Barefoot Shoes

Spyridon Vibram FiveFingers First Look

Vibram has snuck one on us here in the U.S. — well in advance of a Fall 2012 release, it seems that at least one retailer (REI) has gnabbed the laceless Spyridon FiveFingers. Yeah, they’re out right now (for $110).

You’ll recall that these pup…

Vibram has snuck one on us here in the U.S. — well in advance of a Fall 2012 release, it seems that at least one retailer (REI) has gnabbed the laceless Spyridon FiveFingers. Yeah, they’re out right now (for $110). You’ll recall that these puppies were slated to roll-out later this year in the U.S. — this, despite the fact that Europe was going to get them in the Spring. Well, how that’s actually gone down is that Europe did get them first — say a month and a half ago or thereabout. And I guess as things go, they went ahead and got some across the pond in short order. So in the interest of timeliness, I’m going to do a “first look” at these laceless trail-minded five toed shoes. As first looks go, I’ve only had the chance to hike for an hour or two in them (as well as knock around in them to get a feel for them). But you can at least take a look at what you’re going to get should you pick up a pair. Read on!

What is it?

What better place to start than the official description of them from Vibram?
The Spyridon offers the same great trail running experience as the Spyridon LS [Ed. note: read our Spyridon LS review and Spyridon LS vs. KSO Trek comparison] 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.
I’ll get to the sole of these shoes in a minute, so hold that thought. If you remember the iconic, classic KSO FiveFingers, the lace-lost Spyridons upper design is going to look familiar, though rebooted in subtle ways and “done up” with extra styling. The Spyridon utilizes the “hook and loop” closure that wraps around the ankle and secures over the upper instep of your foot with Velcro. The strap loop can slide back and forth at the heel (the original KSO’s was sewn in place). The upper fabric is coconut fiber, which is a thin flexible material that seems to breath well and has some odor-resistant properties. One thing to note about the upper and the painted on semi-circle lines of the Spyridon. There are two different aspects to this. For one, there is a thick application of some sort of paint or painted on rubber (or something durable) that is on each toe. This is probably to prevent blowing out the toes if they snag something. This is not the same as the paint that runs in parallel lines on the instep. You can see the two paints in the photo at the right. It should go without saying that black can heat up quickly in full sun — and it definitely does here. As for breathability, I didn’t notice anything too off about breathability in my intial testing. The Spyridons aren’t waterproof or really water-resistant. The water-resistant FiveFingers are coming in the Fall. Water will get in them immediately at the toe pockets. Here are a slew of photos of the “dark olive/black/orange” Spyridon FiveFingers:

The Spyrit of a Five-Toed Sole.

The soles of the Spyridon FiveFingers look like a mountain biking tire in the shape of a foot and feature a nylon mesh built into the sole which acts to diffuse sharp forces from rocks, taking a bit of the sting out of landing on an errant piece of gravel
The soles of the Spyridon FiveFingers look like a mountain biking tire in the shape of a foot and feature a nylon mesh built into the sole which acts to diffuse sharp forces from rocks, taking a bit of the sting out of landing on an errant piece of gravel on the trail.
With the Spyridon models, it’s all about the sole — Vibram rubber with a knobby tread that is reminiscent of a mountain bike tire. The special sauce of the Spyridon sole is on the inside — it utilizes a lightweight nylon mesh (you can see it through the clear arch rubber) that disperses sharp impacts from rocks, roots, or whatever, effectively muting sharp pains from “pointy things” on trails. More subtly, the Spyridon sole just sorta glazes the ground with a barefoot-feel-blurring sensation. It’s as though you still have ground feel but it’s less acutely felt. Make sense? The sole is fairly flexible — it’s no SeeYa — but it’ll bend and move dynamically with your foot. Here are some photos of me flexing the sole in hand:
A look at the Spyridon sole's flexibility.  It's a little stiffer than some other FiveFingers soles, likely due to the embedded nylon mesh which acts to disperse forces from sharp rocks.
A look at the Spyridon sole’s flexibility. It’s a little stiffer than some other FiveFingers soles, likely due to the embedded nylon mesh which acts to disperse forces from sharp rocks.
And you can see how they flex on your feet here: Personally, I really like the Spyridon sole from my experiences with it on the Spyridon LS. It feels a bit less stiff overall and lacks some of the harder lugs (particularly at the toes) of the Trek sole.

A short hike.

It was a brief outdoor hiking test, but hey this is a first look and not a review!
I managed a short local hike in some nearby creeked woods with the family over the weekend for Father’s Day. The trails were dry and a mix of dirt and sand. The Spyridons performed as expected, kept out sand and dirt a la the KSO-like ankle wrap, and while I was carrying a small pack that included a 15 lb. baby and/or a shoulder-riding 30 lb. 3 year old, I didn’t have to concern myself too much with errant sharp stones or roots. That said, I did trip over an errant exposed bit of steel rebar. Yikes. Thankfully I was able to prevent a fall (with said three year old) and the rubber toe coverings seemed to keep my Spyris pristine. Photos:

Jury’s out.

It’s too soon for me to make a call on the Spyridons. A full-blown comparison between the Spyridon LS and Spyridon is certainly in order, as well as further testing and review. For now, what I’ll say is that if you don’t see a need for laces, prefer a simpler upper, or are interested in replacing your aging KSO Treks or Trek Sports, the Spyridons are going to be high on your consideration list. While I’m on the fence between the leather KSO Treks (particularly since you can get them for $95) and the Spyridons ($110), I’d unquestionably grab them over the Trek Sports. If you’ve been waiting to pick up a pair of the Spyridons, right now the only retailer who seems to have them is REI though I expect that to change soon. Also, they’ll be available in a wily black upper and bright green-soled “Hulk” version that look incredible. Are you interested in the Spyridons? Let’s hear it below!
Hauling this almost-3 year old was part of my hike. The other part was a Kelty 3.0 with a 15 lb’er.

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.

28 replies on “Spyridon Vibram FiveFingers First Look”

My wife and I both have a pair of these. Some pluses and some minuses. In brief: love the tread and the KSO-like material; hate the KSO-like strap and the fact that my heels tend to slide around. Have done some 5ks in them, but I am going to work up to longer distances soon. Will let you know how they hold up.

Does it pressure the arch like the KSO? Because I could never feel comfortable with the way my KSOs felt on my arch.

As someone with the LS model, I can vouch for the great traction of these shoes. Personally I think the LS upper looks much better and mine have survived a lot of tear, but I’d be interested to see which holds up better.

I like the looks of these, orange is a great VFF color if you ask me. These certainly beat the LS version which looks ugly to me. Of course, when going for a mud run, these considerations are of lesser importance.

Based on looks alone, I prefer the classy and timeless KSO trek (I still have a barely worn pair!). Haven’t tried the new sole though, so I’ll keep an open mind.

I bought mine from a retailer in UK because I couldn’t wait. I got the green soled version. I love them espeically with Ij socks. They are pretty seamy in the toes barefoot. But the color scheme on these is awesome.

Ground feel is not going to be the appealing factor here with the tread design.

Out on a very rocky trail I got poked kind of hard where the toes and foot meet, but other then that they did mute other impacts well.

However, they are currently my favorite pair [I’ve own KSO’s, Komodos and Bikila’s]

I own a pair of Spyridon LS, my girlfriend has the Spyridon without laces, and we love them. It was my first pair of VFF, for use at dog agility (grass) and the sole is great, never slipped, not even during rain. Yesterday it was dry weather, so I decided to train at my KomodoSports, and I slipped when I had to stop, never happened on the Spyridons! 🙂

How does the fit compare to the LS model? I love the KSO Treks for trail running and just got a pair of the Spyridon LS’s. After a longer run yesterday I found that the VFF’s were to “narrow” and was feeling like my feet we’re pinched in the shoes. do you notice a difference between the two?

Well, I tried on the Spyridon and the KomodoSport LS at an REI retailer in NJ, but felt the Spyridons were a little to built up. I love the outsole’s traction but ended up with the Komodo because it was lighter (both in weight and price). I was being helped by a sales associate that could not say “Spyridon” no matter how many times I corrected her. She kept saying “Spay-Drone”…seriously, are the robots reproducing so much we have to spay them???

On a lighter note, I eventually ended up with a pair of SeeYas and have forgotten my Komodos…

I’m in agreement with Grim, Spencer and Rachel, vibram continues to make bad marketing decisions for guys with smaller feet that are forced to buy a shoe color more female then male. Because of that decision I have wanted, but refused to buy speed, trek ls, spyridon now and the soon to be released lontra, which I really want as a person in the north east that has to transition to and from my fives and traditional shoes. I believe Vibram hears there customers, but does not listen to them much.

I’m uk based and have had a pair of these for a while now having previously owned bikila’s and trecksports. they are generally more sturdy rockplate is overall a plus point for sure, despite a reduction in ground feel. My slight issue with them is that in order to make them sturdy and protective enough for the trails, they are heavier and I feel quite aware of the fact that I am wearing them when running to a greater extent than with my other vibrams. When it comes down to it, they still aren’t the right choice for truely technical rocky terrain and they cost like £130 over here so if i had the choice now, i’d buy a pair of teh feather light new balance trail zero’s for non technical stuff and some MT110’s for teh mountains and then have some money left over for a beer or two.

@Johnny : You’re missing the point. The Spyridon sole has fantastic grip on smooth rocks and can blunt rocks in general. The Komodosports are more for Crossfire and activities not requiring tread. The grip is for different surfaces.

These make Treksports more or less obsolete.

I got excited when I read this, thinking that I might be able to get a pair in time for a trip to the Canadian Rockies. But REI only has the version shown here, with orange webbing between the toes. I really dislike having a contrasting color for the webbing, especially a color that calls atention to itself. I’m holding out for the black with slime green trim. The tops of the toes and the webbing between them appear to be the same shade of black.

Not missing the point. I know what the intent of the Spyridon was from the outset. Weighing the options of lightness and price, the KomodoSport won out. I live in a suburban area that has some rolling farmlands in south central PA, and although the Spyridon would be a wonderful shoe for the muddier farm areas, the extra $35 was too much to accept…especially with the wife present.

I love the LS’s I have, although had to clip the original LS system since for whatever silly reason they decided to make it shorter than the Bikiala LS but after all that they still fit fine, I’m looking forward to checking them out if they are at my local stores and see if I can try on a pair

PS I want the orange pair really badly

Used already a spyridon and a spyridon ls for trail running. Wrap around strap system supports rear foot (spyridon) while ls fits through persons having large or high arch’s. But in my experience lacing system functions better in slushy and muddy trails. Spyridon holds a amount of mud (get’s stocked between the round strap) causing additional weight.

Ok, ordered these and although I love the way they look – I could NOT get them on. I have “tall” feel and just couldn’t fit my foot into the opening. Very sad, but thankfully CitySports does have a return policy. SO, lessoned learned – if your feet are “tall” – which is different than wide, tall is the height of your foot from top to bottom – these aren’t a good fit for you.

While I run paved roads in Komodo Sports, running rocky trails or gravel roads, even in shoes with rock plates like Merrell Trail Gloves, hurt my feet. However, with the Spyridon, while I feel the gravel clearly and perhaps a little louder than I might prefer, the gravel didn’t hurt. Well done, Vibram.

I have pair of KSO and I ran with them a lot. The problem is that I felt my arc is higher that I used to be, I think it has something to do with barefoot running style. and the pressure KSO put on my arch is become more and more obvious. So I am wondering if this model has the same issue?

Does anyone know if the “rock block” mid-sole is just in the main body of the foot, or does it extend all the way to the end of the heel and the toes?

I had a pair of treksport and slip on my butt in water wearing them which wouldbe the best overall ones for water and everything else?

I have been running in Spyridons since January and it has changed my running life forever in my view. My ankles, calves and achilles are stronger, my peroneal muscles/tendons (which caused constant problems from scar tissue) have become more defined and the pain has disappeared.

My only one problem is blisters caused by the seam that runs across the bottom of the big toe inside the shoe. Defies logic as to why it was designed that way. Poor manufacturing.

In my experiance the grip is good to go on all surfaces. I have also found my feet occasionally slip inside the shoe once sweat forms when on sharp turns or when running around cones.

Despite this I highly recommend the spyridon

firt ever vibrams ive run in, bought them since i run cross country around the yorkshire landscape (UK).

Really fun and certainly work well in transition form grass/mud to more rocky terrain.

If your a cross country type an want to go barefoot these rock

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