Reporting from Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Salt Lake City, Utah.
COMPETITORS LAUGHED WHEN VIBRAM introduced the first Five Fingers not-a-shoe a few years ago, but then they saw the popularity in barefoot running and copied it, at least as much as they could while Vibram was aggressively defending Five Fingers’ patents. But then came a few products that, while derivative, pushed the idea of barefoot running in places Vibram hadn’t gone. Well, the originator’s new minimalist footwear for 2012 answers the competition loud and clear, pushing the scope at both ends.
The SeeYa ($100) strips materials to their minimal. It’s still a long way from the silicone foot condom that is Inov-8′s Evoskin, but the sole is thinner, there’s less support, less sole, less of everything, all designed to get closer to the true barefoot running effect without exposing your dogs to the sharp and nasties of the world. There’s a skoch of padding in the polyurethane insole, enough to take the edge off, and of course a thin Vibram sole, but still, the SeeYa should provide the most natural barefoot feel in the brand’s now-extensive line.
At the other end is a pure trail running model. It’s ironic, really, that Five Fingers has different models — barefoot is barefoot, right? — but when things are stripped as close to nothing as they are with these shoes, subtleties make a big difference. So the Spyridon ($120) is designed for off-road thrashing, mainly by adding beefier (relatively speaking) lugs. And coloring it brown with wild swirls. The sole is 3.5mm, which is Vibram’s bread-and-butter density, so I’m curious, actually, how and whether it differs from the Bikila, in which I’ve logged most of my FF miles.
For more, visit the Vibram Five Fingers website.
ALL SNEAK PEAKS OF SPRING ’12 GEAR HERE