Barefoot Shoes

Classic Vibram Five Fingers — the Definitive Guide to the Original Barefoot Shoe

The Definitive Guide to the Vibram Five Fingers Classic, the original, open-topped five-toed barefoot shoe from Vibram that is used for running, walking, weight lifting, and many other everyday, casual applications.

The Classic at a glance —

The Vibram Five Fingers Classic (thumbnail)

  • The Classic is the original Vibram Five Fingers model.
  • The Classic retails for $75 making it the most inexpensive style for men and women.
  • Easiest to put on and most minimal outdoor-use VFF due to open-top.
  • Used most for casual/everyday wear, running, and travel.

About Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Straight from Vibram: Classic Five Fingers feature a “Non-marking Vibram TC1 performance rubber soles protect your feet and provide a sure grip over a variety of terrain. A thin, abrasion-resistant stretch polyamide fabric fits low on the foot—for comfort and quick drying.”

The “razor-siped” rubber sole on the Classic is the standard, original VFF sole (same as with the KSO, Flow, and Sprint models). Razor siping is just little jagged cuts that expand when the Vibram rubber sole is bent or flexed. This can increase surface grip on many surfaces. That said, the standard VFF sole can be slippery in muddy conditions due to the lack of cleating (See the KSO Trek if you want a cleated sole).

The Classic upper only rises to the beginning of the instep making the Classic open-aired and the most minimalist, outdoor-use model in the Vibram line-up.

Like the Sprint, the Classic has no EVA in the midsole meaning the only thing between your foot and the ground is the 3.5 mm rubber sole and a thin bit of yellow sole fabric.

The Classics’ fit is secured by an elastic bungee cord that runs the rim of the shoe and cinches behind the heel. If you don’t plan on using the bungee cord, it can be permanently removed (though doing so will void warranty and return-ability).


  • Classics are the easiest Vibrams to put on and with practice can be put on with no hands.
  • Being open on top allows the foot to air out.
  • Lacking a strap over the top of the foot (as with the Sprint) reduces the feeling that you’re wearing a shoe, at all, resulting in many wearers remarking that they often forget they have them on (This often assumes they are worn at their loosest setting via the cinched strap).
  • All of the above make the Classic the “flip flop” of the Vibram line-up.


  • Bungee cord strapping method can dig into instep when tightened
  • The tab at the Achilles tendon has been noted to dig into and or rub the heel (causing blisters) for some wearers
  • Lacking a top strap, the Classics can’t be used in running water and are more likely to come off in the most active applications.

Note on aesthetics (Directed at men):

The aesthetic of the Classics is a topic of some debate amongst men. The low coverage on the top of the foot can make them look “off” when wearing most pants as the hem of the pants won’t cover all of the foot (something more fashionably normal for women). On the other hand, the Classic design is arguably more normal looking matched with shorts as compared to the KSO, which can look like a sock when worn with shorts. Either way, it’s worthy of note that the way the wearer perceives his feet (from above) is not the way third parties see your feet.

Regardless, arguing the aesthetics of five-toed footwear is almost a moot point as most third parties usually only take note of the fact that you are wearing five-toed footwear! “Own the look” of whatever VFFs you wear and you’ll do fine.


Classic Vibram Five Fingers can be used in many, but not all applications. They are used for running and weight lifting (CrossFit, P90X, Sprints, races). They can also be used easily for instant-on back-up shoes when running fully barefoot and needing a bit more protection. Classics shine most when worn “loose” for everyday, casual wear, but many buy them as their first pair of Vibrams and then move on to top-strapped models (like the KSO, Sprint, Flow, or KSO Trek). See below for links to Classic Five Fingers user story submissions which show the types of things individuals are doing in their Classics.

Classic Colors:

Men’s Classics are available in the following color combinations:

All black Classic Vibram Five Fingers Brown and walnut Classic Vibram Five Fingers Grey, orange, and black Classic Vibram Five Fingers Verde, grey Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Women’s Classics are available in the following color combinations:

All black Classic Vibram Five Fingers The Chili Chili Vibram Five Fingers Classics The Lilac White Vibram Five Fingers Classics The Mauve Grey Classic Vibram Five Fingers The Stormy Seas Silver Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Detailed Classic Vibram Five Fingers photos:

Vibram Five Fingers Classics in Castlerock Grey and Green pre-strap removal modfication


Check out the definitive guide to sizing Vibram Five Fingers. Having perused that document and figured out your size, there are certain noteworthy considerations for Classic Vibram Five Fingers:

  • Your size in Classics may not correspond to your size in other VFF models, particularly any closed-top models like the KSO, Flow (these all theoretically size the same). If you know your size in one of the closed-top models, your Classic size is theoretically one size up. This is only a rule of thumb, however, and your mileage may vary.
  • You should not need to size up to wear five-toed socks with the Classic.

Cleaning and care:

Machine-washable but air dry. Advanced stench may require white vinegar soaks or oxyclean treatment!

Mods and other considerations:

Select reviews:

For more Classic reviews, check the comprehensive Five Fingers reviews list here.

Pro-tip — Get the Classics if you want the most affordable, most barefoot-while-outdoors-friendly Vibram Five Fingers — the flip flop of the VFF line-up.

Where to buy

If you’re shopping for Classic Five Fingers online, check out the major online retailers over at the BirthdayShoes Vibram virtual Store! Otherwise, find a local retailer via Vibram’s store locater.

Classic Vibram Five Fingers User Experiences and Photos

Below are listed Classic Vibram Five Fingers user stories, photos, and reviews. Each link leads to a separate post written by a Classics user about their experiences with the Classic model. Stories cover many of the things VFFers are doing in their Classic Vibram Five Fingers. Click around and see what you could be doing in the entry-level, open-aired barefoot alternative Classic VFF!

Everyday and Casual wear —

Running —

Traveling —

Hiking —

Weightlifting, working out, etc. —

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.

12 replies on “Classic Vibram Five Fingers — the Definitive Guide to the Original Barefoot Shoe”

I use my Classics everyday and at my High School. (only one that has them and many people want them.) They are my only pair for now i plan to buy some black KSOs in October when its starting to get cooler down here in FL.

-Side note my health teacher claimed they were not shoes because they didn’t have soles. Well! one trip to the Principal’s office and he loved them and told my teacher to back off. He’s trying to take the leap and getting into a pair himself.

Good point — and if I had the time, I’d also do all the older colors for the record! Maybe I can still incorporate non-U.S. colors, too.

Not enough time in the day!

This is a fantastic compiling of info on the classics they were my first pair last year and now I used KSOs because I like to do a good amount of trail running. On the topic of the aesthetics for men honestly the do look a bit odd looking down because they are reminiscent of womens slip on shoes but from other perspectives especially those of other people similar to what you said Justin they are foot gloves they are out of the ordinary to begin with

I’d add that folks planning on primarily running in vff’s should look to the sprint or Kso. I love classics for casual wear, but always feel like they’re about to spring off of my feet while running. I know they wouldn’t, but the mental buzz is always there.
Great guide! I’m glad to see the cult of vibram growing…

I might add to the cons the possibility of initial blisters seems to be higher with the classic vs. the KSO or trek. I don’t know why this is, but I developed behind-the-big-toe blisters early on with the classic and didn’t get this same rub with the KSO. Don’t know if anyone else had this experience, but that’s what happened to me. Now that I’m broken into the shoes though, no blistering at all. Great guide, thanks for the info.


I generally would agree though there have been some great successes of running in Classics — the barefoot running + carry your Classics along combo is also a winner!


Interestingly enough, the blister con on Classics for the top of foot rubbing reminds me of a con for the KSO that I need to add (need to add both) — the KSOs have a lot more seams in them than the Classics, which can cause hotspots/blistering.

Can’t win! That is, unless the Bikila is seamless!

With both the classics and KSOs in my VFF collection, the classics have become my primary wear not just for everyday wear but also for running.

1) There is less too them so there are less areas to “rub” you wrong.
2) It is easier to buy and wear “tighter” fitting classics then it is KSOs. My KSOs that fit very well as my first VFF pair are now too loose to run comfortably in for more then a 5k. Never an issue with my classics.
3) Classics dry out very fast if you are trail running and do any water crossing. This is a huge benefit to avoid moisture created hot spots.

I still keep my KSOs for cold day wear, but my classics are my primary wear. Besides, black classics go with anything. 🙂

I don’t know if anyone will respond, this is an old thread but I haven’t found any further info anywhere else yet.
I just bought my first pair of sprints, I have been wearing KSOs. My KSOs are roomy in a womens 39, so I tried the sprint 39 and 40. The 40 was obviously too big, looked goofy on my feet. The 39’s are tight on top of the foot a little bit, but the rest fits great. The material looks like it will have give over time so I purchased them. Has anyone else run into this? Does the material indeed give a little over time and use? I hope so.

I noticed that, at the toe end at least, the classics have a thicker sole than on the sprints.

anyone know what the deal is there?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *