the Beginner’s Guide to Vibram Five Fingers

How-to guide to Vibram Five Fingers for beginners, this free PDF talks about the background to the barefoot running movement; the standard Vibram shoes – Sprint, KSO, and Classics; sizing and fit; where to buy; and links to user reviews and photos.

Over 20,000 downloads and counting (Over 100/day)! The Beginner’s Guide to Vibram Five Fingers is a truly free PDF — requires no email sign-up and is a totally anonymous download. The only “cost” is in clicking the link, which will start the PDF download.

It’s been a long-time coming, and with ever more interest in Vibram Five Fingers barefoot shoes with each passing week (and Lieberman’s research on impact forces in heel-striking vs forefoot-striking continues to make the rounds in the press), I decided it was high-time a simple guide was put together to help would-be VFFers learn about the “barefoot alternative” — Vibram Five Fingers.

I present the [beginner’s guide] to Five Fingers [it’s a PDF].

The [beginner’s guide] is a twenty-one page how-to document aimed at Vibram Five Fingers “newbies.” Why would you need a guide to a pair of shoes? Well, a couple reasons. For one, foot gloves aren’t your typical footwear, and two, any shoe that requires measuring the length of your foot from heel to longest-toe on your longest foot and then using that measurement to determine your shoe size by matching it on a grid by model and gender — well yeah, VFFs kinda need a guide!

The beginner’s guide to Vibram Five Fingers covers some of the basics regarding the barefoot movement, generally, and VFFs, specifically. It includes background info, advice on which styles/Vibram Five Fingers models you should consider first (including user photos and links to user stories), tips and how-to on determining your VFF size, where to buy a pair, and what to do once you’ve finally gotten them on your feet!

The beginner’s guide to Five Fingers is completely free to download and share.

the [beginners guide] to Vibram Five Fingers shoes!

As the document is electronic, it will be updated and edited based on feedback received, so if you want to make sure you’ve got the most updated version, just use this link, which will always point to the most current version.

If you already have a pair of VFFs and are way past the beginner’s point, I encourage you to download this guide, anyway. My hope is you’ll find it a useful tool to pass on to friends and family who are interested in your quirky five-toed footwear.

If you have any feedback on this guide, please let me know!

Download the free [beginner’s guide] to FiveFingers!

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the [beginners guide] to Vibram Five Fingers shoes!

If you benefited from the guide, please pass it along on your blog (or wherever) by copy/pasting the code below! Thank you for your support!

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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.

27 replies on “the Beginner’s Guide to Vibram Five Fingers”

Outstanding, Justin!

Thanks for this resource. I’ve had my Classics for almost a year, my wife has had her classics and KSOs for 6 months, and my KSO treks are in the mail. But… I still feel like a newbie. GREAT RESOURCE!

Just returned from a fantastic trail run in my VFF sprints. Absolute bliss with my Labrador running besides. Can’t wait to get a pair of Bikila. These shoes give your fee the workout they deserve. Magic!!

I wear a men’s size 13 shoes. Do Vibrams KSO’s come in that size (or the Vibram equivalent)?

iPhreak…i wear a size 13 as well and am interested in purchasing the new Bikila’s. A lot of people say that the sizing is similar to the KSO’s, so would i be looking at getting an M46 or M47?

The guide states that width is not a problem. The shoes MIGHT stretch out to fit your feet over time, but my 4E wide feet cramped as soon as I put them in a size 43 KSO (My foot is 10.5″ from heel to BIG toe.) The 45s were too long and across the spectrum of sizes my foot could fit in, only the big toe made it in its respective sleeve. The other toes sort of nosed at the entrance of each respective slot opening.

Hopefully, they will have wide size Vibram Fivefingers in the future.

I have plantar fasciatus and low arches. My podiatrist told me I cannot go barefoot. Could I still wear fivefingers?

I love my Vibram five finger shoes, but please, I only have two feet not three, so measure my longer foot not longest.

I was out to dinner one night and saw a man wearing these VFFs. I started to ask questions on comfort and durability. He loves them because he is in the service and for 10 hours is confined to military issued boots. Every channce he gets he puts the VFFs on. I thought they were stylish and you could tell just by looking at his feet they are comfortable. He has had his pair for 6 months and closed our conversation with: “do some research”. So here I am. My question now is: what type of shoe do I get? I love to run and hike and consider myself very active. Do I start with the classic? or is there another style I should look into? And will it be cost effective if I will have to upgrade?

I just have one tip for beginner users to consider trying if they have never done barefoot walking or running before, and that is find some steep hills and start climbing. I had seen them before but never really gave them much thought. I never ran up to anyone and said “what are those?!” I thought they were just for strange people. But this past summer while doing outdoor research in the White Mountains of NH the masters student I was working with explained the whole concept and benefit to me after I had been talking about my flat feet and my sudden excruciating development of turf-toe while I was there. I got excited because I have inherited very flat feet from my mother and I loved the idea of being able to avoid all the issues that she has to deal with. So I put them on my mental christmas wish list and started focusing on running with a forefoot strike when I got home. Then I got treksports after christmas but didnt wear them except on the treadmill until the snow was gone. My brother read Born to Run and had been running for some months in old shoes that he had taken the factory inserts out of and he warned me that my feet would hurt for months but it would get better. But soon I realized that my feet only hurt for the first week and I couldnt think of why me with my flat feet had transitioned into them so much faster than my brother with normal feet. Then it hit me. The research that I had been doing for the past 2 summers is what whipped me into shape since it involved climbing up a mountain every day with some very steep inclines, all that time I was using those foot muscles as best I could. I had basically been conditioning them for the barefoot shoes and let me tell you I am now addicted and am scheming a way to be able to wear them at work.

I really want to give VFF a fair try.
But the KSO I ordered size 44 didn’t even come close to fitting me. I used the guide on the VFF website. With a friends help I got the measurement. The shoes didn’t stretch either. I usually wear Men’s size 13wide. What size VFF should I get? My toes are normal length, so no problem there. Any guys with big feet like me? Help me please.

I got my Vibrams about a month ago, and I really love them! I wear them around the house all the time, and I just started jogging at the park while wearing them. I got the Sprints, and my only problem with them is the heel elastic is really tight, and the toe elastic is really tight. Other than that, I think I’m going to back up a bit and get the Classics for everyday use. Any tips for me in the fitness department? I walk/jog at the park and I surf, and I want my Five Fingers to be there through it all!

Just got some KSO Treks in, I love them and have never wore anything like this before. I’m in Afghanistan right now, and I was sold when one of my other SF buddies told me about them. Then I started asking around and all the guys had excellent things to say about them. These things feel amazing!

I have been reading about VFFs and stumbled upon the Birthday Shoes community by accident.
I have just learned about these shoes today and am very interested because despite being 64 yrs. old, I am in very good condition overall except for one thing – my feet! I should say my right foot, to be precise. I have developed a claw toe (the toe next to my big toe), which is so painful that I have trouible playing a full 18 holes of golf. I am able to go about 10 to 12 holes before the pain begins, but it becomes unbearable quickly after that. I have found that I can continue only by removing my shoes for the remainder of the round. I’m sure those on this forum can understand why I am attracted to this type of footwear; but I have several questions for those contributors who may have some ideas for me, as I am a complete neophyte. My feet are unusually long and thin with a very high arch (I have worn orthotics for years, which have helped with the pain in my right foot; but they have not been a complete answer. Living in Arizona, I go barefoot around the house pretty much all the time. This is not practical about 5 months of the year when outside, due to the extreme heat. You can burn your feet during the day on pavement in seconds, literally. My long feet have very long toes, the longest being nearly 2 inches long, and it is nearly 1/4 inch longer than the big toe. Also, on the left foot the last three toes were broken years ago playing sand court volleyball, resulting in them being pushed towards thr big toe on that foot. They don’t bother me, but I’m wondering how being put into VFFs would work. I am still very active and my body looks almost the same as when I played FB and BB in college. Same wieght too – 192 lbs. I am going to try to make it to 100, and if I do I would like to stay in shape, but this foot is definitely slowing me down. These shoes, if one can call them that, may be the answer. My feet are just over size 13 and very narrow (B width). Any help or suggestions from this forum would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for any help. Bob

I am interested in buying this type of shoes,but my question is,are they true to size? For example,I normally take a 9.5 and my wife takes a 7.5,so when ordering them should I order a 9 or a 10,and would my wife take a seven or an eight? I ask,because I have checked and see they don’t seem to come in half sizes. Thanks.

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