Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vibram FiveFingers Comparison: KSO vs. TrekSport

The first pair of Vibram FiveFingers I bought was all the way back in 2008. At the time, I felt like I had waited long enough - past the "early-adopter" stage - and it was time I gave them a try. In retrospect, it seems like I was a little ahead of the curve there.

The pair that I bought was the KSO - or "Keep Stuff Out" model. It just seemed the most versatile at the time. And I did quite a few different things in them - from some light running, to wearing them to work, to taking them along on a backpacking trip as "camp shoes."

As far as the running goes, I didn't put a ton of miles on them - I used them once a week or so, for runs up to about 3 miles, mostly on pavement. It's only recently that I've worked up to more than that, and off-road use as well.

They've held up well - I did have a seam blow out on one of them, but some quick work with a needle and thread took care of that. One funny thing about them is that they tend to develop an odor after a while - I don't have smelly feet in general, but these tend to soak it up. They are machine washable (I throw them in with some towels) and that tends to freshen them up a bit.

The next pair that I bought was just recently, at an REI garage sale where they off-load returned and demo equipment. They were a pair of lightly used TrekSports, in one size smaller than the KSOs. (Because of my Morton's Toe, I'm in between a 46 and a 47. The longer second toe makes the 46s a little snug on that toe - I can't wear the TrekSports with socks - but the 47s can feel a little floppy sometimes.)

So far, I've been out four or five times in the TrekSports - both on road and trails. Funnily enough, running on the road with them gave me a pretty solid blister towards the front of my left arch, but I've had no problems with them off-road - even in snow and mud.

There's not a huge difference between the uppers between the two. They have a similar strap pattern, and similar insole. The TrekSports have a couple of refinements over the KSOs, though. First, the tops of the toes are reinforced with a shiny material. I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to do, since I haven't had a problem with that area. Second, there's a heel pad on the TrekSports. It's perfectly comfortable - but again, I hadn't seen a problem with that area on the older model.

The main difference between the KSOs and the Treksports is, of course, the soles. Here are the graphics from Vibram's website for each model:

The KSO:
The TrekSport:
Simply put, the TrekSports have a much more solid and aggressive sole. After running trails on both, I won't barely think of heading off-road in the KSOs. Little pebbles that would feel sharp in the KSOs can be ignored with the TrekSports on. Even on the road, I find that the TrekSports give enough peace of mind that I think twice about going out in the KSOs. In fact, the KSOs have been mostly relegated to wearing around the yard, for weekend errands and to work sometimes.

For me, the TrekSports are the best all-around answer in a FiveFinger model. I would love to try some of the road-specific models, like the Bikila, but I would need to be much more committed to the minimalist thing before I buy another pair of these...


SnowLeopard said...

Hey, great review dude! Vibram should pay you for this one. I love my TrekSports. :)

slowrunner77 said...

damn, i think your foot might just be even uglier than mine! who knew?!
good review(s). chuck and I did the last three miles of eight in our Minimususussuus trails today and loved every minute of it.