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Vibram FiveFingers

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Vibram FiveFingers

Postby GH-Dave » Wed May 04, 2011 8:44 pm

My son bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Treksports. He's been wearing them for a variety of activities, mostly running for exercise over dirt roads, meadows and such where we live. He loves them.

We'll be doing some backpacking this spring and summer, and he insists that his FiveFingers is all he'll need to bring along.

He's 19 years old and in extremely good shape -- like he could run two miles with a 45lb pack faster than most people could run a mile with no extra weight. (That's no hypothetical situation. He's done it.)

I've done quite a lot of backpacking in the High Sierra in my pre-married past and am quite familiar with the kind of terrain and trail composition that one encounters there. He's only been on more or less groomed trails and hasn't experienced the ankle-twisting, boot shredding broken granite that makes up much of the trails we'll be going on.

I'm envisioning being miles from nowhere and having him get laid up with a twisted ankle or cut-up feet. But, he's 19, and knows everything ...

Has anybody used FiveFingers for their main shoe while doing serious backpacking?

What are your recommendations?

Thanks.

Dave



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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby fishmonger » Thu May 05, 2011 5:57 am

](*,)

I've seen footprints of these things on the trails. Rarely, and perhaps only worn by those who wanted to see what it's like. Anyone who feels ankle protection is overrated may even find them acceptable. I prefer a heel to slow down on slippery stuff, and edges on my soldes to have lateral grip, and a high shaft to keep my ankles from snapping when making one bad step with a heavy pack, but then I'm old school and don't believe that none of that matters if I just buy into the UL koolaide.
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby oldranger » Thu May 05, 2011 6:40 am

Fishmonger

I agree with your skepticism over fivefingers footwear. But feel that the UL concept is more than koolaid. It has contributed to lengthening my backpacking career along with trekking poles. Tent,Pack, ground pad, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag total 7.11. At my age going light is like Viagra for the whole body--I stand tall (as I can) and strong! ;)

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu May 05, 2011 7:34 am

I guess it's better then going barefoot like many do.
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby AlmostThere » Thu May 05, 2011 7:47 am

I hiked with someone who used these for a while... Ray Estrella wrote a review (Backpacking Light, membership/purchase of article required) about them. He went back to using shoes/boots. They were great if you were doing a ton of water crossings and had nice smooth trail, he liked them as camp shoes, but if you have any rocks in the path or go cross country, you could get into trouble.

Looking at the shoes, I would not wear them, the mesh between the toes is too inviting for a stab wound. I wouldn't fear a twisted ankle with them any more than I would with my trail runners (I had more ankle damage with full length boots) but I do not think the Five Fingers give you enough protection.

Ray also had difficulty carrying a lot of weight with them. If you are an ultralight hiker they would probably be ok. 30 - 50 lbs pack weight - get boots.

I would tell your son to bring the shoes or boots and use the Five Fingers as water or camp shoes. If he's stubborn and wants to hike with them, let him, on the condition he has the hiking shoes with him to switch to, and is willing to keep hiking in spite of having sore feet.
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby maverick » Thu May 05, 2011 1:57 pm

Hi Dave

The following article should answer all your questions about this product.
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/vibram/f ... iew/22061/
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby GH-Dave » Thu May 05, 2011 2:28 pm

Thank you everyone for your comments.

I read the review posted by Maverick. Overall, the reviewers seem to like their Treksports (as my son does) for a variety of uses.

I forwarded the review to my son, and will be talking to him about carrying his Merrells just in case he encounters issues with his FiveFingers. He's pretty confident right now that they will work for him on the trail, but he won't know for sure until he hits the high country and gets into some jagged, broken granite.

Interestingly, as my son is home on leave and working for neighbors clearing brush, chainsawing trees, digging trenches and driving tractor and such I notice he's wearing his Army-issue combat boots ... and not his FiveFingers. So, he apparently does recognize that the FiveFingers aren't good for everything. :)

Dave
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby Flux » Fri May 06, 2011 1:53 pm

I recommend you tell him you won't go if he doesn't have a proper pair of boots. If he's in as good a shape as you say, then a couple pounds won't bog him down at all.

The cut scar on my last pair of boots made it almost completely through the full grain leather, I can't imagine what that would do to a lesser material let alone my foot. I can't count how many ankle turns, stubbed toes, and general mis-steps I have had, but it happens every trip. Perhaps the thin sole helps you to keep from turning your ankle like on a high thick sole, but I don't want to be the test case.

I could see it if you were doing some mellow hikes on the JMT or another well worn trail, but once you get into thick of things, it's another world. I do carry a pair of crocs with the fleece lining and have found them to be awesome camp shoes and for fishing around whatever lake we are at. They are grippy on the granite and do fairly well for knocking around.
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby fishmonger » Mon May 09, 2011 6:30 am

oldranger wrote:Fishmonger

I agree with your skepticism over fivefingers footwear. But feel that the UL concept is more than koolaid. It has contributed to lengthening my backpacking career along with trekking poles. Tent,Pack, ground pad, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag total 7.11. At my age going light is like Viagra for the whole body--I stand tall (as I can) and strong! ;)

Mike


and you're sure you could not be UL while wearing supportive boots? Nobody would take a 4x4 to the Baja 1000 with bicycle tires just to save more weight. My boots are about 3x the weight of the lightest trail runners, but they are on my feet, not in my pack. Don't want to start pulling all the research data that recently went through the Muir Trail mailing list, but there's a real difference to exhaustion curves between weight on your back and on your feet (i.e. matters much less on your feet).

Basically, I am taking cues from the UL camp, but I am not sacrificing essential "must haves" like ankle protection. I have titanium and carbon fiber in my pack, I buy the lightest mountaineering boots you can find, because I have twisted my ankles so many times over the years even with real boots, I know that some of those would have been hike-ending if it had not been for the boots.

so what I mean with the Kook Aid thing is that many go into all the way because it's the current fad, without thinking about individual items such as the type of footwear that's popular because of the low weight, without considering the potential drawbacks.

also, I rarely go on short trips, which affects how I look at gear - I do Muir Trails or variations of that, so our packs are never the size of that a day hike or even a weekend trip would allow.
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby GH-Dave » Mon May 09, 2011 5:12 pm

I took the opportunity to put on my son's FiveFingers the other day while he was off at work. Our feet are pretty much exactly the same size. (I wish I could say the same thing for our waists and musculature in general. :) )

So, after a half a day's worth of walking around our place doing chores and such on gravel, and on sharp rocks used as borders and landscaping, I decided that there is no way I would want to venture onto HS trails with these things on, much less while carrying a pack.

He's agreed to bring his hiking shoes along.

Interestingly, I had a difficult time trying to get those FiveFingers to go on right. Mostly it was my little toe and the next toe trying to fit into the same "finger." I read that it goes quicker with practice. But I sure wouldn't want to try putting those things on in an emergency.

Flux, your point is well-taken. I shudder to think of what can happen on those sharp granite rocks to virtually unprotected feet.

Dave
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby njbeast » Mon May 09, 2011 6:39 pm

Dave,
I have a pair of the five fingers and use them mostly for Kayaking, although I have walked a few trails in them. I walk around barefoot a lot and my feet are fairly tuff, but there is not much cushioning when stepping on small sharp rocks. These shoes really give your legs a differnt kind of workout, since you are using your feet as they are designed...after a prolonged walk I really notice my calf muscles. I have thought about using them for stream crossings, but I am afarid that the normal foot wedging action would cause some pretty good bruising.

Glenn
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Re: Vibram FiveFingers

Postby Flux » Tue May 10, 2011 2:01 pm

Yeah, i would just hate to see a hike cut short or worse due to improper thinking about footwear. By all means, try it out, but have your boots handy. Maybe I think way too much about the what if's, but I do research my gear and the sierra granite is some gnarly stuff. Once you get to where the dirt ends, well it's just different after that.

I did see some guys heading up Piute last year in Teva's with full size packs on. I suppose those have a pretty good sole, but have you ever stubbed your toe on a rock???!!!! I have lost my toenail twice from that in good boots. I weigh alot, so having protection for my feet and ankles is not something I take lightly when I intend to enjoy my precious backcountry time.
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