Written by Joshua Dhyani
If you’ve been living under a rock, you may have missed the bare foot movement that’s been growing over the past few years–don’t worry–I’ll catch you up to speed. A little while ago the idea emerged that all these extra pads and cushions, springs and pulleys, zigs and zags, were not so great for our feet. The need for a minimalist shoe emerged with less cushion and more, well, not really more of anything, were taking less here. One of the first shoes to hit this market was the Nike Free. These shoes have grooved bottoms instead of hard soles that flex and move with your feet. They were a good start, but many people complained that the heel the shoe provided didn’t make it a true minimalist shoe.
The Vibram FiveFinger shoe is about as minimalist and barefoot a shoe can get without actually wearing nothing at all. Individual toes and a thin sole give you the freedom to run like a Paleolithic hunter. For awhile, many of us with wide feet were left in the dust as the Vibram FiveFinger shoes seem to run a little tight.But fear not, because the Bikala LS, model M355, was introduced to soothe our woes. The shoe features a Dri-Lex covered 3mm polyurethane insole (thickest under the ball) and a 4mm anatomical pod outsole design. The sole is about as thick as any Vibram’s makes, but that still makes it pretty thin. This shoe is recommended to those with wider feet who want to really pound the pavement.
I have had my pair for over a year now, and I can tell you these things hold up pretty well over time. I have seen some other Vibrams get holes in the thin mesh between toes, but the design of these shoes is much more rugged than its predecessors. However, like with any minimalist shoe, they are going to take time to get used to. My first month involved some aching ankles, sore soles, and brutal blisters. If you can tough it out, you’ll be feeling a difference in no time and you’ll join an elite crowd of people who have evolved, or perhaps de-evolved, to a better understandingof their feet and running.
Many celebrities have hopped on the Vibram bandwagon and it doesn’t seem like the minimalist shoe movement is slowing down. Including Vibrams and Nike Frees, New Balance has come out with their own entry into the minimal shoe game with their Minimus Collection. Reebok has the RealFlex, Adidas has the Adipure Trainer, and the list continues to grow. Vibrams remian a leader in the barefoot movement and the five finger/ five toe shoe market. While they may run on the pricier end (99.99 for the Bikila LS) if you can find them on sale or want the best of the best it is still a great way to venture into the world of barefoot running.
- minimalist design
- toe caps to provide durability
- sturdy Vibram soles
- wider for comfort
- no laces, can’t fully open shoe
- takes time to get used to
- not waterproof