Every week we get plenty of questions from customers. So many in fact, that we have decided to dedicate a blog post every-so-often to our favourite customer questions, which we have abbreviated to ‘CQOTW’. So, without further ado, here is our latest CQOTW:
I recently can a Tough Mudder in my KMD Sport. They had enough grip, but let in a lot of debris. Which Vibram FiveFingers would you recommend for tackling mud obstacle races?
Its been very busy for us this week, we’ve recently taken delivery of new stock, including New Balance and Ultimate Direction, as quite coincidentally, we are ‘re-strategising’ to target trail runners and obstacle runners!
The KMD Sport is best in the gym, indoor training, and tarmac running. I am really surprised you found them to have adequate grip on your Tough Mudder.
For mud/obstacle use, the stand-out style is the Spyridon MR. The MR stands for Mud Runner and was designed for muddy events. I can’t comment from personal experience, as the Spyridon has always been one of those shoes that has never quite agreed with me, but our customers love that shoe.
The other option (and a personal favourite of mine) is the Trek Sport. The tread is actually deeper than the Spyridon MR, so it provides better traction on the trails. It is built on the KSO platform (which stands for Keep Stuff Out) so if you’re looking to keep the dirt out, this could be the one for you.
Further, keeping grit and debris out is never easy, especially when you’re swamping around in mud. However, from personal experience, a pair of toe socks combined with fastening your shoes up extra tight has always been the best solution for me.
Both the Spyridon MR and the Trek Sport are currently on offer. The Trek Sport is currently £40 off, but this price will be increased over the weekend. We also have an offer on a pair of Injinji toe socks (offer only applies to that particular pair), where you can pick up a pair for better than half price when you place an order with us.
The Spyridon was first released by Vibram FiveFingers back in early 2012, first as a lace-only (LS) style, before releasing the Spyridon (Velcro option) later in 2012. Designed with trail runners in mind, the Spyridon found itself as the go-to ‘barefoot’ shoe for participants in mud races and obstacle events such as Tough Mudder.
It is therefore no surprise to learn that the ‘MR’ stands for ‘Mud Runner’.
Here’s the official blurb from Vibram FiveFingers:
Designed for the minimalist trail runner, the re-styled Spyridon MR, short for Mud Runner, offers a Vibram 3D Cocoon technology molded into the sole for lightweight protection. Speed laces and canvas fabric finish this sole off for a rugged and secure fit, while a 360 degree lug pattern offers grip in all directions, perfect for your next mud obstacle course or trail race.
So, What’s New?
Good question. And the answer is ‘not much’.
The Spyridon MR is being released (initially, at least) as a lace-only style and will feature Vibrams fantastic Speed lace system. The Velcro Spyridon is being completely retired.
There are no changes to the sole. The Spyridon MR has the same brilliant Vibram XS Trek Compound sole as the original Spyridon, with the ‘rock block’ nylon mesh. This is just a maximum sole thickness of just 4mm. Very minimalist. The rubber sole has a multi-directional quadrilateral pattern, thus providing a good degree of grip and range of motion.
The upper fabric is arguably the only difference. Whereas the Spyridon LS was made from Coconut Active Carbon, the new Spyridon MR is constructed from a polyester fabric. The new look is arguably more ‘socially acceptable’. By this, I mean the design has been toned-down and is less garish.
Closure / Fastening
As stated above, the Spyridon MR is (for the time being at least) going to be available as a lace-only style. The speed lacing system is a fantastic and very convenient way of lacing up in a flash. The short laces are made from memory wire, which helps them to remain in place as you fastened them. They then hold in place by securing the lace with a plastic toggle, and secured further with a small Velcro patch. Very neat indeed.
In the US, Vibram-wearers prefer to wear laces over Velcro by a ratio of 3:1. In the UK, we are the opposite, preferring Velcro over LS by the same ratio.
The MR has a polyurethane stitch-in footbed. Like the original Spyridon, this is not removable.
Weight: M43 = 7.83 oz (222g) / W38 = 5.64 oz (188g)
While the release of the Spyridon MR is not as exciting as the release of the KSO Evo, the Bikila EVO and the all-new Vyrid, it is still an important development. It shows Vibram FiveFingers have recognised the massive growth in popularity of obstacle mud races over the last couple of years, and are looking to capitalise on this by providing a shoe that not only copes well in the wet and muddy conditions, but also stays on your foot! (If you’ve never been to a mud obstacle event, you always see people leaving with just one shoe, as the other got lost in the mud!)
It is a shame to see the Velcro option removed, but the worst decision for me is that the UK won’t be getting the military green ‘khaki’ colour. Nevertheless, I am confident the Spyridon ‘Mud Runner’ will prove to be a big hit in 2014.
We’re seeing a massive shift in the barefoot shoes that people are buying. The days are getting shorter, it’s colder, it’s wetter, and its windier. People are seeking out the best Vibram FiveFingers for winter – and we’re here to help you find the perfect choice.
In case you don’t want to read the whole article, we’ve made it easy for you to pick out the best shoe depending on what activity you’re likely to use the shoes for most:
Vibram Fivefingers have some excellent styles that are designed for use in colder weather and challenging terrain, but there are two sole types that stand out as the most winter-proof; the Trek sole, and the Spyridon sole (aka the Vibram XS Trek compound).
The ICETREK Sole
The ICETREK sole is unique to the Bikila Evo WP. Built on the same style / shape of sole as the original Bikila Evo, except the sole on the WP is made from Vibram’s patented ICETREK technology. Not only has this rubber compound been granted full marks by Vibram for its durability, it is “developed to grant the best grip on very cold, iced, or snowy surfaces, VIBRAM® Icetrek allows you to move, work, and live safely on mountains and in cold areas.”
The ‘Trek’ Sole
The Trek sole can be found on the following styles:
With a maximum sole thickness of just 7.5mm the Trek sole is very minimal – but in comparison to some of its peers (EL-X 3.5mm, Seeya 3.5mm) it is more ‘built up’, thus giving less ‘barefoot feel’ (aka proprioception / feedback).
The extra sole depth comes in the form of tread. The lugs on the Trek sole are strategically placed to provide extra grip where it is needed, giving you confidence when running on the trails. The extra sole thickness means the Trek sole is less flexible than other Vibram styles.
The Vibram XS Trek Compound Sole
The Vibram XS Trek Compound Sole is found on the Spyridon MR.
The Spyridon MR sole is more minimal than the Trek sole with a maximum sole thickness of just 4mm. The sole features multi-directional tread designed to provide traction and stability when you need it most. The Spyridon MR sole is also much more flexible than the Trek sole, and you can easily roll and flex the sole.
A Look At The Shoes
Bikila Evo WP: The ONLY Waterproof ‘barefoot’ shoe
The Bikila Evo WP was released in November 2014 and has created quite a stir. For year, barefoot runners have been calling out for a shoe that is genuinely waterproof, and now we have it.
This shoe features a triple fastening mechanism: A concealed quick-lace system, a full zipper, and a Velcro across the top. The upper fabric is 100% waterproof, the zipper has taped seams, and the ICETREK sole is super-grippy in snow and ice. Despite the wealth of features, the Bikila Evo WP is also extremely lightweight. Its baffling how a shoe so good, so comprehensive, can remain so low on weight.
The Trek Sport is one of Vibram FiveFingers’ most popular styles. The black/charcoal colourway is arguably more ‘socially acceptable’ and less conspicuous than some of Vibram’s more brighter, vibrant styles. The upper is exactly the same as the KSO (Keep Stuff Out) style, and the Trek Sport style and colour is exactly the same for both men and women.
Because the upper fabric completely covers the foot to just below the ankle, it provides warmth and does a great job of preventing any objects (gravel, sand, mud) from getting inside the five-toe shoe. The mesh ensures the feet can breathe and the Velcro fastening is a God-send when your fingers are cold; simply pull and stick – no fumbling with numb fingers to lace-up your shoes!
What is the Trek Sport best for?
These are all reasons that make the classic Trek Sport an ideal choice if you are looking for a shoe that will perform in:
Trek Sport Sandal: Great for trails in milder weather
Vibram released the Trek Sport Sandal in 2013 to very favourable reviews. While the original Trek Sport is great for hitting the trails when the weather is cooler, muddier, and the terrain looser – The Trek Sport Sandal will serve you better when it is warmer, and when the terrain is more hard-packed.
That said – You can provide extra warmth and protection by adding a pair of Injinji toe socks.
More a shoe than a sandal, The Trek Sport Sandal features vents on each side of the shoe providing incredible breathability. The upper fabric is extremely durable and comfortable.
While the Trek Sport is a Velcro-only style, the Sandal is lace-only (LS) and comes fitted with Vibram’s brilliant Quick-Lace system as standard plus a spare pair of conventional laces, giving you the choice of how you lace your Sandal.
What is the Trek Sport Sandal best for?
The Trek Sport Sandal is certainly less of a winter shoe than the Trek Sport, but is equally as versatile, making it a popular choice for the following activities when the weather is fairer:
The Lontra was the original winter barefoot running shoe – before the Bikila Evo WP was released.. The upper is water-resistant (but not waterproof), and is more padded than any other style, providing thermal qualities to keep your feet warm when it gets cold.
The Lontra features a multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams, providing insulation and water resistance. The micro pile fleece liner is soft against the skin while helping wick perspiration away from the foot. Other features include: a neoprene heel cuff to keep out snow and debris, a reinforced hook and loop closure for a snug and secure fit; and reflective surfaces for safety at night. The 4mm EVA midsole provides insulation from frozen surfaces, and the TC-1 Dura outsole provides traction, durability and superior plating protection.
The Lontra feels slightly over-sized, and I suspect it was designed this way to provide extra space inside the shoe to give the wearer the option of wearing toe socks for extra warmth and comfort.
You may also find the Lontra to be less breathable than other styles. This is arguably a fair trade-off given the water resistance element.
The upper fabric is only slightly water resistant (not as much as the Lontra). Like the Trek Sport and the Lontra, your foot is fully covered giving excellent protection against loose objects when running and preventing things such as stones, gravel and mud from entering the shoe.
The ‘MR’ in the name actually stands for Mud Runner and the shoe was designed for off-road, muddy pursuits; the grippy sole akin to that of a mountain bike tyre.
What is the Spyridon best for?
As such, the Spyridon MR will serve you well if you want a winter shoe that still has maximum barefoot feel, whilst still performs well in:
It has to be said that the most important aspect of keeping warm in a ‘barefoot’ shoe is not so much in the shoe itself, but in the socks you wear underneath. Without socks, your feet are really going to feel the cold. If you want to continue running and training outside in the colder months, don’t forget your socks!
If you’re looking for a pair of Vibram Fivefingers for general use, for road running and for a bit of everything, there is no better product than the Bikila Evo WP. Unparalleled grip, waterproof, and the look amazing!
I personally find the Lontra to be a little too ‘clumpy’, heavy, and rigid. When I run in the Lontra, I lose all-important ‘barefoot feel’ (also known as proprioception, ground-feel, or feedback) and I notice that my running form suffers.
The Trek Sport and Trek Sport Sandal are two of my favourite shoes. Excellent handling, great for long distance, top breathability: I personally cannot find any faults with these shoes, though some may argue that the Trek sole is too thick at 7.5mm). I would argue that the tread depth is essential for all trail running / trekking enthusiasts.
The Spyridon MR, while being a very attractive shoe with what looks to be a very ‘grippy’ sole, I find it to lack the appropriate grip when the conditions get very wet. I also find that the Spyridon MR does not provide the level of breathability that is essential in a running shoe.
It goes without saying that in winter, a pair of socks can make a difference between a great run, and a downright hideous one. It’s so important to keep the blood flowing in your feet, so make sure you keep your feet warm and comfortable. As soon as you lose feeling in your feet, how do you know if your technique is correct? …You don’t!
A pair of socks will go a long way to keep you dry, warm, and most importantly, running naturally. Specialist running shoes with individual toe pockets require specialist socks with toe pockets. Luckily, we have the best toe socks on the market… Injinji toe socks.
Wearing Original Weight Injinji socks under your Vibrams will have a greater impact. If you Vibrams are currently quite close-fitting (i.e, your toes graze the end of your shoe), then the added material from the Original Weight socks will probably be too much, and could cause ill-fitting inside the shoe. This of course, will have a knock-on effect to your running performance and comfort.
Most people will find that, if you are usually a size 43 in a KSO, a size 43 Lontra will feel a little oversized, meaning you could easily accommodate a pair of Original Weight socks inside.
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