I’ve been wearing vibram five fingers for about 6 years now and they are my preferred choice for everyday wear (where I can) and for hiking. But along the way I have tried several different brands and styles of minimalist type shoes so here’s my experience:
Back in 2004 I broke my ankle quite badly and my arch on that foot sunk significantly (not that the other is much better). It took a long time to recover and to this day I’m still missing some range of motion. Once I was back walking normally I found I would get a lot of pain in my plantar fascia, like a ripping feeling, but far less when I was bare foot on the beach.
I first found five fingers through Marks daily apple probably in 2010 and hunted down an online store that sold them cheap. Little did I know they were fakes, but they felt good enough that I could justify the $200NZ it would take to get a real pair. The real deal were amazingly better than the fakes and I was sold. From then on the KSO’s were my go to shoe. I wore them daily at University, practiced parkour, and ran in them (see here from my half marathon training). I like the KSO’s because they are thin but fully covered and feel amazing on my feet. I still wear these often; however I had a labour job, did some high school teaching, now I’m in an office so I needed to find something more like a traditional shoe.
|Not the same as I had but close|
I tired vivo bare foot shoes. They have a minimalist, soft sole, wide toe box but look like regular shoes. The issue I found with these was that I had to tie them very loose as anything as tight as snug would give me a lot of foot pain. I think the laces pull the shoe tight around the mid foot and bind it up which lead to the same plantar fascia ripping feeling. It might be different for others but this is what I found for me.
After these I tried New Balance minimus. They were also a minimalist, soft sole, wide toe box but look like regular shoes. But again if found the same issue with them binding up the mid foot.
|Now my daily shoe in the office|
Late last year I was training for an obstacle run with a team and wanted a shoe that I could push harder than the vibram KSO’s. If found a brand called Altra sold locally, they are a more traditional off road running shoe but with a wide toe box and zero drop. I got a clearance pair and started training in them. These are now my daily wear shoes. Since they have a traditional stiffer sole they don’t bind my mid foot like softer soled shoes do, but they are still a good option for healthy feet and ankles since they are zero drop.
So in my search for good shoes to wear a wide toe box and zero drop are a must, but I personally need a stiff sole as the soft sole shoes bind my mid foot far too much. I’d still like to try some Zem shoes as I think these could be ok since they don’t lace up.
As for hiking I switched from KSO’s to the KSO trek, they are just a little big thicker which is great on rocks and have much more grip which is great in to mud while still having a super minimal feeling on my feet.
|There are KSO treks under all that mud|