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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Equipment Review: Vibram Five Fingers

When one of my colleagues mentioned that he used Vibram Five Fingers as his touring shoes, I was intrigued. These shoes looked like they compressed very well, and they looked like they might well be comfortable. For my last 2 or 3 bike tours, I had made to with only wearing cycling shoes every where, and while it was OK, cycling shoes do have a tendency to dig a bit here and there, and after a day of cycling in them, the prospect of having to wear them for dinner puts me off a bit.

So I gritted my teeth, ordered a pair for me and a pair for Lisa, and had Roberto send them over.

First of all, they take a bit of practice before you can put them on fast. The trick for me is to spread my little toe a bit and slide that into the pocket, and then pull on the rest of the shoe. Otherwise, it can be a bear! You also have to be careful not to snug up too much the strap, or you can end up cramping your toes.

The shoes have no padding at all. Let me repeat. Zero padding. You walk in them and you can feel all the texture of the ground beneath you, whether it is grass (pleasant), cobble (less pleasant), or asphalt. It really does feel like walking barefoot, which means that as someone who's not used to running around barefoot outside my apartment, I am actually a slower walker in these than in my cycling shoes! And of course, they don't take orthotics. There's all sorts of debate as to whether that's good for you or not, but I figure I didn't walk enough in them to make much difference. These are, after all, off bike shoes. They do look like they'll be great for sailing, so I'll try them for my next sailing trip. But would I use them for long distance hiking or running? No way.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the kind of attention these shoes would get me. My first clue was when I tried them in the office and walked around in them. First of all, women notice shoes. The very next day, I had women from the office ask me where I got them, how they felt, and can they try them on if Lisa's pair would fit them? The cuter and more fashion-conscious the woman, the more attracted they seemed to be to those shoes!

My next clue was when Guy Kawasaki visited Google. He derailed his talk for 3 minutes to talk about those shoes!

Then in Bordeaux, while wearing those shoes out to dinner, I got so much attention from the women on the tram that we took to and from the restaurant that I felt, for the first time in my life, as though I was attractive to women. (I was not --- but my shoes definitely were!) Then in Argeles-Sur-Mer, a beautiful blond approached me while I was doing the geekiest of all activities, playing Air Hockey with Roberto. All because of these shoes.

All I can say is, if you're a single man, get yourself a pair of these shoes right now, before they become so popular that they become common! Your guy friends will make fun of you, and call them Monkey Feet, but you will be a hot person for all of the time it takes before the novelty wears off. And if you're a dorky guy like me, that's a novel and strange experience, and well worth the $70. (Heck, if you're not a single guy, buy a pair for yourself and your girlfriend... then you can be hot together)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I've had my five fingers for 3 months now, using them for strolls to and from the gym 3-4 times/week. I love them, especially as camp shoes on backpacking trips.

This last weekend, I took a backcountry up in the Sierras and my approach boots just ate up my feet, so I ended up hiking 10 miles over talus/scree with a 40lb pack on my back using my five fingers. While my ankles were pretty sore the next day, the shoes held up really well. You can even kinda use them for rock climbing: