Sep 12, 2011 at 11:12 am #1279264
@jason762Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Anyone here done a backpacking trips with their Vibram 5 Finger "toe shoes"?
How did it work out for you? What distances did you cover? Any learned lessons or tips to share?Sep 12, 2011 at 11:20 am #1778809
I do not have the toe shoes, but here's an informative blog post about it.
I day hiked with a guy who had them and it seemed he may have broken his pinky toes. I think that happens frequently.Sep 12, 2011 at 11:22 am #1778810
Hi, Jason. If you decide to do a trip with your 5 Fingers, please post the results.
I recently did 84 miles in my barefoot trail gloves. I've found that I love the barefoot feeling, but I don't like shoe material between my toes. Still, the overall results should be similar. My trip report and photos are here.Sep 12, 2011 at 11:24 am #1778811
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
I was wandering around a Big 5 Sports while my boyfriend was trying on shoes, and saw the Fila toe shoes. Can't remember the name of the version of them, but I noticed that the last 2 toes were not separate. That gives a sort of "splinted" effect for the pinky toe, and I wondered if that might not work better. I have seen some horrendous pictures of bruised pinky toes that keeps me from trying the toe shoes, and our resident runner in our office took hers back after some chronic sores from the shoes.Sep 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm #1778862
I and a housemate have a pair we hike with. We recently did the Carter/Moriah/Wildcat ridge labor day weekend, covering about 24mi over 3 days/2 nights. We've also done a lot of day hikes (we're trying to get all the NE 4000'ers checked off)
I've also done a 12mi overnight "solo" trek with them (and the pooch) which I did as a gear test hike thus the short mileage.
Here's my take, based on our experience, along with a now ex-housemate, and other various friends that have them…
They do take some getting used to, both the fit and how to hike with them as far as foot placement, etc. compared to whatever your traditional shoe type is.
they stretch. a lot. when purchasing, get the absolute smallest that you can fit into, and I don't mean "comfortably" fit into, because if you've never warn them they won't really be super "comfortable" right away, but actually be able to get your foot into. take them home. step in a bucket of water and walk around. the water helps the material stretch much faster than normal wear will. but you need to get them wet AND use them so they actually stretch to the size of your feet. This will take a few iterations at least. You can also do this while hiking with them, walk through a stream to get them wet and continue on your way.
My two housemates (one has since moved to another city) and I all love them for hiking. At first we really only did day hikes, in the 10-15mi range. We, as you were, were unsure as to how they would be for heavier pack weights and longer distances. At first we found that the bottoms of our feet definitely needed to get used to them, especially over some types of terrain where the extra cushioning of shoes helps spread and absorb load. We've found that as you both learn how to walk in them as far as foot placement, as well as just your feet "toughening" up in a sense, that this has not been as big of an issue anymore. I personally don't really notice it even on longer hikes.
Our labor day ridge hike was the first time we really used them with heavier packs (we all averaged roughly 15lbs each with food and water in our packs) for longer distances. We both found that we really did appreciate them more than our standard trail runners. I found that over the course of this hike I perfected my ability to really feel the ground through the shoes and take maximum advantage of the tread on mine (I have the Treksport model), and finally felt more comfortable hiking in them than in my trail runners. At the end of each day and the overall hike we found our feet felt better than they had on previous similar weighted/distanced hikes. Neither of us formed blisters, and the ability to walk through any puddle or stream to cool off and "sooth" our feet without "worrying" about soaking our socks, etc is a great feeling.
So, yes, I am a huge fan now. People constantly ask us our opinions on the trail and while for day hikes I was sold rather immediately, I did have reservations on how they would perform on longer/heavier hikes, I now will unequivocally recommend them to anyone who does not feel the need for ankle support, which is the one area they lack in. I'm ok with this though, as I have no ankle strength issues and so find shoes with too much ankle support a hindrance and a pain.Sep 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm #1778875
@maynard76Locale: New England
I recently did the 100 mile wilderness (ME) wearing them. I have been walking/jogging in barefoot foot wear for a few years and wear vivo barefoot on a daily basis.
In my experience short trips from day hikes to a few days- they were perfectly fine and I would even prefer them. Stream crossing and scrambling are easier with them.
BUT- after a while on this trip things began to catch up with me. Long days on rocky root covered terrain began to make the bottom of my feet real sore. This is because there is no real padding on the bottom of the shoe and you feel every root and rock much more than normal. This is fine and even good normally because it makes you more careful about how/where you step. But after time it adds up. My friend was getting more used to hiking with every passing day and felt no real soreness where I was in real pain in the bottom of my feet.
Mind you, my legs and ankles were perfectly fine and not sore much at all no issues to speak of. It was purely the constant battering on the bottom of the feet that was the only issue. It probably would be the case that over time (like a longer thru hike) that pain would go away as my feet got accustomed to it but 7 days was not enough.
So just keep that in mind.Sep 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm #1778883
My friend jake recently crossed the Olympic National park wearing them. He has beastly strong feet and even for him, he was laid up for at least a week afterwards. You can read about it here:
http://www.barefootjake.com/2011/09/solo-across-olympic-national-park-2011.htmlSep 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm #1778885
@andycLocale: The Front Range
I've used VFF's exclusively over the past couple years and absolutely love them for just about anything. Both my Treks and Bikilas have gone on several trips in the mountains (nothing extended, usually 30ish mile overnighters) and trail runs up to 20 miles with no issues. Unfortunately, my toes eventually tear through the seams (usually around 400 miles), so I'm not sure if they're going to be an option for me much longer. They're way too expensive to replace every few months.
Which brings me to the Merrell Trail Gloves. Although I love my VFF's, I've slammed my toes into so many roots and rocks that my Trail Gloves are usually my go-to for rough terrain now. I don't have to spend near as much time watching where I set my feet, and they're just about as comfortable with similar ground feel.Sep 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm #1778888
Do you get more mileage out of your Merrell Trail Gloves than you do the VFF's? After my recent experience (not a single hot spot or hint of a blister after 84 miles) I'm planning to switch to them for most (if not all) of my trips. But I'm wondering what kind of mileage I can expect out of them.Sep 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm #1778923
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I would take short hikes completely barefoot as much as you can. That might tough you up "faster" for doing long trips with the 5 fingers. Kinda like training with 50 lbs on your back and then flying on the trail with 20lbs on trips, but just with your feet I guess…Sep 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm #1778932
@andycLocale: The Front Range
Diana – I'm actually wondering the same. I don't know how many miles I've put on my Trail Gloves between running and hiking because I switch shoes for my runs so often and can't keep it straight. They should have over 500 miles on them by now, as I've put on about 250 just in the past 6 weeks.
Early on, probably not even 100 miles in, I started to see some separation of the soles in a few spots. It has definitely gotten worse with use, but they definitely have a lot left in them. Because the separation happened so early though, I'm wondering if I just got a crappy pair. More likely, it's probably my feet. They're pretty tight where most of the separation is occurring, so that could be a possible cause.
The soles themselves seem to be holding up pretty well, despite the fact that most of their use is on pretty rocky ground. The mesh is torn in a few spots also, but considering how often they go through cactus and thorns, it's not too bad. If I had to guess I'd say most people should get at least 1000 miles out of a pair. I saw a picture of some at 700 and they looked way better than mine.Sep 12, 2011 at 5:06 pm #1778951
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
I've been using the Merrell Trail Gloves for the last two months of backpacking and they feel great on my feet! I have a wide toebox and normally get blisters but with the Trail Gloves, happy feet.
The downside . . . . . calve fatigue.
I'm not a runner but normally I can backpack 15 plus miles a day without much muscle fatigue. The last three backpacking trips with a pack weight of 19 pounds and I can do a day of 12 miles then the next day I'm pretty sore only getting in around eight miles before I'm done. The following day my calves are shot and I'm hobbling around the house.
Each trip things are getting better and I can go a bit farther without as much muscle fatigue after the trip but boy it's a slow process!Sep 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm #1778974
@tsunamiLocale: Southern Nevada
My VFF's are used for after hiking relief around the camp. They are Sprints or the most basic Classics as they are good and comfortable therapy for tired feet while setting up or just hanging out, down to the river to purify….I do not generally take my Black/Grey Camo KSO's and use the more basic ones while backpacking but they work very well around the camp and short wanderings for wood gathering ect. I hate sandy toes!!
A buddy of mine hiked all 16 miles of the Zion Narrows in the trek shoe version and claimed it was very rough and he felt like he had broken his feet the next day after. I wore standard water socks with reinforced soles like a shoe. I was fine.
I love my VFF's and despite meeting a couple of 19 year olds this past week on top of Mount Langley wearing blue/white VFF runners, mine will be restricted to the above usage and around town to prevent on trail injuries and fatigue as well as avoid burning such expensive rubber.Sep 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm #1778985
Well, before I got bogged down with my MS thesis (done with revisions and signatures tomorrow!!!) I was using my TrekSports for Spring and Summer backpacking all over the Green and White Mountains. I won't post too many pictures, since I've posted them on this site in the past, but here's one of my feet on Mt Jefferson in NH heading across the Presidential Range.
Based on my experiences this year, I'd say the VFF seem to work great on all sorts of terrain and conditions. The biggest barrier for me isn't the "toughness" of your feet, but warmth. As the temp drops, I've found that you have to have a pair of socks for warmth, because there's no cushion to insulate your feet.
Also, my *impression* is that the toughness of a person's foot is not the issue, nor the toughness of the terrain. My feet aren't tough at all. Also, I've walked across some of the sharpest, hardest miles of stone in the northeastern US. My suspicion is that most people don't adjust their gait, which leads to pain. If you walk in minimalist footwear the same way you walk in trail runners or boots, you will must likely have problems. You have to take shorter steps, bend your knees, and place your feet down softly and evenly. If you walk on your toes, which is tempting, that can lead to pain too.
The little toe does hang out there a bit, but I've only stubbed it once in several months. Overall, I bang my feet less often than I do in trail runners, because I'm more careful with my foot placement.
Overall, I prefer the feel of the VFFs in the wet Spring and warm summer months. As the ground gets colder, I need more distance between my feet and the ground. I hike with people who wear boots, trail runners and VFFs, and we all do just fine.Sep 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm #1778988
I've never quite understood why the toe pockets are necessary. Here's what I've been hiking in lately. I've managed a 14 mile hike and a 13 mile hike with a mile of bushwhacking up a creek recently. Homemade huaraches with 1/4" leather laces, 8mm Vibram Newflex sole with a suede top.
The only thing they're not too good at so far is walking through things like wild roses.Sep 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm #1778993
I just did a hiking/packrafting trip in Isle Royale in my Vibram KSO Treks. We hiked about 25-30 miles and boated the same.
There were times I felt my feet becoming slightly "raw" on the long stretches of rock, but I never had a blister, nor did I have any real foot pain.
Overall, I liked them a lot and plan to do most 3-season hiking in them from now on.Sep 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm #1778994
@maynard76Locale: New England
I recently bought some Invisible shoes and will hopefully get to try them soon.
I was skeptical of the need for separate toes as well. What I found is that the toes did a lot for me as far as grip. Like having more of a hand to grab on to rocks and stuff scrambling. (I use Bilkas)
But I agree they are not necessary as long as my feet and toes are free to move naturally all is good. VFF are a bit of a pain to put on in the morning too but its not a real big deal. invisible shoes are a quarter of the price of VFFs so Im hopeful they will work on eastern trails.Sep 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm #1779043
I've been using my KSO Treks for really rocky terrain on day trips to hike in Government Canyon. Lots of rocks, many sharp, some difficult spots to chose footing through. (I may have some photos… I'll see if I can figure out how to post them.)
My own experience so far has been:
– This is hands down the most secure I have ever felt about my footing when hiking on any terrain (much less rocky uphills and downhills with moving rocks). I'm doing ankle injury rehab with these (so no really high mileage yet), and I would not be comfortable hiking in a regular shoe or boot – I only trust my footing with these right now. I feel a little like a mountain goat with these… (Well, ok, a lumbering mountain goat, but still…)
– I needed to get my feet used to walking using all my toes somewhat independently and moving my foot as if it were barefoot. My feet were sore at times, but, although I could feel rocks through the soles, it wasn't much more than I'd feel with trail runners. Rather, my feet were sore because there would be twinging and cramping little tiny muscles in my toes and feet that had forgotten what it was like to be used. You use different muscles with these. It takes adjusting. (I got these same cramps walking around the house with them when acclimating. I did this for quite some time – days to weeks – before I tried hiking in them.)
– I haven't put more than 7-8 miles in a day on these (yet), but I am pretty heavy right now and have been carrying about 5-6 L water in a heavy old daypack, so it's not like an unburdened stroll. I have never had bruised foot bottoms (or bruised anything). (Of course, maybe I have tough feet – they are pretty calloused, but honestly, they aren't THAT tough…)
– I only banged a toe a few times when I was hot and stopped paying attention to my feet and sort of "kicked a rock" (bad idea!). "Kicking" straight on was pretty cushioned by the sole that wraps up across the front of each toe. Side "bumping" of the little toe hurt, but it honestly would have hurt just as much in trail shoes (especially thin lightweight ones that are compared to these toe shoes). It passed quickly, no lasting pain/damage/bruising. I can't imagine not being careful about foot placement and kicking rocks and roots all day in any shoe. Maybe other people hike differently. Of course, I'm not running in these, only hiking, so maybe that's the difference with more banging. (Won't be running any time soon.)
– I always wear a thin "liner" Injinji toe sock. More comfortable that way. I think that helps with the banging and cushioning (just conjecture – haven't hiked without socks to compare).
– I have bad plantar fasciitis with a heel spur on the right. Pain is completely gone when I hike in these. Interesting.
I have ordered a second pair, because I like them so much. I have been holding off on a review until I have more miles (after building up more ankle-wise). Maybe it's just me and my feet (I could certainly see these being specifically great for some, bad for others), but I love them so far.
One note though – I have to agree with the reader review that says they are horrible on flat asphalt/sidewalks. To the point of being pretty painful. If I had a hike with mixed surfaces including road, etc., I'd use different shoes or bring a pair of Crocs flip flops.
Edit to add: The KSO Treks have more protection for the bottom of the foot than the other models, as I understand. SO, the others would have more chance of foot bruising or soreness, I'd think.Sep 13, 2011 at 9:17 am #1779117
One thing I have noticed whenever I hike in unusual footwear is that I get a sort of "performance anxiety" where I think that anytime I hurt a toe or slip on a rock or struggle to keep up with someone or have to walk gingerly through a fallen tree it demonstrates I made a bad choice of footwear. But really I've only forgotten all the million times I stubbed toes, slipped and fell and bloodied my knees, had a hard time keeping up, got terrible blisters or worse wearing trail runners.Sep 13, 2011 at 9:53 am #1779137
drowning in spamMember
I'm sure you're talking about the Fila Skele-toes. I looked them up after you mentioned them. Other than a tread pattern that may not be aggressive enough, it may be a good shoe. Then I was very surprised that the first person I saw while hiking yesterday afternoon was wearing these. He said he got them at a Big 5 in San Diego. Here are a picture of these shoes.Sep 13, 2011 at 9:54 am #1779138
I actually like the separated pinky toe, mine always rub against the toe next to it (because of how my feet are formed) so having it separate prevents the rubbing.Sep 13, 2011 at 10:14 am #1779146
@steven: That so funny that you say that. I wasn't going to bring it up, but I have what I call a "mutant toe" – my pinky toe on the right. When my foot is relaxed (and even when walking normally), the pinky toe doesn't touch the ground – it is raised and overlaps the toe next to it. All of my aunts on my mother's side of the family have this same "mutant toe" (one tried to get it repaired to no avail). I think it's a missing or misaligned tendon or something. Anyhow, I was concerned that it wouldn't work in the Five Fingers because of this, but I wanted to try, mainly because, as you might imagine, in normal shoes/boots, it pushes up against the side and top of the shoe and frequently hurts.
I LOVE how it separates my mutant toe. Not weird or painful at all. I think I have better balance now because for the first time I can use this toe as it was meant to be used (for balance). Cool. :D
Here's a pretty unflattering iPhone shot of my mutant toe:Sep 13, 2011 at 10:39 am #1779152
yea, mine looks similar, except instead of going over the toe next to it it pushes into the toe next to it, slightly under, so the sides rub constantly when I wear socks, I wear sandals as much as I can… Un any of my athletic activity shoes (hiking, soccer, running) I put a piece of tape around my pinky toe to "protect" it.Sep 13, 2011 at 11:25 am #1779158
@walksoftly33Locale: New England
Last year I thru hiked the AT and for about 1600+ miles I wore KSO Treks. I thought I would give some additional thoughts.
I went through two pairs, the durability averaged out to 800 miles a pair. the first pair being completely destroyed after about 750 miles (It went through worse conditions, could have been replaced at 600miles), and the second pair that is still in descent enough condition to wear after about 850miles (Mostly dry thru the summer months)
To start I want to talk about the problems that I had with the VFF shoe design. In order of occurrence.
1.The VIBRAM LOGO TAG located under the heel was the first thing to cause an issue on both pairs. It bunched up and caused rubbing and discomfort. Had to be torn out before they caused blisters. The fact that it was there is senseless, it serves no purpose.
2. Similarly, The LEATHER BOTTOM INSOLE wears and bunches, due to water, pressure and movement. This like the tag caused a deal of discomfort. I found my self with both pairs sitting in the middle of the trail at some point scratching with my nails and snipping with my Leatherman at the bits of leather bottom, till all but the leather up in the toes and around the sewn edges was gone and the EVA foam underneath was exposed. Knowing what the problem was with the second pair this event came more preemptively.
3. The STICHING AND FABRIC failure between the toes is what made the first pair unusable and it began to happen on the second. Holes either rubbed or stitches tore. it was not a big deal on the small toes but, the big toe was wear I had the most problems with the fabric and it is directly related to number 4 below. Towards the very end of the first pair the rubber was starting to delaminate from the tips of the toes as well. And the left big toe had completely ripped away from the rubber. It kinda of flopped around but was not a huge problem.
4. The BIG TOE RUBBER looks like it needs another 1/4 of rubber added on to the inside, heading towards the second toe. Once the fabric wore out completely my big toe would pop half way out and I would be walking directly on my toe. (also wore a hole through my socks in half a day).
*Caveat – this may not be an issue for every one. This only happened on my right side and I believe it is because of my body and walking gait. At my hip I measured 5mm shorter on my left then on my right. Watching my feet walk, even with all intention towards good form, my Left foot/ Big toe would roll inward onto the extra rubber of the VFF and be cupped in rubber that is on the outside of the big toe. My right foot/ big toe would push outward to the side, causing my big toe to "want to slide off" the rubber, once the fabric wore away, it did. This was a very subtle movement of my unique walking gait but it did play a role in the performance of the shoes. The last 50 miles before Waynseboro VA I was walking directly on the ground with half my right big toe. IT held up pretty well, toughened up.
6. Over time the VFF will BECOME LOOSER on your feet as stitches and fabric stretch and/ or break. When I received my second pair in Waynsboro, VA. The new VFF felt very tight on my feet. While some of this may be attributed to foot swelling, mostly it was because I had gotten so used to the first pair which by that point were in disrepair and falling of my feet.
5. In a related note, the adjustable strap adjust pressure down as well as forward. This became a problem. It was never more evident then when going down the "Priest" (4miles continuous down) With the fabric of the shoe becoming loose, It was important to tightten the strap down. For Three reasons
1.in order to hold the sole of the shoe onto my feet
2.keep my feet from sliding forward causing the fabric in between my toes to cause discomforting pressure
3. keep my feet from sliding forward causing the tips of my toes to jam in to the tips of the VFF, (Think turf toe)
The design of the strap only compounded the problems of 2 and 3. The tighter I strapped my foot down and in, the more the strap would push my toes forward. The Priest was the first time that the trail and my choice to wear VFF caused my feet "irregular pain" that lasted for about a week. I.e. not the regular swelling, but structural in my toes. Normally even when the shoes were loose it was not a problem because you alternate up, down and flat. It was the continuous 4miles straight down that put me over the edge.
OTHER PROBLEMS (in order of importance)
1. MAN MADE SURFACES SUCK!!! Regrettably for most of the time I did not have camp shoes, they were stubbornly deemed not worth there weight. In hind sight I wont hike in VFF again with out some other foot wear. I could not walk more then a hundred feet on any man made surface before my feet would be screaming at me in pain. Through all the rocks of PA and all of the other terrain I crossed nothing compared to the pain that man made surfaces inflict. It is not even close. There is something about a hard flat surface that does not agree with bare feet. I can not emphasize this enough. This was by far the worst aspect of only having VFF as shoes. Even when trying to walk with the best form and placing my feet as gently as I could it still was a problem. Town became a get to the hotel and don't move experience. In one episode while blue blazing on a rode with two fellow hikers I just layed down on someones front lawn, because my feet told me no more road. The solution to that situation was stubbornly wearing my hiking partners hot pink crocs, the desire to be self sufficient and the embarrassment of hot pink crocs was outweighed by the thought of a tasty meal in town.
2. STUBBING TOES – it happens, not that big of a problem, only one stubbed right pinky toe hurt for longer than 30 seconds. But I looked at the ground and my feet a lot!
3. I found the TEMPERATURE MINIMUM for these to be 40* when wet. As for dry im not really sure I would not recommend going below freezing.
PROS – In order of importance
1. NO HEEL LIFT allows the heel to go all the way to the ground, converting from regular hiking shoes the biggest benefit was while going down hill, since your heel was allowed to go down further your knee is not pushed out in front over and past your feet as much. Instead you stay over your feet more putting less strain on your the front of your knees.
(Edit) Additional anecdote: Topic Plantar Fasciitis, I believe that this no heel lift or lowering of a your heel compared to traditional shoes, prevents or helps to alleviate Plantar Fasciitis. With no heel lift your tendon fully stretches. Lifting the heel makes the tendons used, shorter. Previous to the trail I never suffered from this, during the trail this was not a problem. But after the trail when the weather became colder I started to wear Big clunky winter boots with a huge heel lift and Super Feet insoles. after about a week of wearing them one morning getting out of bed as my feet hit the floor and I had a shooting pain in my heal. Little bit of reading online, and I realized what had happened, my tendons had contracted causing minor PF. A little bit of stretching, removing the insoles and limiting the boot usage, I was fine. Ironically on the trail I had tried to convince a fellow hiker suffering significantly from PF of this hypothetical theory (I had read it somewhere at some point prepping for my hike). It was not until it happened to me did I fully believe this to be true.
2. NO ANKLE SUPPORT allows free rotation of ankle, coupled with only a 4mm sole, allows for a greater margin of "error" when taking awkward steps. In a traditional high top or mid top, your ankle is locked in place. Which transfers the torque of a bad step up to your knees and hips. Also you are standing on about an inch of rubber. When you take a bad step, ie, a misstep or a unseen rock, your foot has that much further to go till it catches itself. The VFF allow your ankle to rotate free and to roll on to inside slightly if necessary, it does not have an inch to fall off of the platform of the shoe.
(Not sure if I am being clear about this point, but it is a huge benefit)
3. BALANCE, coupled with point number 2, the VFF give you a better sense of balance. It is that process of placing the onus onto your feet, ankles and calves, that strengthens your entire lower body. I fell only twice during my entire thru hike, and only once was it in VFF. (In VT I came to the crest of a small hump one step heading downward I put my feet together to break… it was pure mud… I plopped right onto my butt as my feet slipped forward.)
4. Increased feel for the ground
5. As stated above and before by others it strengthens the foot and lower leg. When I switched to Adidas Adi-zero shoes (Love them) at the base of the White Mountains after about a week my feet felt better than ever. I think the conditioning of the VFF on my feet made regular shoes, even minimal ones feel like a cushy palace!
6. Conversation starter, boy is it, I do not know how many people stopped and asked about the shoes, I never minded answering the questions, sometimes I would go into more detail than others depending on peoples interest level and my energy level. But my Hiking partner defiantly started getting sick of it, later she said partly because people were stopping to talk to me and not her. :)
7. Did not have a single blister the entire trail. Not sure if that is because of the shoes or just my feet and the conditions. I always wore socks I found Injinji Merino Wool Outdoor Blend worked the best. The synthetic Micro socks I did not like, the looked and smelled awful.
8. I liked the leather upper, it protected my feet well enough from sticks and things and the smooth inside feel was nice. Also the leather upper was durable, fabric failure at the toes was at the seems and the mesh between the toes.
9. The bottom of the shoe really held up well. I found that the rubber did not wear away that quickly and only towards then end of both pairs did it start to de-laminate in spots. I thought that it provided good enough traction for the conditions
I enjoyed my thru hike, and the VFF Treks were a good part of it. They forced me to slow down and pay attention to my walking, how and where I placed my foot almost every single step. This I think played a part in only falling one time wearing them. So they provided a level of safety. But at times they limited my movements, like when in town on man made surfaces. Not unlike alot of thru hikers, my feet had some pain and swelling almost always.
I had reasons before the trail on why I wanted to wear them, I was looking for balance in my life physically and spiritually. Just like the trail the VFF had its ups and downs. Would I wear them again on a thru hike? I don't think I would. I experienced it and now like the AT its time to experience new shoes and new trails. I have my eyes on NB Minimus and the PCT!
For the shoe
1. Eliminate Tag under heal
2. Eliminate leather sole, the EVA foam was fine on its own.
3. Independent strap system for Heel and forefoot which allow for maximum control over fit (this system is used in other VFF models)
4. Additional rubber for the big toes (ie wider)
For the user
5. Wear with socks, Injinji Outdoor
6. Be in tune with how you walk, though these almost force you to.
7. If out on the trail for a while have secondary shoes, ie camp/town shoes
8. Hiking poles help take the weight off a misstep, which you feel sooner because of the sensitivity VFF provides. Also I recommend on nicely groomed trail to just carry them in your hand as to not become dependent on them for balance over time.(ie train your muscles). In summary to maintain muscle balance I would have poles but only use when necessary over extended periods of time.
9. Like others have said ease into it with miles and weight
10. Walk Softly and carry a big spirit
To end my comments on VFF I would like to share a comment a friend and fellow thru hiker said to me on the trail near Slatington PA.
"You know Herro, there are parts of the trail where I think you could wear those…I don't this is one of them!"Sep 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm #1779235
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