Thursday, July 19, 2012

FiveFingers, So Many Choices What's Best for Me?

*****  Updates on Entrada, Alitza, Maiori, EL-X, Signa and Treksport Sandal coming soon ***

Vibram FiveFingers, we wear them because we just like the feeling of being barefoot and free
  • We are cool
  • We are all about functionality
  • We seek an healthy alternative to regular footwear
  • We want to look look different
  • We are attention seekers
  • We are hardcore minimalists

Or just because …..

Nevertheless we love our FiveFingers.

I am writing this entry because I am constantly being asked why I pick this style over that other one in my 59 pairs of FiveFingers (so far and counting) for whatever activity I participate in.  I am not a FiveFingers Guru but since this has been my only footwear since Feb. 2005 I can safely say that I have invested quite a bit of time and energy in finding the right footwear for the right activities.

So, what is the style that meets my activities best? What are the differences?

FiveFingers come in many styles and choices.and as it turns out they are not all equal. 

You can drive both a SUV and a Lamborghini to the mountain, yet you have better chances driving the SUV in your quest. What I am saying is that the many FiveFingers styles available were designed with a specific set of activities in mind with a sole crafted for a particular terrain and impact type on the user's forefoot.

Here is my rundown on styles and what they are best for:

The TREKSPORT SANDAL is a 2013 addition to the VFF's Lineup , sporting the popular aggressive sole found in the TREKSPORT. This incarnation is well ventilated on the sides, back of the heel and on the top thus making it a great addition for warm summer days as they will keep your feet cool. I find them to be great for golfing, everyday city treks, hikes (with reservations) and any type of activities that do not include sand and mud and other wet debris. I find these sandals very difficult to wear in muddy, sandy and dusty terrains as all that stuff will pile-up rapidly inside the sandal's foot bed and get to be very irritating to the skin and making this situation very uncomfortable. The stiffer sole will prevent you from using a downward toe grip.

The SIGNA is the absolute minimalist dream, designed for warm water wear, super flexible (fold down and fits in your pockets) and the 'Wave Grip' sole makes you feel like a gecko on wet surfaces. The SIGNA does not provide any cushioning to the forefoot. This VFF is great for water applications; the sole is designed with many drainage holes which allow the footwear to dry faster than you can think. I have used the SIGNA for short runs and I found them very comfortable and resilient.

The MAIORI is the 'Hummer' of cold waters. I do like the fact that Vibram took in consideration the fact the 4th toe and the pinky toe are connected together at the sole thus preventing injuries that are so common while entering a kayak and other small volume crafts. The high collar provides good protection to the ankle bone. They are also very toasty in colder waters and the 'Wave Grip' sole provides exceptional traction on wet surfaces. The ankle collar is tight and might present a challenge to the unaccustomed VFF users but will keep all water borne debris out of your footwear. In essence, the SIGNA is the more practical version of the FLOW and the former SURGE; MAIORI has great grip on wet surfaces and unlike the FLOW & SURGE, the MAIORI's sole is very flexible thus allowing your toes to really grip downward whatever in under your feet. Wearing socks with MAIORI is definitely a NO NO as that will defeat the purpose of the neoprene vamp.

Crafted for the ladies, these new styles are a great replacement option for those who long the departure of the CLASSIC. If anything, the ENTRADA and the ALITZA are much nicer, more breathable with the mesh upper, have a better and more flexible sole than the CLASSIC. An abrasion test on the soles showed little degradation (4.2% material loss) after a 750 Km simulation using the FOX method of running and walking. They are very easy to clean and do dry much faster than the CLASSIC. You can also fit hem in your pockets. The ALITZA is a very elegant design with the little cross straps. Definitely not designed for running or trekking but perfect for casual everyday wear.

The EL-X is a simple design for men, very easy to put on, and well ventilated with its mesh upper. The sole offers a good grip on dry and wet surfaces and is similar to the ENTRADA as performance is concerned. Don't be afraid to clean the m daily as they dry very fast. The EL-X is great for everyday casual wear and travel wear. I do not classify them as running or trail material (TREKSPORT, SEEYA (LS) and BIKILA (LS) are made for running). The EL-X will fit nicely in your pockets when not needed. I recommend caution as I lost one while jumping in a pool; the water pressure on entry took it right off my foot. The EL-X is a great addition for the VFF beginner and the seasoned wearer alike.

I use them for light exercises, walking around, traveling. I do not use them for running as there are better options for that activity.  I do not use them for water activities as they get rip off my feet easily with water. They are fine in the rain and perfect for warm weather with their very open design. (I wash them after each use).  The thin razor striped sole offers exceptional dexterity.  When you need that extra edge with a toe grip the KSO will deliver; the FRESCA does not flex as much.

I use them for running short distances (2 Km or less), light exercises, walking around, traveling, long walks wet and dry. The difference is the strap that holds your foot down and prevent slippage; wet or sweat do not affect the performance as the insole gets grimy. ( wash them after each use).  The thin razor striped sole offers exceptional dexterity.  When you need that extra edge with a toe grip this one will deliver..

I consider the KSO to be the SUV the the FiveFingers line of products. KSO will take you from the sidewalk to the road, the lake and the mud and back to the street without having to worry about traction. They have the ability to shed water better than any other FiveFingers and easy to maintain. KSO are my favorite climbing footwear. They stay on your feet, no mater whatever you throw at them. (I wash them after each use.  The thin razor striped sole offers exceptional dexterity.  When you need that extra edge with a toe grip this one will deliver..Also great for Parkour.

The TREKSPORT is the Hummer of the FiveFingers. They sport most of the features the KSO has to offer but with a more aggressive sole. They have a very similar upper Velcro fastening system and stay put on your feet when needed. The heel cup has tendencies to absorb more water as it is more padded but other than that it does what its intended to do. The insole is a little thicker thus offering more protection against the harsh elements. Over time, they have become my favorite golf and trail footwear . (I wash them after each use)  The stiffer sole will prevent you from using a downward toe grip.

The SPYRIDON LS is the new “Oshkosh M-ATV” of the FiveFingers line of products. This style sports a mid-sole armor plating that distributes foot strike impacts thus minimizing fascia bruising while impacting very rough terrain with those pesky pointy rocks. The aggressive sole allows for great grip under dry and wet conditions. They are not as breathable and feel much warmer than the KSO and TREKSPORT but they are worth the sacrifice. They also have the tendencies to accumulate more water and other debris when wet and take much longer to dry than the CLASSIC, SPRINT, KSO and TREKSPORT. One of my favorite when going up a mountain (approach).  They do also work well for Parkour.  The stiffer sole will prevent you from using a downward toe grip.

 The SPYRIDON is where 'Thread meets Tread'... Armor plated, quick drying, tight ankle collar, very aggressive all terrain  XSTrek Vibram Rubber sole, Stretch Mesh and Polyamide Upper.....  Think of the SPYRIDON as the KSO on steroids .....  Dry & Dusty, Wet & Muddy, Pebbles & Jagged Rocks,   the SPYRIDON screams "Bring-it-On" yet feels very comfortable in the urban jungle.  In a post-Apocalypse world the SPYRIDON would be my first choice.  It is my opinion the the SPYRIDON is the better version of the LS version.

BIKILA (and LS):
Born to run with their specialized forefoot padding and a sole designed for long distance running the BIKILA is perfect for that purpose. (Vibram carefully crafted this style for the runner). They are also great for long walks and casual wear. I see them as stylish and love them. I think of them as my little foot Ferrari. I do not take them to water-sport related activities because of too many points of entry for stuff to get in (I have SUV for that).

Ah! My beloved SPEED …... The SPEED offers similar  features as the BIKILA and the SPEED has a breathable Nylon/Poly sandwich mesh upper, a Lycra fabric flex zone on the upper vamp, and Non Slip Nylon Lace 10 eye System. The only noticeable difference is in the thickness of the insole which is roughly 1 mm thinner than the BIKILA, in general I find that the SPEED gives a better ground feedback.  Overall, the SPEED is definitely the perfect travel companion; not my choice for long runs but absolutely casual perfect for an all night-out.   

This one is my favorite for cool and cold dry weather.  Definitely not my choice for wet weather but offers good protection in cool weather, great traction and forefoot padding.  Great for travel, long walks and some hiking.  The suede leather feels very nice and soft.  That nice look will return after a quick wash and a suede brush.  The stiffer sole will prevent you from using a downward toe grip.

My favorite cross-fit training footwear. The sole is specifically designed to allow lateral movement (side to side) with a thicker insole to absorb impacts; they are in their ideal environment at the gym. I do not use for water related activities (water activities require sure footing with grip, lateral movement is not part of good grip); and the mid-sole and padding absorb quite a bit of water when wet (water related debris also accumulate underneath the insole and make them uncomfortable). Short runs are OK and so is casual wear. The stiffer sole will prevent you from using a downward toe grip. Most definitely NOT for the trails.

FLOW is one of my favorite winter footwear in wet conditions. The sole, similar to KSO is made with IdroGrip performance rubber that makes you feel like a Gecko. This is a similar rubber compound as what is used on climbing shoes. Perfect for cool and cold wet weather and any water-sport activities. Also, wearing socks with the FLOW defeats the purpose of neoprene which is designed to tightly fit against the skin.  The insulating properties of the neoprene are achieved when a moisture film is deposited between the epidermis and the neoprene;  wearing socks especially wet will hold too much water and you get to feel cold much faster.  Also great for Parkour.

SeeYa (and LS):
The SeeYa is the ridiculously minimalistic running footwear. providing that you know how to run barefoot; the Seeya will give you road hazard protection. They are really like almost wearing nothing. The heel-cup seems to run wide but they will stay on your feet; after-all you run forefoot. I had a few few friends that got nasty blisters on the top of their feet which I believe are caused by the new, more abrasive Polyester Stretch Mesh. I understand that some of these issues have been addressed with the LS version.

JAYA (and LR):
The JAYA are by far the least minimalistic of the FiveFingers line with a sole made of 5.5mm EVA and 3.5mm TC1 Inlays. They are designed for indoor fitness. The outside world is definitely not good friend with the soft EVA sole of the JAYA, and most definitely not a water-sport footwear. The rubber pads do provide good grip in the gym and fitness classroom.

I love my BORMIO and TREK LS and CAREZZA. I treated them with 4 layers of warm Beeswax and they are very very water resistant. They are my choice of footwear in cold snowy weather. The warm boiled wool interiors of the BORMIO keep my toes warm and cozy; a brush of paraffin wax on the zippers makes them almost totally waterproof.  The TREK LS is my footwear of choice for dress casual wear.  I do wear  the TREK LS with socks.  the TREK LS has tendencies to shed its tones on bare skin.  My BORMIO and TREK LS can and do get washed from time to time; once dried I treat them again with beeswax   When left untreated the black will look grey-ish and brown will look very faded and they absorb water quickly.  These bad boys are made of real leather; treat them respectfully.  The CAREZZA is the ultimate knee-hi fur lined boot and perfect for harsh cold snowy winters.

The Lontra is like a tank, a little stiffer than other VFF's, after-all thay are winter footwear made to protect the wearer from frost and other harsh element; they are sporting a multilayer laminate upper with fully taped seams provides insulation and water resistance; a micro-pile fleece liner make this VFF very warm and comfortable to wear even barefoot, still I prefer to wear them with a pair of Smart-Wool Injinji socks; a 4mm EVA mid-sole on the forefoot provides insulation against frozen terrains which is very efficient.  I find them to be almost too warm.  I especially like the tight neoprene heel cuff which keeps the  snow and other trail debris out of my footwear.  I've been thru some pretty wet areas with mud and melting snow and my feet stayed dry and warm; that's a nice bonus for cold wet winter weather.  I find them very easy to put on, but again it's only my opinion and experience as I have spent most of my life  running barefoot and have been wearing VFF"s since 2005.  I can easily imagine that it could be challenging for some people to put a pair on.

Some people have bunny slippers and I have my MOC. MOC and PERFORMA are the most minimalistic FiveFingers footwear to date. Definitely an interior footwear. I have seen people in the recent past walking downtown with MOC and PERFORMA and it literally broke my heart.

Notes on Beaches and Yoga:
Beaches are better done barefoot. Who goes running at the beach wearing any footwear? Enjoy the sand, exfoliate those fascias, it will do you good !

Yoga is one activity that should always be done barefoot, but again I am no Guru. It's OK to connect with your mat and mother earth.

In retrospect I use different FiveFingers for specific activities:


Running on Road:
BIKILA, BIKILA LS and for the very experienced SEEYA and SEEYA LS

Trail Running:
SPYRIDON, SPYRIDON LS, TREKSPORT and KSO for the hardcore runners
TREKSPORT SANDAL (with reservations)

At the Gym Cross-Fit Training:

At the Gym Fitness Training:

Casual Wear and Travel:


Beach and Yoga:
Go barefoot and enjoy yourself

And remember: It's OK to clean your FiveFingers after each use, have fun, jump in the shower with your footwear and use the suds, rinse them and let them dry overnight in a cool ventilated area and they will be ready, waiting to take you to your next adventure.

Here is also the link on how to maintain them:

Orange Blossom.

My Version of a Shoe Tree ...... my 63 pairs and counting...

I have been a "Barefoot" minimalist for the past 55 years.
I use the "Run like a Fox - Stalk like a Fox" method.
I am not sponsored by Vibram in any ways.
This is my personal collection of VFF's that I have purchased since VFF's inception.
I use a running style called “Fox Running”and walking style "Fox Stalking"
I get, on average 2,800 Km  ( 1,750 miles) of usability per pair.

--  Some VFF's were not rated for water because they offered less grip in wet conditions and were accumulating too much stuff insde to be comfortable wearing in extreme conditions.

-- Some VFF's were rated Inside only because that is their intended purpose and the EVA mid-sole is too soft for hard and harsh terrain.

-- Some VFF's were not rated for running because of a detachable insole or were not providing the right amount of protection on forefoot strike.

-- Some VFF's were not rated for trails because they do not offer the minimum amount of protection required for a fun trail run experience.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stinky FiveFingers & other Minimalist Footwear ?

Stinky FiveFingers and Other Minimalist Footwear that we Love to Wear Barefoot?

I hear and see horror stories about the unbearable funk that follow some users like a nuclear mushroom over their heads and t heir feet…. God forbid when they take them off .... Run for your life !
I have to admit that, since my first pair back in 2005, I have never encountered such problem ever. I have taken some time to specially investigate the funk phenomenon at my lab using some of my friends' VFF's that have the issue haunting them. You sure do not want to wait till your partner ask you to spend the night on the back porch ... !
Here is the scoop:
Foot odor come from sweat, dead skin and the Corynebacteria and Micrococci bacteria;
A human foot, with it’s 250,000 sweat glands, during the course of a day can sweat up to 1/2 pint of liquids composed of the following ingredients: Fatty Acids, Urea, Sebum and many other organic compounds. Just add a little heat from your body a couple days of wear compounded by accumulating materials then you just made yourself the ultimate stink bomb. You just uncovered the bio-chemist in you ... !
When you wear regular shoes or sneakers with socks you don’t wear your same socks for an entire week… Socks absorb sweat & dead skin. When your wear VFF’s barefoot your footwear absorb sweat & dead skin. That needs to be washed or it will stink, sometimes very very bad, depending on the individual’s chemistry …..
I have these simple rules:

  • I wash my feet before I get in my VFF’s 
  • I apply  Crystal salts on my feet after a shower on hot days
  • I jump in the shower and clean-rinse my VFF’s (with a little sud from my body-wash) at the end of the day, then let them air dry wherever there is air circulation (be creative here, a window seal in summer no direct sun, near an air vent in winter no direct heat).
  • Every 2-3 days, depending on my daily activities My VFF’s will get a real wash in the machine and will air day as usual.
  • Always use lukewarm or cold water with regular laundry detergent when using a washing machine.
  • Always Dry my VFF"s away from the sun or heat sources and in a well ventilated area.
Never let you VFF"s go out of control. The more you wait, the more difficult it will be to get your VFF's clean again.

It all comes down to Basic hygiene; Prevention and a good maintenance regimen will give you years of fun times with your FiveFingers footwear. I am not a clean freak but since I was born with only 1 pair of feet and I hear that they are not replaceable I'd rather take good care of them and my footwear too.

Providing that you can stand socks, Injinji is a premier maker of sport toe socks & liners that works perfect with FiveFingers footwear. This solution works beautifully but if you choose not to wear socks then clean, clean clean.... repeat ... clean, clean, clean ...

There is also the issue with "hyperactive sweat glands";  a quick remedial is to spray a thin coat of antiperspirant  on the bottom of your feet.  This has worked very efficiently for our test subjects with that condition.

I also need to stress the fact that wearing dirty footwear without socks will drastically increase your risk in developing severe blistering caused by slippage.  (I also have an article on this topic in my blog here)

Among other we investigated the following products:

Is my Footwear Clean Yet ???

It wasn't easy but fun, it took some time and finally I have some very interesting results on a range of cleaning methods for out of control funk on FiveFingers.

The research work and all products & footwear used in the process were funded by myself, for the sheer benefit of my own curiosity.

Each product or recipe was graded as follow:

  • From 1 to 10 as 1 is the least efficient and 10 the most efficient
  • A $ represents the cheapest methods and $$$$$ the most expensive.Enjoy and give them a try

---PRODUCT---------------------------- Effectiveness--Cost per month
  • Lysol ---------------------------------------------- 6------ $
  • UV Light bacteria killer --------------------------- 7------ $$$$$
  • Mouthwash -------------------------------------------4------ $
  • Peroxide (H2O2) -------------------------------------7------ $
  • Vinegar / Water mix ---------------------------------7----- $
  • OxyClean ------------------------------------------- 8------ $$
  • Denture tablets -------------------------------------8------ $$$
  • Baking Soda pockets ---------------------------------9------ $$
  • Fabric Softener sheet -------------------------------8------ $
  • Sportzyme by Norwex ---------------------------------7------ $$$
  • SteriShoe™ shoe sanitizer -------------------------- 7------ $$$$$
  • Crystal Deodorant Salts -----------------------------10 ----- $

The research is based on the following:
  • 3 consecutive days of wear @ 12 hrs per day
  • same activities on each test pair
  • We used 6 pairs of KSO All black, Size 44
  • 1 shoe used for each test cleaning method
  • 1 shoe left out since the experiment requires 11 units

The VFF's were carefully cleaned and processed in the same manner; the cleaning process was followed by a 12 hrs drying period in a controlled environment consisting of a box 36x36x24 with the item placed on a stainless steel mesh shelf. 2 fans developing 15 cfm were used with a 25 watts incandescent light bulb, the temperature inside the container was at 77.5 Deg. F. Relative humidity was contained and kept constant at 30%.

A bacteria culture was conducted in an inert medium after the drying cycle was completed. Colonies count were conducted after 24 hrs of incubation.
My Thanks to 2 interns with keen olfactory senses for providing the human sniff of approval.

Analysis and results:

Some of the best results come the simplest ideas !
Take your daily shower with your footwear, when your are done, give em a quick rinse and let them dry in a cool ventilated area overnight.  Your favorite footwear will be ready for you, cleaned and bacteria free, ready to to take you to more fun places !  And every 3  days or so give them a good wash in the washing machine !  It's the most simple method and the quickest too !  On hot days I apply Crystal deodorants rock salts on sole of my feet right after my shower; these salts inhibit bacterial growth to nearly 100%.  That combination is the most efficient VFF's odor control to date.  Nothing else comes remotely close to this method.

I must say that OxyClean and the baking soda pockets were the most efficient of all the tryouts. OxyClean was used in the sink at 30% dilution with a soak in warm water for 5 minutes followed by a quick hand scrub then a rinse with clean water followed by air dry. OxyClean will not affect the colors of your footwear. It's formula Na2CO3•H2O2 is composed of sodium carbonate and peroxide. It is eco-friendly and nitrogen and phosphorus free.

The other systems that worked very well were a clean water rinse the dry the VFF"s with a Arm & Hammer softener sheet on the foot-bed (or the Baking Soda Pocket) and a regular dry period. (Other brands of softener sheets gave very poor results as in general it left a very unpleasant mixture of foot funk - flowers scent potpourri)

The denture tablets are interesting ..... Soak for 4 Hrs, wash in the machine, air dry .... The result is minty fresh VFF's providing that you have 6 to 8 hrs to fiddle with a cleaning process. For my own taste I'd rather clean in 10 minutes and enjoy a nice trail trek for the next 5 to 6 hrs. ... (There was still a lingering very mild smell of foot funk mixed with mint post clean-up)

The UV lights systems (SteriShoe and a couple of others) are interesting, cost more than $150.00 for the system. Yes, it will kill the bacteria causing stench but it will leave all the dead bodies on the insoles. You will still have to wash clean the accumulated dead gunk once every other week or you will be in a very slippery mess ....

Mouthwash, vinegar and peroxide do work well but will not kill everything and there will still be a pesky smell remaining.

Sportzyme and worked OK; it's an expensive product that I believe to be overpriced for its performance.

Lysol was very interesting, as it did removed the smell but the bacterias were mostly still active after treatment was applied. And I am told that there was a slippery feeling in the VFF's afterward.

Notes on Vinegar:
My lab tests and results do show that exposure to vinegar diluted to 2% (pH 2.24) and subsequent exposure to moderate UV lights (similar to a northern 42 Deg. Lat.  summer sun) drastically accelerated the degradation of the glues binding the fabric to the rubber in VFF"s.  Use with extreme caution.

For people with severe foot sweating,  a simple solution is to spray antiperspirant or apply Crystal Deodorant Salts on your clean dry feet before donning your footwear.  It's simple and works great. No sweat, no stink !

I am sure that, as the time goes by, there will be new tricks used to clean your favorite footwear.

Then again, I must emphasize the following:

Never let you VFF"s go out of control. The more you wait, the more difficult it will be to get your VFF's clean again. 

Also, your VFF's will last much longer if you keep them clean. 
Keep in mind that sebum, sweat and other fatty acids are formidable enemies of rubber compounds and other synthetic textiles. 

It all comes down to Basic hygiene; Prevention and a good maintenance regimen will give you years of fun times with your FiveFingers footwear. I am not a clean freak but since I was born with only 1 pair of feet and I hear that they are not replaceable I'd rather take good care of them and my footwear too.

Providing that you can stand wearing socks, Injinji is a premier maker of sport toe socks & liners that works perfect with FiveFingers footwear. This solution works beautifully but if you choose not to wear socks then clean, clean clean.... repeat ... clean, clean, clean ...

Agent Orange Blossom

Keep on Trekking !


Dirty minimalistic footwear can also cause nasty blisters;  here is the rundown on the topic
Blisters, Tips & Prevention

Tea Tree Oil appears to dissolve the glue on our test trails .. so, if you use the oil be very careful.
Info on Culture Media for the Growth of Bacteria
©2000 Kenneth Todar, University of Wisconins-Madison
This article is a follow-up to my previous entry on the same topic. If you haven't read it yet I highly recommend it; it's very informative, and can be found here
Lysol, OxyClean, Sportzyme, SteriShoe, Arm&Hammer are commercial branded products owned by their own Copyrights on which I have no claim.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

INOV-8 EvoSkin™ Review ... What are They?

It's been 40 days since I got my feet into a pair of EvoSkin™ from INOV-8, and, of course, being a new product, I had to give it a good test. So, here is the story of my EvoSkin™ adventures ...

Are you an avid barefoot enthusiast, or a minimalistic footwear (0 drop) athlete that dreams that you could always be barefoot, being able to really feel the ground, being able to “see with your feet” without having to look down, being able to fully utilize what nature gave you at birth ?

Just imagine for a moment that you could dip your feet in a vat of silicone rubber, deposit a thin protective skin over your own and after a quick dry you are free, on the road, with every muscle, tendon, joints in your feet no longer restrained by anything … That is the exact feeling I get. Sure, I know exactly what you are going to say: “there are other manufacturers that offer footwear with separate toe pockets”, but the EvoSkin™ is much different from the others in many respects.

Meet The EvoSkin™ :
The EvoSkin™ is molded from a human foot, as a seamless, single piece of silicone rubber 2.97mm thick and weighs 135 Grams per foot with a ∆ of 92 mg averaged on 14 units of footwear.

Silicone is a polymer that contain silicon, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Silicone is a very
stable polymer that is naturally resistant to extreme temperatures (−120°C to +300°C ) and environments while retaining its useful properties.

What makes the EvoSkin™ so different from the others?

In order to answer that question I took 7 pairs of EvoSkin™ to the lab and track and trails. Yes, the Laboratory. Here are a series of test I performed on the EvoSkin™ :

• Gripping ability against known standard surfaces,
• General fit & Shape retention,
• Product consistency,
• Wear and tear under controlled conditions,
• Cleaning & maintenance tests,
• General performance on diverse terrain,

First and foremost, it is very important to mention that all field tests were conducted by people experienced in barefoot training, running and walking. All test subjects used only the “Fox Running” method for running and the “Fox Stalking” method for walks and trekking. Why? I have been doing all my activities, running, walking, martial arts, marathons barefoot for the past 40 years.
Back in 2005 I began wearing minimalistic footwear to protect my feet from the harsh environment of the sidewalks and streets in the city. I have some soles with over 800 Km logged on and still look almost new with only 0.9% loss on the rubber. Both of my partners "test subjects" have 12 and 15 years of barefoot experience under their soles.

Here are some of my findings on the EvoSkin™ .

The grip:
I must say that I was, and am still absolutely impressed with the grip I get out the EvoSkin™ ; I went to this park where they have a skate-park with a couple of deep bowls that are used by skate boarders and parkours enthusiasts. I felt like a gecko while walking the slope up from the bottom of the bowl, yes, walking up the bowl... The gripping ability is natural and truly exceptional.

In the Lab I tested this unique feature on a piece of marble polished with a 2500 grit sandpaper which is pretty much like a glass pane. In a static drag test at 45 Deg. angle with a dead weight foot of 100 lbs it took 150 lbs of force to move the foot with the EvoSkin™ on and 3 lbs of force without the EvoSkin™ . I also completed the same test with footwear with TC-1 rubber and got 35 Lbs of force on the meter to move the foot. You can make your own deductions here …

General fit and Shape Retention:
I and my colleagues were pleasantly surprised with the fit. At first look I thought that they look quite shorter than my feet but as soon as I got them on the EvoSkin™ morphed to my feet perfectly. Then I got this strange feeling of having nothing on my feet, yet I looked down and there they were, my blue translucent feet. On my first day I wore them for 9 hrs in town, to the park, a quick run, a little parkours, more walk, some shopping; in all I had put on 22 Km on them that day. When I finally took them off ( I peeled them like skin) they returned immediately to their original shape and very dirty ! The point is that the EvoSkin™ will conform to your feet as you wear them but will immediately return to their original factory shape after you take them off. Over the past 40 days I finally got used to the fact that my EvoSkin™ always look like new out of the box before I put them on, like a new skin ! One important feature of the EvoSkin™ is that there is no seam on the footwear; I found this feature to be very significant in comfort after a run thru the local creek with mud up to ankles. This makes a big difference when there are no stitching with particles rubbing against your toes. Since silicone is a stretchy compound I proceeded to put that to the test with 1500 cycles (10 stretch /min.) stretched at 20% over the resting length (130 Newton force). The EvoSkin™ remarkably retained it original shape and showed no degradation on the silicone natural elasticity. Silicone is also known for it's self healing capabilities; in a controlled test I used a dental pick and rose thorns. After retracting the foreign objects from the sole, the puncture wounds were barely visible with a magnifier and there was no loss of integrity to the silicone when subjected to a stretch test.

Product consistency:
Since the EvoSkin™ are made from a mold it's pretty easy to think that the product would be
consistent as per the mold itself. Of the 7 pairs of EvoSkin™ tested (4 gray and 3 blue) there was 92 mg difference in average in the weight of each piece of footwear. The thickness of the silicone is consistent within 0.006 mm . It is obvious that INOV-8 is paying attention to their product and quality control.

Wear and tear under controlled conditions:
I conducted 2 types of tests, Static and Dynamic. I am at day 40 on both tests and still going. The static test is a Lab controlled environment which simulate 45% walk and 55% run. Data is collected at each 50 Km mark. I look for material density loss, sole fingerprint abrasion, loss and deformation. The Dynamic test, still in progress, is being conducted by myself and 2 volunteers on walks, runs, parkours, sailing, and other general fitness activities. Each participant logs the type of activity conducted with mileage incurred and data is collected at each 50 Km mark.

Cleaning & maintenance tests
Cleaning the EvoSkin™ is amazingly easy. You just throw them in the washing machine, or give them a quick rinse in clean water or, my favorite, the dishwasher. Yes the dishwasher; I like my EvoSkin™ cleaned and sterilized. At day 40, my EvoSkin™ went through 15 regular washes,and 24 dishwasher cleaning. I have yet to notice any deformation or degradation of the silicone. There is no comparisons possible with other minimalistic footwear when it comes to cleaning the EvoSkin™ . They just don't get wet. When they come out of the washing machine they dry in 1 minute flat and are ready to wear again. Furthermore you will never have to deal with the notorious stink of death associated with wearing footwear barefoot.
I need to mention that “out of the box” EvoSkin™ have this little lubricating residue on the silicone which make them slippery. A new pair of EvoSkin™ should be washed before first use. A colleague tried a first run without the first wash and reported significant slippage inside the EvoSkin™ which was remedied after the first wash.

General performance on diverse terrain:
Providing that you are accustomed to barefoot activities you will find the EvoSkin™ to be great performers just about anywhere. If you can dish the terrain, the EvoSkin™ will take you there. I was very impressed with the EvoSkin™ when I went to the rock Gym, I truly felt like I was barefoot; how much more fun can it be than to have 20 fingers available to take you to the top of the wall? Yes it was fun indeed, for me and thanks to my 20 fingers. EvoSkin™ are very supple and nimble yet offer the extra protection when needed.

EvoSkin™ makes forest trails a fun adventure; wet rocks, mud and trees are no match for this footwear, the grip is unparallelled. I recently had a great adventure sailing the Columbia river and I had the best footing of the crew with my EvoSkin™ .

A Colleague runs 15 Km a day on an inside track at the local Gym. The track is made of wood similar to a basketball court but with a mat finish. She has been very happy with her EvoSkin™ and after 600 Km logged, the EvoSkin™ has lost 116 mg of it's original mass and very little visual wear to show for.

I normally do trails barefoot and with the EvoSkin™ I was surprised how I had absolutely no loss of feeling and feedback from the ground and, as a bonus, I got that little extra edge feeling protected from pointed rocks, twigs, occasional slugs wild life dong etc... Due to the nature of silicone, I found the EvoSkin™ working surprisingly very well on sharp rocks, creating a protective barrier against the pointed edges. As I was crossing the hot tarmac, on that hot day, on my way to my favorite park, the EvoSkin™ offered me protection from the searing heat. Silicone also provides good heat insulation. At the gym, the EvoSkin™ is right at home; from the exercise room, treadmill and other exercise machines, then right to the shower room, not having to worry about what infectious disease lurks on the floor.

A couple days ago I visited my horse at the ranch and I accidentally touched the electric fence but did not get shocked. Silicone has natural dielectric properties. I tested the EvoSkin™ to insulate to 9.5 KV on the HI-Pot tester. (Think electric wires at the Tough Mudder runs). At the Rock-Climbing gym, a colleague felt that she was cheating wearing her EvoSkin™ , never missing a step on the wall.

INOV-8 advertize the EvoSkin™ as providing the Gecko grip; I can attest this to be an
understatement; on parkours, I had to fully release my foot from the glass wall, for each step up, as my feet would not slide on the surface. That is a big plus as you can effortlessly use all 4 limbs to shimmy-up a slick wall.

Are EvoSkin™ for me?
That's the $64 question … (Yes, the suggested retail price is $64.00)
INOV-8 website offers a guide on how to transition from regular running shoes to Barefoot. My impression is that INOV-8 is being very serious and responsible for their products and the welfare of they clientele and I commend that.

INOV-8 provides crucial information via their website on transitioning to barefoot running
( I see INOV-8 producing a training video in the near future. I have seen many of my friends being injured in making their transition to barefoot running and walking too fast; the types of “very painful” injuries are debilitating and set them back months in their training.
Proper and safe transition can be achieved in 4 to 12 months depending on the individual. Too much too soon with hurt you and you will go through a long and painful recovery. I am very impressed on how seriously and carefully INOV-8 has taken the first step in the new barefoot industry.
(As far as I know this is much better than a line on a box that tell a consumer to take it slowly).

Final assessment:
EvoSkin™ are by far the most minimalistic footwear to date; they will take you to places where you could have never imagined to be possible.
EvoSkin™ are not your Everyday casual footwear.
EvoSkin™ are for experienced barefoot runners and walkers.
EvoSkin™ ground feedback is absolutely exceptional.
EvoSkin™ molds to your feet and adjusts itself at every step, leaving the foot free to do what a foot do.
EvoSkin™ are sanitary, and will clean with absolute ease after each use.
EvoSkin™ adapts & mold nicely to your Morton's toe if you have condition.

Always keep in mind that when you run or walk barefoot, you do it with your feet and your EvoSkin™ are a thin protective skin over your own.

I find the EvoSkin™ to be a pleasant relief from other “individual toe pockets” manufacturers who lately have been significantly increasing the thickness of the soles which in return considerably diminishes the ground feedback that minimalistic athletes long for.

At times I get this question: “ Aren't you sweating a lot in these?
The answer is no, and actually much less than when I wear other minimalistic “separate toe pockets” footwear. At most, after wearing my EvoSkin™ for 5 hrs I can detect a little moisture on my skin which is normal and does not affect the performance of the footwear

A colleague reported some sweating issue which was immediately remedied with antiperspirant spray on the feet.

I must stress, that with proper foot hygiene, you will have a very enjoyable experience with the EvoSkin™ . It's a good practice to clean your feet before you get in your footwear and clean your footwear and feet after your exercise session. Dirty feet in EvoSkin™ are a bad combination as the sebum on your skin will make your footwear slippery, a great recipe for hot spots and blisters. Note that this apply to any type of footwear that is being worn without socks. That also means that your toenails must be clipped properly; bear claws and talons are not recommended, no sharp edges!
In retrospect, I am absolutely pleased with the first generation of the EvoSkin™ . As far as I am concerned, there are “almost minimalistic” footwear then there is the EvoSkin™ .
I am reluctant to label the EvoSkin™ as “footwear” because that are so much more than that; EvoSkin™ are beyond footwear, they are as close as you get to a second skin. The EvoSkin™ is a serious training tool, not casual footwear

How long will a pair of EvoSkin™ last is everybody's guess!
A wearer that “heel strike” and “drag his/her feet” would probably get 100 Km of useful life. A
wearer that uses the “Fox Running” and “Fox Stalking” method will get much more mileage. My blue EvoSkin™ are at 800 Km and look barely used.

So, this is a test in progress and I plan to supplement this report with frequent updates.

Have fun, Tread safely, and enjoy this outstanding new technical footwear that the EvoSkin™ is.

Agent Orange Blossom

Here are some pictures taken at different stage of the tests I conducted.
(Click on the picture for full view)
Blue and Gray EvoSkin

Brand new sole

250 Km (cleaned)

500 Km front

500 Km forefoot
500 Km heel

Punctured Through sole
Foreign object removed

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Chinese Counterfeit Jaya Hit the Market

It was just a matter of time for the Chinese grey market to produce counterfeit JAYA in new colorways.

The differences are mostly in the fabrics utilized in the production.

The lasts used are also sightly different from the REAL JAYA.

The pads are manufactured with nylon / rubber mix.

Don't be fooled, BUY SMART.

Agent Orange Blossom

Here are some pictures: (click on picture for full view)
Take a good look.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More Counterfeit FiveFingers TREKSPORT

It was just a matter of time for the Chinese grey market to produce counterfeit TREKSPORT in new colorways.

The difference is mostly in the fabrics utilized in the production.

The lasts used are also sightly different from the REAL TREKSPORT.

The sole is manufactured with nylon / rubber mix.

Don't be fooled, BUY SMART.

Agent Orange Blossom

Here are some pictures: (click on picture for full view)

More Counterfeit FiveFingers BIKILA LS

It was just a matter of time for the Chinese grey market to produce counterfeit BIKILA LS

The difference is mostly in the fabrics utilized in the production.

The lasts used are also sightly different from the REAL BIKILA.

Don't be fooled, BUY SMART.

Agent Orange Blossom

Here are some pictures: (click on picture for full view)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NEW Counterfeit FiveFingers collection 2011

Meet your new collection of Chinese counterfeit Vibram FiveFingers 2011 edition.
Look carefully ....

This is a collection of KSO, KSO TREK, CLASSIC, SPRINT, SPEED and BIKILA which all came out of the gray China markets.

Notice the "Non Vibram" colorways, Spandex uppers and toe pockets shapes that differ from the genuine article.

Don't be fooled, Shop Smart !

If it's not listed on the site then it not genuine; it's that simple.

Don't be fool ..... Shop Smart !

Agent Orange Blossom.