The battle of the barefoot running shoes has begun with the Vibram Five Fingers Sprints taking on the Vibram Five Finger KSOs. This is a review of how these two models compare side by side. Me and one of my buddies went running yesterday. I convinced him to buy the FiveFingers shoes easily because he had a history of shin splints back in his track and field days and heard from some that the Vibram Five Fingers shoes has a positive effect on pain and injuries caused by running. He’s been wearing them for about a month and a half and won’t go back to the other running shoes again! Here’s what I thought of our Five Fingers shoes compared side by side.
1) Putting on the Barefoot Running Shoes
2) Running On The Grass
The VFF Sprints and the VFF KSOs both feel great on the grass. I personally enjoy the KSO’s a bit more because you have a better feel and sensation of the ground itself. You get a “Softer” feeling from the KSOs. Just be careful of stepping on dog crap. We were running at night so spotting and avoiding it was a challenge. Running at night on the grass feels even better because of the cool sensation you get and the awareness of all the leaves and the bouncy soft ground you step on. the KSO’s protect you from finding leaves in your shoe, which is one less thing to worry about for me.
3) Running on Cement
The feeling of the hard cement is very noticeable when you wear your Vibram Five Fingers. If you run incorrectly and strike your heel down first. The pain is very noticeable. The Five Finger shoes forces you to predominately strike mid or front foot which strengthens your calves and foot (also makes it very sore if you’re new to the barefoot running shoes!). Trust me, work your way up to running on cement, there is definitely a break in period.
3) Running on Dirt
Many people enjoy wearing the Vibram FiveFingers shoes on the dirt. I enjoy running on the grass more because of the cool and bouncy nature. But to really get a feel of running on all terrains the way real ultra long distance runners do is to run on the dirt. the dirt road and path is probably the most common terrain you will encounter while barefoot running. The VFF KSO’s are great for this because of the KSO “Keep Stuff Out” cover. Running with the Sprints tend to encourage dirt and gravel from getting inside your shoe which is annoying.
4) Vibram Five Five Fingers in the Water
Both the KSO’s and Sprints work well for water sports. As this reviewer talks about, the KSO’s can prevent rocks and gravel from entering the shoe. This can be very helpful while doing water sports in the ocean. For other water sports that don’t involve the natural Oceanic environments (rocks/sand/gravel) such as water polo, the Sprints may be more comfortable. It is also recommended that you buy 1 size smaller if you intend to use the shoes purely in water. This is because it will fit better and prevent annoying air pockets from bothering you.
5) Style of KSO’s Versus Sprints
The KSO’s, especially the black ones are more inconspicuous than the sprints. Although they do look a bit like gorilla feet, I also think they look pretty cool and can almost pass as regular shoes.
The Sprints are more noticeable because there aren’t many normal shoes that show the top of your foot the way they do (some womens shoes do though). The Vibram Sprints definitely stand out if you wear them outside to lets say, go shopping or to the local grocery store, but fit right in as house slippers or indoor shoes at home.
Both shoes tend to look a bit weird in anything but shorts or messenger pants.
6) KSO Versus Sprint Conclusion
The KSO’s are the most popular Vibram Five Fingers shoe for a reason. It is more versatile than the Sprints and you can run in them without worrying about leaves and dirt getting into your shoe. For the adventurous, they can double as casual shoes you wear when you run errands. They do take a bit longer to put on but once you get used to that process, it’s a breeze and it feels more comfortable than the Sprints.
That being said, the sprints are fast, easy and convenient to slip into. They are also cheaper than the KSOs and if you’re lucky you can even find some at a close out sale.
If you hate the look and style of the Vibram Five Fingers, maybe the Nike Frees are a better choice for you.
For more information on Vibram Five Fingers Shoes, click on the links below: