Many people have asked the question "How long do Fivefingers last?" While I think this is a good question, in principle, it's much more difficult to explain than one might think.
And it starts with, "It depends..."
THE ISSUE//Frequency and Comparision to Running Shoes
This may sound obvious, but it's foundational to understanding how long you'll have you brand new toe shoes.
'How often do you plan on wearing them?'—The more you wear them, the more the rubber will wear away. Each of the different models are only a few millimetters thick in the sole, but that's the point. The flexibility is unparalleled (except to the uninhibited human foot). However, if you wear them all-day everyday, they'll wear down much quicker than if you want to run in them. [Example: I had a pair of Sprints (3–5 mm in different areas of the feet, which is by far the thinnest sole sold by VFF) that I wore incessantly (everyday use, basketball, running, and occasionally in water) for 18 months before I wore a hole through them; running, everyday use, etc.]
'What will you be wearing them for?'—If you're floating in rivers, running on pavement, and hiking through mud the shoes will naturally wear down faster than if you wear them to the grocery store, to class, and to work (if you have that cool of a job). This is rational and you should understand the reasonable implications of your regular activities in the shoes.
'How long is it safe to wear them?'—Running shoes have limits on them. Each shoe is good for, essentially, a number of miles. In the past, many shoe companies have said they're good for x amount of miles, or a year and a half, depending on how much you use them. This limit is based upon how long the cushioning in the heal will protect you, so to speak. But anyone who runs proficiently understands that going through shoes every 6 months to a year is a normal part of the package you buy when you start running. (You can wear a pair of running shoes for 10+ years, but the continuity of the foam padding left the shoes long ago. So, when you compare how long it takes to wear down the more traditional (of the last 30+ years) shoes to Fivefingers, the latter actually last longer. And because a forefoot/midfoot strike doesn't rely on padding as much (because your impact force is lessened), there's less of a need for padding anyways. So the value of Fivefinger padding revolves around how it keeps your foot from touching the ground. So, the shoes should last until that's the case. [Example: I've had a pair of Bikila LS that I've had for three or more years that still has padding throughout the shoes.]
CONCLUSION//Holy Shoes and Changing What You Think "Shoes" Are
OK, so I lied. I just told you that Fivefingers last until you wear a hole through them. But the truth is, they can last much longer than that. 'Cause who cares if you have a tiny hole in your shoe? I certainly don't. As long as you don't run/walk downtown (where I frequent), you can wear them even with holes, and your pad will develop nicely to inhibit you from really even noticing. But regardless of whether or not you want to dip into being partially barefoot, I've only had two pair ever wear thru, and they were both Sprints that I wore all the time (the second pair, pictured above, lasted 3 years before obtaining their holes). The Trek, TrekSport, Bikila, Bikila LS, KSO, and even the Moc have yet to wear thru—many of which I've had for 3–4 years.
Hopefully, you can enjoy their use long after purchase—and appreciate thinking about all the money you're saving from not having to buy new shoes all the time.