As a barefoot/minimalist runner I like to keep just enough covering on my feet for the days that I’m not going 100% feet. On those days I opt for Vibram Five Fingers. Those funny looking toe shoes from Italy. I’m on my fifth pair, and see almost no reason to try any other shoe.
My VFF journey started out in Vibram Sprints, then KSO (Keep Stuff Out), then KomodoSport, and most recently the Bikila LS . After my experience with the KomodoSport I was hesitant to stick with VFF, but opted to give their running shoe, the Bikila LS, a shot.
I hit up REI and tried on both the Bikila and the Bikila LS. The Bikila is similar to the other model as it has a strap that goes over the top of the foot. The LS uses a “Lacing System” that has a quick-locking mechanism instead of a strap. Almost immediately I could see a huge difference in the comfort of the LS over its strapping sibling. There was no pull on the tendons off my foot and it fit rather nicely.
Even better, Vibram Five Fingers have no breaking in period. Just slip ‘em on and go. latter is more like the other three models as they have a strap that goes around the back of the foot and over the top.
The insides of the shoe are soft and comfortable, and with the Vibram standard Dri-Lex material my feet remained dry throughout most of my runs. Of the four model, I would have to say the Bikila LS are the most comfortable.
The outsole has thirty-seven 4 mm pods made of Vibram TC-1 Performance rubber for abrasion resistance. While the arch is made up of EVA that follows the contour of the arch. The combination of these two materials allow for flexibility and pretty good grip (with the exception of ice). I’m a warm-natured dude, so my feet don’t tend to get cold even in the winter. Though, I could see how some might have to resort to toe socks or hand warmers in the colder months due to the thin material.
After about 300 miles the Bikila LS began stretch at the heel. It was a slight expansion, but enough to bother me as they neared their final miles. In the homestretch, the rubber at the balls of my feet became increasingly thin. Eventually, after 338 miles, a hole appeared and it was time to retire my most comfortable pair of Vibrams to date.
How they measure up
Sprints: 504 miles
KSO: 576 miles
KomodoSport: 226 miles
Bikila LS: 338 miles
In spite of their less than stellar lifespan, the Bikila LS are my favorite of the four models I’ve tried. The lacing system is great and keeps pressure off the tendons that run down the top of my feet. The outsole provided excellent traction on trails, over rocks, and on all types of road surfaces.
If you’re in the market for a pair of minimalist footwear and you’ve been eyeing Vibram Five Fingers I would easily recommend this style over the Sprints, KSOs, and the KomodoSports. So much so that I just bought another pair of Bikila LS with the hope that they will last a little longer this time around.