Vibram has expanded their “EVO-fication” of the FiveFingers line with the release of the FiveFingers KMD EVO, which is what we’ll be reviewing today. Other “EVO” VFFs to date include the KSO EVO, the Bikila EVO, and the Bikila EVO WP (the waterproof ones!). Backing up further, the KMD EVO is an evolution of what was originally the KomodoSport back in Spring 2011 and the KomodoSport LS, which added laces. (“Komodo” branding became “KMD”). Today I’ll be taking a look at the KMD EVO. Read on!

About the FiveFingers KMD EVO

What to say about the KMD EVO? Let’s take a look at it in Vibram’s own words:
The new KMD EVO defies gravity (and conventional wisdom), allowing athletes extraordinary freedom for dynamic movement both in the air and on the ground. For fitness fanatics without boundaries, the KMD EVO transcends traditional sport, making it the ideal leaping, climbing, balancing shoe for those seeking a minimal shoe experience with maximum flight potential. Max Sole Thickness: 11.8mm (6mm EVA Midsole +2mm insole +3.8mm Rubber Outsole) Insole: 2mm polyurthene insole +anti-microbial drilex sockliner
If you’re like me, a few things will jump out at you about this product description. First, there’s a lot of mention of words that almost imply the KMD EVO is meant for flying—”in the air,” “leaping,” and “maximum flight” all jump out. What’s the story? If I had to guess (and I do), I’d intuit that they’re talking about parkour. Reaching way back in the BirthdayShoes archives, I remember this post about parkour traceurs using Sprint FiveFingers with some great results. The photos are worth re-sharing: I’m going to runfly with this idea and assume that the KMD EVO is aimed at parkour. And that assumption leads to a bit of an explanation for what also jumps out about the KMD EVO—it’s got a pretty serious stack height for a pair of FiveFingers at almost 12 mm thick. That’s almost half an inch of thickness. More to the point, it makes the KMD EVO one of the thickest-soled FiveFingers around. The original Komodo/KMD (still available on Vibram’s site, incidentally) was only 7 or 8mm thick, so this is a 40-50% bump in sole thickness for the KMD EVO. I’ll talk more about this in the sole section. For now, here are some photos!

The Soles and Ground-Feel

I always thought the original KMD/Komodo sole looked wicked. Those sharp lines and jagged cuts in the rubber just look neat; the KMD EVO evolves that look with updated rubber treads that are evocative of the older version while still being similar. Indeed, the rubber part of the soles are 3.8mm for the KMD EVO and 4mm for the KMD Sport / KomodoSport (LS) (whatever you want to call it). But in many ways, that’s where the similarities stop. Functionally, the rubber tread cuts on the KMD EVO are more aggressive, making them overall grippier. This is particularly noticeable at the toes as the KMD EVO strongly notches each at the joint. Where the KMD EVO really departs from its predecessor is in the addition of 6mm of EVA in the midsole—there was no midsole in the original KMD Sport / KomodoSport (LS). Not surprisingly, this addition is by far the biggest point of difference you’d notice when comparing the old to the new. And it’s also the feature that I like the least about the KMD EVO. There are two detractors to the EVA addition in the KMD EVO. For one, it makes for an overly squishy/disconnected foot-feel. It’s not that you don’t get any ground feel through the soles; rather, you get a mushy/muted feel from the KMD EVO soles. I’d also like to point out that I don’t have the same experience with the Bikila EVO, which feels much, much more connected to the ground despite still have 4mm of EVA. I wouldn’t have guessed that 2mm of EVA could make such a difference, but to my feet, it does. Where the effect is particularly pronounced is in stability. For whatever reason, my feet feel more wobbly in the KMD EVO. If I had to guess what’s going on, it’s that the EVA portion of the sole wraps up the sides (see the neon yellow sidewalls in this photo—that is EVA). EVA is an interesting material because it’s foam, which gives it structure, but it’s a structure that readily collapses under load. So as my feet exert pressure on the KMD EVO EVA sidewalls, they collapse, which I think gives my feet this sense of “there’s something there … no there’s not!” Wobbly. Is this a dealbreaker? No. It’s just something you’re going to notice. You may or may not like it. For me, I don’t really like it. I’ll also add that I preferred the lay-on-top PU insole of the original to the sewn-in PU insole of the KMD EVO. Whatever material was on that original insole just had an amazing feel on the barefoot; the KMD EVO feels just fine (not bad in any way). Given the aforementioned possibility that the KMD EVO could be targeted to parkour, I actually could see how the extra cushioning of the EVA midsole might be aimed at alleviating some of the impact you’d get “flying” about over hard surfaces (concrete!). I can’t speak to this with any authority but I do seem to recall in ages past mention that some minimalist shoes were more suited for parkour because they had a little more cushion in them.

Other considerations

If there’s one thing I really like about the KMD EVO, it’s the upper. One thing that makes it great is that it’s been designed in such a way that it looks camouflaged. The fabric uses some form of knitting that gives it both design and texture at the same time. I joked via an instagram feed (follow @bdayshoes) that they double as gym floor camo:
Sidenote: I highly recommend those Jabra Revo wireless bluetooth headphones—best Christmas present from the Mrs.
Incidentally, there’s a black and grey version of the KMD EVO that looks like my photo above available. The upper also ditched all the painted-on stuff that detracted (to me) from the originals. That’s a step forward! Fitwise, I’d say the KMD EVOs fit about the same as your typical size of FiveFingers. Compared to a pair of same-sized 43 Bikila EVOs, I might say the KMD EVOs are slightly larger/roomier from front-to-back. As for wide feet, I’d guess these would do fine, but it’s very difficult to predict this.

Conclusion

I really like the uppers of the KMD EVO. I hope to see more of the knit upper design in future FiveFingers models! I also like the rubber outsole. Where things fall apart for me is in the overly plush midsole, which just isn’t my cup of tea; however, I’d be curious to hear from anyone who wants a bit more of a plush ride in their FiveFingers; and if you’re into parkour, perhaps these are the FiveFingers you’ve been waiting for (anyone out there care to comment?). If you’re wanting to give the KMD EVO a try, you can find them at Zappos or TravelCountry. Fair warning: they MSRP for $160. Why are they so expensive? I’m not sure—must be the fancy upper!