Vibram Fivefingers TrekSport Review

Vibram Fivefingers Trek SportI 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…

Vibram TrekSport Side View

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.

Vibram TrekSport Sole

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.

Vibram TrekSport TopQuite 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.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. I’m new to VFF’s, just bought the Komodo Sport (women’s). Since I do nothing but trails (or other off-road terrain), I thought this might be a good introduction to the VFF line. Tried them out today on a sandy farm road, didn’t have much problems with sand getting into the shoe. However, it was wet sand, so maybe that’s why no probs today.

    • Oh, I forgot to mention that the Komodo also has that tab at the heel.

      • Pete Larson says:

        Tina,

        I just got the Komodos as well, and the heel is a bit different. The tab on
        the TrekSport is a separate piece of material stiched onto the back of the
        heel and it extends upward. That on the Bikila and Komodo is an integrated
        extension of the heel upward, and it seems to hug my foot better. The
        problem with the TrekSport tab is that it’s not form fitting like the
        others, more just like a loose piece of material hanging out.

        Pete

        • Right, I see what you mean about the heel tab on the TrekSport — it’s much higher and kinda looks like it sticks out a fairly good amount. I can see how that could easily allow for sand and debris to get in the shoe.
          Since you have the Komodo and a few other people here have commented on it, do you think you’ll do a review on it? So far I’m really liking mine. I will admit, I did kinda over do it my first time running in them… (not specific to the Komodo, but rather simply new to VFF’s in general) – it was just a tiny run of 1.5 mi. Ha! My calf muscles are definitely feeling it now (obviously a weak area for me). I think next time I run in them it will just be a little loop around the local park… or maybe just my back yard. Definitely need to take it slow and work into it gradually.

          • Pete Larson says:

            Tina,

            I’ll have a review, but not sure how soon. Haven’t had a chance to run
            in them yet. Definitely take it slow, the body needs time to adapt and
            you don’t need an injury!

            Pete

  2. Mike Manna says:

    Hi Pete, first I’d like to say I am loving your reviews! I am about to make the transition to a minimalist shoe and am leaning toward VFF’s, probably the Komodosport. You mention you didn’t have any major blistering issues. Curios, did you have any blistering at all? And your thoughts as to what may have caused blistering if you did have any.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I haven’t had too many blistering issues with Vibrams, except from the heel
      in my KSO’s. I think the cause was that they are a size too big, but wearing
      Injinji socks in them cured that. I also find that after you skin gets
      calluses in the right spots, blisters are less of an issue.

      Pete

  3. Rwalker88 says:

    Wore these for several days in Disney World over Spring Break. I, however, got tons of comments and questions. Love the shoes, nice review.

  4. RunningDrew says:

    I took my KSOs to Disney World, too, last summer and benefited from them in quite an unforeseen way. At the time, I was still in transition to FFs from a normal shoe, experiencing some tightness around the Achilles. At 47, I find my body is slower to adjust than I’d like. So, I forced the issue one morning–noticed some tightness as I woke but was determined to wear my KSOs to the park. Put ‘em on and went down to breakfast. Wow…that really exacerbated the issue. I returned from breakfast and put on my other shoes, but the damage was done. By the time we returned from Epcot, I could barely walk.
    After a trip to urgent care, I was wheelchair and crutches-bound for the rest of our stay. The upside: yes, I played the gimp card and we cruised through many lines at the park…not that I was faking it, mind you….but ‘it didn’t hurt’
    I do believe my foot structure is stronger and more flexible because of my FiveFingers, which I now use for 3x/week boot camp sessions, but little else. But from one who has experience with them…take the transition slow to avoid injury.
    [FYI, this is my second attempt to post using my FB account and it has failed; pop up blocker is disabled for both attempts]

  5. Blenderkitty says:

    Late to the show – I was curious as to your thoughts on the durability of the trek vs. the bikila. I love my Bikila’s, but the CRAPPY HORRIBLE FALLING APART asphalt and concrete here is quickly eating away the soles (most of my running is on concrete).

    In your opinion, would the trek’s then have a longer useful life? For that matter, are your feet more or less sore in one VFF instead of another?

    I really really like the “almost-barefoot” feel, but the stones in the crumbling sidewalks really start to hurt around mile 5 :(

    Also – thanks for this blog! It’s really been very helpful to me in deciding how I want to run and what I want to do it in!

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’d guess that the TrekSport would be a bit more durable given its more
      rugged sole. Bikilas hug the feet a bit more, but both are comfortable.

  6. eriksnaturephotography says:

    Great review! I have been thinking about another pair of VFF’s. I do have the Bikilas (and ran a mile once in a while in them in the Fall). Had some foot problems which I am pretty much over but I’ve been hesitant to try them, yet. They do seem tight, but I thought that was just the fit of VFF’s. I probably should have tried on others! As for being the lunatic professor? Embrace it! I’ve worn my Bikilas to school a couple times (I teach 2nd grade) and the kids either love them or think they are freaky.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’ve embraced it at this point – ran around campus in them just the other
      day! Have yet to wear them to class though…

      The Bikilas fit snug, but I actually really like it when I’m running. Just
      wouldn’t want to wear it around all day like that.

      Pete

      • I had a teacher in undergrad, at High Point University, who wore his to class while wearing a suite and everything. Introduced me to them.

  7. kgri5262 says:

    just curious as to whether you find the smell of your VFF’s a problem – i would like to try these, but am concerned that my feet will sweat too much and they will stink to high heavens in no time!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Not too bad with smell yet…

    • I’ve only ever worn mine without socks and they don’t have a smell problem, but then again I don’t normally get stinky feet in other shoes. They do need to be washed at least once a month (depending on wearing conditions) to keep the inside somewhat clean.

  8. The Running Gator says:

    Those are great on trails and snow. However mine did tear while wet around the big toe. It was a pretty big tear that I just could not salvage. I was disappointed. For me it seems like only the classics work for my toe shape. So I decided to take some shoe goo and make my classics more trail worthy on the bottoms. I just wish that I could sent a foot tracing of mine to vibram for a more custom fit.

  9. I have read that the tab on the back is attached with Velcro. If that is true then that might solve you sand problem.

  10. 51feetunder says:

    Hey Pete, great review! Any specific reason(s) you went with the Trek Sports vs. the VFF Komodos? I just picked up a pair of the Komodos and instantly fell in love.

    Although I haven’t run in them (it’s been pretty wet and snowy up here in the Great White North), I did wear them around Myrtle Beach a few weeks ago and had the same experience you did; I don’t think anyone noticed they were “toe shoes”…except my wife who thinks they look ridiculous.

    In regards to the heel tab, should we expect to see more footwear surgery posts in the future?

    51feetunder

  11. I got the TrekSports as my first ever minimalist shoe and I love them. They’re very versatile and I use them for both walking and running on roads and trails. The only problem I’ve had with them so far is that the stitching on the inside sometimes causes a small blister on my big toe. I haven’t quite worked out why. As for sand, I would agree that it gets in quite easily but I don’t know if it’s because of the tab. I find that any loose bits on the ground (like cut grass) end up finding their way inside my shoes despite the KSO upper :\

  12. Hi Peter…

    i solved the sand issue by wearing lightweight toe socks in summer and thicker ones in winter . Only once did i run without socks & immediately experienced the same problem you had.

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