Vibram Five Finger Review


Vibram FiveFingers’ outdoor trail shoes review

Over the last few years I have been testing out a few different brands to see how they last in mountainous environments.

For the last three months I have been testing Vibram FiveFingers’ minimalist trail running shoes, the Spyridon LS model, as well as their men’s Maiori outdoor shoes, in various extreme conditions to see how they will last. This is also the first time I have tried this barefoot style of shoe, so I had no idea what to expect. A few of my friends that have them swear by them and have stopped wearing anything else, so I thought I’d give them a try.

Spyridon LS
Tested while trail running, hiking, climbing, canyoning and kayaking, I was impressed from the first outing with these trail-running-specific models.

They provided a nice balance of the barefoot feel and protection on rugged surfaces. The aggressive-tread design provided good grip, while allowing for proper barefoot dynamics. Running across a boulder field never felt so cool.

The shoes were often exposed to canyoning and were therefore constantly wet from walking and swimming in them down rivers. Swimming in these shoes was so much better than normal trail shoes, and when I wanted to do a quick, unplanned scramble or rock climb they proved very handy with the aggressive rubber sole around toes providing great traction.

I even went so far as to test them out on a Grade 20 climbing route and once again they managed very well.
Over the past three months, I have put these shoes through a lot in the mountains and rivers and they have continued to impress with their performance. The soles are still good although the sole does start seperating from around the toe areas and the material around the toes tends to tear.


Tested while canyoning, hiking and kayaking, the Maiori is for more intense water activities. The design helps keep sand and debris out when walking in the water. The 2 mm neoprene upper provides a secure fit, added ankle protection and kept my feet nice and warm in the cold mountain water.

The soles are thinner than the Spyridon, so you get a more pronounced barefoot feel in them. The grip on the soles is really good in wet conditions, even over rocks and boulders.

However, you want to avoid walking in them for a long portage with your kayak or over very bad terrain because the rubber soles are thin and soft and don’t do well in a technical approach hike. They want to be in a water environment, so rather do the hike to the river in something else. Furthermore, the neoprene will get destroyed quickly in our mountainous-fynbos environment.

These shoes are not as hardy as the Spyridon LS, but you need to remember that they are specifically for use in water and therefore use on land will destroy them. As a result of this, I often used the Spyridons for approach trails to canyons and only then put on the Maioris at the river.

The Maiori have not held up as well as the Spyridon, even though they have not been worn nearly as much. After only a few uses in the canyon, a number of spots occurred where the sole and uppers were separating.  However, water environments are harsh on shoes and I have not found a shoe that hasn’t started separating from the sole; it’s only a matter of time.

vibram canyoning
Vibram FiveFingers’ shoes are one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. Your feet muscles develop so much and your toes actually start straightening and are not bunched up in the way normal shoes affect our feet. I saw a difference in my feet quite quickly and their muscle development. I seriously feel faster when running up a climb in these shoes, with my foot placing being as it should be.

Vibram FiveFingers’ Spyridon LS shoes are light, easy to pack and take up very little space. As a result, they would be my first choice to take with on backpacking trips, to wear around the camp after taking off my boots from a long hike. I found Vibram FiveFingers’ Spyridon LS to be a nice all-rounder and would recommend them if you like being out in the rough terrain and not knowing what the next obstacle might be.

So far the Spyridon’s have lasted well, passing the three-month mark and are still going strong. I am quite sure that I’ll be using them for a while still.
As mentioned earlier, Vibram FiveFingers’ Maiori shoes are water specific and a good choice for water sports. They kept my feet warm and proved to be more comfortable than any other water shoe I’ve tried. They are also a very popular shoe for kiteboarders.

Although they have separated in a few places, they have not hampered the shoes performance as yet and should last through another canyoning season. They are definitely not as hardy as the Spyridon’s and won’t last as long.

The Maiori and Spyridon LS both get the thumbs up from me.

More information

Vibram FiveFingers has a range of specific models for various uses, as can be seen on their website:

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