In this Vibram Five Fingers Buying Guide, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions so it’s easier for you to buy your first pair. For our story about how we evaluated the vibrams and started recommending them, check out this Vibram Five Fingers Review.
Here’s a list of Vibram Five Fingers questions that we answer:
Vibram Five Fingers (pronounced Veebram), also called Vibrams, or VFF are minimally padded shoes that are meant to mimic the barefoot experience. Vibrams are a type of barefoot, or minimalist shoe, but nothing else on the market really comes close.
You have a few options:
The major differences between each model of vibram five fingers are the (1) sturdiness and padding of the shoe and (2) whether or not it has laces. I generally recommend starting out with laces (referred to as “LS” models) because they accommodate the largest range of foot sizes and are very comfortable. A couple models are water proof, or designed for casual wear, but my guess is starting out you won’t be interested in these.
I have below my recommendations after trying on most of the models and speaking with Vibram reps:
#1 – Komodo LS
#2 – Bikila LS
#3 – SEEEYA
|Gym + Running||Running||Walking|
|I strongly recommend getting the Komodo LS as your first pair. It’s the most comfortable model of Vibrams I tried, but has sufficient padding which makes it the perfect all around shoe and a great starter shoe.||If you do a lot of running and intend to switch to vibrams, get the Bikila LS. This shoe has thicker and more sturdy padding on the sole, which allows for higher volume running on pavement. This shoe can still be used for all around use as well (gym etc.). Also consider the regular Bikila (with a strap instead of laces) if you are able to try it on at a local authorized retailer.||If you don’t want to start running around and going to the gym in vibrams yet, get the SEEYA for walking around the house/apartment. The SEEYA is the most minimalist vibram model and I bet you will be amazed with how natural these shoes feel. If you are a vibrams veteran, this shoe can be used for more intense activities.|
|5 colors are available||5 colors are available||2 colors are available|
|Buy Now||Buy Now|
Vibram five fingers have their own sizing system, which is consistent across men and women’s models. Your toes and heel should fit into each pocket comfortably and snugly, with your longest toe grazing the end of the toe pocket. Be sure that your toes can extend fully. It’s ok if there is some space in the toe pockets for your smaller toes, that’s expected.
The only difference between male and female models is that male models are slightly wider and longer than the female models. If you have wide feet, or narrow feet, vibram five fingers should fit well.
Vibram Five Fingers Sizing Tool »
Above is a link to a sizing calculator on their site. How it works is you measure the length of your foot from heel to your longest toe on your longest foot in inches. The calculator will calculate the correct size for you. Ideally, you can go to the store to see what size works best for you. For example, the site lists me as a 41 by my foot length, but I wear a size 42.
One of the initial challenges to wearing vibrams is simply putting them on. The best way to put them on is to lead with your big toe and scrape it against the side that the toe is on. So if you are putting your left foot in, the bend your foot to the right so that your big toe and second toe are about half way in the pockets. Then start guiding the rest of your toes in the pockets. Don’t get discouraged, this process will get easier, especially if you have the Komodo LS.
The vibrams come in a small box with instructions on how to put them on, basic information about the shoe and its technology, along with padding that separate the shoes and keep the form of the shoe. Here are some photos I took:
While vibrams are protected with an anti-microbial structure, bacteria and grime can still accumulate to cause a bad smell. In fact, the smell can get so bad that even people who love vibram five fingers will stop wearing them.
On their website, Vibram has a solid Getting Started Guide. I recommend walking around in them for a few days, wearing them for a few gym workouts. If you are a runner, just use a slow progression to help your feet build up strength and follow this Barefoot Training Running Guide. It could realistically take you 2-3 months to properly strengthen your feet for a 10 mile run in vibram five fingers. Do not go for a 5 mile run on your first run because some people have reported literally breaking their feet.
If you have flat feet, high arches, etc., wearing vibram five fingers should be ok (excluding toe contractures and rotations), but it may be wise to check with your doctor and slowly try them out to be on the safe side.
In short, because our feet are designed to be free, not constricted in heavily padded shoes and sneakers.
For a more in depth review of how I went from hating to loving vibram five fingers and recommending them to all my friends, family, clients, and website visitors, check out my Vibram Five Fingers Review.
Below are the main pros and cons to consider before you purchase the product:
The following pros are taken from the Vibram Five Fingers website and I agree with 100%:
I did my best to list answers to the most common questions in this buying guide, but if you have more questions, please check out the Vibrams FAQ, or pose a question to the Vibram Facebook community.
Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Founder & CEO, BuiltLean