If toe socks weird you out then these minimalist shoes might just push you over the brink, but if you are ready for something different the Vibram Five Fingers V-Run might be your new friend.
Out of the box the Five Fingers V-Run appeared well-constructed. Ventilation on all sides and an easy to adjust lace system the V-Run is billed as a road runner shoe, but I primarily was curious about it’s trail capabilities and particularly how they handle in mud. That said…
The Vibram soles offered good protection without sacrificing too much ground feel and the sensation of your toes splaying out gripping towards the ground on toe-off has a sort of visceral pleasure. While it certainly doesn’t feel like running barefoot it is pretty close.
The well-ventilated shoe feels good on a warm day and lets your feet breath, but I still prefer running in Vibram-soled huaraches (sandals) on road.
On the Trail
The V-Run is designed for road, but I found it to be suitable on trail. The rubberized toe-end caps provide protection when kicking a stock or a small rock. The ventilation comes into play on stream crossings allowing the shoe to quickly drain and dry and the grip was good even in some mud.
I have been looking at minimalist options for mud, in which my huaraches do not perform well. The V-Run has enough grip for my liking, though not so much as a traditional trail shoe with lugs.
At just 4.8 oz for a men’s size 10 the Five Fingers V-Run is so lightweight you hardly notice them there.
Coupled with the light weight, and in part due to it, the breathability via a series of holes (think 1980s mesh shirt) is very good. The system easily allows airflow in and water out on those wet day runs so go ahead and splash right through that puddle with childlike joy and abandon. The obvious flip side to the breathability is they offer no insulation for colder weather.
Washing other shoes can be a fiasco and, when muddied, I typically let them air dry and knock them together for cleanup. The V-Run can be rinsed clean in the utility sink if they are really muddy and popped right in the wash on cold followed by air-drying. Nice and easy to wash. Anything making the routine around my runs easier is a blessing.
While not a vegan myself, I appreciate cruelty-free wares and, in this regard, the V-Run stacks up nicely. All animal-free and animal byproduct-free materials go into the design so pat yourself on the back and wink at the cows in the field.
I found the fit to be ok, but not great. The toe-sockets , aside from the big toe space, are too long for my feet leaving 1/4 inch or more of free space. That said, they perform well on roads and the additional space did not cause toe chafing.
Aside from the toe-sockets the fit is snug. I find on longer runs, especially with a lot of hill work, that the back of my heels can chafe badly. I typically wear these barefoot, though a sock would certainly help protect from heel chafe.
Despite a relatively thin sole it is rigid which takes away ground feel. This is especially relevant on technical trail. Granted this shoe is billed as a road shoe so I shouldn’t have high expectations in all areas of trail performance. The rigidity takes away from downward flex around rocks and blocks most sensory information from the foot. If you are a barefoot runner who likes as much ground feel without sacrificing a level of protection the trade-off here is heavily weighted towards protection over feel.
Weight – 4.8 oz (based on men’s size 10)
0 heel to toe drop
Soles – insole: 2mm EVA + Anti-Microbial Drilex Sockliner • midsole: 4mm EVA • rubber: 2.5mm
Uppers – Polyester Lycra Stretch Mesh + Polyester Microfiber
Breathable – Great for warm weather and wet conditions alike
Lightweight Design – I can hardly feel them
Easy to Wash – cold water wash and air dry
Vegan-friendly materials – while I am not vegan I support cruelty-free products when possible
Long toe-sockets – while it holds my big toe properly it is far too big on the other toes
Rigid Soles – On technical rocky terrain there is not enough flex to accommodate molding my foot around obstacles
Chafe points – The rear contacts chafe my heels
Overall I find the Five Fingers V-Run to be a good option for road runs and even less technical trail. They out perform huaraches (sandals), my footwear of choice, in very muddy conditions and are super easy to clean up after a dirty run.
While there are a few less than ideal points for me overall this is a good minimalist option and worth a look.
Be sure to check out some of my other minimalist footwear reviews: