Gadget Review: Vibram 5 Fingers Flow BareFoot Shoes

Can shoes be gadgets? While I know it’s probably not worth debating, I do have a penchant for reviewing cutting edge consumer trends. Vibram 5 Fingers is for certain a benchmark in shoe design, and fully deserves the attention of GadgetReview, as well as yourself!

Vibram as a company is widely recognized for the quality of the soles they manufacture for high end shoe companies such as Keen, Merrel, and Rockport. With their first foray into actual shoe development, Vibram has created something truly special for your feet. Without going too much into the theology, or the technology involved, I just want to relate my experiences with Vibram 5 Fingers. Please check out the Vibram website for specific technical information.

First off, the 5 Fingers were a bit of a struggle to get on. Everyone’s feet are different, and my toes just didn’t want to spread apart enough to fit into all the toe holes. After a few days I figured out a method where I started with my small toes and worked my way towards my big toe. Ok, a bit of a learning curve for my toes, but no problem. They felt very slick on my feet, and weighed very little. I was impressed with the overall fit and they reminded my of Under Armour Compression Gear, which is a compliment.

From the wet streets of Portland, to the sunny beaches of Fort Lauderdale, I was lucky enough to test the 5 Fingers under various conditions. In Portland, I tried street and trail running, and felt as if they mimicked the barefoot feeling with true accuracy. But as with bare feet exposing you to road or trail debris, the 5 fingers isn’t going to be of much better protection. I ran over a rock and almost twisted my ankle like I would have running barefoot. No cushioning or support there. Not to say that the 5 Fingers are uncomfortable, it’s just that they sort of trick your mind into thinking that they provide more protective coverage, when they really don’t. Just like your bare feet! While I was out in Portland the temp was around mid to low 40’s and I wasn’t too cold wearing them around. The streets were wet, and it rained for a portion of my time outside, and the 5 Fingers did an excellent job of keeping the water and wetness out. I can’t wait for this summer to test them out on the river!

Over the holiday, I got to try them out in Fort Lauderdale, and had a great time with them. They reacted wonderfully while running and playing in the sand.  They did end up collecting sand and water, but it was unobtrusive to say the least. They were also very easy to clean and to get sand out from the velcro straps. I also wanted to point out that they were comfortable enough to wear all day, so even though they may take a little time to get snug, it’s well worth it.

The Vibram 5 Fingers is a must buy for anyone who is looking for an active outdoor shoe. Not comfortable enough to wear to bed, but almost. These shoes are also huge head turners. Many people commented on them, and I saw even more fingers pointing. If you need a new pair of shoes for water wear or anything else, look no further!


  • Crazy innovative and super cool
  • Holds up well in a variety of scenarios
  • Solid build and quality, materials, and construction


  • A bit of a pain to get on at first
  • Not very insulated from extreme cold weather
  • Not very protective in regards to road debris and rocks

Buy them for $89.99 here

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  3. Just FYI I think you may have been the victim of a spammer … note the link from jenson to vibramfivefingersshoes dot com — that link now points to a vibram server (probably b/c Vibram didn’t take kindly to someone domain squatting). Then note the howardmarks link that refers to the jenson post.

    Well, you’d probably not notice this but since I went to the site that *was* hosted at vibramfivefingersshoes dot com, I can tell you: that site is now barefootrunningshoes dot org (same design, layout, etc.). In fact, if you take jenson’s link and replace the vibram… domain with the barefoot domain (but leave the rest of the link in tact), it will direct you to the same post.

    Things that make you go hmm right?

    Anyway, sorry to bother. Great review of Flows here and if you ever do any activities in them get someone to snap a couple of photos – would be pumped to feature a Flow story on (Flows are the least common VFFs so they are majorly underrepresented on the fan site). I’m trying to get some Flows now b/c they are the only VFFs I’ve yet to try …

  4. Wanting to avoid any self-fulfilling prophecies brought on by wanting these shoes to work, I began taking a pragmatic look at these shoes in different scenarios. So far I would give them solid ratings for running both cross country and pavement. Rocks, debris, and even the heat of the road are felt. I don’t feel much faster in these shoes but my form and particularly my calf strength have improved significantly. Rock climbing with these on was not good. The dexterity was good but the sole was too slick and tiny footholds poked into the bottom of my foot. Walking, hiking, and weightlifting with these shoes on is a positive experience. When all is said and done I do not regret buying but they do take some getting used to.

  5. I bought a pair of them a couple of months ago trhough the website in Spain because I have always been very keen on running barefoot, as I consider my technique improves and I get stronger foot muscles. Up to now, even if they are a bit “freaky” I consider this has been the best product I have bought in years. Greatly recommended.

  6. These shoes are incredible. I bought a pair to take with me to Puerto Rico to hike in the El Yinque rain forest reserve. I live in Chicago and to get my feet comfortable for the trip I have been wearing them around the city (in April if you can believe it). They have immediately become my favorite shoe in my closet. I wear them all the time now. These shoes are worth every penny!

  7. i have a pair of the KSO’s and socks the shoes are a little lighter than the flow’s. anyway i have had mine for almost a year now and they are great for everything that ive come up with to use them for… i will and do recommend them to everyone i see

    1. Love these shoes!! You can buy special socks to keep your feet warm. I have three of the four models and decide which to use depending on the climate and what I'm doing. I live in Hawaii and travel often to Washington state and Canada. Been using them for eleven months; they healed my foot of painful heal spurs that I suffered with for two years. My feet are healthy and happy in these shoes. Oh yeah, they are goofy, but for daily errands and recreational activities they are perfect!! My dad bought a pair and his curled atrophy toes actually straightened out as his toe muscles were strengthened from using these shoes. I wish I took before and after pictures. My mom, dad, bro and sis n law all bought these shoes as well. Aloha!

      1. I have a friend who has Heel Spurs and he is considering Surgery… How long did it take you to heal your spurs using Vibrams?? and would you suggest this is perhaps the best method??? Please send your response to:

        1. I think the shoes do help. I’ve been barefoot running for a while after i noticed an improvement in my leg strength as well as assisting in getting me back into running after many knee injuries. I’ve also tried the nike frees which helped a bit more in terms of flexibility but definitely not like barefoot running.. this comparison is a great starting point:

          If you don’t want to get these shoes yet but want to try changing your style of running, I noticed that when I run with my older shoes by change my striking method from heel strike to front foot strike, my joints don’t get the same soreness as well. So maybe it’s not all about the shoes if you have the discipline to run correctly, this video also is a great source for the differences in heel striking:

          also, jenson, i think the site you referred to are down right now.. i think has mocs and performas as well as treks too.

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