WOW. It’s been a hell of a long time, but FINALLY, the Lontra are back in stock in the UK.
Best Vibrams for Winter
The perfect winter shoe from Vibram FiveFingers, the Lontra is just the ticket if you’re looking for a barefoot running shoe that keeps you dry, warm, and can handle rough terrain in the worst of the weather.
We’ve just received our Autumn/Winter delivery of Vibram FiveFingers and are celebrating the release of the brand-new Trek Ascent Insulated. But there is one problem… We’ve got so many Vibrams that we can’t fit them on our shelves!
So we’re having an impromptu sale with some MASSIVE savings to be had.
CLICK EACH PRODUCT NAME TO TAKE YOU TO THE PRODUCT.
Until now, the cold, wet, wintry weather has always been a real nightmare for barefoot and minimalist runners. What do we do; opt for a thicker-soled conventional shoe with Gore-Tex protection, or stick to our Vibrams and risk getting our feet wet and cold. I’ve always fallen in to the latter group. I was never a fan of Vibram’s Lontra, and for years have yearned for Vibram FiveFingers to create a waterproof barefoot shoe.
Introducing the FIRST and ONLY waterproof five-toed shoe!
Finally. Minimalist running shoes designed for winter, built to last, and waterproof!
Five Things You Should Know About the Bikila Evo WP
WP stands for waterproof (and the shoe is exactly that – completely waterproof!)
The Bikila Evo WP is the only waterproof shoe from Vibram FiveFingers
Built on the ICETREK sole, the WP is designed for extra grip on ice
Two fastening mechanisms: quick-lace AND zipper!
Available for both men and women
First Impressions. Out of the Box
The Bikila Evo WP is unique in design. The Bikila Evo WP comes up to below the ankle similar to the long-redundant Bormio. The fabric is surprisingly lightweight, given that the shoe is waterproof. I was expecting something tougher. The workmanship on the shoe is top-class. It seems Vibram FiveFingers have really got it right in 2014 – The quality of the shoes this year have been of much better quality than previous years.
The shoe has two fastening mechanisms. Inside is a concealed internal quick-lace system that is used to ensure a close fit. There is then the zip with taped seams either side which is used to keep the shoe completely waterproof.
Built on the same ‘style’ of sole as the original Bikila Evo, except the sole on the WP is made from Vibram’s patented ICETREK technology. Not only has this rubber compound been granted full marks by Vibram for its durability, it is “developed to grant the best grip on very cold, iced, or snowy surfaces, VIBRAM® Icetrek allows you to move, work, and live safely on mountains and in cold areas.”
A Little Too Snug?
I am commonly between sizes in Vibrams. I am right at the threshold with most Vibram models: Size 44 in KSO Evo, Trek Sport, CVT LS, Lontra – but am a size 45 in the Spyridon. I am a size 45 in the Bikila Evo WP too. I figured sizing-up would be a wise move anyway, given that the Bikila Evo WP is designed for more wintery conditions, and I will likely be wearing toe socks underneath.
So… If your toes touch the end in your normal Vibrams, I would recommend going an extra size up.
How Waterproof Are They?
I can happily confirm that the Bikila Evo WP is completely waterproof. I’ve ran through puddles, through wet grass, sloppy mud, and did the ‘dip test’ in the lake. No water gets through the waterproof membrane. The only way your feet are going to get wet in this shoe is through the hole that your foot gets in. They are as waterproof as possible for a shoe!
How ‘Grippy’ is the ICETREK Sole?
It’s a little early to tell as we haven’t had any snow and ice to test the sole on yet. I’ve tested them on wet tarmac, on slippery paving stones, and on slimy autumn leaves – and truth be told – they seem to offer no more traction than a standard pair of Vibrams. I honestly find that my KSO Evo handle corners (on wet terrain) more capable than the ICETREK. But before I jump the gun – we need snow and ice to test these on. Watch this space.
How Warm Is The Bikila Evo WP?
I’m been incredibly impressed with the warmth from the Bikila Evo WP. Despite the material being incredible lightweight and relatively thin, they do provide a great deal of insulation.
Additionally, I’ve took these for the occasional spin in warmer weather (15C+) and my feet haven’t overheated.
How Breathable Are They?
The longest run I have done in the Bikila Evo WP so far is 7 miles. Despite the outer fabric getting wet, my feet inside stayed completely dry. No traces of sweat, despite wearing thick toe socks underneath.
Every year, when winter rears its head, we are bombarded with customers all asking the big question: “Which pair of Vibram FiveFingers is waterproof”? And we shrug, answering “Well, there is the Lontra, but it is only water-resistant, but you these other styles are also worthy of consideration in winter…”. Until now, we usually point customers to this article What Vibram FiveFingers Shall I Wear In Winter?.
We never expected a waterproof style of Vibrams to ever become available. In all honesty, I had questioned how you could actually make a ‘barefoot shoe’ that also could keep the water out. But now, in principle at least, Vibram have developed just that, and we’re proud to present the Bikila EVO WP.
Introducing the Bikila EVO WP
During a Vibram FiveFingers presentation last year, a spokesman demonstrated the power of this new sole technology they had created. One man attempted to walk over an ice rink in a standard shoes while the other, equipped with a Vibram ICETREK compound sole, made his way over the ice without any trouble at all. Vibram FiveFingers went on to develop this technology further, creating their first waterproof shoe.
Due for release early 2015 (NOW AVAILABLE – CLICK HERE) the Bikila EVO WP is like a cross between the Bikila EVO and the below-parLontra. The WP has this super grippy sole and a waterproof tri-layer stretch fabric equipped with a waterproof zip that comes to ankle height. A lot of customers who bought the Lontra had trouble with the neoprene cuff either being so tight it dug in to their calf/achilles; or is was too slack, ultimately letting in water. Vibram have sensibly removed this neoprene cuff and replaced it with a much improved abrasion-resistant tricot lining.
The sole thickness is exactly the same as the Bikila EVO (6.5mm). The shoe is around 20% heavier (just 150g total weight!) than the original EVO, which isn’t bad considering the extra benefits of the shoe.
WEIGHT: M43 = 5.29oz W38 = 3.88oz
MAX SOLE THICKNESS: 6.5mm (2.5mm
INSOLE: Waterproof Fabric
UPPER MATERIAL: Tri-Layer Stretch
Hand Wash Cold/Air Dry
The official Vibram blurb: “Same minimalist design as our hard-working Bikila EVO, but with waterproof stretch-membrane construction, taped seams and a water-resistant gaiter to keep the wet environment at bay. An ideal running shoe for those looking for grip, and durability on ice.”
The Feetus Verdict
My concern is that this waterproof shoe has been developed on the Bikila Evo. The Bikila Evo features an EVA midsole, and this EVA material is partially exposed. My experience of EVA is that it is like lightweight, dense rubber. This rubber can contract with each step and return back to its former shape. As the EVA rubber is so light, there is obviously air inside. When the rubber reduces in size, it pushes the air out. Then when the rubber returns to its normal state, it takes air in.
My experience of running with shoes with an exposed EVA midsole is that, (and this becomes more prominent over time, as the outer sole wears thinner), when the EVA ‘breathes’, it soaks up water. While this may be a tiny amount of water with each step, but over the course of a run, when the terrain is completely wet, the EVA begins to soak up the water and your feet get wet.
Of course, I may be completely wrong about the Bikila Evo WP. I haven’t tested this shoe yet, but for me it would have made sense to have built this waterproof shoe on the new Trek Ascent. The Trek Ascent also features a 4mm EVA midsole, but at least this is not exposed in any way – with the outsole completely covered with durable rubber.
Save up now, or get wet feet
Only time will tell… but again we feel Vibram have let themselves down with the price tag again. The Bikila EVO WP comes in at a whopping £180 RRP (UK RRP now lowered to £150 – Buy the Bikila EVO WP from Feetus.co.uk now)
We were able to get our hands on these off-road/trail specific minimalist running shoes earlier this year and were very impressed. Not only does the Trek Ascent look incredible, the sole has had a complete makeover from the original ‘Trek’ sole and feels rugged, sturdy, and reliable; whilst still low profile enough to be considered ‘barefoot’.
Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect…
The New Trek Ascent Sole
Vibram FiveFingers have retired their Trek sole (as featured on the Trek Sport, Lontra and Trek Sport Sandal, and have replaced it with a brand new compound called MEGAGRIP.
MEGAGRIP is said to offer excellent grip properties on both wet and dry terrains while maintaining a high level of durability, and has been developed for those who frequently encounter slippery surfaces.
The difference between the Trek Ascent and the Trek Ascent LR is the upper material; the Trek Ascent being made from synthetic materials polyester and Spandex (making it suitable for vegans), and the Ascent LR made from kangaroo leather and hemp.
“For off-road adventures and hiking in all conditions, the new Trek Ascent Synthetic offers rugged traction and sure grip to keep you firmly grounded on and off trail. Choose the Synthetic fabrication for sporty, weather resistant performance.”
Available for both men and women
WEIGHT: M43 = 6.34oz W38=4.93oz
MAX SOLE THICKNESS: 8mm (4mm Rubber /4mm EVA midsole)
Men will have black and caramel/brown to choose from, whereas ladies have caramel/brown and pink/grey/orange.
Vibram FiveFingers describes the Trek Ascent LR ” is a rugged minimalist shoe designed for hiking tough terrain. A super grippy outsole and leather/hemp construction makes this the 4-wheel-drive version of our original barefoot model.”
The Feetus Verdict
As a trail runner, I am more excited about the Trek Ascent than I have ever been about any other pair of Vibrams in the past. I feel Vibram FiveFingers have really found the right balance between looks and performance with this minimalist shoe.
The sole, at 8mm thick, will provide enough protection to hit the trails and run with ease, whilst still providing enough proprioception for the runner to experience ground feel. The sole pattern is also an improvement from the original Trek Sport. Although the tread depth feels slightly more shallow, the rubber feels sticky, durable and will provide a massive amount of traction for grip and stability in most weather conditions.
We’re really excited to get these in for Spring 2015. What do you think about the Trek Ascent?
Every week we get plenty of questions from customers. So many in fact, that we have decided to dedicate a blog post every-so-often to our favourite customer questions, which we have abbreviated to ‘CQOTW’.
This week’s customer question comes from a lady looking for Vibrams to wear for walking the Trails.
Can I Wear the Trek Sport for Trail Walking?
Yes, the Trek Sport is absolutely fine for trail walking. A lot of the Vibrams (in my opinion) are a little too thin for walking on trails, but this Trek sole is thick enough to offer protection whilst still offering a degree of ‘barefoot’ feel.
Waterproof style of Vibram FiveFingers.
There aren’t any waterproof styles as such, but there is one style that is water-resistant. The Lontra is built on the same sole as the Trek Sport, expect the upper fabric is insulated and repels water. We are discontinuing this style (hence the generous discount) as we have have several dissatisfied customers; the sizing comes up a little large and others have commented that the neoprene cuff is a little too tight.
The other two styles worthy of consideration are the Spyridon MR (good for handling mud, thinner sole than Trek Sport) and the Trek Sport Sandal (same Trek sole, different upper fabric).
…So we’re giving the ladies 10% off this week! Use code: LADIESONLY at the checkout
The last two weeks have seen us ship out LOADS of orders around the country. Much more than normal, in fact. And we’re so grateful to all of our amazing customers who are helping us to continue to grow. We’re certainly becoming the go-to online store for Vibram FiveFingers.
However, during this time, 9 out of 10 orders have been for men!!
This has had us scratching our heads. Do women decide not to run in winter? Do ladies hibernate? Do they choose to visit the gym only during the months March to October? Surely not!
That’s why, for the rest of this week only, we’ve decided to a LADIES ONLY discount (sorry gentlemen). Prove to us you still need your Vibram FiveFingers during the cold weather by ordering a pair today AND GET AN EXTRA 10% OFF by entering code: LADIESONLY at the checkout.
We’re seeing a massive shift in the barefoot shoes that people are buying. The days are getting shorter, it’s colder, it’s wetter, and its windier. People are seeking out the best Vibram FiveFingers for winter – and we’re here to help you find the perfect choice.
In case you don’t want to read the whole article, we’ve made it easy for you to pick out the best shoe depending on what activity you’re likely to use the shoes for most:
Vibram Fivefingers have some excellent styles that are designed for use in colder weather and challenging terrain, but there are two sole types that stand out as the most winter-proof; the Trek sole, and the Spyridon sole (aka the Vibram XS Trek compound).
The ICETREK Sole
The ICETREK sole is unique to the Bikila Evo WP. Built on the same style / shape of sole as the original Bikila Evo, except the sole on the WP is made from Vibram’s patented ICETREK technology. Not only has this rubber compound been granted full marks by Vibram for its durability, it is “developed to grant the best grip on very cold, iced, or snowy surfaces, VIBRAM® Icetrek allows you to move, work, and live safely on mountains and in cold areas.”
The ‘Trek’ Sole
The Trek sole can be found on the following styles:
With a maximum sole thickness of just 7.5mm the Trek sole is very minimal – but in comparison to some of its peers (EL-X 3.5mm, Seeya 3.5mm) it is more ‘built up’, thus giving less ‘barefoot feel’ (aka proprioception / feedback).
The extra sole depth comes in the form of tread. The lugs on the Trek sole are strategically placed to provide extra grip where it is needed, giving you confidence when running on the trails. The extra sole thickness means the Trek sole is less flexible than other Vibram styles.
The Vibram XS Trek Compound Sole
The Vibram XS Trek Compound Sole is found on the Spyridon MR.
The Spyridon MR sole is more minimal than the Trek sole with a maximum sole thickness of just 4mm. The sole features multi-directional tread designed to provide traction and stability when you need it most. The Spyridon MR sole is also much more flexible than the Trek sole, and you can easily roll and flex the sole.
A Look At The Shoes
Bikila Evo WP: The ONLY Waterproof ‘barefoot’ shoe
The Bikila Evo WP was released in November 2014 and has created quite a stir. For year, barefoot runners have been calling out for a shoe that is genuinely waterproof, and now we have it.
This shoe features a triple fastening mechanism: A concealed quick-lace system, a full zipper, and a Velcro across the top. The upper fabric is 100% waterproof, the zipper has taped seams, and the ICETREK sole is super-grippy in snow and ice. Despite the wealth of features, the Bikila Evo WP is also extremely lightweight. Its baffling how a shoe so good, so comprehensive, can remain so low on weight.
The Trek Sport is one of Vibram FiveFingers’ most popular styles. The black/charcoal colourway is arguably more ‘socially acceptable’ and less conspicuous than some of Vibram’s more brighter, vibrant styles. The upper is exactly the same as the KSO (Keep Stuff Out) style, and the Trek Sport style and colour is exactly the same for both men and women.
Because the upper fabric completely covers the foot to just below the ankle, it provides warmth and does a great job of preventing any objects (gravel, sand, mud) from getting inside the five-toe shoe. The mesh ensures the feet can breathe and the Velcro fastening is a God-send when your fingers are cold; simply pull and stick – no fumbling with numb fingers to lace-up your shoes!
What is the Trek Sport best for?
These are all reasons that make the classic Trek Sport an ideal choice if you are looking for a shoe that will perform in:
Trek Sport Sandal: Great for trails in milder weather
Vibram released the Trek Sport Sandal in 2013 to very favourable reviews. While the original Trek Sport is great for hitting the trails when the weather is cooler, muddier, and the terrain looser – The Trek Sport Sandal will serve you better when it is warmer, and when the terrain is more hard-packed.
That said – You can provide extra warmth and protection by adding a pair of Injinji toe socks.
More a shoe than a sandal, The Trek Sport Sandal features vents on each side of the shoe providing incredible breathability. The upper fabric is extremely durable and comfortable.
While the Trek Sport is a Velcro-only style, the Sandal is lace-only (LS) and comes fitted with Vibram’s brilliant Quick-Lace system as standard plus a spare pair of conventional laces, giving you the choice of how you lace your Sandal.
What is the Trek Sport Sandal best for?
The Trek Sport Sandal is certainly less of a winter shoe than the Trek Sport, but is equally as versatile, making it a popular choice for the following activities when the weather is fairer:
The Lontra was the original winter barefoot running shoe – before the Bikila Evo WP was released.. The upper is water-resistant (but not waterproof), and is more padded than any other style, providing thermal qualities to keep your feet warm when it gets cold.
The Lontra features a multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams, providing insulation and water resistance. The micro pile fleece liner is soft against the skin while helping wick perspiration away from the foot. Other features include: a neoprene heel cuff to keep out snow and debris, a reinforced hook and loop closure for a snug and secure fit; and reflective surfaces for safety at night. The 4mm EVA midsole provides insulation from frozen surfaces, and the TC-1 Dura outsole provides traction, durability and superior plating protection.
The Lontra feels slightly over-sized, and I suspect it was designed this way to provide extra space inside the shoe to give the wearer the option of wearing toe socks for extra warmth and comfort.
You may also find the Lontra to be less breathable than other styles. This is arguably a fair trade-off given the water resistance element.
The upper fabric is only slightly water resistant (not as much as the Lontra). Like the Trek Sport and the Lontra, your foot is fully covered giving excellent protection against loose objects when running and preventing things such as stones, gravel and mud from entering the shoe.
The ‘MR’ in the name actually stands for Mud Runner and the shoe was designed for off-road, muddy pursuits; the grippy sole akin to that of a mountain bike tyre.
What is the Spyridon best for?
As such, the Spyridon MR will serve you well if you want a winter shoe that still has maximum barefoot feel, whilst still performs well in:
It has to be said that the most important aspect of keeping warm in a ‘barefoot’ shoe is not so much in the shoe itself, but in the socks you wear underneath. Without socks, your feet are really going to feel the cold. If you want to continue running and training outside in the colder months, don’t forget your socks!
If you’re looking for a pair of Vibram Fivefingers for general use, for road running and for a bit of everything, there is no better product than the Bikila Evo WP. Unparalleled grip, waterproof, and the look amazing!
I personally find the Lontra to be a little too ‘clumpy’, heavy, and rigid. When I run in the Lontra, I lose all-important ‘barefoot feel’ (also known as proprioception, ground-feel, or feedback) and I notice that my running form suffers.
The Trek Sport and Trek Sport Sandal are two of my favourite shoes. Excellent handling, great for long distance, top breathability: I personally cannot find any faults with these shoes, though some may argue that the Trek sole is too thick at 7.5mm). I would argue that the tread depth is essential for all trail running / trekking enthusiasts.
The Spyridon MR, while being a very attractive shoe with what looks to be a very ‘grippy’ sole, I find it to lack the appropriate grip when the conditions get very wet. I also find that the Spyridon MR does not provide the level of breathability that is essential in a running shoe.
It goes without saying that in winter, a pair of socks can make a difference between a great run, and a downright hideous one. It’s so important to keep the blood flowing in your feet, so make sure you keep your feet warm and comfortable. As soon as you lose feeling in your feet, how do you know if your technique is correct? …You don’t!
A pair of socks will go a long way to keep you dry, warm, and most importantly, running naturally. Specialist running shoes with individual toe pockets require specialist socks with toe pockets. Luckily, we have the best toe socks on the market… Injinji toe socks.
Wearing Original Weight Injinji socks under your Vibrams will have a greater impact. If you Vibrams are currently quite close-fitting (i.e, your toes graze the end of your shoe), then the added material from the Original Weight socks will probably be too much, and could cause ill-fitting inside the shoe. This of course, will have a knock-on effect to your running performance and comfort.
Most people will find that, if you are usually a size 43 in a KSO, a size 43 Lontra will feel a little oversized, meaning you could easily accommodate a pair of Original Weight socks inside.
Every week we get plenty of questions from customers. So many in fact, that we have decided to dedicate a blog post each week to our favourite customer question, which we have abbreviated to ‘CQOTW’. So, without further ado, here is our inaugural CQOTW:
CQOTW1 – Vibram FiveFingers: Which is best, Velcro or Laces?
Vibram’s range of Velcro-fastening shoes are definitely the fastest and most versatile.
The KSO and Komodo Sport shoes have a Velcro that wraps around the heel and then fastens into place over the top of your foot. The Bikila and SeeYa range are more of a slipper-style (no rear strap), with the Velcro fastening over the top of your foot. Shoes that have just one Velcro strap such as the Bikila and SeeYa are less secure, albeit very slightly.
Laces are regarded by most as giving the most secure fit. Despite Vibram’s speed-lacing system, they still take longer to put on than a Velcro counterpart. Laced versions also offer slightly less ventilation, and have less of a barefoot feel.
A Personal Opinion
Personally, I prefer the Velcro versions of all Vibrams. This is because I have narrow feet and when I tie the laces, I feel that there is too much excessive lace (due to having to pull them tighter than normal).
If you have a normal width foot, or have wide feet, go with whichever – they will both serve you just as well.
Looks DO Matter
Taking in to consideration the above, consider looks. Which do you think look the best, lace or Velcro? That may just determine your final choice…
One final note
I have found that runners prefer laces, and gym-goers prefer Velcros. I have no scientific evidence for this, however, I think this is probably due to laces being a more conventional ‘look’ in running shoes, whereas gym-goers often like to look like they are wearing the latest trend – and Velcro, you could argue, looks a little more quirky and unconventional.
Here’s a handy table to help you find your perfect training partner:
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