A few weeks ago I grabbed a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers shoes after seeing them in a video blog post by Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose. As soon as I saw them I said to myself that they were made for my barefoot lifestyle! All of the barefoot and none of the splinter and glass and getting thrown out of restaurants. Sandals are nice and I liked my Sanuks at first but they got tattered and stinky fast.
Wearing these things it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all (as Ned Flanders would say)! These are the closest things to being barefoot and, as such, you quickly realize that man was never meant to walk on concrete. But walking on grass or gravel feel practically wonderful. It’s always interesting walking on different surfaces and actually feeling the textures. For example, some carpets have odd textures you can feel. Your feet, long forgotten in the sensing world, are now giving constant feedback on your world. More than once I’ve stopped and looked down to see what I was walking on – some ordinary seeming ground feels different and interesting.
The soles are rubber and have striations which enhance their grip on slippery surfaces. After walking a while you will notice that you’re not walking on your heels quite as hard as you would in normal shoes. That’s probably partly because of the large amount of padding on the heels which mean less penalty for smashing into our heels and which contributes to the way normal shoe heels stick out a little by design (after going barefoot or wearing sandals for a few days I often find myself tripping on the heels like Hank Azaria in The Birdcage). In the Vibrams I tend to strike closer to mid-foot with the heel only used as a pivot point to redirect the force of the step. Striking the heel hard as in shoes stops forward motion and puts stress on knees, hips and back.
One caveat: you’ve got to be more careful where you put your foot. The soles are thin and briars and thorns go right through. Ouch. So don’t use these for hardcore hiking, but then you probably wouldn’t anyway.