Review: Weathering the Cold With Vibram KSO

Vibram KSOWhile I love running open toed in my Luna Sandals, the cold weather finally got to me. Temperatures in the Bay Area have dropped to below freezing in the last week or so and well, I guess I need to adapt. Though I have the Split Toe Tabi Socks, I wanted something more to keep my feet warm. Ended up buying the Vibram KSO along with a pair of Injinji Socks. Ever since I started running almost two years ago, it’s been either Luna Sandals or barefoot and I wasn’t entirely sure how the Vibram KSO was going to feel.

Vibram KSO

Weighing in at 5.7oz each, the Vibram KSO is just a tad bit heavier than the Mono’s (4.6oz each). After trying out a couple of different sizes, I settled in for size 41. As I walked around REI, the Vibram KSO’s hugged my feet snugly. The single strap closure at first really felt redundant, but I can see it being handy on runs to keep the shoes from coming off. While the Mono’s have the same firmness on the sole, the KSO’s heels are a little tougher. I could also feel the insole push up gently against the side of my arch, just a little. I hesitatingly walked out of REI wondering how the KSO’s were going to perform during a run.

Vibram KSO with Injinji SocksIt was 32°F this past Sunday morning and I strapped on the KSO and hesitatingly stepped out into the cold. I ran 9 miles in asphalt and a little gravel and for the first time in a month, my feet were warm and toasty. The footfall was soft and had the same quiet sound as the Mono’s. Two days later, I was on the PG&E trail on a 10-mile loop with below freezing temperatures. The PG&E trail gains 1,672 feet on the way up and from the top, it’s a long fast downhill for 5 miles. As I was ascending, I was pleasantly surprised at the thin razor-sipped soles gripping the trails tightly, though I could feel the rocks and roots on my toes much more than on the Mono’s. On the downhill run, my big toes were slapping down on the trail and it took some adjusting to get used to this. My feet stayed glued to the inner sole even during fast turns on switchbacks.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Vibram KSO as a versatile, lightweight barefoot/minimal shoes for the winter. While my feet are finally warm and toasty, I do miss the feeling of running open toed on sandals. Maybe when the weather warms up again.

Do you own a Vibram KSO? What do you think of them?

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