Barefoot Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Unboxed [First Look!]

Unboxing the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek — the new trail running and hiking barefoot shoe from Vibram — with video, photos, and a first impressions review.

Be sure and check out the Five Fingers KSO Trek review!

The review covers the KSO Trek’s design (sole attributes and thickness), aesthetic, performance, fit, and more. You can read it by going here.

Updated 9/10/09: See added photos below!

The fivefingers fairy surprised me today with a sneak peak at the brand new Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek barefoot trail shoes! Here is my unboxing and first look:

Apologies for any video clunkiness (as in, the little section where you can’t see my KSO Trek-clad feet and the abrupt ending). 16:9 HD video plus wanting to get this to you guys as soon as possible meant taking the video as it was!

Photos of the Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek

First impressions

The kangaroo leather is smooth and buttery and looks so fancy I hardly want to get them dirty (though I must!). The leather is quite thin but feels strong. As for breathable-ness, after having worn them for a short walk here in Atlanta (Around 80 degrees Fahrenheit), my feet feel cool and dry. My toes feel very nice and cool, in particular. The sole of my foot against the smooth leather inner is particularly nice.

For a slew of information about the leather used in the KSO Trek, check this info-page from PackerLeather on their K-100 high performance leather. In brief, and there’s a tag that came with the KSO Treks that talk about this, the K-100 kangaroo leather is billed as providing extreme strength, perspiration resistance, high water vapour permeability, high color fastness, and has an “microblok” anti-microbial treatment. Regarding water resistance, tag notes that the K-100 “leather dries faster” and has only 28% water uptake after 60 minutes (as compared to 235% water uptake for “non water resistant leather”).

Aside from the use of leather, the Trek also employs the standard, thin synthetic material to line the sides (not the top) of the Trek, which I imagine reinforces the leather somewhat at the ankle. Additionally, as some had asked, the sides of each toe slot are the synthetic material.

The aggressively lugged KSO Trek sole maintains flexibility while still looking sufficiently “beefy.” One open concern among VFFers regarding the Trek revolved around the added thickness and aggressiveness of the Trek’s tread—would it impeded the minimalist design of VFFs? The proof will be in the pudding—that is, extensive field-testing by you guys—based on an initial inspection, the Trek is very flexible, similar to what you already expect across the fivefingers line. Toes can still easily bend, particularly upwards, which is pivotal for functionality. This is even as the toes employ a thick-ridged design.

As for the addition of EVA, on light use if I didn’t know it was there, I would assume it wasn’t. In other words, I don’t notice the EVA. I still feel the variations in the ground outside. Interestingly, what I don’t feel through the sole is the variations of the Trek tread, itself. I’ve no idea how they pulled off this feat of VFF design, but it works.

Like the tread, the effect of the EVA will be made clear on additional use. Of course, Barefoot Ted has sung the praise of both the EVA and the tread, so there is that.

Overall, my initial impression is that the “>KSO Trek will make a strong addition to the Vibram fivefingers line-up as a rugged barefoot alternative for trail running or hiking! And I can’t wait to take them out for a spin in a nearby natural park! Even still, dressed in silky smooth kangaroo leather, they are the fanciest looking VFFs yet, so no doubt plenty of people will want to use them for dressier occasions.

You can read my full review of the KSO Trek here.

As for availability, I can only surmise that receiving this today means that these are going to be out and available very soon — maybe within a week? Stay tuned!

Update: the KSO Trek is available now! You can find a KSO Trek retailer online here.

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.

16 replies on “Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Unboxed [First Look!]”

Wow, I am excited about these. My Christmas list has been filled out for months now: “TREK’S”. They are the answer to my upcoming winter trail running challenges, and look incredibly comfortable.

PS: If they should accidentally send any size 44 testers your way, I can find a home for them. 😉

Same here Chad. I’ve got some of the blacks on preorder. I’m hoping this means they will be sent out in early Oct instead of later.

Thanks Justin! waiting for your further reports on the new shoes.

Hi Justin,

How are the Treks running on stoney paths? Do they give better protection against stone bruises? I love my Sprints, but after 5 miles or so on my local gravel path my feet start getting a little beat up on the larger rocks.


Very cool, thanks Justin. Still not sure whether I will be buying either of these newest VFFs – as a college student, I find that $$ for this sort of purchase is limited! On top of that, I sort of want to save up for the Bikila……


Looking great. I am also waiting for the bikila but these looks pretty solid.

Can’t wait to hear more about them and how you’re enjoying them!

So there have always been complaints about odor control and cleaning of VFF’s…wouldn’t the leather make it even more bothersome odor wise? And do they pack in the box instructions on cleaning methods?


I’ve always had *better* luck with odor control and leather than with synthetic materials. I’m not sure if this is because leather is tanned or is innately anti-microbial or what.

In any event, the leather used in the Treks is treated with some kind of anti-microbial process. Of course, sweat and dank feet tend to conquer technology over time …


I think they would do better than existing VFFs in winter, which is to say, if you wear socks, they will probably do better due to the thicker sole and bit of EVA used in the Treks — I’m guessing both will provide insulation from the cold earth beneath your feet.

Just going to be a bit of an unknown though until it gets colder.

I just bought my regular KSOs 5 months ago and I love love love them! But now they’ve found a way to make me spend more money!

Seriously, kangaroo leather is the bomb. My motorcycle gloves (Held) are made from ‘roo leather and it is soft, supple, strong, and lasts a good long time. Can’t wait to have a pair of fivefingers made from the stuff.

Got ’em a week ago and love them. These are my 1st pair of Five Fingers and I couldn’t say enough good things about them. These things are SO comfortable I don’t care to take them off at the office where I used to go barefoot during the day.

I’ve warn them for daily use and trail running and am constantly amazed with the Treks.

Thanks to the Benchmark in Cincinnati for hooking me up with these! I’m still trying to figure out exactly how they had them, but regardless of how I feel lucky.

Hey Justin. I had the pleasure of trying these on at FrontRunners, a popular shoe store, in Brentwood, CA. Yes, I liked them. If I had an extra $100+ to throw around I would have bought them for novelty alone. They appear very well-made and durable. However, as a barefooter, and shoe minimalist, I found them everything but. As compared to the Classics, my feet felt smothered and suffocated. They just seemed to be headed in the other direction of “minimalism”, in my opinion. That being said, if I were one to hit jagged and rugged terrain, I would much rather have these than a “traditional” hiking shoe. Long live Five Fingers! Now bring on Bikila!
Peace, out.
Barefoot Sal
North Hollywood, CA, USA

Hi Justin!

Just got my first pair of KSO’s and love them! Ran one mile the first day with no problem. Ran 2.5 miles the second day. My achilles tendon and calves are sore but I am hoping this is to be expected.

What are your thoughts?


So jealous of your shoe, Justin. I must buy Trek, currently sporting broken bones so good rehab shoes.

I’ve worn down 3 normal Fivefingers, I wish their product price can be lowered.

Great blogging by the way, bring on the change ~ everyone should know this gem

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