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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > VIBRAM Furoshiki shoes > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes

Vibram Furoshiki Shoe
Review by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: January 29, 2018

Vibram Furoshiki
                                         the Vibram Furoshiki ready for duty

Tester Coy Starnes
Gender Male
Age 56
Weight 250 lb (113 kg)
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)
Shoe size 45 Eu
Location Grant Alabama USA

Tester Biography
I live in Northeast Alabama.  I enjoy backpacking, hunting, fishing and kayaking.  I enjoy hiking with family and friends but also hike solo occasionally.  Most of my hiking has been in the Southeastern US.  I hike throughout the year but actually enjoy late fall or early spring the most with some winter hiking mixed in. I don't like the hot and humid weather of summer unless I can escape to the mountains where it is cooler.  My style is slow and steady and my gear is light.  I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability to a degree. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food and water.

Product Information
Item Vibram Furoshiki shoe
Manufacture Vibram Corporation
Year of Manufacture 2019
Listed Weight not available
Measured Weight 13.6 oz (386 g) per pair in a men’s Eu 45 (11.5 - 12 US)

Product Description
I would classify the Vibram Furoshiki as a minimalist shoe but it is unlike any minimalist shoe I have ever tried, and I have tried several.  It has no laces but is not a sandal or slide.  There are defined toe and heel areas on the shoe.    It relies on wrapping both sides up and over the foot and fastening them at the heel on the opposite sides with a hook and loop system.  This wrapping (for lack of a better term) is made up of a combination of rubber material (like the sole) and a thin elastic material.  The rubber part starts out almost like the side tread on a mountain bike tire but quickly turns into narrow strips that thin as they move away from the sole.

Vibram Furoshiki

The sole is a thin layer of very sticky rubber with a diamond-like tread pattern.  There is no separate insole but the inside of the shoe where an insole would be is lined with a cloth like material.  The sole also wraps around the heel slightly and as mentioned above, to a small degree up both sides of the shoe.  Here is a closeup of the sole pattern and a few more of the shoe.

Vibram Furoshiki
                                    sole of the shoe

Vibram Furoshiki 
                              side view of the shoe

Vibram Furoshiki
                          rear view of the shoe

Here is what the manufacturer says about these unique shoes
"Inspiration from Japanese tradition of wrapping, carrying and holding objects in cloth.
Improved for 2018!  Sleeker, more stylish fit.  More functional design. Better Sole Construction.
Multi-fit with anatomic shape and Vibram grip offering a stretch upper to fit perfectly.
Now Sized uniquely to Men and Women Specifically.
Easy on, easy off – take Furoshki anywhere. Before and after your activity, wrap and go!
Low density Vibram outsole for weight reduction.
Material Construction: 28% Elastane (Stretch Rubber / Lycra), 72% PA (polyamide & nylon)"

One last point, these shoes are pretty light and can be rolled up in a very small package.  In fact they came in a small box and were inside a stuff sack in the box.  The stuff sack is basically made of the same materials as the shoe itself.  There is a rubber tread across the bottom and the sides are made of the same thin elastic as the shoes have, minis the rubber strips.  To give an idea of compact-ability it was easier to measure the box which is approximately 4 inches tall, 5 inches wide and 6 inches long, or 10 x 13 x 15 cm.

Vibram Furoshiki
               the storage sack with the Vibram Furoshiki inside

Initial Impression
Vibram came out with the Five Finger toe shoe several years ago and I have worn them extensively hiking and kayaking.  I love how they feel and they are probably the closest to going barefoot as any shoe made.  The one complaint I had with them was getting them on.  This is where the Vibram Furoshiki shines.  Short of a slide, the Furoshiki are about the easiest shoes to put on I have ever worn.  The way the shoes can be rolled up into a compact stuff-sack also means they could serve as a camp shoe while backpacking for those who prefer a sturdier shoe while hiking.

Fit and trying them out.
The fit of these shoes is great.  I ordered a size 45 Eu (11.5 - 12 US) based on information provided on the website.  The toe length is perfect but the toe pocket is a tad small for my liking, however, after wearing shoes several times and at least 25 miles (40 km) on various surfaces, I haven't had any issues related to my toes being squeezed.  It’s just a personal preference and probably stems from wearing sandals and going barefoot so much.  I normally save all field testing related information for the Field Report but I’m inclined to share my early observations.  Honestly, when I first saw the shoes and the short videos they used as advertising I thought they might be intended as a more casual or around town shoe.  However, based on a couple of short hikes with a loaded pack I believe I will be able to use them as my primary hiking shoe during the test.  I will say that the materials used for the sides and over the toe/forefoot area do not appear to be intended to withstanding a lot of abrasion.  I’ll keep a close watch on that and try to avoid much bushwhacking.  I have worn them with low top Fila sports sock which are a nylon, polyester and lycra blend, and slightly thicker than a dress sock but still a pretty thin sock.  My very first observation is that the ground feel of these shoes is terrific!  I could feel small rocks, twigs and even the nearly gone last years burrs from a sweet gum tree I walked under.  I could feel the irregularities of the ground when walking over frozen areas, like when I stepped on a few frozen horse tracks.
The first time I wore them extensively was at work.  According to my fitness watch, which is pretty accurate, I ended up walking 7.33 miles (11.8 km).  This was mostly on concrete floors and asphalt.  I also climbed 18 flights of stairs. The next day I was off and after a nap I put the shoes on.  I then went to Lowe’s, worked on some plumbing, and took a 2-mile (3 km) road walk.  I ended up walking a total of 6.38 miles (10.27 km) and climbing 11 flights of stairs. The next day we had snow flurries and it was very cold and windy, but by afternoon the sun had melted the snow.  I went for a 2-mile (3 km) hike with a fully loaded backpack (30 lb or 14 kg) and ended up with a total of 3.85 miles (6.2 km) and 14 flights of stairs for the day.  On the hike it was 29 F (-2 C).  My toes felt a little cool at the start but they were fine by the end of my walk.  This hike was on a trail around the bluff behind my house.  The trail is covered in leaves, has plenty of stick, rocks and roots, not to mention, steep areas and places where the trail slopes to one side.  There were a few icy patches but I was using trekking poles.  I later discovered my mistake but on this hike the shoes felt a little loose in a few places, especially at the heel when I was hiking up steep hills.  I could feel my foot move to the side a little on the side slopes, but they never felt insecure enough to really bother me.  However, a few days later I hiked 2.7 miles (4.4 km) with the same pack load, only this time I went down the mountain.  On the hike back up I kept expecting my heels to slide inside the shoe but they never did.  I knew they slid the last time so I was perplexed.  I found a rock I could sit on and loosened my right shoe wraps slightly.  As soon as I hit another steep section my right heel started sliding up and down in the shoe.  I soon found another rock so I could tighten the wraps back properly and the shoe was fine again.  Apparently I will need to make sure I tighten them sufficiently when I expect to hike on steep slopes.  And honestly, there is not any difference in the feel of the shoe when slightly loose when hiking on fairly level ground.  I'll end with a little advice for anyone trying the Furoshiki (or any minimalist shoe) for the first time.  Build up mileage slowly.  I'm used to minimalist shoes and even walk barefoot a lot but it takes time to build up the foot muscles and toughness needed for this type of shoe.  

This concludes my Initial Report.  Please stay tuned for my Field Report which should follow approximately two months from now.  I would like to thank and Vibram for this testing opportunity.  

Read more reviews of Vibram gear
Read more gear reviews by Coy Ray Starnes

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > VIBRAM Furoshiki shoes > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes

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