Vibram Fivefingers TrekSport Review
Posted on March 31 2011
I have a special affinity for the funky Vibram Fivefingers toeshoes. The VFF KSO was my first true zero-drop running shoe, and it was the shoe that taught me how to run without a big wedge of cushion under my feet. I followed the KSO by getting a pair of the Vibram Bikilas, and managed to up my mileage to 15 miles in a single run in them – the Bikila remains one of my favorite running shoes.
The third pair of Vibrams that I added to my collection – this was a personal purchase and not a review sample – was the Vibram TrekSport. My main reason for buying the TrekSport was not so much that I felt I needed a VFF with tread, but rather that I wanted a black pair of VFF’s that might be more suitable for casual, around the town use during the summer. I also thought they might be a bit more subdued and call less attention to my feet when running on my college campus – don’t want to be viewed as the lunatic professor who runs around in toe shoes! The latter idea was pretty much shot after I wound up on the front page of our local newspaper running in them in front of the college’s gym – oh well…
The TrekSport fit their originally intended purpose quite well. They’re comfortable enough to wear around for an entire day, unlike my Bikilas which are a much snugger fit (in the same size – 41) and which I prefer to use only for running. I actually wore the TrekSports for two full days at the parks in Disney World a few weeks pack – not only were they comfortable, but they also attracted only about 2-3 comments the entire time. I think that’s a record for me in terms of the ratio of comments to hours worn in public for a pair of VFFs. I haven’t had any major blistering issues from wearing them sockless, and the upper is plenty stretchy and breathes quite well.
As a running shoe, the TrekSports also are quite serviceable. Because they have tread, they feel a tad more substantial underfoot than the KSO’s or Bikilas, but they aren’t all that cushioned so it mostly feels like a layer of firm rubber between your foot and the ground. One issue I have with the sole is that its thickness makes it a bit harder to flex and extend my toes than in the Bikila or KSO. The positive tradeoff with the thicker sole is that the TrekSports handle running over rocks a bit better than the other two, which I suppose is their intended purpose.
Quite surprisingly, the one place I really don’t like running in my TrekSports is on sandy trails – odd given that they are designed as a trail shoe. My reason has nothing to do with traction or ability to handle the terrain, but rather with what I feel is a poor design element on this shoe. At the back of the heel there is a fabric tab that extends upward behind the Achilles tendon (see side view photo above). I actually like this tab from a comfort standpoint, but the problem with it is that when running over sand or fine debris, stuff that you kick up falls onto the tab, which acts as a chute that sends said debris into the shoe and under you foot. As an example, I ran 4.5 miles in them earlier today, almost entirely on asphalt. On the one small stretch where I had to jump off the road to avoid a puddle, no more than about 10 steps total, I ran over some sand and immediately felt it starting to trickle into the shoe and under my foot. This is a real problem for me – curious to hear if anyone else has experienced this? I suppose it would be easy enough to slice the tab off, but not sure I want to go there since I like having it when I’m not running on trails.
Anyway, not sure there’s much more to say about this shoe. It’s well made, I like wearing it, I like running on roads in it, but it gives me trouble on trails due to debris collection. The latter is a shame, because it’s really pretty darned fun to run fast down a trail in these shoes. There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as the connection you feel to the ground in a pair of Vibrams, so even given this problem I have every intention of continuing to run in the TrekSports.