Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Say hello to my KSOs.

I love being barefoot.  Like LOVE it.

Don't know what it is but all my life as soon as I got home from school or work the shoes and socks come off immediately.  I used to wear flip flops whenever possible because I thought it was the closest thing to being barefoot.

I was wrong.
Don't let the leg distract you, focus on the shoe.

I found out about Five Fingers about a year ago and after saving up some spare money I bought a pair last fall.  They're not for everybody and they get alot of weird looks/comments in public and I get alot of crap about them from the guys but I'm hooked.  It's honestly like being barefoot all day.  The only real drawback I've found is they aren't good in the snow for more than about five minutes.  They make special neoprene ones for that but I just don't have the cash to get another pair anytime soon.

Anyway, my point here isn't to rave about them.  Either you love them or you hate them (most hate them) and any amount of my fanaticism won't change that.   My reason for bringing them up is that I've been searching for people who have waded in them.  Results were sparse, only turning up this post on Packs and Tracks Outdoors.  Basically, his verdict is they seem to work but to be careful.  (Side note, check out his blog, looks pretty sweet, got alot of fly fishing stuff up.)

So, not to steal Packs and Tracks' thunder but I decided that I'm going to try them out this year and post my findings.  I know there have to be other five fingers owners wanting to know specifics on wading or people who may be interested in buying a pair if they work better than an old pair of sneakers.

Sorry bout the crappy background/shadows.  I started taking pictures in the bathroom but the wife was asking too many questions.
I've worn them on gravel and while you can feel the rocks, it takes out the sting; so that's not really a concern.  The KSO namesake stands for "Keep Stuff Out" so I'm not worried about stuff getting in.
Not the best traction tho.

My only concerns are the fact that there is no ankle support and there have been a few times when they've been slick.  (Usually with an inch or less of snow freshly on the ground.)  I'll be sure to try them out in super shallow water a few times before venturing into a rushing creek.   We'll have to see how they perform.  In the meantime, check out Packs and Tracks review if you're interested.

I do know now that they're very comfortable in a gun range setting.  Back before all this damn snow, I wore them for a (about 4 hour) shooting session.  Even when on my feet the whole time in them, stepping on brass and having hot brass land them, totally comfortable and singe-free.

One thing you should know if you're considering purchasing a pair is that if you don't spend alot of time barefoot already, you'll be very uncomfortable at the beginning.  There are muscles from the bottom of your feet all the way up your legs that modern shoes allow to atrophy.  If you go straight into wearing minimalist shoes, these muscles will hurt like hell, just like if you go from never working out to jumping straight into a heavy workout.  Even with me being barefoot alot before getting the Vibrams, my calves would burn quite the first few days.

However, eventually you'll find that you have less aches in your joints after awhile.  The human body has evolved to walk upright barefoot and your feet are designed to be shock absorbers.  I've always had knee pain due to being a big, tall guy and it has diminished greatly since my purchase of the KSOs.  I can't say for sure it's not a coincidence but I've heard similar reports by other users.

Whether you dig them or hate them, be on the lookout for some reports this spring/summer as to how they hold up in a fishing environment.

Disclaimer:  I have no association with Vibrams whatsoever. I'm always open to one though, if anyones reading ;)  I paid full price for my pair of KSOs and my thoughts on them are my own, developed by wearing them as often as my wife will allow me into public with them on.

Oh, by the way.  I'm taking down the Amazon widget.  I feel like a sellout with it up there and people keep spamming me just trying to promote their blog.  Noone clicks the damn thing anyway.

Hope you all have a good day one.  I get to try to drive my wife to work tomorrow and then try to not get into an accident/stranded on my 20 mile commute.  



Jay said...

My niece has a pair and I know a lot of the cool kids are wearing them. I've wondered myself how they might be for wading. If the soles are on the thin side then the rocks might beat up your feet pretty good. I'm looking forward to the report. Maybe you can wear them in the Kankakee in July.

Mark said...

I'm looking forward to your report as well. That might make two of us in the stream with Five Fingers. Thanks for the mention too.

Anonymous said...

I would think the ankle-support thing might be a big issue. For me, it wouldn't be worth the risk of turning an ankle and ruining a day's fishing. Of course, it you're a barefoot-freak like you seem to be maybe it would be! :) LOL I do like the concept and I'm all about not giving a crud what people think. If it works for you, that's all that matters. I think they're kinda cool looking. Contrary to current trends, there's a reason they put felt on wading boots...maybe these guys can make a "sticky rubber" pair if there's enough interest!? That would be better for wading I'm sure. Nice review.

Mark said...

Mark - No problem. I was glad to see that someone had at least given it a shot.

Owl - As far as not giving a crud what people think, I sometimes wear them JUST to see what people will say. The best two reactions so far are the guy at the Carrhart/Redwing store who almost threw me out and on election day because my polling place is a nursing home. Got alot of strange looks. They also make really interesting footprints in snow/mud because I wear a size 16 in standard shoes and am a large man. I'm excited to make a bunch of "barefoot" footprints in a wooded area. :)

Mark said...

I guess we can expect several bigfoot reports for that area this year. I still intend to try the treksport model. Looks like a lot more traction. I like to find as many ways as I can to lighten my load on the stream and these are so much lighter than wading boots and take up no space at all in a pack.

Owl is right. There is no ankle support with these.

Cofisher said...

I think some type of felt or tire rubber might work well on the bottom. (I wouldn't be caught alive in those)

Mark said...

Most people wouldn't. Like I said, you either love them or hate them and most hate them.

Mark said...

Cofisher - that's funny you say that. I was thinking last night that some felt could be epoxied to the bottom. Of course, you'd never get it back off when it wore out.

Clif said...

I guess I better call of the Bigfoot hunt. I was getting pretty close, the tracks were fresh.