Barefoot Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent LR Review

The Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent LR is the latest premium all-terrain shoe from Vibram Five Fingers. It features a MEGAGRIP sole compound, a very aggressive tread design, and good protection from just about anything you can run into, onto, and over on the…

The Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent LR is the latest premium all-terrain shoe from Vibram Five Fingers. It features a MEGAGRIP sole compound, a very aggressive tread design, and good protection from just about anything you can run into, onto, and over on the trails. Over the past few weeks I’ve been giving these toe shoes a solid test and what follows is my full review—after the jump!

About the FiveFingers Trek Ascent LR

Here’s what Vibram says about the Trek Ascent LR:
A new outdoor introduction to the FiveFingers family, the Trek Ascent LR is a rugged minimalist shoe designed for hiking tough terrain. A super grippy outsole and leather/hemp upper construction makes this the 4-wheel-drive version of our orginal barefoot model.
Weight — 6.5 oz (men’s euro 41) (the old KSO TREK that the Trek Ascent replaces weighs 5.82 oz) Total Stack Height — Trek Ascent LR: 8mm (4mm outsole + 4mm EVA midsole) Compare the Trek Ascent LR to other, similar FiveFingers: Spyridon — 6.5mm (3.5mm outsole + 3.0 footbed) KSO TREK — 8mm (4mm outsole + 4mm EVA midsole) Barefoot scaleIdeal Uses: Hiking, trail running, Pros
  • MEGAGRIP compound is super grippy!
  • Toe grooves improve flexibility
  • Good groundfeel for the stack height
  • Durable
  • Fast-drying leather and hemp upper
  • Adequate protection from rocks, roots, and branches
  • Excellent lace-system with button lock as opposed to a velcro lock
  • Higher ankle collar may bother some users (see section on Sizing below for more)
  • Toes feel “lifted” due to the flex grooves and thick stack height
Take a spin around the Trek Ascent LR via these photos:


The Megagrip rubber sole provides excellent traction, slip-resistance, and protection, while still being somewhat flexible and preserving ground feel
The Megagrip rubber sole provides excellent traction, slip-resistance, and protection, while still being somewhat flexible and preserving ground feel
The Trek Ascent LR (and non-LR version) feature Vibram’s new MEGAGRIP compound that is claimed for better traction on wet and slippery surfaces. The Trek Ascent is a replacement for the leather KSO TREK (and KSO TREK LS) and, in my opinion, the Spyridon MR. As you’ll recall, the KSO Trek was originally introduced five years ago in 2010, so the “Trek” line was long overdue for an update. The Spyridon sole was introduced about three years back, too, so it was also due for a refresh. As for the Trek Ascent sole, the traction lugs on the MEGAGRIP sole are very aggressive with tons of cleats that are larger in size towards the heel and toe and smaller towards the middle. Each individual lug has a spiked texture and the lugs on the forefoot and toes are angled for uphill surfaces, while the heel section is slightly angled for downhill terrain. Overall, these lugs are more plentiful and more aggressively textured than even the Spyridon MR. There is a “soft” button/logo near the arch. It’s mostly cosmetic, much like the “rock block” window in all versions of the Spyridon. I have read that this “soft” button gives you an idea of how soft the EVA footbed (non-removable) is inside the shoe and I guess that is a good enough explanation for me. As this button is, more or less, cosmetic, I think Vibram should have kept the entire sole intact and left out this button as it is a smooth section that takes up surface area where we could have more rubber for grip.
The flex grooves allow for extra toe dexterity over previous trail and mud Vibram shoes
The flex grooves allow for extra toe dexterity over previous trail and mud Vibram shoes
The sole features “flex grooves” in all of the toes in a manner that is very similar the Bikila EVO for enhanced flexibility with the somewhat thick sole. These cuts are about 2-3mm deep and allow for easy upward toe flex, but a downward toe flex is not really possible. The KSO TREK is slightly more flexible than the Trek Ascent LR but the Trek Ascent LR is more flexible than the Spyridon thanks to these toe grooves.
Because the sole is pretty thick and the toe grooves are quite deeply cut, the tips of your toes have a bit of a disconnected, “lifted-off” feeling. Upon landing, your toes make contact with the ground slightly earlier than you would expect them to, but this feeling goes away after a short adjustment period. This “lift” is at least somewhat reminiscent of the same sensation of the original KSO Trek.
The aggressive sole, MEGAGRIP compound, and flex grooves make the Trek Ascent LR (and non LR version) an excellent trail hiking and trail running shoe. I do a lot of trail running in my free time and I found that the combination of slip-resistant rubber and deep lugs allow my foot to grip dirt, mud, and rocks, way better than I have been able to in the past. Having individual toes gave my more dexterity and control over closed-toe trail shoes and huaraches. The MEGAGRIP rubber is very sticky on wet logs and rocks and it can really dig into the dirt and pack crud like a good set of snow tires. I wished the shoe were not quite as thick as it is for better groundfeel (2mm thicker than the Spyridon), but your opinion of groundfeel will depend on your own preferences and level of technical trail experience.
 The LR version of the Trek Ascent dries faster, is more durable, and (in my opinion) looks better than the standard Trek Ascent
The LR version of the Trek Ascent dries faster, is more durable, and (in my opinion) looks better than the standard Trek Ascent
I usually run trails in either my 5mm Gladsole Trail huaraches or 5mm Shamma Sandal Warriors with a Newflex Vibram sole, so the 8mm combination of rubber and footbed in the Trek Ascent LR does feel more muted to me. However, there were a few times in my runs with the Trek Ascent LR where I KNEW I was not being careful with looking ahead/watching where I was going and I stepped on a rock or branch that DEFINITELY would have been a painful incident, but the Trek Ascent LR sole saved my butt and allowed me to walk away without regrets in my choice of footwear. Overall, this sole is fantastic! It is very grippy due to its rubber compound, lugs/cleats, and tread pattern and provides plenty of protection, while still giving you the benefits and flexibility you come to expect from a Vibram shoe. This is a tough-terrain shoe and it provides a good compromise between security and freedom of movement. Obviously, you won’t be running on roads with these bad boys and you will definitely appreciate the off-road qualities of the sole when the trail gets rough or waterlogged.

Fit and Materials

more toe protection, and a more rugged strap/keeper system
more toe protection, and a more rugged strap/keeper system
The Trek Ascent LR feels absolutely premium and sets a very high bar for materials and an overall “plush” feeling. The stitching is worlds better than the KSO TREK that the Trek Ascent replaces, the lace system is comprised of a thicker fabric than the flimsy bungee in other Vibram LS shoes, and the LS flap is locked down with a very sturdy button as opposed to velcro. If you were a fan of the lightly-padded tongue of the Bikila LS, you can rejoice as Vibram decided to add a bit of substance in the Trek Ascent LR, rather than slim down the collar, as was the case with the Bikila EVO. The Trek Ascent LR is differentiated from the standard Trek Ascent with a combination hemp and kangaroo leather upper. The Kangaroo packing leather is very soft, supple, and very comfortable. The leather and hemp are used in cut-out sections, which improve the shoe’s flexibility and comfort. The old KSO TREK was, more of less, made of a single slab of leather with fabric stitched into sections that would not move with your foot. This gave the KSO TREK somewhat of a Goode Homosoline map look (the maps that were cut and unraveled in sections that resembled an orange peel to give an undistorted view of the world). Basically, it looked like Vibram was trying to take a two-dimensional leather slab and making all kinds of cuts and slices to force it around a three-dimensional foot with the old KSO TREK.
A side-by-side comparison of the old KSO Trek (left) and the new Trek Ascent LR (right). Note the more durable construction and the more adjustable strap system
A side-by-side comparison of the old KSO Trek (left) and the new Trek Ascent LR (right). Note the more durable construction and the more adjustable strap system
The combination of hemp and leather in the Trek Ascent LR helps the shoe dry faster than an 100% fabric upper. These are NOT waterproof by any means, but they might be slightly splash resistant if you happen to get water on them at just the right angle and spot. While the leather and hemp combination is not waterproof, it does air-dry very quickly. Included in the box was a little info about the packing leather and how it dries 10-20 times faster than normal fabrics. In my testing, I found that I was able to splash around in a riverbed then continue my hike with my uppers feeling pretty dry after a few miles on the trail. However, while the uppers are made to dry quickly, the footbed definitely is not. By the time the uppers were nearly bone dry, the bottoms of my feet were still wet and things were getting a bit spongy. Vibram also reinforced the sides of the Trek Ascent LR with a thick leather band that covers the entire width of the shoe just below the toes and lace system. In the standard Trek Ascent, this reinforcement is a simple patch on either side of the shoe, but the LR version has a premium-feeling thick leather strip that feels great and should prevent blowouts in those parts of the shoe. The footbed in the Trek Ascent LR can be characterized as…squishy. This 4mm footbed is not removable and while other Vibram soles may have similarly thick EVA, the Trek Ascent’s EVA is more plush and forgiving than other shoes in the lineup. This soft footbed is well-advertised by the aforementioned “soft” button on the bottom of the sole. The overall ground feel is more diminished as a result of this soft footbed and thick sole; a few degrees less than the groundfeel in the thicker-stacked Bikila EVO (8.5mm vs 8mm). Unlike the Spyridon, the Trek Ascent lacks a “3D Cocoon” polyester mesh that acts as an impact-dispersing plate. The protection in the Ascent comes from the thicker sole and footbed. Overall, I would say that you get slightly better protection and slightly worse groundfeel with the Trek Ascent compared to the Spyridon, but the MEGAGRIP sole in the Trek Ascent is much grippier than the TC-1 rubber compound of the Spyridon sole. Together, the 4mm MEGAGRIP rubber and soft 4mm footbed provide a good amount of protection with tough terrain and helps keep things a bit less jarring upon landing than other Vibram shoes in the past. The groundfeel should be plenty for most users, while giving enough protection. You will still feel rocks and, yes, they can still sting, but there is enough plush and protection to keep your foot safe, yet enough transmission of textures and impact to keep your eyes looking forward for obstacles and good trail-running technique. These are not hiking boots and that’s a good thing! While the shoes are comparatively thick to the KSO TREK and even the Spyridon, you cannot Viking your way around mountain trails in them.
A side-by-side comparison of the soles of the old KSO Trek (left) and the new Trek Ascent LR (right). Note the more aggressive sole design in the Trek Ascent
A side-by-side comparison of the soles of the old KSO Trek (left) and the new Trek Ascent LR (right). Note the more aggressive sole design in the Trek Ascent
Between the Spyridon, KSO TREK, and Trek Ascent LR, I like the Ascent LR best for its traction, grip, and protection. While the stack height and weight may be greater in the Ascent LR, the sole is still relatively flexible and provides a lot of protection for pesky rocks, twigs, and other obstacles. The lugs in the Spyridon are much shallower, less textured, and fewer in number and its rubber compound is less sticky, so I do not really see a reason to pick the older Spyridon design over the Trek Ascent. I would expect the Trek Ascent to replace the Spyridon in the lineup and the older mud racer will probably be phased out completely, especially since many of Vibram’s models have become thicker in recent years (thank goodness the KSO EVO and EL-X are still retained as the featherweights of the lineup).

Note on Sizing

Sizing with the Trek Ascent LR is slightly wider and roomier than the Bikila EVO all around, but the toes feel shorter because of the thicker sole. Unlike the Bikila EVO, which had a bit of a molded interior, the Trek Ascent LR is mostly flat and does not dictate your foot movement as much as the Bikila EVO. Interior-wise, your foot is hugged in a fashion similar to the KSO TREK or older Bikila LS. Heel and ankle sections felt roomy and can be adjusted with the lace system, but as a caution for some users, the ankle collar is slightly higher than in the KSO TREK, Spyridon, or Bikila, which may cause some irritation if you have a particularly bony talus (the bone that sticks out to the sides near the hinge of the foot).


The FiveFingers Trek Ascent LR is an excellent off-road shoe. It is protective, yet relatively flexible, stylish, and very grippy in dirt, mud, rocks, and moss. The leather and hemp construction can almost be described as beautiful and it can tackle all sorts of nasty stuff. The Trek Ascent LR really replaces both the older, original KSO Trek and FiveFingers Spyridon as the “tough mudder” shoe for Vibram lovers. The Trek Ascent LR is Vibrams best off-road shoe to date and one of their best designs as well. The three Vibram shoes that cover just about everything you need in my opinion are the KSO EVO for fitness, general use, and running, the Bikila EVO for runners looking for more protection, and the Trek Ascent LR for dirt lovers and rock lobsters. If you’re eager to try out the Trek Ascent LR, hop over to and you’ll find they are $120, which is 20% off their MSRP of $150. A huge thanks to Travel Country for sending me a pair of the Trek Ascent LR to test out!

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

49 replies on “Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent LR Review”

Great review. I love my Trek Ascent LR’s. They were great for hiking in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee a few weeks ago. My only complaint is some pulling apart of the leather from the soul on one side. It’s nothing new to kangaroo leather VFF’s and I just have to use some Shoe Goo to get it sealed up.

Thanks for the review.

Today, I went to exchange the Trek Ascent (non-LR) for a pair of Spyridon MR. While the megagrip sole on TA was absolutely amazing, I totally hated the fit (note that I have very small feet so I had to go for the women’s 39 size). The whole shoe was just too narrow including the toe pockets. With Injinjis it was a real torture to wear them for even a minute because of how narrow they were, but I still had plenty of room in front of my big toe. The Spyridon on the otherhand (same size – W39) is fairly wide and thus much more comfortable. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I couldn’t understand how extremely different in fit they were. Strongly suggest trying them in person before buying.

Your review is “spot on” Jarvis! These are my fourth pair and my new favs closely followed by my Bikals LS’s.
Haven’t hit the trail yet with mine but they sure are comfy just wearing around! Super grippy, these are going work great on the trail I think. Thanks again for a very accurate and detailed review. Should help those who are considering purchasing.

Really thorough review. I’ve been wearing the Trek Ascent LR since they became available in December. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get them to conform to my wide feet with large bunions, but eventually the leather stretched enough so that they are comfortable most of the time. I’ve worn them to the office, (when they were newer), and I’ve been wearing them on steep southern California mountain or desert canyon hikes about once a week for the last few months.
The more protective soles of the Ascent are decisive for me in preferring them over the KSO Treks. I’ve had some painful bruises from sharp rocks, and I’m willing to sacrifice quite a lot of ground feel for some measure of protection.
I’ve gone through a couple pairs of the Spyridon and Spyridon MR which ripped apart on encountering sharp rocks. I liked the protectiveness of the soles, but the Spyridon MR never stretched and would become painful after a couple of hours of uphill travel.The Spyridon with a Velcro strap was much more comfortable except that it would sometimes bruise my toenails on steep downhill sections (even on toes that did not reach the ends of the toe pockets).
So far the Ascent MR are holding up well except that the laces are starting to fray due to the brass lace locks. The brass lace locks also present a hazard when slapping the shoes together to get the dust off.
I still keep one of my pairs of the KSO Treks nearby as a backup, and carry a pair of Shamma Mountain Goat sandals strapped to my pack in case the Ascents become painful (as they were when they were new).
I started wearing KSO Treks soon after they hit the market five years ago, and they remain, without question, the most comfortable VFF (and I’ve worn almost everything they’ve made). The lack of stitching over the front of the foot, including the lack of a reinforced area for laces, combined with the supple kangaroo leather, allow them to fully conform to the shape of the foot.
The lace pocket on the Trek Ascent reduces the available area of stretchable leather, and the sewing attaching the leather stripe across the forefoot directly limits stretching. Still, they are sufficiently comfortable that I am wearing them on almost all my mountain hikes and for some trail running.

Thank for the review! I have a quick question. I have a higher instep than most other people (I guess) and have trouble with Vibrams being too tight behind the tops of my toes and the top of my foot. How are these in those areas with the tensioner? Thanks for the reply in advance!


I agree with the fit. The Trek Ascent (and LR) has a fit that is a bit roomier than the Bikila EVO, while the Spyridon is somewhere closer to the Bikila LS.

For me, it’s a near-perfect fit as I found the Bikila EVO to be a bit too snug.


The LS system on this is a bit more substantial, but equally as customizable as you would find on other LS shoes from Vibram. I have wide, dense feet and my tension points are usually around the inside of the arch and just past the toes like you. These are a great fit for me, but that is not always the case with all Vibram shoes.

My best fitting shoes are the KSO EVO, Bikila LS, and this Trek Ascent.

Give them a try!


You are an expert!

I like the KSO TREKs as well, but the sole is a bit too stiff and uncomfortable for me to enjoy them as much as the Ascents.

I’m a big fan of Shamma Sandals an I’m glad you like them as well! Go goats!

Thanks for the comments on the leather stretching for a better fit. This would be helpful for individuals with foot shapes that are a bit off from the out-of-the-box shoe.

Have you tried to shoe goo the brass lace lock fray?


How do these shoes compare to the KSO EVO, specifically in the arch area? I have flat feet with no real arch. I have KMD Sports, Speeds, Spyridon LS, SeeYa, and KSO Trek shoes. They let my feet spread out and are perfectly comfortable. I tried on a pair of KSO EVO’s and instantly didn’t like they way they felt. (A first for for me with Five Fingers) There as to much pressure in the arch.


I am very finicky about my fits as well, so I really appreciate your question!

I also did not like the fit of the Bikila EVO for the same reason and a bit of discomfort at the base of the big toe.

Wearing the KSO EVO on my right foot and the Trek Ascent on my left, the Ascent LR feels a bit tighter in the big toe and the middle of the foot, but the arch is very similar to the KSO EVO. For me, the fit is not identical, but close enough that I would say that anyone that loves the fit of the KSO EVO would also enjoy the Trek Ascent.

The heel collar is higher in the Ascent, the toe pockets are less flexible and the sole is, of course, stiller by quite a wide margin. Overall, I am happy wearing either one and the Bikila LS, while most other Vibrams are a bit too tight for my wide feet (I also have a relatively flat arch)


For my feet, nothing beats the VFFs for running (own 7-8 pairs). I’ve tried three sandals that you have reviewed and don’t mind them for walking, but can’t seem to run in them due to irritations or hot spots on the soul of the foot. As far as sandals, I love the Jerusalem Cruisers best, but for walking only. The others I tried were the Luna and the Xero shoe (which I haven’t found any comfort in yet, but will keep trying). Are you aware of any barefoot sandals that are constructed of non-rubber/plastic souls and would thus promote Earthing?

Given the unfortunate discontinuation of my beloved KSO Treks, the Trek Ascent LR looks quite promising, indeed – especially with the MegaGrip compound and purportedly more protective soles than the original Trek ones.

However, and I’m not sure if I’m the only one who appears to have this preference, but while I haven’t had the fortune to try on a pair of Ascent LRs, my previous experiences with the lacing system haven’t exactly been the best and as such found the original Velcro system of the KSO Treks to be just perfect for me.

One wonders whether or not Vibram would make a version of the Trek Ascent LRs with the similar Velcro system for those of us who prefer it – if they had, I’d be throwing my money at the screen already, heh. As it stands, I’m still pondering on figuring out which stores in Canada (or just across the BC-Washington border) have pairs to try on and see if it works for me.

As well, I, for one, liked the KSO Treks in their single colours – I still have mine in both brown (both brown pairs now have holes in the sole from way too much use, unfortunately, which has sparked my search) and black (the one pair that I plan on keeping for formal occasions). Perhaps a reboot of the original KSO Trek but with the new stitching improvements, leather strip between the toes and the MegaGrip compound? If they were able to make it a tad bit more waterproof, I would be scrambling for a pair 😀

All in all, thanks plenty for the review, Jarvis – ’tis very informative and has piqued my interest in the Ascent LRs 😀


Thanks for your perspective! I was a huge fan of the KSO Treks as well, but I really appreciate the design of the Trek Ascent LR. It is more flexible, yet gives good groundfeel (for its stack height) and should provide plenty of dexterity for technical trail running.

I have always like the Lace System, starting with the Bikila LS, but I can see what you would prefer the stiffer feeling of a velcro strap. The Trek Ascent has a thicker, reinforced lace system that should be plenty durable and provides a bit less “give” than the normal bungee loops they use for their road running shoes.

I would say, give the shoes a try at a local fitness store or order them from a place with a excellent return policy (zappos, amazon, and 6 PM are all great) and do a mini tryout indoors or around the neighborhood to see how they compare with your ol’ Treks. I have to say though, when I tried them on, I knew that Vibram had a good thing going.

If you remember, I was previously disappointed with the Bikila EVO WB due to how stiff it is, and I am glad that Vibram has hit their stride again.

I’m still waiting for a next gen Seeya though…

I missed the boat for the original KSO trek (though looks I could could probably still pay through the nose for a pair), but now my original KSOs are breaking down and I’m looking for a new pair for hiking.

I tried on the Trek Ascent and it felt like I was standing on a balloon. It was a small balloon but definitely a far cry from the ground feel I got used to in the KSOs. I’d like something with a little more padding but I’m worried the Trek Ascent is giving up too much.

What do you guys think? Does the foam in the sole break down over time and flatten out a bit?


The stack height of the Ascent LR is WAY thicker than the original KSO and slightly more than the KSOTREK that the Ascent replaces. I think Vibram wanted to soften things up a bit for both new buyers and rougher terrain. Like all Vibrams and huaraches, the sole does mold to your foot over time and I believe that this particular model will mold more because the foundation is softer than your typical Vibram.

Only time will tell!

I hope folks are still reading the comments: I’m on my third pair of Ascent LR’s. Love them and have put at least 250 hiking miles onto them. One problem: the sole starts coming away from the upper after just 20 or 30 hiking miles. Has anyone else encountered that?

I’m on my third pair and just about ready to send them back to exchange for the non-leather version.

Excellent review. Now I know I need to try to lay hands on a pair or three. While they’re not the same as my Treks, they sound like a very suitable replacement overall (The more durable construction’s debatable. Consider that the leather’s not the same and looks can be deceiving…)..

Nobody of Import,

Only time will tell, but a lot of thought was put into this design and its intended purpose.

I would say that the fit and collar height at the main issues, but the lace system, looks and tread pattern is a definite winner!

How would you compare these to the Bikila LS. I’ve been running in the Bikila LS for several years now, both on roads and on trails. The new Ascent Trek seems to be the most similar to the Bikila LS, both in the upper and the sole. They have the same thickness rubber outersole (4mm), but the Ascent is 1 mm thicker in the insale (4mm vs 3mm).

Is the ground feel much different? Do you get any more protection from rocks (sometimes I do feel a sharp rock more than I’d like in the Bikila LS)? Is the sole more flexible, less?

Also is the upper part of the shoe similar in breathability and durability (I’ve read a couple reviews on Amazon saying the Ascent just feel apart after a short period of time.)

Thanks for any feedback. I’ve been happy with the Bikila LS, but of course it has been discontinued. And REI isn’t carrying Vibram in the stores anymore, so I can’t check out the Ascent in person.


The Ascent is thicker, but is also softer than the original LS.

The Ascent is more comparable to the EVO in terms of flexibility (more flexible, yet thicker than the LS) and its fit is just a shade narrower than the Bikila LS, yet wider than the EVO.

Overall, the upper is not as soft as the Bikila LS, but is going to be more durable (for big toe blowouts)

I have been able to snag last inventory stocks of the LS over the last few years (putting about 600 miles on each before a blowout), but they are getting hard to come by. I highly recommend the Bikila EVO as a replacement, or the KSO EVO if you are more advanced!

You might sound the Trek Ascent to be thicker than the Bikila LS and with less groundfeel. It is more built up, but is worth looking into as a replacement of your old favorites! Unfortunately, Vibram does not have a shoe that is a perfect 1:1 sequel to the Bikila LS, but the EVO and the Trek are the closest.


Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

I tried the Bikila EVO at REI, when they had it and really didn’t like it as much as the Bikila LS. I found the sole to seem thicker and less flexible, despite the claims that it’s more flexible. It is more one solid piece of material, compared to the LS that gets a lot of it’s sole thickness form the little pods of material, leaving a more flexible (to me) thinner piece of sole that the pods are attached to.

I have also bought up so old stock of the LS. But perhaps I should by more. I never managed to have a toe blow out! But my first pair of the LS I did wear down the sole quite a bit so that’s when I switched to a new pair. I’m pretty sure I had more than 600 miles on the first pair. Maybe I should keep wairing them until a toe does blow out. 🙂

I guess it does sound like the Trek Ascent would provide more protection from rocks on the trail, than the LS. Do you think that’s true? Or does the softeness of the Ascent sole undo whatever extra protection one gets from the additional thickness?

Thanks again for the feedback and any more thoughts.


I also prefer the old LS over the EVO. It has a wider foot shape and the sole does not quite run up the sides of my foot as much, so it is–in my view–more comfortable to run in.

However, the coconut active uppers are not as durable as the EVOs, but I did get a few hundred miles out of them.

The Ascent is definitely more protective than the Bikila shoes, but it’s a thicker shoe!
The softness is in the footbed between the chunky rubber and your foot, so while it does provide more “give”, there is still plenty of rubber to give you the rigidity you are looking for in terms of protection.

However, it is not nearly as flexible as the Bikila shoes.

Thank you for the great review.
I am thinking about replacing my seen better days KSO treks with a pair of these. I find the KSO’s a much tighter fit and can struggle to get socks in, than my much roomier, for leisure, Speeds.
As I am having to order directly from the manufacturer I am really interested in the fit size before I do. Have you or any of your readers any idea how they compare to my current models? Both of which are a W39 but so different in fit.
I use my treks for competing in dog agility, and as I live in the UK this is inevitably in wet cold fields. The treks have been great but, obviously not remotely waterproof or warm and am hoping these will be better in that respect, and give better grip in wet slippery grass when you are running at full speed with lots of rapid changes of direction.
Thank you so much in advance for any help x


In my experience, the Trek Ascent is a bit roomier, wider and comfortable to wear (especially its sole) than the KSO Trek (Kangaroo version). However, this may be different for everyone. (see the photos comparing the two shoes for an idea of what I mean).

These definitely have a better grip than the KSO Trek, but neither is waterproof. The benefit of the kangaroo leather is that it may dry faster than traditional uppers and the simplified and breathable overlays of the Ascent allow it to dry faster than the Treks.

The cowl is a bit higher in the Trek Ascents, so just keep that in mind when you are running around.



Thanks for the additional feedback. I wish there was somewhere I could try on the Ascent, but since I can’t, I think I’ll probably stick with the LS while I can still find them. It sounds like the EVO and Ascent aren’t going to strike the middle ground (for me) in the LS.

I haven’t really had a problem with the upper on the LS. I get some where spots where my feet rub together occasionally, but I’ve gone easily more than five hundred miles, in each of my two pairs, without them coming apart.



My blowup was in the big toe where it would rub against the index toe. Not a big deal though. I put shoe goo on it and it was good or a couple hundred more miles.

However, it is worth noting for folks that care about durability.

Overall, I think the Ascent and EVO upper is better than the original LS, however, everything varies based upon so many variables.

I still like the KSO EVO the most, followed by the Bikila LS.

Hey Jarvis,

Yeah, the Ascent does seem interesting. I’d probably get the non-leather version, if I tried it. I wonder if you’d have the same opinion about that upper. Maybe I’ll try it if I can find them on sale somewhere, at some point.

As it is, I figured, I’m happy with the LS. And it’s been discontinued, so at some point I’ll have to try something else anyway. But as long as I can find the LS, I may as well continue to enjoy it. I bought up the remaining three pairs I could find in the color I like. So I should be good for a while.

Thanks again for the review and the feedback.


Hi Jarvis – I’m looking into the Trek Ascent LR and am wondering about the fit compared to the Bikila LS (I snagged as many Bikila LS’s as I could, while I could still get them). I’ll only be using the Trek Ascent for hiking here in AZ and I’m not sure if I should get a bigger size since there’s not as much give. Any help is greatly appreciated.



In the the review, I went into some detail about the sizing.

Basically, it’s not quite as wide all around as the Bikila LS, but is slightly wider than the Bikila EVO, especially around the midfoot


Coming back to this: if you look upthread a bit, you’ll see that I went through three pairs of the Trek Ascent LR’s. On each one, the sole started coming away from the upper after 20 or 30 miles of hiking. So, much as I love the fit and feel of them, I exchanged the last set for a pair of the non-leather Trek Ascents. I don’t love them as much as the LR’s. They don’t have the same glove-like feel on my feet, and they don’t dry as quickly after going though a wet patch. They are holding together just fine after 75 hiking miles, though. They’re now tucked away for the winter, as FiveFingers don’t support microspikes or snowshoes.


Thanks for the update!

I have experienced this issue myself, but I am sure that there are various variables and circumstances that can lead to a wear and tear issue such as what you outlined above.

I have to say though, if this is a widespread issue, if is–in my opinion–unacceptable.

I am glad you find the regular Ascents to your liking, but I agree that the LR version is better in many ways.

I still have the pair of Bikila WP that I reviewed from last year. They are still just okay for really cold days. They are waterproof, but definitely not warm.

I’m hoping that the TREK ASCENT INSULATED fairs better. If we are able to get a hold of a test copy, we will let you know!

Thanks for this review! I have been wearing the Spyridon LS, but like Ron and you, I have wide feet and a high instep, plus a bunion, and I admit, the Spyridon at times keep hitting the right pressure points to cause pain. I even cut the laces and just use them at the very top to close the shoe, but that’s it.
Looking for a more rugged shoe as well, since I’m wearing my Spyridons out faster, running in the mountains of Hawaii. Think I’ll give these a try!

Thanks for the review! Quick question, I currently have a pair of KSO EVO’s and I use them as my only shoe (casual walking, cycling, going to town, ect… ect…) They’ve held up great! They’re a year old, and only have one small hole in them, due to a cycling accident. It was easily sewed up, however. I can usually get about a year out of my vibrams. I was wondering, would you recommend these shoes for my uses? I obviously need it to be extremely long lasting, but I’ve heard that these shoes can fall apart. Is that true? Would you recommend these shoes, or would you recommend another pair, or do you think I should stick with the KSO EVOs? When I walk, I usually go into woods or on train tracks. Sometimes I walk on the road. Once in a while, I’ll step on a sharp rock and it’s quite painful, so that’s one reason that I was considering these. Most important, however, is durability.

Thank you in advanced!


The KSO EVO is my favorite Vibram shoe, by far.

I do like the Trek Ascent LR and it is still the most comfortable shoe that Vibram has ever made. I have not noticed any issues with wear and tear, but that’s my person experience.

The Trek sole is much better for rock protection than the KSO EVO sole, so I would highly recommend that for you.

You can also look into the V-Run or Bikila EVO, but those are more specific in their fit.

Overall, I really like the Trek’s.

A fantastic product to look into for the future is shoe goo. It totally saved a couple of my shoes in the past and allowed me to eek out an extra couple hundred miles out of them.

Hello, all your posts are great it really helps, anyway, I Already have the trek ascent which is all wool, it’s perfect, I love it, I was going to buy he trek ascent in brown leather like you have on in the picture, but I saw
You said that the ankles are high, do you mean it covers the ankles, or it’s just under the ankle bone, which I
Think, will rub under the ankle and make a water blister! , (if it covers the entire ankle it’s ok for me, does
It cover your entire ankle? Many thanks,
Jenny (France)


For the Trek Ascent Insulated, the cowl is a bit higher on the ankle than other Vibram shoes, but because that area is SO plush and well cushioned, it is VERY comfortable.

The standard Trek Ascent has a tougher cowl, but I have never experienced any blisters from it. I have received a blister from my Bikila EVO, but on the bottoms of the shoe where the toe pockets do not quite fit my feet.

These are two of Vibram’s best new designs, but the KSO EVO is still my favorite (and the Bikila LS)


Hi Jarvis. Thanks for the review. I have a question for you. I am going to run, 2th of december at midnight, a 72km trail with 30% off roads (mud, snow, ice, etc) and 70% wet roads. Maybe it will rain or snow during the race (for ~10h of effort). I really hesitate between the LR and non LR trek ascent because of the difficult weather conditions. What do you advise ? LR or non LR ? which is the more comfortable/resistant when it rain/snow a lot ? the LR is not too stiff when it dried ? Many thanks. Nicolas (France)

Thanks for the always helpful, detailed reviews Jarvis! Much appreciated!

You mentioned downward toe flex is not really possible in the Trek Ascent with the KSO Trek being slightly more flexible.

In your experience, would you say the KSO Trek has the best downward toe flex out of the Vibram range?

I very much appreciate any help you’re able to provide.

Many thanks!


In the entire vibram range, the EL-X and the KSO EVO have the best toe flex, followed by the original KSO remix and then the Seeya, then Bikila EVO/V-RUN

The KSO TREK is not actually that flexible. It is only slightly more flexible than the Trek Ascent. Both are just a bit more flexible than the original Bikila sole, but neither of these are going to be known for their toe flexibility.

If you are looking for the absolute most flexibility possible, try the EL-X and KSO EVO. There are a couple of women-only shoes that I do not have any experience with, but they use the same sole as the female KSO EVO: ALITZA loop and VI-S, but they do appear to be the best for anything beyond yoga.


I do long distance mountain trail running in Hawaii. This means mud, rocks, roots, rivers, and rain. This shoe sounds great for the rocks and the roots. I’ve been running in the Bikila LS, which allows the roots and rocks to kill my arches if I misstep. However, I don’t like the idea of a sloggy, wet shoe. Is there another shoe that would both drain and dry quickly with the same level of foot protection and traction?

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