In short: Vibrams are great for hiking. The KSO Trek, in particular, allows you to run, walk, and hike almost as if you were wearing no shoes at all, yet your feet stay protected.
As a hiking shoe, Vibram FiveFingers are lightweight, well made, and will give your feet adequate protection from the environment. Here’s why Vibram shoes are good for hiking.
3 reasons why Vibrams are good for hiking
Important: If you are new to minimal footwear, please do not attempt a long hike with only Vibrams. That’s a fast track to injury. Take the time to get used to them and break them in.
If this is your first hike with Vibrams, alternate them with the shoes you normally would, or wear Vibrams for shorter hikes. That said, here are several reasons Vibrams are good for hikes:
1. Proprioception (feeling the ground beneath your feet)
One of the biggest benefits of wearing Vibram shoes for hiking is proprioception. It is your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location in every muscle movement you have.
Without proprioception, you wouldn’t be able to move without thinking about your next step. It allows you to walk without consciously thinking about where to place your foot next.
Hiking in Vibram shoes gives you the ability to sense the ground beneath your feet and feel the earth below you, which is a unique sensory experience in and of itself.
After all, the sensations you feel from barefoot hiking from every part of the earth’s surface—leaves, rocks, soil—will leave you with a more full and dynamic hiking experience.
2. Excellent against river crossings and puddles
River crossings and puddles are easier to navigate when hiking in Vibram FiveFingers. They deliver as far as providing added traction on mud, steep inclines, and varied terrain.
Keep in mind that the KSO Trek is not waterproof. Water will seep into the toe pockets at the seams and through the synthetic material on the sidewalls of each toe.
However, the Vibram FiveFingers dry quickly. There’s nothing wrong with wading right into a river crossing while everyone else in hiking boots has to try to find some other way across.
The additional ground clearance you get with them, combined with the overall use of water-resistant leather, helps you tackle river crossings and puddles with ease.
Just be sure to dry them afterward otherwise Vibrams can squeak.
Contrary to popular belief, you’re actually better off “barefoot” when the trail is slippery, a little muddy, or when you’re navigating uneven terrain like rocks and boulders. Your feet are simply more flexible, clingier, and more tactile than bulky hiking boots.
Overall, FiveFingers are indispensable when walking on water with rocks. Not only do they protect your feet from uncomfortable gravel, but they offer superior traction over slippery rocks.
3. Better for your joints
Hiking in Vibrams may be better for your joints. Without shoes, you’re naturally producing a gentler gait and movement than you are with cumbersome hiking boots or trail shoes.
Vibram shoes give you the ability to sense the ground beneath your feet, which tends to decrease the force with which you impact the ground, which reduces strain on joints.
As hiking tends to be hard on joints and muscles, anything that reduces that strain, like the Vibram FiveFingers, will help keep your joints from feeling sore at the end of a long hike.
Thanks to the thin, tactile outsole of Vibrams, you could feel your way through rocky landscapes, knowing that your feet are protected while enjoying the barefoot feel.
What you see is exactly what you get with the Vibram KSO Trek. These shoes aren’t flashy and over the top, but they are solid, high-quality, and extremely functional.
Unless you have some serious injury or condition preventing you from hiking at all, there’s no reason you can’t at least give “hiking barefoot” while wearing minimal footwear a try.