I originally got started with barefoot and minimalist running when I bought my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers, my black KSO’s.
The black KSO (which stands for “keep stuff out”) is the most popular model of Vibram’s toe shoes, and it’s no surprise. They’re simple, discreet, and incredibly versatile.
I’ve had my KSO’s for a while now, and I wear them for all kinds of activities: jogging, sprinting, climbing, Crossfit, hiking, swimming, etc. Throughout all of this they’ve taken quite a bit of punishment, including several tears in the outer covering.
Thankfully, their simple design and fabrication materials made them easy to repair. A little Shoe Goo or some fabric glue and they were good as new.
Whenever I go for a workout, my Vibram Five Finger KSO’s are my shoe of choice.
The Vibram Five Finger Treksport, while seeming very similar to the KSO’s, has some very subtle differences. For one, it has a treaded sole that feels noticeably thicker than the smooth KSO bottoms. Of course, the difference in thickness might not be apparent to somebody first trying Five Fingers (they’ll all seem very thin) for somebody who has been wearing them a while it will be obvious.
The Treksport also has a new feature that was requested by fans of the shoes, a special protective coating over the top of the toes. I understand quite well how beneficial this coating is from my past mishaps with my KSO’s. There is only a thin bit of fabric over the top of your toes when you’re wearing KSO’s, so if you scrape the top of your foot on a rough surface, you will feel it.
Overall, I think the Treksport is a very sturdy shoe that is well designed for hiking or moderate intensity outdoor activities. I tried wearing my pair for regular walks and the thick sole just seemed like too much for asphalt.
However, out in the woods in the dirt and when scrambling up riverbanks, the tread really comes in handy.
Further, the special protective coating and the fabric outer doesn’t seem well equipped to handle the rigor of a full-on sprint training session. To my dismay, I discovered a small tear in the top fabric after doing some sprints one night.
I just don’t think the integrated covering was designed to handle that kind of torque. However, for lower intensity jaunts through the wilderness, I think they’ll do just fine.
If yours tear, don’t worry, I was able to reinforce the fabric with some glue and a small patch so that the rip wouldn’t get any worse.
If you’re thinking about buying a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and aren’t sure which kind to get, let me at least give you some advice on these two models. If you’re planning on running mostly on asphalt or concrete, I’d go with the standard KSO’s. They’ll also be good if you want to do mixed modality type workouts like Crossfit.
If you plan on doing a lot of hiking and trail running, then the Treksports will probably be a better option. I wish I had them back when I last did some hiking on the Appalachian Trail.