Backpacking in Fivefingers


After two days, these shoes were dirty. To be fair they had spent the majority of time off trail….

Vibram took boat shoes a few years ago and made them into a phenomena. They fibbed a little on the science of running saying that these were sort of a magical bullet against all the injuries plaguing running. So, over the last couple of years they’ve come under fire, and they’ve had to lay aside some money to pay any complainants or something like that.

Given the size of vibram’s business (they help supply boots to the American Military and I believe a few other countries as well) I’m not sure the amount of money they are laying aside will even have an effect.

But I am a satisfied Vibram customer. I have a pair of hiking books, trail runners, and a couple pairs of five fingers – all use vibram soles. I have run a half marathon in these shoes you see above.

On this latest backpacking trip, I wanted to see how backpacking in the light weight shoes with no ankle support would hold up while backpacking.

Now I would not recommend this to everyone. I have been wearing five fingers for hikes for nearly 8 years. Through MO, GA, NC, CA, NM, TX, OK, KY, IL, well you get the picture. Pretty much every where I have been for a long time has seen me in five fingers. On top of this, I have run on pavement and on trails with these shoes.

I have even done day hikes carrying my daughter in a back pack with this particular shoes.
All this to say, I knew what to expect, and both my feet and legs are very used to the five fingers.

Frankly on this trip, they very much exceeded my expectations.

I’m used to boots. Two pairs of boots have been my primary backpacking shoes in past trips. An old pair of vasques and now some asolos. Both are great boots. But I really wanted to try hiking with something lighter.

On trails you don’t get much of a test of your equipment. But since we spent an entire day off the trail, I can say they held up perfectly. Through the brambles and mud and little thorn bushes, I didn’t have a single problem. After a wash they look pretty much new.

The thorns which I expected to penetrate didn’t come through at all. This surprised me, and I have no desire to risk my luck and give it another go. The cloth sides shouldn’t have served as an effective barrier, but they did.

Ok, the downsides – first, these are not in anyway waterproof. If you are hiking in the winter, fall – any cold or wet conditions – find another way. Wet grass and mud will get the shoes nice and wet if you are trail blazing. Which brings us to my second problem, when wet there are some possible toe jamming issues. Your feet will slide forward. This didn’t really cause me any serious issues, and there were no blisters or hotspots from any of this.

If we had stuck to trails, I probably would not have even thought of either of those problems, and they aren’t enough to take away my desire to use these over boots again. They were by far more comfortable and lighter weight than my hiking boots. It made for a very pleasant trip foot wise than my hiking boots.

However, the boots stay around – primarily for wet cold weather backpacking trips.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
This entry was posted in Gear Reviews, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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