Running = 850,
Cycling = 90,
Walking = 40
As a former heel striker, and a clydesdale athlete, I am used to destroying shoes to the point that they must be discarded into a bin of well loved shoes after only a few hundred miles. Every once in a while I find this bin and pull out a pair of these old shoes and feel the journeys flash back in my mind. Like my first four hour run through the desert attempting to summit Utah peak and how I had to make a cell phone call to get extracted from a nearby fire road. I was out of water, and my feet, could take me no further.
My mileage that I have listed above is a good approximation as I have made it a point to ditch the watch and gps monitors. If anything I have rounded down and have been conservative in my reporting.
I expected the KSO’s to be done at the 500 mile mark and for them to be tossed into the bin of love. But they continue to serve me well. I have been meaning to write this review a hundred miles ago, but just did not feel inspired to do so until now. Most of my mileage on asphalt is done barefoot, but when I head to the trails, I have relied on my KSO’s to take care of my feet. Now having said that it should be clear that this is a love hate relationship as I feel that the KSO and it variants have a significant weakness in their design. The weakness that I speak of is how easy it is to injure your small toe wearing the the KSO’s. Later on in the review I will detail out my solution.
The side view of my five finger KSO’s above make the wear look pretty good and minus, but the front view is a different question.
Now look at the close up shot of the rear side and see how the KSO is coming all apart. If it was not for the straps are pulling everything together the shoe would disintegrate quickly.
So what is happening on the bottom of the sole? It continues to get thinner and thinner. Which for me is good as I am working to perfect my barefoot running and all I need on my trail runs is just a bit of rubber to take the edge off the sharp rocks on the trail. Landing light with good form is why I believe these KSO’s have lasted as long as they have.
If you trail run barefoot, or wear a ultra minimal sandals like Barefoot Ted’s Huarache’s, your small digits are left un-protected, but rarely have I injured them except for a few abrasions from the lava rocks out here. But in KSO’s I have constantly had my small toes injured. I believe this is because the rubber construction of toes insulates the toes just enough that your foot and leg cannot react fast enough to pull back the way it does when just running barefoot. To make matters worse the rubber is sticky so it also wants to grab and hang on to whatever it has made contact with. The rubber protecting the small digits is also angled in such a way that it assists the stickiness factor. In barefooting, or wearing shoes with a complete toe box, your foot wants to operate as a whole unit, but in five fingers, the toe is isolated and the forces of an impact or a snag puts the maximum force on your small toe. Currently my left small toe is almost twice the size as it sibling on the right.
Now having said that, I have been pondering a solution, and implemented it during my desert trail run yesterday to upper and lower graveyard. My hypothesis is that If the small toe was connected to its larger brother next to it, it might have more support to handle small impacts and snags. So I took a needle and thread and sewed the top of the rubber sections of the small toes together. Now in nowise did this change the dynamic of how the shoes performed or functioned. The results after one day of testing — I do believe this will be standard procedure for all future five fingers that I will own.
One more note on this: The next time that I sew the two digits together I will use a stronger thread. Maybe some goretex thread as it is practically unbreakable. As I was using pliers to pull the needle and thread through the rubber I kept breaking the thread as it looped through the needle itself. I would have like to put in a few more stitches and knotted it off, but this was the best I could do with just normal sewing thread.
On the inside I am getting a lot of de-lamination and shredding of the material lining the heal and fore foot areas.
Zoomed in view of the damage.
Conclusion: I am impressed at how well my KSO’s have held up. However, I run completely different than I used to run. Barefoot running is about the business of running light. But you just cannot run barefoot like in any modern running shoes on the market.
KSO’s let me do what I could not do barefoot, but allow me to run barefoot. I am looking forward to Vibram’s TREK shoes to run longer trail marathons in the Ultra-Range. I do not see a change in the design of the toes, so I will sew the pinky toe up.
My only limitations that I see with running Ultra distances in these shoes has more to do with my conditioning than the way the shoes are constructed. With shoes, you certainly can run longer distances, but defects in your strength are well hidden and will only come out as injuries.
I am looking forward to the new minimalist shoes that are coming out on the market and hope to train in them. At the present moment the best tool on the market for running trail Ultra’s is the KSO.
Thanks for reading my review.