Barefoot Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO/EL-X LS Review

Earlier this week, I received a pair of Vibram KSO EVO/EL-X LS from an online vendor and I wanted to share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated shoe.

The upcoming KSO EVO will be replacing Vibram’s most popular shoe, the very versatile KSO. It featur…

Earlier this week, I received a pair of Vibram EL-X LS and I wanted to share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated shoe. Why is it highly anticipated? Because the “EL-X LS” that’s available in youth sizes right now is what will be available in all sizes come 2014 as the KSO EVO. If you recall for the post about them earlier this year, the KSO EVO replaces Vibram’s most popular shoe, the very versatile KSO. It features a speed lace system that is similar to the Bikila, Spyridon, and KMD LS, which allows for easy entry and a snug fit and the KSO EVO’s thin sole provides excellent flexibility and ground feel. Like I said, the “KSO EVO” is scheduled to be released in Spring 2014 and isn’t officially available yet.However, if you fall within a narrow range of sizes, you can pick up a pair right now! That’s because a model called the “FiveFingers EL-X LS” was released in youth sizes earlier this year. Indeed, the EL-X LS is available to buy online (See: Zappos, which actually has them on sale). Since some youth sizes overlap with adult sizes (up to a men’s 42) and I fit these sizes, I was able to pick up a pair even though the adult-version EL-X LS or “KSO EVO” won’t be available until 2014. The FiveFingers KSO EVO is officially “out” and for sale as of mid-February 2014! Save for differences in color and available sizes, the EL-X LS is the same exact shoe as the upcoming KSO EVO! For the purpose of this review and since I’m no youth, I’ll be referring to the EL-X LS as the “KSO EVO” for the rest of the review. Again, they are the same shoe just different sizes. Full review and photos after the jump! Background: this review was written after running 30 miles on asphalt (in freezing Cape Cod weather!) and 40 treadmill miles, mixed in with some gym work, including weights and an automatic rock wall. My other Vibram shoes include the Bikila LS, KSO Remix, KSO TREK, and EL-X. I have relatively flat feet and wear a size 41 for all Vibrams. For additional sizing reference, I also wear a size 41 for Vivobarefoot’s minimalist offerings.


What's under your Christmas tree this year?
What’s under your Christmas tree this year?
The KSO EVO may be the best toe shoe Vibram has ever offered. It carries on the lofty name of its predecessor in style and vastly improves upon the EL-X that it’s based on. No other shoe in the lineup strikes such a perfect balance between weight, flexibility, and stability. The KSO EVO has replaced the EL-X as my “go to” shoe for just about anything. Vibram uses initializations for the naming of some of their models. In the case of the KSO EVO, the name is meant to signify an evolution (EVO) of the original KSO (keep stuff out); a shoe that aims for versatility as an “all-around” model that can fill multiple roles, including running on both roads and trails and for cross fitness. In addition to the naming fun, this shoe is also known as the EL-X LS, where EL-X stands for “Entry Level Crosstrainer” and LS stands for “lace system”.

vs. FiveFingers EL-X

The FiveFingers EL-X in black on the left; EL-X LS (for Youth) / KSO EVO FiveFingers in blue on the right.
The FiveFingers EL-X in black on the left; EL-X LS (for Youth) / KSO EVO FiveFingers in blue on the right.
As you can see from the photos, the KSO EVO is more of an evolution of the EL-X than the original KSO. It can be best described as an EL-X with added features for a more secure fit, both in the heel and the around the foot. For more information on the EL-X, please check out Justin’s initial review! The major differences between the KSO EVO and EL-X are:
  • The welcome addition of Vibram’s speed lace system
  • Added structure around the heel for a tighter fit
  • Before the KSO EVO, I would have said that the EL-X is the best in the FiveFingers lineup, followed by the Bikila LS. However, the KSO EVO trumps both shoes by being a near-perfect combination of the security of the Bikila LS and the weight and ground feel of the EL-X.
While the EL-X is the featherweight of the vibram lineup at 4.23 oz for a size 43, the KSO EVO is only a shade heavier at 4.9 oz. By comparison, the Bikila LS can almost be considered heavy at 6 oz and even the Seeya LS clocks in above the EVO at 5.07 oz. Overall, the KSO EVO is the second lightest shoe in the Vibram lineup.

The Upper

The KSO EVO features the same polyester stretch mesh upper as the EL-X and the Seeya. More breathable than the coconut active upper used in the Bikila LS, the stretch upper in the KSO EVO is very comfortable and fits like a glove (well, my foot anyways). Because the KSO EVO has such a breathable upper, I would not recommend it for cold weather fitness activities. Of course, that didn’t stop me from running six miles each day in 25 degrees, but the original KSO, Bikila, Spyridon, KMD, Flow, Maiori and Lonta all provide better insulation for the cold. In addition to the stretchy mesh upper, the KSO EVO also features the same “painted on” rubber first utilized in the EL-X to add a little structure to the shoe and keep it tight on your foot, but these painted sections hinder breathability in the sections of the mesh where they are present. Unlike the EL-X, which has nothing else but the mesh+painted rubber combination to keep the shoe on your foot, the KSO EVO has the addition of a lace system to maintain tightness and does not rely on the the painted-on for security, so its usage seems redundant and inhibits breathability. It may also cause hot spots, which I experienced on my instep where there is some of the painted-on material (near the Vibram logo). This went away after a few runs, but it was quite the initial annoyance. I had a similar experience with the EL-X and I think both shoes just require a little bit of a break-in period to eliminate any hotspots or tightness due to the non-breathable rubber material. Overall, the upper for the KSO is very breathable and comfortable, but I did experience a short-lived hotspot on my instep, which rubbed some of the unnecessary(IMO) rubber material on the shoe.

The Lace System

The addition of speed laces to the EL-X base dramatically improves the functionality and fit of these toe shoes.
The addition of speed laces to the EL-X base dramatically improves the functionality and fit of these toe shoes.
The KSO EVO features the same closed-loop bungee and velcro strap as other LS shoes for FiveFingers (minus the Seeya LS and Speed, which have traditional laces). With the lace system, the the KSO EVO should be able to accommodate a wider range of foot shapes, including those with flat feet (like mine) and high arches. I also found that the KSO EVO does not look quite as “strange” as the EL-X because the lace system and tongue of the shoe makes it a little taller, where-as the EL-X is a very low attention-getting shoe. I find the lace system that Vibram uses to be far superior to traditional laces. There is no need to tie and knot floppy laces; just grab the bungee, dial in the right fit, slap the plastic but onto the velcro strip and you are good to go! If there was any issue that I found with the lace system is that the opening of the shoe and tongue is not as large as other Vibram LS shoes. Whereas I am able to quickly slip into my Bikila LS, the KSO EVO requires a bit of a struggle to get into it at first, but it becomes easier as you break in the shoe. In addition, the reinforced leather portions of the shoe around the collar and heel are not stretchy, so that also makes it a little more difficult to get the shoes on. Overall, the lace system is absolutely perfect for finding a perfect fit for a variety of feet. You will wonder why you bothered with velcro or traditional laces in the past.

The Sole

The KSO EVO sole is the same as the EL-X, the most minimalist FiveFingers sole available.
The KSO EVO sole is the same as the EL-X, the most minimalist FiveFingers sole available.
The KSO EVO has a similar sole to the EL-X. They are both part of the “max feel” category from Vibram, alongside the women’s Alitza. They all feature a zig-zagging, sliced up Vibram rubber sole that provides good traction in a variety of surfaces and is miles ahead of the smooth sole of the original KSO. With the “max feel” line, Vibram has truly put itself back ahead of other “barefoot” shoes in terms of flexibility and ground feel. The KSO EVO has a “max sole thickness” of 4.7mm which includes a 2mm EVA foam insole in the figure and something like a 2.7mm Vibram rubber outsole. The EVA compresses pretty quickly and will begin to mold itself to the shape of the bottom of your foot after running just a few miles, making the overall stack height of the shoe even lower as a result. With such thin soles, both the KSO EVO and EL-X are very floppy and you can roll them up in any direction with a single finger. You can even roll up one shoe and cram it into it’s opposite (but not, like, evil version), if you so choose to. While all vibrams allow you to flex your toes up, only the EL-X and KSO EVO (and the KSO Remix) allow for you to flex your toes down, which is an amazing feeling and a testament to how thin and flexible the shoes are.
Flexing the toes down in the KSO EVO is not a problem!
Flexing the toes down in the KSO EVO is not a problem!
Ground feel with the KSO EVO is fantastic. You can feel every little thing as you run, including tiny pebbles and even the stems of leaves as you jog to your heart’s desire. The sole provides just enough protection, while maintaining a near-barefoot experience. Because the sole is so thin, it can help you figure out proper running form and technique. By comparison, when I run in my Bikila LS shoes, I definitely notice that I can land a little harder because of the extra padding that the Bikila has over the KSO EVO. I will caution that the KSO EVO may not be a good choice for those who are looking to transition into minimalist running as its thin sole does not allow for a lot of room for error in running form. If you heel step in the KSO EVO, you will hurt yourself. Something like the KMD or Bikila may be better suited for anyone planning to make the transition from bulkier shoes to Vibrams, while the KSO EVO is more of a shoe for barefoot enthusiasts looking to hone their barefoot technique.

The Heel

The KSO EVO has a much improved heel structure compared to the EL-X.
The KSO EVO has a much improved heel structure compared to the EL-X.
The single best improvement the KSO EVO made over the EL-X (aside from the lace system) is in the heel fit. Vibram greatly enhanced the sections that wrap around your heel to make the KSO EVO a fantastic shoe for running and making sharp turns. In the comparison photos between the EL-X and KSO EVO, you can clearly see that Vibram added additional height to the heel and structure to the “wings” on either side of the heel (See this photo), which really hugs the back of your foot and completely eliminates the heel sloppiness you may experience when running with the EL-X or Seeya. When running with the EL-X, I was constantly reminded of the heel as it moved up and down with every step (luckily, no hot spots ever developed). Despite that issue, the shoe was adequate for running in a straight line at moderate speeds, but the EL-X was definitely a let down if I ever had to quickly move around. With the improvements found in the KSO EVO, I can confidently run and make turns as quickly as I please. The lace system and the heel “wings” are a perfect combination for security, stability, and a glove-like fit with the KSO EVO.


I have not had enough time with the KSO EVO to assess the durability of its upper or sole, but I’ve run about 100 miles with the EL-X and it’s held up perfectly with zero issues and the sole has yet to show any wear. By comparison, my pair of Bikila LS have–all things considered–held up very well after about 750 miles, but they did sprout a small hole on the inside of the big toe, which I was able to patch with some shoe goo and about 40% of the treading has worn away around the outer toes and the ball of the foot.


It seems furry friends almost always like toe shoes.  This guy is no exception.
It seems furry friends almost always like toe shoes. This guy is no exception.
Vibram has really outdone itself this time around. I was initially skeptical when I heard that they were replacing the beloved KSO with the EL-X-based KSO EVO. All of the skepticism was swept aside after I went on my first run with them. The KSO EVO strikes a balance between the fit and security of the Bikila LS, the heel tightness of the KMD, and the thin and flexible sole of the EL-X. The improvements Vibram made on the EL-X were absolutely fantastic and it has become my new favorite running and gym shoe. My only regret was that the KSO EVO was not available in black at the time of writing this review. If you are a Vibram fan, you have to give the KSO EVO a try. It is “out” for sale now and runs $90 MSRP. Also, for the curious, you can see all 2014 Vibrams for sale here. PROS
  • Excellent groundfeel
  • Very lightweight and flexible
  • Super Secure fit
  • Breathable upper
  • Possible hot spots that will go away after the break-in period
  • Vibram Funk persists

By Jarvis

Minimalist ultra-marathon runner with flat dinosaur feet.

50K Ultra-Marathon Runner

I hold a PhD in Political Science.
You can follow my photography adventures at and Instagram at

52 replies on “Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO/EL-X LS Review”

Ive been looking forward to this shoe for so long and it’s awesome that someone was able to get an early review out!

Have your hotspots gone away entirely or is it an ongoing issue?

Is it still difficult to put the shoe on after having it for a while?

These look great! I really hope they steer away from the silly colorways, or at least give us ONE subtle option. It’s bad enough, the looks we get from rocking them, but when they’re neon it adds to the fire.

How do they fit size wise compared to the El-x? I have a 43 in the El-x and they are too snug with socks on, but fit pretty well without them. I plan to wear socks with the EVOs, so I figure I’ll grab a 44 unless the run bigger than the El-x.

Just got the last pair of red/orange in what is (hopefully!) my size. I’m assuming the relatively low price is because they’re being marketed as kids shoes?

FiveFinger funk is easily cured using a quick spray of unscented deodorant like Sure or Arrid before wearing. This actually lasts several days. Works in other barefoot shoes.

KSO EVO (commenter): The hots spots have completely gone away and it’s a near perfect fit. Even better than the EL-X and almost as nice as the Bikila LS. The KSO EVO has become a little easier to put on, now that I’ve broken them in (takes about 10-20 road miles, I’d say).

Steve M: They fit nearly identically to the EL-X in terms of length. They are looser around the top of the feet (because of the LS) and a little tighter on the sides and heel (a huge plus). Going from the EL-X to the KSO EVO required no change in sizing. They do loosen up a little bit as they mold to your foot over time, like all Vibrams. I’ve never worn socks with Vibrams, so I cannot say if you should go up a size or not.

Shannon: The low price is most likely because they are selling them as kids/youth shoes. They shouldn’t be priced less than the EL-X, if they were for adults. My guess is that Vibram will sell the KSO EVO at either $100 or $115 in the spring. So this is a bargain!

Adam: When Justin posted a preview of the KSO EVO, they had more…subtle colorwars, including the classic black on black. However, the blue has started to grow on me.


@Adam: At least here in Europe the upcoming KSO EVO will have rather subtle colourways: Completely black (Mens and Womens), Black/Red and Black with blue details, and of course the inevitable Black/Pink for the Ladies.

I’m not posting a link as the website in question is commercial, but you can probably Google some images anyway.

Many thanks for the review!

I’m waiting for the men’s black version (black+blue sole is promising too). I might try this on in blue though, just to get an idea of whether I should bother with the KSO EVO. (I am between M40 and 41 without injinjis, but 41 dead on with injinjis)

I can attest to the EL-X sole being amazing , allowing your toes to flex downwards. I didn’t buy a pair because it was tight across my arch though. Sizing up a size didn’t help , it just added a 1/8″ to the front of my big toe.

If the upper is the same material as the EL-X, did it irritate your skin? When I tried the EL-X at REI , the material chafed my skin quite a bit , possibly due to the perforations. The material feels like carpet across the top of your foot.

The heelcup on the EL-X is strikingly similar to the New Balance Minimus , it’s just a seam with a strip of fabric wrapped over it.

If the EL_X LS / KSO EVO heel cup is anything like the Bikila LS it would be good, the Spyridon LS and Komodosport are great but they are tight across my arch and instep where the horizontal strap part of the KSO is from the heel to the middle.

For those interested you can buy the Kid’s version (EL-X LS) at TheShoemart too, for $65.

A C C:
The material for the uppers is the same as the EL-X and the Seeya’s, but it’s much more comfortable compared to how Vibram executed the EL-X as there is much less of painted-on rubber stuff, which I found to be kinda scratchy in the EL-X (but it eventually went away).

The rubber stuff still exists on the sides of the KSO EVO for a little added security, but it’s almost gone on the top of the shoe.

I find the heel cup to be better than the Bikila LS–which I previously thought was near-perfect already–but it does take some getting used to. It wraps around the heel and partly into the arch area and is a little rigid at first, but I stopped noticing it after a few miles and it’s a great fit now.

The fit of the 41 KSO EVO is a little shorter in length than the Bikila LS. I can move my toes a little bit forward and back in the Bikila’s, but they are right against the toe walls in the KSO EVO.

Here’s a German promo video on the KSO EVO (and EL-X) that I found on youtube months ago. It provides a couple of color options that we should see when it lands in the US


I just received my orange/red pair from Zappos, and I have to say, they are the ugliest VFFs to date! I loved the pink/orange Bikilas, but this new color combo is about 10 times as bright and way more garish. I will most definitely be sending them back. On the plus side, these are super comfortable, so I can’t wait for the actual KSO EVOs to come out, hopefully in slightly more subdued color combos.

I’ve had these EL-X LS’s since around September and, for both color (my fave is blue) and comfort reasons, it has been the most worn model I own. (And I have seven models.) I can verify that this has the most ground feel out of all the pairs I own… *except* the original KSO’s.

I’m not sure what it is but the first time I put these on vs. the first time I put the KSO’s, I still felt the KSO’s were unmatched in ground-feel. And as much as I absolutely love these soles, I will still miss the original KSO soles when they are retired for good and out of the marketplace (I went ahead and bought a backup pair).

Maybe my feet are just weird.

I plan to buy pair of these and I have been wondering how’s the durability? What’s the durability of the sole compared to Merrell Vapor Glove or VB One and comared to regular running shoes? I just have this suspicious feeling they won’t last more than couple of months.

I got these a couple weeks ago based on this review (I’m a size 41).

The only pair of Vibrams I had owned previously were Bikilas, but I wasn’t a fan because I get just as much ground feel in my Lunas, which I can wear around casually (not a fan of the weird looks I get in 5 fingers).

These are a vast improvement over my Bikilas. They have great ground feel, a perfectly secure fit, and are quite breathable. I also like the blue color scheme, although I still don’t wear them around casually.

I will say that they don’t flex downward as easily as you might think from this review, at least for me. When I press my toes downward, it makes a crease in the sole, which stops the toes from going very far. Still, my toes couldn’t go downward at all in the Bikilas (which I eventually sold), so this is an important improvement.

Overall: Highly recommended – I think these are the only 5 fingers anyone should really need.

@Bryant–I personally feel much more ground feel in these than in the SeeYa LS. It’s very, very close to the original KSO in my book (and for the reviewer it seems to be the same). The SeeYa LS, for me, doesn’t seem to pick up as much of the “texture” of the ground as these do.

Thanks for the great review @Jarvis!
I started in KSOs and Bikilas and am really happy to see the minimalist making a comeback in the KSO-EVO and the EL-X. I’m looking to buy a new pair for indoor bouldering, and it seems like the EL-X or the EVO could be up my alley. If cost was equal, I’d wait for the EVOs, but TravelCountry still has the EL-X for $65, which is a significant price point down.

I’m just concerned that the slip on of the EL-X may “slip off” while traversing climbing routes. Does anyone have an opinion on how snug the EL-X may be? Or would you recommend waiting for the EVOs and ponying up the **extra** $40~ to get the lace system?

@Austin and others,

So the Seeya LS was a big improvement over the seeya velcro and tightened up the heel a lot etc.

So overall how does the KSO EVO compare to the Seeya LS? I can only justify buying one of them so some idea of what is better for:

* ground feel (seems like KSO EVO?)
* breathability/drainage for coolness in summer, warmth in winter?
* running on tarmac and treadmills?
* running on trails (light dirt ones obviously, not spyridon territory!)?
* for casual wear and other activities such as chasing the kids around at the park etc (everything outside running)?
* durability of upper and liklihood to rip/break the upper etc?
* any pros & cons of Seeya LS laces vs KSO EVO laces?
* anything else that can compare the Seeya LS and LSO EVO?

Many thanks guys! 🙂


The EL-X stays on pretty well in controlled running situations in a straight line. It doesn’t really stay on well when you have making quick turns, so it may not be appropriate for bouldering. You will probably want to go with something that has an actual strap or lace system. Even when running, the heel feels a little sloppy and moves around a bit up and down my foot.

With the KSO EVO, you are paying for more than just a lace system. The EVO has a much better heel structure and stays on your foot better. It also has a snugger fit compared to the EL-X. ZERO heel issues at all!

I would say that the groundfeel of the KSO EVO is slightly better than the Seeya (and LS). The sole is a little thinner, but it also features some EVA, which cushions just a little bit. Overall, the tradeoff is about the same.

It’s very breathable and would be great for the summer and I have run in them in New England at temperatures as low as 28. Your feet should warm up over the course of your runs, but you will have cold feet for a little while.

It’s great for road running, treadmills and some light trail running. There is no rock plate, so be careful with the hard stuff, but the KSO EVO should be perfectly fine for most trails in the woods. The upper is very breathable and appears to be about as durable as the original KSOs.

I usually find that the toe pockets of Vibrams tend to feel a bit warm in non-running situations, so I usually don’t wear them for anything beyond fitness needs. It really depends on if your own feet and how they would react to casual wear.

I ran about 600 miles with my Bikila LS before a tear appears on the inside big toe pocket. It was easily fixed with shoe goo (about 7 bucks). I don’t know how durable the KSO EVO fabric is, but I would guess that it’s pretty comparable. I would expect these shoes to last at least 300-500 miles, depending on how lightly you run.

I DO NOT like the Seeya LS’s true laces. I much prefer the lace systems of the KSO EVO and Bikilas. The SEEYA LS doesn’t have a stretchy upper, so I found that I had to undo the laces almost halfway down the shoe before I could even get my foot in. The lace system in the KSO EVO makes it pretty easy to put on and take off, but the opening of the shoe still isn’t nearly as wide as the Bikila LS, which is the easier Vibram to put on, by far.

The SEEYA sole is only partially made up of Vibram TC-1 rubber. The parts where your feet don’t touch the ground use a shiner rubber, which I wouldn’t expect to be as durable. This was all in an effort to save weight, but the KSO EVO is completely made with the usual Vibram rubber AND it’s still lighter than the SEEYA.

However, the fit of the KSO EVO is a little more snug than the other Vibrams I have, so I would recommend you try all of them and see for yourself which one is the best fit for you. I might even say that some people need to go one size up with the KSO EVO, compared to other Vibrams.

Also, the KSO EVO has a narrower sole than other Vibrams (similar to the the Trek sole). If you are used to the Bikila or KSO sole, you will find it a little tighter on your plantar, though the ball of your foot should feel about the same.

Couple questions:

1. I’ve only ever used the original KSO shoes. I have small feet (9 5/8″), so I had to get the women’s size 39 for that. Any advice for sizing for the EVOs?

2. If you were to only compare the KSO and KSO EVO, what would you say are the improvements, and there any points that think original was superior?


Id like to mention how a size 41 Seeya LS caused a blood clot during a HM run and a massive Blister during a FM. The upper has no flexibility and my second big toe took a hammering and needed toe nail removal surgery. I also noticed that the older vibrams i bought pre 2012(Bikila, Bikila LS, Seeya, KMD & a 2008 KSO-40) fit better than the ones i bought since 2012 (Bikila LS, Seeya LS & EL-x). All shoes were in 41. Anyone felt something similar. That being said the EL-X i bought on sale is pretty sweet and the tightness is not as bad because of the stretchy upper. So im looking forward to the KSO EVO. Any runners feedback from the KSO Evo. Esp comparing em to Merrell Vapor Gloves i currently use.


I would expect sizing for the EVOs to be similar to the original KSOs.

If you find that the KSO EVO sizes don’t run small enough for you, you can also purchase the ELX-LS (reviewed here), which are the exact same shoe, but come in youth sizes (they top out around size 42, actually).

The KSO EVO is a fantastic shoe and improves on the KSO in many ways.

For one, the shoe has a more locked in feel, this is because of the the lace system and the improved heel area, which is provides a tighter fit over the KSOs somewhat sloppy fit.

The sole is a little thiner, for better ground feel and flexibility and the overall shape of the sole seems to feet my feet better; I always found the KSOs to have a bit of an awkward section around the outside heel of my feet, which kinda felt like I always had a flat rock in my shoes.

Overall, I would only choose the KSO over the KSO EVO for perhaps some trail work and muddy stuff as they are the tried-and-true Vibram sellers and we know how well they will hold up over time.

I’m in the same position as you Ryan. I had to get women’s size 38. I’m wondering if size 38 youths is the same size as the women’s size 38.

Would be a nice saving if it’s the same.


According to REI’s Vibram sizing chart, which uses foot length for men, women, and youth sizes to determine the correct Euro sizing for shoes, MEN, WOMEN, AND YOUTH sizes appear to be identical.

This is good to know since some men have smaller feet than the typical vibram shoe range and some women and youths have larger feet than the typical range for women and youths.

This is actually good to know for the future!


I was able to find the EL-X LS in a 41 in Vibram’s youth range (same exact fit as a 41 for men) almost three months before the KSO EVO came out in the US. The EL-X LS is the same exact shoe and only cost 50 bucks from Amazon, while the KSO EVO is about 90 bucks or so. Of course, the colorways are different, but the base shoe is the same.

Thanks for the input, everyone. I also contacted Vibram directly. The woman that replied told me that the EVO reviews are that they are running a bit small. She said I should try a men’s 39 if I usually wear a women’s 39. I ordered a pair, so I’ll let you know what I think when they come (I live in Korea, so it might take a bit).

I also ordered a pair of the classic KSOs while I could. They are on sale.

Thanks Ryan and Jarvis.

I also got a response from Vibram (us) and was told that I could get youths 38 in place of a W38.

I’ll probably try to find a local store to try them if I can. Hopefully we get the range in Australia soon.

Jarvis, thanks for all the great info. Do you know if there is any difference in fit between the EL-X LS and the KSO EVO? I ask this because I’ve been told in the past that where sizes overlap (the largest female and smallest male sizes) the female shoes tend to be tighter than the male shoes of the same length. I was wondering if there is any such difference with the youth sizes of the EL-X LS. If there’s no difference then that’s the model for me. Any help greatly appreciated, thanks 🙂

I actually have both the blue EL-X LS and a black pair of KSO EVO.

They are EXACTLY the same shoe, right down to their fit (of the same size, that is).

I have both in a 41 and they are identical shoes.

So, there is seemingly no difference between the youth sizes and the men’s sizes in terms of fit, width, and shape–at least in term of these shoes, anyways.

So, if you want to save a few bucks, pick up the EL-X LS instead of the KSO EVO.

However, the EL-X LS and KSO EVOS are a little tighter than other Vibram shoes, like the Bikila LS, KMD, or Spyridon.

It takes a little getting used to, but like the EL-X, they do mold themselves to your feel and loosen up. It’s a bit of a break in period that isn’t typical for Vibram shoes, but it may seem to be where things are going.

Thanks Jarvis, that’s great to know. Vibram told me that the youth sizes were the same as the adult women sizes so I WAS going to order both the adult EVO and the youth LS to see which suits me best. However, based on what you just said I only need to order the EL-X LS which will save me cash and hassle returning unwanted shoes 🙂
I’m in the UK, so I have to order them from the USA and have them sent to an American friend who will forward them to me in the UK. Even with cost of postage I’ll still save money, and besides, you can’t buy them here anyway (yet)!
I can’t wait, thanks again Jarvis for your valuable information

That’s great to hear!

Keep in mind that the fit may seem a little tight at first, but they do loosen up and mold to your feet.

My first pair of Vibrams, the Bikila LS fit perfectly right out of the box, but the KSO EVOs require a little bit of a break in period.

Compared to the Vivobarefoot One (which compares nicely to Merrell’s offerings) feel less planted, firmer, and more cramped in the toebox than the KSO EVOs.

While Vivobarefoot makes great stuff (I have several pairs of their casual leather shoes–the Jay, Dharma, and Gobi), the wide toe box that they always advertise isn’t quite wide enough for my feet. Since Vibrams are basically your toes, I never have any issues with the “toe box”.

The One feels like a thin normal shoe, while the KSO EVO feels more like a sock. I can really practice technique with the EVOs and the bonus of not having to deal with laces is a huge plus (Vivobarefoot shoes always have really LONG laces and I never know what to do with the excess form tying).

Overall, I tried the ONE for a couple of weeks, but immediately found myself going back to my Vibrams.

I hope you have a similar experience!

I am a Vibram fan for almost 4 years now. I started out with the Speed, then bought a Bikila LS since I love the sole of them. For the wintermonths (it gets quite cold and wet here) I bought the Trek LS and Speed XC which serve their purpose perfectly.

Last year I bought the EL-X which I absolutely fell in love with. The snug feel it provided me made me often forget I was wearing them and the ground feel due to the thinner sole is uncomparable. Naturally I was very much looking forward to this KSO EVO model since it has the same sole as the EL-X.

However within just 5 months of wearing the EL-X on a couple of runs outside on mostly pavement and wearing them for daily casual wear, I already have a hole in the sole of one of them. The guy from the store told me that this is due to the way my foot moves when I leave the ground, probably with a slight twist or something and that therefore the sole will wear out more easily.

My speeds had holes in both soles all the way up to my bare feet, but that because I’ve ran a lot of miles in them and wore them daily for many months so that’s understandable. My Bikila LS show some wear on the sole but no holes so far even though I’ve had them for over 2 years now.

I am now uncertain wether I should opt for the Bikila Evo since it offers a more sturdy and sole or for the KSO EVO since it offers the best sole I’ve yet experienced, but I’m affraid that the sole of the KSO EVO will wear out too fast for me and have holes in them within the first year as well.

Any advice on this perhaps?

I am now wondering if

kso evo vs merrell vapor glove vs vivobarefoot evo pure

I chose the merrell vapor glove, it has a flat sole, the sole is more flexible then the other shoes and provides a better ground feel and fit.

The vibram kso evo sole is not flat, some areas are raised, this took away from proper foot landing. The vibram logo underneath the sole is more raised then the sole. Its razor cut patterns wiggle easily reducing stability. Imagine standing on a bunch of seperated pencil erasers where your foot wiggles back and forth, that is the sole of kso evo. Its ground feel and flexibilty are ok compared to the merrell vapor glove, its not better.

The vivobarefoot evo pure has a flat sole that is stiff compared to the merrell vapor glove and kso evo. If the vivo evo pure had a flexible sole I would have chosen it instead of the vibram kso evo, maybe over the merrell vapor glove. The merrell vapor glove has toe bumpers, a good feature for those whose activities involve more then just running in a straight line on the street.

The merrell vapor glove is a good everyday shoe and a good atheletic performance shoe for crossfit, weightlifting, running, lateral sports and walking.

Merrell should provide more bright colors for the merrell vapor glove in the USA, Vivobarefoot should provide a more flexible sole that is still puncture resistant and Vibram five fingers should provide a completely flat solid flexible sole that is puncture resistant.

Palm Bear,

I’m guessing that the Bikila EVO’s sole would wear out sooner than other Vibram models due to its use of EVA as a base.

The tough TC-1 rubber of my first pair of Bikila LS lasted me nearly two years and around 700-800 miles (until the big toe tore).

Since there is less rubber in the KSO EVO, it would potentially not be as durable, but since there is so little between you and the ground, you would be forced to run lighter, so there may be some give and take with its durability.

In any case, if you experienced problems with even the EL-X’s light weight and small amount of rubber, it’s very possible that the same would happen with the KSO EVO.

Hey Jarvis!

This was a fantastic review. Extremely helpful. I’m looking to get my first pair of “fingered” shoes, and I am actually torn between the Bikila LS and the KSO EVOs. Here’s my dilemma:

I hate shoes. The more it feels like I’m barefoot, the better. So the KSO EVOs appeal to me for that reason. However, where I live, most of the roads are dirt, so they are full of TONS of small, medium, and large rocks. I’m a walker/hiker, not a runner.

I’m mildly concerned that the KSO EVOs will end up hurting because of there just being so many rocks, so wondered if the Bikila LS would end up being a better choice for the terrain. Any thoughts?

Thank you so much!!! 😀

I have two pairs of VFFs, Spyridon LS (cold,trails) and Komodo Sport LS (gym), and was looking into the KSO Evo as a third pair to replace my running shoes. Your review answered all of the questions I wanted to know about them, hot spots especially. The hot spots in my shoe were happening in the same area, presumably due to my flat feet. I saw that you also have flat feet and say the KSO Evo fit is great. I’m confident that I can retire my pair of NB MT10s (200+ mi) and use the Evo for running after reading your review.


Thank you very much for the comprehensive review on the KSO EVO’s. I am on my 2nd pair of KSO’s after 2 pairs of Sprints.

You have made my decision to purchasr the KSO EVO’s very simple.

Happy running!

I’m a regular barefoot runner, but I’m new to vibrams five fingers. And i’m deciding between the KSO and the KSO Evo.

My only concern is the durability of the sole as i do wish to purchase something i know will last.
From your review and many others online, i gather that the Evo’s sole is thinner but most of the reviews have different stands about the durability of the sole.

I understand that there are a couple of running-focused VFFs, but i still wish to maximise the ground feel as much as possible whenever i can’t run barefoot. Hence, its solely between the old renown KSOs and the new KSO Evos.

Would appreciate greatly for your advice here.! =)

I am new to the minimalist type of shoes. I am not really a runner but do more HIIT type of workouts like Insanity. A lot of people recommended these type of shoes for doing it(because my Mizunos were killing my joints with all the plyometrics). I went tona store and tried these on yesterday and like them but am wondering if these are what.i should be wearing for plyometric type workouts. I don’t have experience with toe shoes whatsoever and I know you mention that these aren’t ones you’d recommend to people just starting off with them.


There are few thing to consider between the KSO and the KSO EVO in terms of durability.

The KSO EVO has a thinner sole, but the uppers appear to be more durable than the original KSO. Also, since there is no velco strap, you don’t have to worry about fraying velcro bits and the strap wearing out where it angles around the foot.

After about 100 miles in any Vibrams, there is a little bit of wear, which shows exactly where you land on your foot.
(I land slightly on the outside of the forefoot–ball of the foot). It helps to assess your gait, running technique, etc.

If you are finding that the heel is wearing out too fast, you probably need to adjust your running form a bit to land BELOW your body instead of in front of it.

Honestly, I took my KSOs hiking for a bit and the uppers were a little beat up after some rock hopping. My KSO evos have lasted since December and look pretty much brand new.

Another thing to think about is the fit. The KSO EVO has a narrower sole than the orignal KSO, but both aren’t as wide as the original Bikila and Bikila LS (the Bikila EVO is actually a little narrower than the old one, by the way). So, if you have wide feet, the KSO EVO may not fit you perfectly.

I have pretty flat, wide feet, but the KSO EVO fits pretty well. My arch does go over the sole a little bit but it hasn’t bothered me yet.

In addition, the KSO EVO is 2/3rd the weight of the KSO, and is MUCH MORE comfortable on the inside than the original KSO. I’ve never enjoyed how my foot felt in the KSO and the EVO corrects almost all of the issues I’ve had with the original.

Also, the lace system is a definite improvement over the KSO.

Honestly, I don’t see why anyone would choose the KSO over the EVO, except in terms of fit and if that’s the case, the Bikila LS or Bikila EVO both have the great lace system , are more comfortable, AND are lighter than the KSO.


It’s not that I wouldn’t recommend the KSO EVO to people who are “new” to minimal shoes, it’s just these are the thinnest shoes that Vibram makes, so it’s important to ease into them and allow your body to get used to them before you go for a full run or workout.

I would say that for people who are not using them for running and more for workouts or fitness (plyometric workouts, for example), can be a little more quick to jump on the band wagon. Your calves, tendons, and hips should acclimate more easily than runners who are just starting off.

Running can be a lot for new barefooters, especially if they haven’t honed their technique and running form yet. It is VERY important for runners to master proper form as they decrease their cushioning. The extra foam that we all grew up with has made us forget how to run properly and its own by taking a “less is more” practice that we relearn how to reconnect (both figuratively and literally) to the ground.

Even after running in minimalist shoes for two years, I’m still working on my form and it’s a wonderful experience.

I have found my daily runs increasing from three miles to six miles to now twelve miles and it’s mostly thanks to paying more attention to my form and how my feet connect to the ground and to the rest of my body.

In summation, I wouldn’t be too concerned about non-running activities with the KSO EVO. It’s a great shoe and your body should adjust over time. It’s only with running that I would caution non-experienced barefoot runners to really take it easy, or consider a thicker Vibram sole.


So glad to hear it!

Happy running to you as well!

in other news…

Dear Birthdayshoes community,

I’ll be receiving some huaraches this week for testing:

The updated Pah Tempe from Unshoes

The Warrior from Shamma Sandals

The Jerusalem Cruisers from Shamma Sandals

Expect a new review of all three of these great looking running sandals soon!

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get the reviews out in time to have an exclusive first review of the offerings from Shamma Sandals for!

Hello. Just got my first pair of VFFs, a pair of KSOs bought online on ebay India.
Everything else seems ok and as per description (new item), but I find stitching under all my toes, and part of the upper scrunched up below my toes. It gives me a disconcerted feeling.
I also find glue marks on the outside of some toes.
Have I been saddled with a fake?

Hey Jarvis,

Thanks for this great review. I was wondering how the test run went with Shammas’ Warrior and Jerusalem Cruisers, and if you had any experience with the Super Cruisers. About to order a pair and curious as to what you thought re: ground feel, lacing, etc..

Hey Jarvis,

Are the KSO Evo’s waterproof/ quick dry like the regular KSO’s? Looking for a pair of Vibrams that will allow me to feel barefoot in wet terrain, while giving my feet some protection.



I’m in the middle of testing and writing my reviews of the Jerusalem Cruisers and the Warriors. Hopefully, I’ll send the reviews to Justin this week.

I have not tried the Super Cruisers, but they are actually an older design and Shamma Sandals have IMPROVED upon the Super Cruiser design with the New Jerusalem Cruisers and the Warriors.

The SCs feature an elastic heel strap, but I find that having a more rigid heel strap helps keeps the sandal on your foot better.

By comparison the JC and Warrior straps are VERY COMFORTABLE. They have a leather exterior and it’s really soft and plush on my heel; ZERO rubbing whatsoever.

I would recommend that you purchase the JC or the Warriors. The JCs have a little more padding and have a quieter ride, while the Warriors have a thinner, denser sole and slap a bit more (the better your technique, the less they slap).

The JCs don’t have much in terms of treading, but I’ve run trails with them and they performed fantastically!

The Warriors have more ground feel between the two and has an aggressive tread for enhanced grip.

The lacing system for Shamma Sandals is among the best I’ve ever tried with a huarache. They are most similar to Luna sandals, but have wider webbing for better security and comfort. They also feature a “strap lift” (my term, not theirs) that is a little elastic piece that helps the heel strap stay up on your heel (more on that in my upcoming review).

Overall, I LOVE Shamma Sandals. They are my favorite running shoes. I’ve actually put my Bikila LS and KSO EVO in the closet after running with my Shamma Sandals. I’ve been running 13 miles everyday with them for about three weeks now and absolutely love them!



The KSO EVOs won’t dry quite as quickly because of the EVA foam taking in a little bit of sponginess, but they have a lighter fabric overall, so it shouldn’t be that far off.

Hi, I purchased a couple of the youth sizes (40 and 41) and I’ve found them to be the same as the women’s sizes (which is what Vibram told me they would be). So the youth 40 is slightly smaller than adult male 40 and the youth 41 is slightly longer than the adult male 40. The lace system on the youth models also seems to reflect womens sizing, being slightly snugger with less lace length.
Justin, so you find the leather collar around the heel softems with time? I find the rigidity of the leather slightly problematic – I think I prefer the soft flexibility of the seeya around the heel. However, if the leather softens and gives with use then this shouldn’t be a problem.

UGH so bummed they dont come in that bright blue color! the bigger sizes all have so much BLACK on them,.. i HATE black shoes! D: SLASHpout

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