Five Fingers: Fad or Function?

Once in a while, a product arrives on the market that immediately divides consumers into two categories: fans and skeptics. The Five Finger shoe series, from Vibram, is one such product. Popular among a large variety of consumers and lifestyles, Five Fingers possess a truly revolutionary design that appeals to those looking for something different, but also claim a level of comfort that can’t be found anywhere else. Are Five Fingers truly beneficial to your health, or simply just another passing trend? Today, we’ll take a deeper look at these shoes and discover the answer.

I’ll begin with what Five Fingers are designed for. The shoes are basically a glove for your foot, and resemble toe socks in the sense that there is a sleeve for each toe. Compared to a traditional shoe, this design allows your foot to move as it is naturally designed to, and not the way it does inside a shoe. This improves ergonomics, balance, and grip by allowing you to feel as if you’re walking barefoot, but provides the sole protection of a shoe. Conventional shoes squeeze your toes together, narrow your foot’s contact with the ground, and reduce surface contact, thus, reducing balance. Vibram’s Five Fingers allow you to spread your toes and increase surface contact, which greatly improve balance and comfort. Five Fingers also employ durable rubber soles and toe guards, which help protect against injury from objects at ground level.

Five Fingers do not, however, provide much protection for the top of your foot and ankle, as the shoes are basically a glove. This makes them a poor choice for activities or lifestyles where damage to the top of your foot is a serious possibility. I’ve also heard complaints that they can be difficult to put on and take off, which might be an annoyance to some. They’re also not made for the harsh winter months, so it’s best to leave them in the closet when the temperature drops. Furthermore, you can’t wear socks with Five Fingers, which means they can potentially become stinky if you wear them a lot.

Vibram offers several different styles of Five Fingers shoes to suit a few different activities, so potential buyers have several options from which to choose when determining which shoe is best for them. Also, the shoes are very affordable, and fall within a price range of $60 to $125.

I know many people who love their Five Fingers and swear by them in several activities, from running to hiking to everyday use. Do they deliver, as far as comfort and function are concerned? Yes. Are they optimal for each and every consumer? No. To answer my original question, I believe Vibram’s Fiver Fingers are fad for some people and functional for others. Many users find them very useful for running or day hikes, but there are also some who buy them because they’re different and comfortable. Both reasons are valid and very true. Your own reasons for potentially picking up a pair for yourself are entirely up to you. However, I will say that if you originally look at the shoes for style, be prepared to get more than you thought, in terms of comfort.