The FiveFingers El-X is EARLY!
We've learned in the last couple days that the Vibram FiveFingers El-X is for sale now at REI, online only.
Seriously, check it out.
Given the El-X just hit the market and can only be had at one retailer and only online (at this point) and wasn't even expected for another couple of months, well, gifting the El-X could possibly be the biggest Christmas surprise you could get your (male or large-footed female) toe shoe loving significant other!
Plus it is $75 (and ships free), which puts them squarely in the void left behind by the discontinuation of the Classic.
Apparently, if you order before December 21 at 10 AM PST, you can still get them in time for Christmas (Delivered by December 24, 2012, assuming the world doesn't end — mind, last minute ordering might require a shipping upgrade from the free option).
The El-X FiveFingers were slated to be released in Spring 2013, along with all the other 2013 VFFs. And if you're wondering what's the scoop on them, well, I'm hoping my pair arrives today or tomorrow, but until then, you'll just have to check out the product specs, the scuttlebutt we picked up on them via Robert Fliri (Toe shoes inventory) and our "take" on what you might expect ... after the jump!
Official Product Description::
The EL-X is a thin, breathable and lightweight shoe perfect for low impact and light fitness activities. Our 3mm TC-1 rubber outsole provides slip resistance and great ground feedback while the EVA insole provides plating protection and comfort. The breathable mesh upper with stretch fabric external support ensures a snug yet flexible fit. PU toe protection and durable Coconut Active Carbon between the toes allows the shoe to double in its appeal to both casual wearers and first timers alike. Machine Washable. Air Dry.
About the El-X Sole:
Note: It's only available in the orange/grey at this point.
If you could mash-up the original FiveFingers Classic (Which is rapidly going the way of the dodo) and the incredibly popular KSO, you might get the Vibram FiveFingers El-X. The El-X is billed as being for "casual fitness" or "multi-use." While it's not billed for running, I see no immediate reason it couldn't be used in that way.
The El-X is undoubtedly what FiveFingers inventor Robert Fliri was holding up and talking about in this video interview seen here a couple weeks back. Fliri had this to say about them in that Q&A:
So it's always trying to stay on the functional side ... this is just function. It's really flexible due to all the lines. It creates a good grip as it has many, many small edges to work on. It still has enough surface to uh guarantee a good grip on slick conditions and the best thing for me is that it's really thin. I don't tell you the thickness because I don't want it copied before it goes to the market but it's thin.
Just how thin is the Vibram rubber sole on the El-X? I'm hearing 3mm (plus another 2mm of EVA — the same as what you get with the KSO). 3mm in sole thickness is .5mm less than the original, razor-siped FiveFingers sole. Of course, unlike that original sole, the El-X sole has a more grooved mold, which would reduce the total rubber in them and reduce weight. Perhaps they even improve the sole malleability (despite the addition of EVA).
The El-X looks like it might be the lightest men's Vibram FiveFingers to date, even lighter than the SeeYa. This is due to the reduced rubber in the sole, the loss of the bungee, and the use of what looks like a super mesh-like upper (similar to the SeeYa?).
It's the EVA and the extra instep coverage of the upper that makes me think of the El-X as a mash-up of the KSO with the Classic. Meanwhile, the El-X lacks any bungee cord or strap to keep the FiveFingers in place on your foot. Looks like there are these external "bands" that help on that front.
I am incredibly excited about this new model. I've been wanting a reboot of the Classic for some time and while I doubt I'll be able to put these on without using my hands like the original, they still should be super easy to slip on and off. The extra foot coverage should eliminate the exposed, oft-considered-feminine aesthetic of the Classic, too, lending it a wider appeal.
Ready to roll a new pair of toe shoes in time for Christmas? You know what to do (go to REI.com).