Two more odds n' ends to add this week regarding minimalist footwear for trail use:
- I just finished writing a review of the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves on Toe Salad.
- VIVOBAREFOOT just published the official announcement of their new trail shoes called the Neo Trail. I am very interested to see what these have to offer to the lightweight/ultralight backpacking crowd. A review will be forthcoming.
5toes & barefoot
Hi Damien! My review of the Vibram KSO 5toes shoe: I love the separation of the toes and the soft-mesh boot; so much so that I'm currently construcing a tennis shoe that incorporates the 5toes design! The "barefoot" biomechanics hypothesis is sheer fallacy,totally unproven and fails any experiential investigation; by this I mean that wearing this shoe is extremely uncomfortable for anyone unless one is willing to invest 2 full months to strenghten the foot and calf muscles; no way in hell I want to invest that much discomfort or time into any footwear! My solution for the Vibram product line: add cushioning to the insole. I have hired the only custom shoe maker in Edmonton to experiment with various insole products in the hopes of constructing a comfortable walking shoe. My ultimate hope with the modified KSO 5toes shoe would be attempting to play tennis on a cement court; maybe my feet won't hurt after an hour of play!
I've read any and all material available on the web dealing with the "barefoot" biomechanics hypothesis; the only somewhat [funded by Vibram]credible research done on this hypothesis concludes that further research is required to validate the idea of the "midfoot strike"; these same 4 Harvard researchers make no conclusions or claims about the effect of barefoot running or walking on the joints [ie. knees] or ligaments etc. In fact, these same scientists have a disclaimer at the end of their research paper advising readers to consult their physicians before using any "barefoot" products. This admission hardly suggests confidence in these footwear products!!!! Furthermore, wearing these "barefoot" products quickly dissuaded me from their viability or effecftiveness. I have not "drunk the koolaid" and I can't imagine how any user of these products could draw any other conclusion. These shoes are good for rock climbing and water sports; anything beyond that is sheer market propaganda; I wish Vibram, Merrell and the other producers a lot of luck; this is a small niche market and will remain thus!
I have contacted both Vibram and Merrell in regards to the 5toes design; I believe that this concept has wide market potehtial if the above-mentioned modifications are made; it appears that both companies [they have a production agreement in the "barefoot" industry] are extremely reluctant to adapt the 5toes design to any "cushioned" shoe; this belief means that I am trying to induce them into considering the "5toes plus cushion" design by producing my own prototype; I suspect they won't be happy that I've "borrowed [patent law]" their 5toes design and incorporated it into a running shoe! Further developments await in this struggle for valid, science-based ideas!!!!
Simon, That is the whole
That is the whole point of minimalist shoes... to strengthen the foot muscles. The fact that it would take you two months to be able to acclimate to wearing them means that your feet are weak. Most people who buy these are buying them because they want the foot strengthening benefits.
Vibram has another model called the Bikila that has a small amount of cushion (4mm), for running. You bought the KSO which has no cushioning. Maybe you would like the KSO better?
There is another compana (Fila) that made a similar design and they are now getting sued by Vibram... so be careful what you decide to develop ;-)