Vibram recently came out with their Fivefingers V-Series of minimalist footwear and they're now available at Travel Country Outfitters in Orlando, Florida. New models include the V-Alpha, V-Aqua, V-Run, V-Soul, V-Trail, V-Train, V-Trek. These styles allow your to choose precisely what they're looking for in a barefoot shoe.
I’ve loved using Vibram Fivefinger shoes for almost a decade now (all purchased from Travel Country in Orlando, Florida, by the way), including more than a dozen pairs, from the Sprint to the KSO, the Bikilia to the original Trek, even the old kangaroo-leather slipper Moc versions which (regrettably) aren't made any longer. I've fit the shoes on thousands of pairs of feet, put thousands of miles on all my pairs, and even taught a class on changing running form to barefoot (made more seamless by the intermediate step of using these shoes).
Here are my thoughts on a few of the newest V-Series shoes:
Right or wrong, these remind me of a love child between the V-Trails and the V-Treks. They’re sporty, ready to get dirty, and very durable. They have Megagrip sole pattern on the bottom that allow for superb traction on wet surfaces. Their upper is 50% synthetic and 50% wool for flexibility and comfort.
The toes are also very well supported for quick horizontal movements and the upper foot is supported by pull-cord laces. A nice intermediary shoe if you want to tackle many an adventure.
These are my favorites of the bunch, and—in fact—the ones I bought because I like them so much. They’re the lightest, simplest to get on, with the most flexible sole. They’re made for water in that the treads on the bottom are very nodular to give you traction on rocks and keep your foot safe from any sharp things you may find on the lake beds in Orlando or floors of the numerous Florida inlets.
There are also tiny holes that let the water drain out, but they’re perfect for minimalist running in cities and working out in the park. There’s a plastic support that adds a teeny bit of structure to the very flexible, movable upper. It’s a nice combination. And they put a strap on the back as well as the top, which locks your foot in there pretty good, though they’re still relatively easy to slip on and off. Huge fan of these shoes. Quite minimalist. And when you live in Orlando, like me and you want the least amount of material on your body as possible, these are fairly ideal.
These are an evolutionary upgrade to the Bikilas—one of the original running shoes, named after the famous Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian man who won the 1960 Olympic marathon barefooted. They’re a great transition into barefoot and really comfortable way to run when living in the city. They’re also very breathable, in addition to pull-cord laces and zero drop.
I haven’t tried these, as they’re made just for woman and I didn’t have any in my size. I wish there were something like these for men. I like the simplicity. They look more like huaraches and are very minimal. And I—above all else—love that.
They are also quite stylish. All-in-all—everything I love about what shoes can be. They’re excellent for mid-level fitness actives and for looking amazing. They have a hook and loop closure that keeps them tight to the foot. The sole is particularly cool as well, cut with serrated blade for added traction on wet, slick surfaces.
While similar to the V-Trains in some ways, these are significantly easier to get on. There’s ribbing on the toes that make it difficult for there to be a snag or rip in the stretchy, rip-resistant uppers. The laces on these, as opposed to the V-Trains, are pull cord laces with a locking mechanism. I’m personally not as much a fan of this, but it is actually great for quick on-and-offs. The bottom of these is more studded—prepared to take the abnormalities of life in the wilderness. Even so, the bottoms are more flexible, which I think it an amazing feature—as I want to feel the ground as much as possible when I’m running and hiking. They feel light, flexible, and more comfortable, ready for any task. Seems to me a great shoe to run through the forrest or on the road or just for everyday use. Hearty but spry.
For active FiveFingers, these have quite the rugged sole. Thick and yet flexible. They fit very snuggly, feeling quite supportive. This is made more possible by rubberized mid-foot support on the top that is tightened with laces, along with velcro straps for added security. Needless to say, the shoes stays where you put them. Because they're so rigid, foot inflection isn’t as possible, but that’s usually not the MO when you’re working out in the gym.
Personally, I’m not a gym guy, preferring to be outdoors, but certainly these shoes could take quite the outdoor beating as well. Honestly, they’re the most tightly fitting/constructed Fivefingers I’ve worn. It was kinda tough to get them on, but it seems worth it for the great support around the entire foot, ready to manage weight in many directions. They even have a Gold's Gym version of the shoe that has additional support for weight lifters and extreme gym rats.
These bad boys have an urban feel that would fit-in perfectly in Downtown Orlando. They’ve a blended wool upper, which reduces odor and increases breathability…in addition to protection. They look really classy and stylish.
The sole is quite thick, too, so they’re good regardless of what task you have on hand. In addition, that sole is made of Megagrip, which gives added balance in wet conditions. For someone choosing to use these in the woods, that means extra grip on wet, muddy days. In addition, I love the heal loop added to this boot-alternative, assisting wearers in getting them on smoothly.