the XC in brown size 43.

Not a huge deal for me just yet, but I’d like to get them before holiday travels. That is normally when I have to deal with rain. Living in SoCal, not so much. 🙂

I really want a pair of the navy xc’s but I don’t want to commit until I know if they come with extra laces. It would be awesome if they had a set of orange laces.

my guesses about why vibram used the trek’s sole is, well, hmmm, because:
1. it’s a very practical outdoorish sole
2. they just got stuck with many trek spare soles

The Speed XC looks better than the Lontra’s IMO, and I think i will be picking up a pair! Blue/Orange for me.

Interesting to read your comments re the Trek sole.. I don’t find the sole uncomfortable at all (and I regularly run in Speeds, Seeyas and Trek LS). I think the Trek sole is the perfect fit for these shoes for running in slippery conditions and mild trail use.


The only reason the Trek sole is used is that it offers the most thermal protection so making it the best option for colder climates. With 4mm of EVA and 4mm of rubber it creates the best thermal barrier, very focuses shoe for cold wet climates.

I prefer the look of the Speed XC over the Lontra, but I doubt either of these will be for me. I am not a fan of the Trek sole. The water resistance would be a nice feature for rainy days, but I currently use Vivo Barefoot Hydrophobic mesh for those instances.

I have a pair of Speed XCs that I received the day after they came out.

I have worn them in 30 degree, wet weather with mud and light snow, and in 45 degree weather with brisk (20+MPH sustained) winds and rain while running a 1/2 marathon.

I really like them. They keep the cold out admirably well, are easy to wear, and are comfortable. And while the Trek sole is something of a behemoth, especially fresh out of the box, it absolutely excels when one’s running enters rugged terrain with a lot of rock and gravel.

During more serious cold weather, I will probably wear my Lontra pair more, but the Speed XC is so easy to get on (the Lontra, for my feet, is NOT), and comfortable, that I can see mine getting worn very heavily this winter, especially when I am running.

Kirk: I’m curious about your fit for both XC and Lontra. Justin said he was on the edge of recommending going up a size on the XC because they were a hair too tight, but then he decided that they worked just fine. How was your fit for each one?

there’s some water-proofing SPRAYS for shoes. spray any shoe to get a water proof layer. woun’t last forever but give it another good spray and you’re good. a nice option for people looking for a fair solution giving the fact their shoes weren’t “born” water-proof.
guess it works like paint varnishes-
but since your shoes get scraches, tears and bumps (and paintings usally don’t),
this material needs to be re-applied.

and justing-thanks for that initial
review. it’s rich in images, covers
anything you could think of- great!

I *love* the Trek soles. I think these will be great for trail running in the mountains! Especially in the winter (in Northern California) when it’s rainy.

Just started wearing the speed xc in navy. They did not come with an extra pair of laces (bought from REI). They are a bit stiffer, and I wear them all day long in the hospital – so 8 to 10 hours at a stretch. They felt a lot better on day 2 – but still need some breaking in – unlike my other pairs. And for me they actually seemed a little bit bigger than my others in M43 – so the opposite as Justin described – but still feel great – this is correct size for me – going up or down would not work. I wear a 43 across the board (the only pair that are a little snug are my smartwool classics). I also wear these with injinji socks – again since i wear them for work. It is the start of rainy season in Northern Cali – so they will get daily wear. The navy goes a lot better with anything I might wear for work. My feet are definitely warmer than anything else that I wear – and after a days wear my socks were fine – they were not moist at all – since there is more insulation and less breathability. But again – this is just after a few days of wear.

@Gene, I would agree with @chad. The Speed XC, if anything, runs a little big. I normally upsize my shoes, because of my foot shape, but I think I probably upsized too much with my Speed XC pair. On the other hand, the Lontra is quite snug, and if I had not upsized as much as I did, I would be unable to wear them.

For reference, by the sizing chart, I’m an M40, but most of my shoes are M42, especially if I intend to wear them with socks. I have a pair of M41 KomodoSport shoes that are comfortable and well broken in (the tread has worn smooth in places), and they fit like a sock already, so wearing socks with them gets snug. With the Speed XCs, though, I’m sure that I could have gone with an M41.


I wonder if arches have anything to do with this — do you consider yourself to have a high arch or instep? I could see this making certain VFFs with less expandable uppers (than say the Speed XCs) feel snugger.

@Justin, it’s completely a consequence of having a high instep. Some VFFs work better with that than others.

Anything with laces works fine, though I have to cut out the speed lace system and replace it with normal laces, as they speed laces just aren’t long enough. The shoes with straps, though, are more tricky.

The KomodoSport works well with a high instep. The Trek is more challenging. I cut the strap off because it wasn’t long enough, but the material, after a little break-in, is comfortable, secure, and fits well to my foot.

@Kirk & Justin
I have a really high arch and short blocky toes. The sizing chart puts me at W38, but W39 is a perfect fit with Bikila & KomodoSport. KSO’s in W38 were real snug at first, but they stretched to fit quite nicely. I tend to like the snug fitting no-socks look. The thing is, I really don’t like most of the women’s colorways. So I’m always on the lookout for M40’s that fit real snug. I may have a shot at Lontra M40, but it’s looking like I’ll have to go with XC W39 or W38. The XC will be perfect for work – if I can deal with the colorway.

The one saving grace is that the women’s Speed XC design aesthetic has relatively muted color selections, compared to most of the shoes in the “women’s” sizes.

You’re right about the saving grace on women’s Speed XC. And that will be the ticket for my purchase as soon as it’s available.
Justin, your reviews continue to be the best I’ve seen for any footwear product. And I’m glad we got you for all the scoops on VFF’s!

I’ve had the Speed XC for a few weeks. They fit my wide bunioned feet much better than the original Speed. In these I can wear the appropriate length, whereas in the Speed, (and only the Speed), I have to wear a size larger to accommodate my foot width.

I dislike the knobiness of the Trek sole, and would far prefer that these use the same sole as the Spyridon. On trails the knobiness is fine, (not that it helps any, and it has no traction on rock or wet logs), but it’s uncomfortable walking on hard floors or sidewalks (which is probably where these will get the most use).

For wet or snowy trails I’ll probably use the Lontra with its tight-fitting gaiter-like neoprene cuff. In my experience, low cut waterproof shoes typically end up full of water which is then trapped inside the shoe.

I wore them a few days ago when I spent a quiet day sitting at a meeting. After a couple of hours my feet felt too warm even though the air was cool enough that I wore a jacket.

Wetness from perspiration when doing multi-hour mountain hikes is a potential concern. Eventually I’ll test this, but until the weather deteriorates I’ll continue to use a pair of the Spyridon.

Wow, looks like Vibram finally has their “muted” colorways fixed up a bit…but there’s still a yellow accent. Nothing a black sharpie, black laces like the Vibram website one, and some dirtying up won’t fix I guess. For some reason they always make the sole a different color than the upper. Trek LS/Bormio still are at the top of casual VFFs. Sorrentos aren’t available in the USA.

Is it me or does it look brown instead of dark grey?

As I emailed them last time about the Bormio/Trek LS having the Trek sole the only reason it is used is because of the better thermal insulation due to having less ground contact. dylan posted about it earlier, see above.

Personally I feel a Spyridon Sole with 2mm thermal insulation instead of the coconut mesh probably would have better ground feel. Seems all their casuals are Trek soled.

Would love advice from the community here. I would like to purchase a pair of Vibrams for hiking. I love the sole on my Speeds but feel they are a little thin for hiking terrain, plus I hate getting my feet wet when crossing streams and mud puddles. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the Trek Pros but I’m wondering if these would work well for hiking. I’m also open to the old model Trek but thought the water resistance was worth waiting for. Thanks.

P.S.- I don’t like the look of the Lontras so I have crossed them off my list.

Definitely brown. I just got mine and immediately swapped out the laces for the yellow. Looks good.

Justin is right about the size. I wear most VFFs in a 43, except the Mocs (44) and KSO Treks (42). I got 43 and they are fine for walking around in as that is all ill do in them. No running in these for me – prefer my Luna sandals.

I needed something that would keep my feet dry as my Komodos sure don’t.

If I was running in them though, I’d have returned for a 44. The extra packing for the water resistance makes it tighter overall.

That said, these are fine and I love the look, and the real laces vs the stretchy string on othe LS models,


I’m right there with you; I spend a great deal of time outdoors hiking off-trail + scampering through streambeds. For me, the trek sole is essential – period. The Bikila/thinner soles simply are not durable enough for underbrush + rock faces; also the grip on wet surfaces can be very tedious. In these situations, I find increased ground sensitivity to be a hinderance + a practical mismatch w/wilderness usage.

I wear VFF everyday-all the time for over 1.5 years, workday through weekend. My KSO Treks + TrekSport Multisports are great for outdoor activities; however I too am interested in these Speed XCs + the Lontras (still waiting!) for increased insulation + water-resistance. Even w/Injinji socks – even the Outdoor weight – my feet get COLD! Depending on your use + activities, I encourage any VFF fan to consider this. The philosophical concept of “barefoot running” does not negate the reality of cold weather! As Justin mentions, the Trek sole does also alleviates conductive heat loss by raising the foot from the ground (relative to the other soles).

Although I understand some folks prefer across-the-board minimalism, I for one am excited that Vibram is trying to address everyday, pragmatic situations for footwear both on the pavement AND off. I love the outdoors, so I’m thrilled these + the Lontras are coming for cold weather – and, later in the year, the Maiori + Signa for the beach!

Hi. I bought a pair of Bormios M 40 like a year ago and they didn’t fit so I returned them and never bought the correct size. I know that they are sold out and discontinued, but I still want them. Is there anywhere you guys know I can find a pair on size M41? I was able to find a pair of M41 Trek LS and went ahead and bought them. Any help would be apreciated. Thanks

I have a love/hate relationship with my Speed XC’s. Most of my 16 pair of FF’s are KSO based with the exception of SeeYa, Classic and these.

I love the fact that they are warmer and drier than any others I own. I sized up as Justin recommended and there is plenty of room. My toes feel as if they are spreading more and I really like it. However this feature also falls into the “hate’ category.

I hate the fact that they feel as if I’m a mile off the ground. There is almost no ground feel due to the thickness of the soles and insoles. They don’t seem to be breaking in at all which gives the toes a stiff feel. I’m sure it has to do with the materials needed to make them water proof/resistant.

I love having them as an alternative to my Vivo BF Aguaeos boots for the cold wet weather here in CT and i’m sure I’ll grow to love them with Injinji Nuwool socks but cold wet weather is all i’ll wear them for. They feel like snow boots.

I´ve got my Speed XC´s two days ago. They are just now available in Germany and i went in a shop to try them on after reading this review. I´ve got a pair of KSO´s which are fine in summer.
So, what can i say, i like these Five Fingers. On the first day it was snowing, raining about 32 degrees. They are really water tight at all.
Today in the morning it was about 28 degrees. During movement with very thin socks from Injini it wasn´t a problem. But tomorrow the forecast is 21 degrees and I´m going to by a pair of Mohair socks to keep my feets warm. I like the Grip of the Trek sole. Great shoes.

I FINALLY got my Speed XCs after waiting for 3 different online retailers to come through. I just put them on a while ago. I got a pair of W38 and W39 to compare, in light of Justin’s experience. I also own W38 in KSO & Bikila, and W39 in Komodos. I tend to like my VFFs to fit snug all the way around as long as my toes have enough room to move. Wearing the SpXC 38 on my left and the SpXC 39 on my right walking indoors, I can immediately feel the increased ground feel of the SpXC 38 over the 39, and I do indeed like the snugness of the 38. The 38 felt a bit cramped initially, but over the first hour, it no longer feels cramped, it feels more like the second skin that my KSOs feel. The stiffness of the Trek sole is noticeable, but not bothersome just for walking around. I have more comparing to do, but I’m leaning toward the 38s just like I did with my KSO’s. These are destined for use at work (hospital) and cold weather hiking/short runs.

Just got my Speed XC today. I have worn them in the house only at this time. Putting them on with no socks are no problem. The toe pockets are snug, but not uncomfortable. When I put them on with Injinji socks the toes are real hard to get into the toe pockets. I have to use force scuffing the front of my toes on the carpet into the pockets. Once I get the toes in, the toes feel very, very tight. Will the toe pockets loosen up at all?

Mine have loosened/softened a bit with wear. I wear them both with and without socks, depending on the weather. The relative lack of breathability in these shoes does mean that if you wear them without socks, periodic washing is especially important.

Well, I just couldn’t reconcile with the stiffness of the XCs. I really wanted to like these VFFs, but I couldn’t convince my feet. Although, they were a very welcome solution to the desire to wear VFF’s outdoors all winter long, they were just too uncomfortable to wear. And I don’t think they will limber up enough to be significantly more wearable — at least for me. For work, I have found new love in KSO Treks. KSOTs are probably the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn. For work and for casual, they can’t be beat.

I just got mine. The stiffness is comparable to the Lontras. It is much easier to get on than the Lontras and doesn’t cause the chafing at the top of my foot like the Lontra does.

The only negative part is the heel cup is extremely uncomfortable, it is causing blisters. I will have to figure out a way to fix it.

I think what this shows is that feet come in a wide range of configurations. I find the heel cup on the Speed XC’s to be very comfortable, and have used them with and without socks on runs as long as half marathon length, with no blister issues at all.

By the Vibram sizing chart, I’m an M43 in both KSOs and Speed XCs. I have a pair of the M43 KSOs and they fit fine, with some space in front of the big toes, and quite a bit in front of the little toes.

So I ordered a pair of M43 XCs. They fit quite snugly, and my big toe bumped into the front when walking downhill. I didn’t want to send them back, so I wore them anyway for the first snow of the year.

I’d been planning to stay out for 4 hours, but after 2 hours the backs of my ankles were stinging and I had to go home. Turns out they were bleeding into the fabric on both sides and the shoes now could not be returned.

I got a pair of the M44 XCs and took them out for a 4.5h walk the other night. These are more like the proper size and didn’t bother my heels, although I did have moleskin on them. I’ll try it without the moleskin once the cuts have healed.

The toe pocket for the right little toe rubbed on the top of the toe and took off a layer of skin there, although it seemed to be partially dependent on how I was walking, and between getting used to the fit of the new shoes, and them wearing in a bit, it stopped doing that after an hour or so. If it comes back, I have more moleskin.

You can barely move your toes in these, due to the stiffness of the material. The feel of the shoe makes the epithet “foot coffins” which people apply to traditional shoes quite ironic, although they still feel more sure-footed than my Vivo Neos (M43 fits fine there) due to how these are molded to the foot.

They are warm, and don’t breathe much. After walking for 4.5h in 32F weather with no socks, the skin on my feet was well wet. I used a ThermicDryer to dry the shoes out afterwards; a Peet dryer would probably work too.

I’ll see how they go from here on.

There should be versions of the KSOs with,
– Everything the same except rubber on the sidewalls of the toes instead of mesh. They would breathe almost as well, and you could wear them on wet pavement without instantly getting groundwater in your shoes. Practically speaking, I never have water “drain” through the sidewalls, I just have it seep in, and they never dry because it seeps in continually.

– Rubber on the sides of the toes plus a tighter hydrophobic mesh on the top, like the Neos have. As it is, I have to switch to the Neos as soon as the wet season starts anyway.

Bought a 41 in these. Never had issues with 41s in authentic VFFs before. Left foot’s little toe pocket is substantially tighter than the right’s, and yet I know my right foot is the larger foot. Just looking at them, it looks to me like the right little toe is slightly visibly shorter. Anyone else notice such sizing irregularities? I also notice the trend of the KSO and Trek soles (the latter used here and on the Lontra that I also got) are not sized larger than other 41s anymore. They’re exactly the same on these two new waterproof models as the Bikilas, Sprints, Classics, etc. So Vibram seems to have standarized their sizing now, but the slight irregularities that must happen during normal manufacture seem to be a more serious issue with these Trek soles that are obviously not going to stretch over time let alone conform to your foot right off the bat. If they’re too tight on any spots, you’ll really notice it. For the record, though, my Lontras seem to be uniform and perfect.

I have a problem where the seam at the Achilles heel eats into my feet on the Speed XC (literally scrapes through skin). It’s not clear why the seam is exposed on the ankle side (more lateral thread showing than with other fivefingers). Curious if my pair were incorrectly stitched this way, or if others are having a similar issue? Also, this shoe does not seem to breathe as well as others — I assume due to the water resistant fabric. The fit in the toes is small, similar to what others are saying — but my typical size is working, even with the Smartwool PhD toe sock.

i bought my speed xcs a while back from my local vibram store to prepare for running in the cold, wet weather. i had been training for a half marathon and really didn’t want to skip out on road training because of ice and slush, so i was all set to get myself the lontras (even though i really couldn’t stand the look of them – they really need to come out with better, or at least muted, colorways). when i went into the store i spotted the xcs, and after hearing that they were water resistant and cold-weather resistant, i picked up a pair in W40. they’re definitely more aesthetically-pleasing than the lontras, so i was thrilled.

i’m a W40 in every pair of my vibrams, but sometimes i have problems with my ring finger toe on my left foot getting used to the whole idea of being inside toe pockets. the shoes felt completely fine in the store, but trying to wear them around is a nightmare – i definitely should have sized up to a 41 as the toe pockets are far too snug, but i (stupidly) kept thinking that they would break in and fit perfectly. once while i was out in colder weather just walking around the city, i took my left shoe off to give my toe some reprieve to find that all of the color was completely drained from just that toe. took me a good half hour or so of sitting indoors and working on my feet to get the color back. fast forward to nearly 6 months later, and the shoes have not broken in at all despite multiple 5+ mile runs in them when i had to due to the weather. it should be noted that running in them does not appear to affect my toes and feet as much as just sitting around or casually walking does, which doesn’t really make any sense to me, but.

i really love these shoes and they’re the most “normal”-looking and aesthetically-pleasing vibrams i own apart from my silver paillettes, but i fear that they might wind up getting tossed unless i can find a good solution for stretching them. as always, any advice is welcome 😉

It is possible to slightly stretch the Speed XC. I did this on mine to make room for bunions.
Stretching individual toe pockets is more
challenging in that there is no device marketed for this purpose. You’d need to find or make something the right size and clamp it in place, using enough pressure to stretch the fabric but also being careful not to puncture it or to rip a seam. You’re probably better off purchasing a larger size when they’re on sale.
If you want them for the style, you might like the almost identical-looking Speed LR. REI had these, and they are still available in their stores. The stores can order them for you from any other store that has them in stock. They only came in men’s sizes, but they might have come as small as a 40.
Another option is the Speed XC Lite, which will likely be available in a short while.

Has anyone done any additional waterproofing? On my leather Trek LS(s) I used Nikwax and plan to use aquaseal along the edge. What kind of waterproofing would be appropriate for the upper material (maybe the stuff for GoreTex?)? I wear VFFs every day I can so more water resistance would be great. I love the Trek sole but after summer in the old Speeds (not sure what that sole is called), I did have to adjust to the thicker, less flexible sole.
I’ve worn my Trek LS in quite cold weather but nothing helps the toes. I actually used a stick on chemical warmer and wish they made one shaped for toes!
Thanks, AndyB, NH.

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