Vibram Fivefingers models comparison

Over the last year, I’ve became a huge fan of the Vibram Fivefingers shoes (VFF). They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had and I love the feeling of the ground under my feet and overall feel very free in them. I’ve tried out a number of models, so I figured I could put my thoughts about them into a blog post.

I’m not a runner nor a sport guy of any kind, though since I switched to VFFs I started to enjoy walking much more. So this “review” is from a casual guy’s perspective.

Overall opinion

As I stated before, I think VFFs are great and I really love them. I practically haven’t been wearing anything else for close to a year now (except for some days in winter – see my comments on V-Trek Ascent Insulated).

I’d say they’re near perfection, the only downside for me is the water resistance. I’m really looking forward to Vibram solving this, then I’ll be 100% satisfied. All models I’ve tried out have very poor water resistance. If the ground has a few mm of water, your feet get wet, too. This doesn’t happen often here in Central Europe and it’s mostly not that much of a problem when the shoes get wet, because they dry very fast. The main problem is winter with wet snow/thaw and I haven’t been able to find a solution for that (see my comments on V-Trek Ascent Insulated).

Also, be aware of rather inconsistent sizing across the various models (boo, Vibram!) – out of the shoes I’ve tried, I’ve had to go for EUR 44 for V-Alphas, V-Trail 2.0 and V-Trek Ascent Insulated instead of my standard EUR 43.

Table of contents

  • KSO
  • KSO EVO
  • KSO ECO Wool
  • V-Alpha
  • EL-X
  • V-Trek Ascent Insulated
  • V-Train 2.0

KSO

Original model of the shoes. They’re comfortable, and solid, though they look the weirdest out of the bunch. Newer models somewhat resemble normal shoes and actually look cool to me. These not really. They’re still perfectly good shoes though. Apart from the design, the only problematic thing is the tightening velcro which can get stuck in the fabric and ruffle it.

KSO EVO

Very light and breathing, comfortable, look good, awesome tightening mechanism. All around great, ideal for indoors and cities on warmer days (I’d say 10 °C and more).

KSO ECO Wool

A warmer brother of the KSO EVO. I’m using it as my home shoes in winter. Can’t complain.

V-Alpha

Very similar to KSO, a bit warmer (I can wear these with socks even around 0 °C), a bit less breathing, with more outdoor sole. It’s the most universal of the models I’ve tried, so if you don’t know which model to choose, I recommend this one.

Also warning, you’ll probably want to order one EUR size larger than what you normally wear. Basically all my shoes are EUR 43, but I had to go for EUR 44 for these, 43 were too small for me (I learned the hard way).

EL-X

I didn’t really like these. They don’t have a tightening mechanism, so they don’t hold to your feet as much. And they end way too low under the ankle, making them look kinda weird to me, even weirder when you put on any socks under them.

V-Trek Ascent Insulated

These were the only model I’ve found in the Vibram inventory that looked suitable for winters and snow. And they would be, if it wasn’t for two fatal flaws.

The main flaw is that they are barely water resistant. I’ve tried impregnating them as much as I could, didn’t help. When the snow is dry and frozen, they hold up quite well. But when you step into a wet snow or during thaw, the shoes get soaked very easily through the finger pouches, making your feet quite cold.

Of course I missed the quick tightening mechanism which is replaced by standard shoe laces. Also the sole is quite thick (which I hoped would help with the water resistance), so you don’t even feel the ground as much. And it’s harder to bend, so the fingers don’t have as much freedom.

The second flaw was the decorative rubber part that has “Soft” written on it on the sole. It’s made from a different material, I don’t understand which purposes it does serve, and as I was using the shoes, the whole damn thing just fell of, basically making a big hole in the sole. Needless to say, this made the shoes even less waterproof. Ended up returning them.

Also, you’ll need to order one EUR size larger.

V-Train 2.0

Now these are intended for training which I don’t do, but I got a nice price on them so I tried them out. They’re great, but the features they have are really intended for training and I don’t have much use for them. They have this top strap making the shoes fit snugger, but for me it just brings an extra step when tightening them. They also have some extra cushioning, making them warmer and thus a good option for colder weather.