Homage to Vibram FiveFingers KSO Evo
I’ve been using my KSO Evo for more than 12 months now, and as they’re about to hit the 1,000 mile mark, I thought it was about to time I showed some love for them. Here’s an overview and my long-overdue review.
If you have a pair of KSO Evo, we’d be interested to see or hear how your Vibrams are getting on too.
A Brief History of the KSO Evo
In case you’re wondering, KSO stands for Keep Stuff Out. Evo is short for Evolution, and evolve is exactly what this shoe has done.
The KSO Evo evolved from the original KSO and since the shoe’s release in February 2014, the KSO Evo has become the most popular FiveFingers style. It is not surprising, then, that Vibram have decided to make absolutely no changes to this shoe for 2015 (except release new colours, in grey/black for men, and purple/grey for women).
The original KSO featured a hook and loop Velcro fastening system that I felt was flawless. I was skeptical about the new speed-lace system on the KSO Evo, but I was very quickly won over.
The lace system provides a much wider opening of the shoe that greatly enhances the ease of getting your foot in to the shoe. For me, there is no more squeezing and fumbling to get your feet in to the shoe; the foot slides straight in. Easy on / Easy off. Pop on a pair of toe socks, and its even easier.
Once you’ve got the shoes on, you slide the lace and release the quick lace button and you won’t have to readjust the shoes again during your workout. It is that simple.
Often referred to as proprioception or barefoot feel, the KSO Evo wins hands-down in this department. With a maximum sole thickness of just 4.7mm, you are able to get fantastic feedback from the ground. Whether you like it or not, you really do feel everything under your feet.
The XS Trek sole features a zig-zag pattern that provides a surprising amount of grip, and because the sole is so thin from heel to toe, there is total flexibility.
What is the KSO Evo best for?
The KSO Evo is perhaps the most versatile shoe in the Vibram FiveFingers collection. I’ve used mine for road running, on the treadmill, on dry trails, in the gym, for leisure and for travelling. It is impossible to put the shoe in to one category so I’ll give an overview for each and a suitability rating.
Road / Treadmill Running
The bulk of my 950 miles with the KSO Evo has come from road running. The low weight makes for an excellent road and treadmill shoe. There is no bulk to slow you down and the thin sole ensures you maintain a good cadence.
Road / Treadmill Running Rating: 9/10
As you know, trails can wildly differ. From smooth, dusty trails, to boggy, wet single-track, to technical descents, it is impossible to get a trail shoe that suits all off-road terrain. The KSO Evo is definitely not a good shoe for mud (for that, see the Spyridon MR), and for technical terrain that may have sharp stones and gravel, you really don’t want a sole this thin (for that, see the Trek Ascent). But in the summer months when the trails dry up and you’re present with dry terrain, the KSO Evo really can perform. The zig-zag sole pattern offers substantial off-road grip and the lightness of the shoe makes it very agile. Just be careful of anything sharp or gnarly underfoot!
Trail Running Rating: 4/10
The polyester mesh upper fabric is extremely breathable and is treated with Aegis Anti Microbial, which prevents the build up of odour. I’m no gym monster, but I do enjoy indoor training and bodyweight exercises, and I find the KSO Evo extremely capable. The flat, low-profile nature of the shoe provides unparalleled balance. The KSO Evo may just revolutionise your ‘leg day’ at the gym!
Gym Rating: 9/10
I don’t wear Vibrams very often for everyday use. I use mine solely for training and travel, but that’s just my personal preference. However, the KSO Evo is perhaps the least offensive of all Vibrams. The design is minimal, the black colourway is relaxed, and they are extremely comfortable. Like slippers, honestly!
Leisure / Everyday / Casual Rating: 6/10
When travelling light, you want things that take up the least room with the least weight. The KSO Evo is not only both of those, but is also extremely flexible; you can roll them up – They are packable footwear!
I took mine when bike-packing (backpacking on a bike!) in 2014; riding the Via de la Plata (Camino de Santiago) from Seville to Santiago de Compostela. The KSO Evo added just 220g to my setup and slid in inconspicuously in to my dry bag attached to my handlebars. I’ll be taking them again for this year’s adventure. They are an absolute Godsend for travelling light.
Travel Rating: 10/10
Durability and Longevity of the KSO Evo
My KSO Evo, despite the high mileage they have already endured, still look almost new. The upper fabric remains intact, the soles show only mild signs of wear on the outside of the forefoot, and they still smell (relatively) fresh. My first pair of KSO (original) lasted 1,300 miles, and I’m expecting to get at least another 1,000 miles from my KSO Evo.
I would recommend the KSO Evo to any body who is looking for a do-it-all pair of minimalist running shoes. The thin sole does mean that you must run correctly; no more heel striking, and transition in to your Vibrams gradually.