This is a follow on or review from this post
I have invested in these to protect my feet against the cold (frost bite etc) primarily when walking on concrete or tarmac. (I nearly said when walking the streets but that would just bring up the wrong imagines!) Concrete and tarmac has a considerably lower temperature in the winter than the grass, soil, and the leaf beds of the wood floor. When walking in nature I will remain barefoot, unless the temperatures drop right down low and then I will be wearing the Moccasins that I had in the summer.
I would prefer to be barefoot all the time but in the interests of staying out of hospital and not losing any toes I felt that these were a good halfway house between barefoot and shoes for use on concrete and tarmac surfaces.
This design (there are several different designs, for different purposes made by Vibram) is the FLOW Five Finger Shoe, they are designed for trekking, walking, running, water sports, climbing; basically they are designed for the active outdoor person in cold weather.
The upper is 1.2 mm think Neoprene with two Hypalon straps with Velcro fasteners, one round the back of the foot and one across the top and the sole is 2mm Vibram TC-1 performance rubber with an antimicrobial microfiber foot-bed.
They fit like gloves! Which is what they are meant to do, the whole shoe wraps around your foot, the sole is moulded in the general shape of your sole, including fitting into the arch of your foot. The upper it a tight fit, not unlike that of a wetsuit (the uppers are made from the same material).
They do require a ‘knack’ to get them on; they are most definitely not the type of shoe to just slip on! Fortunately a side-effect of walking barefoot is that your feet and toes spread which makes putting the Five Finger Shoe on a little easier. The only way that I can describe putting them on is like putting tight gloves on your feet.
These ‘foot gloves’ are generally very comfortable once you get over the initial feeling of having your toes separated! The moulded sole fits perfectly around the sole of the foot and the two Velcro straps hold the shoe firmly in place. Although they really aren’t needed because the overall fit is so snug but I should imagine that as they wear in they could become looser.
Once on, with your toes in their individual ‘sleeves’ you have all the natural movement you would have with bare feet. You can move and wiggle your toes, bend and flex your foot, pretty much the shoe moves with the foot, which does look a little strange, especially with the metallic appearance (This design also comes in black if you don’t want to look like Metal Micky!) Despite the tight fit I didn’t find that they rubbed or became uncomfortable in anyway, in fact the tight fit makes them more a part of your own foot.
The thin soles do mean that you get much of the same sensation as walking barefoot. You can feel the ground beneath your feet, the change in textures, the change in the type of surface (you can feel the difference between concrete and tarmac and grass and soil). You also get all the sensations of what you are walking on, especially stepping on small stones and pebbles; you can even feel the cracks in the pavement!
The rubber sole and foot bed do provide some insulation against the cold of the ground. However these shoes are designed for active outdoor use and not just sitting or standing around. I found that when I was sat around (outside) that my feet did start to get cold but once I started moving my feet soon warmed up.
Although the soles do offer a level of thermal insulation I found that I could still feel the temperature change when moving from tarmac to grass and back again. My feet didn’t get cold but there was a noticeable temperature change.
The Neoprene upper is not waterproof so walking through water or wet grass does get your feet wet. On the plus side they then start acting more like a wetsuit and once the body temperature warms the water held in the Neoprene they keep your feet toasty warm!
Energetically the rubber soles do insulate you from the Earth, which does mean that you have less of the transfer of energy between you and the Planet. That said they are considerably better than wearing walking boots but not a good as my Moccasins (I will talk about my Moccasins at some point).
Overall the Five Finger Shoes are really well made, they are comfortable and warm, they are a good alternative to being barefoot when the temperatures drop below freezing and are especially good for walking around town, on concrete or tarmac (surfaces that would destroy my Moccasins). Walking in The Woods and with Nature I feel that Moccasins are a better alternative purely based on the energetic transfer, however if this isn’t an issue for you then a pair of Five Finger shoes would be a great all round shoe.
One of the things that I like is that Vibram have a number of different designs in different colours, each tailored to a specific use so spending a little time looking at their website and you’ll find a pair that fits your need. So much so I many invest in another pair (they do a pair that are wool lined) for those times in the winter months when I’m sat around outside enjoying the company of others.