Waterproofing the Bormio FiveFingers

My Whiskey/Tan Bormio Left & Black Bormio Right.

I love my Bormio FiveFingers. They have rocketed to the top as my most used pair of Vibram Five Fingers. A little background I work as a Real Estate Photographer in Washington State. I need a sh…

I love my Bormio FiveFingers. They have rocketed to the top as my most used pair of Vibram FiveFingers. A little background I work as a Real Estate Photographer in Washington State. I need a shoe that is comfortable, classy, and durable. The Bormio fit the bill perfectly.

I was concerned about how waterproof the shoes might be. After doing some research I found a forum post on the forum created by MCVet. He had successfully applied waterproofing solution to several different pairs of VFF with varying results. I decided to give this a try on the Bormio boots.

Find out what I did to waterproof my Bormio FiveFingers and the results I had after the jump!

I purchased some Liquid AquaSeal online. When it arrived I applied it generously to the leather on the Bormio. I made sure to get lots of the liquid in between the toes. It took a few days for the shoes to get dry enough to wear.

Note: You may want to keep that in mind and set aside some time for the shoes to dry appropriately before you have to wear them again. If they are still wet they will have a oily wet silicone feeling to them. Once they were dry I gave them a buff with a shoe brush.

The AquaSeal will darken the shade of the Bormio somewhat. It will look several shades darker then the original shade the first week. Over time though the boot will lighten back up to a shade closer to the original shade. For reference I did not apply AquaSeal to the leather zipper pull tab. It stays the original color in all the photos so you can compare the change in shade.

Here is an example of the Bormio one day after being waterproofed:

Here is a waterproofed Bormio (on the left) after a few weeks of wear and a new, untreated Bormio (on the right) side by side:

The Final Result:

Over A Month After Waterproofing. For reference I did not apply AquaSeal on the Leather Zipper Pull Tab. It is still the original shade of the leather.

Once the Bormio boots were dry I did not have to wait long in order to test them out. During a rainy day in Seattle I headed out in the boots. I made sure to step in puddles that would normally soak my KSO Treks. Surprisingly my socks and feet stayed bone dry.

It was not until a week or two ago that I had my biggest test yet. During two back to back rainy/muddy days I had to photograph two houses each day. This includes standing in wet grass and mud for extended periods of time in the front and back yards to take the exterior photographs. I wore the waterproofed Bormio boots on the job site. They held up better then I could have ever imagined.

Aside from natural foot perspiration my shoes stayed pretty dry. I was able to walk in the muddy/wet back yards for long periods of time without feeling like my feet were getting soaking wet. Keep in mind this was not as waterproof as pair of mud boots but it did a better job them my previous pair of leather loafers did in wet conditions. At the end of both days my socks were a little damp (from perspiration mostly) but not enough to ring a drop water out of them. That is a success in my book!

More thoughts on waterproofing Bormio FiveFingers

I have a second pair of Bormio boots that I did not waterproof. While they do not preform as well as the Aquaseal pair they still do a pretty good job of keeping out the rain and water. You can still do some walking in puddles without your feet getting soaked. You just can’t stay in the puddle as long as you can if you applied Aquaseal to the boot.

If you only need to use your boots in casual settings and don’t plan on spending extended periods of time in the rain then you could get away just fine without waterproofing your boots. They should hold up well running from your car to the grocery store in the rain without leaving your feet cold and wet. On the other hand if you are outside often in wet conditions I would strongly consider applying some Liquid Aquaseal to your Bormio.

I was also asked about how the zipper effects the waterproofing. Someone wanted to know if the water would seep through the zipper easily. I stood in a few puddles that went a little ways up to the zipper and I did not notice the water gushing in through the sides. There is a piece of leather on the inside of the boot that covered the zipper so that it does not rub against your skin. This piece of leather also helps keep the water from seeping through the zipper instantly.

Final Thoughts on Waterproofing Bormio VFFs

Keep in mind these are not %100 waterproof. You can’t go running through a river and expect your feet to be dry on the other side or stand in ankle deep water for 10 minutes. When you compare the Bormio boot to other VFF styles though they do an incredible job at keeping your feet dryer in wet conditions then the most of the other VFF styles.

I can’t recommend the Bormio FiveFingers enough. If you have been intrigued by their design and thought about picking up a pair I would not hesitate any longer. They are a fantastically comfortable shoe that looks good in almost any setting. I even wear mine to the Opera and Ballet now instead of the KSO Trek I used to wear.

A special note about the fit. At first the Bormio felt a little tight in my normal size. The leather will become much more pliable and stretch as you wear them. After a week or two of wearing around they loosened up and my feet no longer feel tight in them at all. In contrast I also have one size larger that fit well at first but now feel a bit loose after the leather has had time to stretch. I would keep that in mind when you are trying them on.

By Robert

Robert Barr resides in Woodinville Washington. He is an avid FiveFingers enthusiast who enjoys writing about his experiences in minimalist footwear. After graduating from the University of Washington with a BFA in Photography he started [url=]Washington Home Tours LLC[/url] a local real estate photography company. He also enjoys being a [url=]Scentsy[/url] consultant. At the moment his favorite pair of FiveFingers are his Bormio boots. Get to know Robert better via [url=]his interview here[/url].

25 replies on “Waterproofing the Bormio FiveFingers”

Great article. Thanks for sharing this, mate. How warm do you think one’s feet will be if a pair of waterproofed Bormios are worn in the winter?

I have a couple of pairs of KSO Treks, and find that after 20 minutes of being outside in 32F or below, my toes go numb. Thus, I’m looking for a minimalist shoe before the snow hits.

Thanks again,

I would say they do quite well with retaining heat. The lining inside feels almost like a pair of socks would. The leather and the lining combined do a fantastic job of trapping your foots warmth. The lining is not around the side of the toe pockets so that is the one spot there is a little heat loss. That is kind of to be expected with the toes around the VFFs though. The Bormio is still significantly warmer then many of the other styles. In comparison to the KSOTrek the toe pockets are all leather. For that reason it is much warmer around the toes then the KSOTrek. You can also wear a pair of Injiji or Smartwool toe socks inside and that helps keep you feet even warmer.

The Bormios look so cool. No wonder you’re pictures always look so good… didn’t know you were a photographer!

Being an avid snowmobiler, I use McQuires leather cleaner conditioner on all my leather snowmobile suits to clean, condition and water proof. Seemed a perfect product for my Trek LS shoes. Yes it did darken the brown leather some what, but also makes them more ply-able/supple over time, still allowing the leather to breathe. I would highly recommend for waterproofing the Bormio. Easily obtained at any automotive store, WalMart, or McQuire car care dealer.

I can recommend NikWax for leather. I dipped them and massaged it in to the leather on cloth of the original Treks. It keep my feet dry in the snow and slush all last winter.

@Nick, with a pair of wool Injinji socks I could stay out in the snow (as long as I was moving) for about 2hrs. If i stood around for more than 15minutes my toes would start to get cold, start moving again and i was good.

also for icy or snow pack i recommend stabilicers Sport they wrapped best around VFFs.

How does the waterproofing affect the Bormios when you wash them in the washing machine? Anything bad happen, do you just have to reapply the waterproofing, or do you just not wash them in the machine (even though they are machine washable)? I have a pair – and I LOVE them, but I haven’t washed or waterproofed them yet.

I can only speak to how AquaSeal will do in the wash. The bottle says it lasts over 2 months before you may have to reapply the solution. You can wash the boot as you normally would but if you do you will have to reapply the Aquaseal again.

I used about a quarter of the bottle to waterproof one pair of boots and it cost me a little over $5 a bottle. The rainy season here in Seattle is around 8 months. So a bottle lasts me about a year I guess.

I bought the Borimos about 2 weeks ago, and brought them back the very next day! I usually get a great fit with my fivefingers (god I must own at least 10 pairs), but I found the leather on the top of the foot to be too tight, the top ankle opening very loose, and overall it was just uncomfortable to me. I took my refund and bought a pair of the tan Trek LS and love them!! I generally take a 43, and found that the big toe on my left foot was a bit tight, but that sorted itself out after a few days’ wear.

I wore my KSO Treks all of last year, every day I knew it wouldn’t rain. They lasted the entire year, as my primary footwear for work or a run to the store. I found the leather to be very comfortable and durable, and the Trek LS has more than met my expectations. Definitely my favorite pair so far!

Also, I’m a huge VFF fan, but I think the Borimos look a bit on the creepy side – their smooth surface makes them look less like footwear and more like a foot! TRUE gorilla feet!

I’m glad I brought mine back.

Like I said at the end of the article. They loose up quite a bit after you wear them around some. Mine were tight around the top of the foot the first day or two but they loosened up quit a bit since then.

The more I wear them the more comfortable they become actually. I have the TrekLS as well but I don’t like the fit of that shoe as much as the Bormio. It also takes so much longer to put on that I usually grab the Bormio because they go on so quick.

Hi, I tried yesterday applying shoe wax (kind of horse grease) to trek LS, and it worked like a charm. Yesterday it rained and they kept my feet dry and warm. I specially applied the grease on the seams in order to seal them. The leather got a bit darker, more or less like the bormios with aquaseal, but less shiny. It also helps keeping the leather flexible (I have tried on several pairs of leather boots).

I tested the Bormio in a dishpan, holding one underwater so that I could see what was happening with the zippers. Immediately a stream of water came through. This was with water only an inch deep!!!

Rubbing beeswax into the zipper might be of some help. This is what is done with drysuit zippers used for SCUBA diving.

Waterproofing the flaps inside the zipper might also help a bit.

For water less than two inches deep, the Trek LS would be more water resistant as it doesn’t have the zipper slits. Above two inches, water would come in around the tongue which lacks a tongue gusset.

Keep in mind you have your feet in the shoe which helps hold the zipper flap flush up against the zipper. This helps to hold the water out. If you don’t have the pressure on it though it will just leak through. It is not %100 waterproof though I would not go standing in puddles for extended periods of time.


Thanks for the Aqual Seal write up. Just received my size 41 Bormios but they feel too short. Big toes are touching the ends of the pockets. I’m wondering if they will stretch lengthwise? My concern is that full leather toe pockets might not be as pliable nor stretch as much compared to the leather/material combo toes found in the KSO Treks. In the past year I’ve bought KSOs, KSO Treks, Trek Sports and Bikilas, of which fit well in size 41. I bought the AquaSeal water proofing, but will hold off until I can verify a good fit. Also, these Bormios appear to be built better than AWFUL craftsmanship of my other VFFs which were all purchased in 2010 during Vibram’s massive inventory shortage.

I had the same problem with the toes being tight on the very similar Trek LS (I had a pair of Bormios but returned them after deciding that I liked the Trek LS so much that I’d hardly ever wear the Bormio). The first couple of weeks I almost gave up trying to wear them when I felt some pain and noticed some bruising under the toenails of both of my big toes.

Eventually the stretched out and now they are by far my favorite VFFs. They fit like a glove and work much better for me than the Speeds, Bikilas, Bikila LSs, KSO Treks or Trek Flows.

Part of the problem, I reasoned, was that my feet are wide across the metatarsal heads and there is a significant bunion on the outside of each big toe. This tightness across the forefoot pulls on the leather around the big toe, effectively making it slightly shorter.

To speed up the stretching of the leather, I modified a pair of shoe stretching devices to fit the shape of the VFF. I was able to stretch the area just behind the toes enough to mostly eliminate the induced shortness of the big toes.

I am so sad… VIBRAM HAS DISCONTINUED “BORMIOS” (say they’re not selling). So buy wherever you can find them. I cannot believe they do not see the economy of hanging in there for dedicated customers who need a waterproofable winter shoe. I LIVE in VFF’s (own 19 pairs). My Bormios are my favorite in this cold, wet weather. I just ordered 2 more pair because they’re going out of stock. Robert’s advice above is SUPERB (atKenco has the cheapest shipping). And unless you want to wear Injinji Toesocks, buy the correct size. (All my others are one size up).

OMG! Lawrence, thank you so much for the tip! I’ve just confirmed (at 978-318-0000) that they won’t be bringing them back to the US (still in Europe, I guess?).

Thank you for such an informative post. So happy to find a way to wear five fingers in the winter time.

Would it be possible to waterproof bikilas with this method too? Or is it only doable on leather?

Thank you in advance for any tips!

I do not think you could do this with a Bikila. The Aquaseal has a thicker oily substance. I don’t think it would be able to be applied properly. Then you would end up feeling a oily constancy on your skin I would imagine.

Thank you all for the replies. I bought Nikwax for fabric and I am now the proud owner of waterproof Bikilas! I tried sprinkling some water on it after it dried and it beads and run offs. Have not had an opportunity to do a real test yet, but happy so far.

Dear Robert,
I just saw the foto of your bominos, and i fell in love with the blue pair! Where can I get those????
With best reagards from Mallorca/ Spain!


I think you looked at black Bormios, and I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure Bormios have been discontinued.

I love Bormios and bought 2 extra pairs last winter while they were still available.

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