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Vibram Spyridon LS fivefingers: field test

posted Jul 29, 2012, 2:25 PM by Marco Martino   [ updated Dec 19, 2012, 10:42 AM by Italo Balestra ]
Every now and then I had noticed advertisements on some outdoor magazines, but I was not very impressed. I thought it was one of those new fashion/trendy products, more "cool" than really useful.

I was in the USA for a hike through the states of Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona and there I found that this kind of footwear was very popular among local trekkers. While I was in Moab, Utah, I visited an outdoor-gear store and I was surprised to see that an entire department was dedicated to FiveFingers.

I started to be intrigued and... persuaded by a good-looking salesgirl, I finally bought a pair of FiveFingers. I chose the Vibram Spyridon LS model, one of the most technical FiveFingers designed for Trial Running.





First impressions

Following the advice of the salesgirl I bought a size slightly larger than mine and I must say that that was a good choice.
The first time I've worn them I had some problems to fit my fingers in the right place, but once I managed to put them on, the feeling was that of having gloves on my feet. The comfort is perfect, they fit snugly with no parts that squeeze or compress unnaturally the foot. At first, one has the impression of being barefoot. You can feel the ground on the whole plantar surface. The walls between the fingers can hardly be noticed. 

I was looking forward to try them on the field... and Utah is the perfect one: sandstone slabs, dusty trails, and river crossings.




On the field

Greater control on your balance can be perceived. The more natural contact with the ground provides a lot more information on our motion. However, the footstrike becomes a bit "heavier", because the sole does not offer any cushioning, being only a few millimeters thick. Indeed, after the first day of use, I had sore heels. Of course, you have to get used to them and I must say that after a few more days of use the heel pain has gradually disappeared.

I noticed very clearly one important feature: the grip. The Vibram Spyridon LS have a sole literally glued to the ground! The diamonds on the tread act like suction cups. The superb grip combined with the great stability result in a really exceptional feeling!




The sole has excellent side protection on the entire profile that prevents you from getting hurt by accidental impacts against hard objects and I have to say that it works! I hit a rock hard enough with a finger without suffering consequences.

The front part of the upper is made ​​of a material similar to neoprene, very elastic, comfortable and breathable at the same time, while the rear part is made of synthetic leather.

The tongue is very comfortable and soft and the lacing system is fast and accurate.

  


































On stony grounds they lack a little comfort. You can actually feel the stones under the sole, because the 3.5mm-sole cushioning is obviously scarce. On compact terrains, instead, they demonstrate their full potential. The grip is astonishing, it feels almost like wearing climbing shoes. The flexibility of the foot is extreme.


I also had the opportunity to use them in the water. The feeling is good. The water rapidly drains without giving that unpleasant feeling of swollen and heavy shoes. The grip is always good even on slippery rocks. The only downfall at the end of the day was that I found a few grains of sand in the inside, but I think this is inevitable. They may be very well-suited for water sports, such as kayaking and canyoning.

PROS:

  • Great perception of the ground
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent grip
  • Great comfort
CONS:
  • Asperities can be felt under the foot on stony grounds
  • To be used with care, especially the first few times 
  • The walls between the fingers may tear
  • Soreness of heels (this may vary from person to person)
To me, a positive experience! But it's hard to say if I would recommend this kind of footwear to others. For sure this is a product out of the norm, that might not work for some people. 

Tester: Dario Gobbi