VIBRAM FUROSHIKI SHOES
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
June 03, 2019
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Vibram Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: http://us.vibram.com
MSRP: $110 US
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g) per pair
Size Tested: EU 40
Sizes Available: EU 36 to 42 (Unisex Sizes)
Color Tested: Black
Other Colors Available: Olive, Dark Jeans, Beet Red, Desert Script, China Jeans
Made in China
The Vibram Furoshiki Shoes are a uniquely-designed pair of minimalist footwear. The upper is 28% Elastane (Stretch Rubber / Lycra) and 72% PA (polyamide & nylon). The fabric wraps around from each side near the toe to the opposite side and attaches with hook-and-loop closure. Between the stretch of the fabric and the adjustment in the attachment point, there is quite a bit of flexibility in fit.
The sole is a rugged but lightweight low-density Vibram outsole. The outsole wraps up the sides and around the front of the toe creating an integrated type of foot protection. The sole has a good grip and is flexible enough to fold in half.
The Furoshiki came in their own storage drawstring pouch which requires the shoes to be folded in half to fit inside. Attached to the drawstring is a Vibram rubber logo (like on their outsoles) which is a key chain. Cool.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING THEM OUT
My initial impression was surprise to find inside the shipping box a small square box which was about 1/4 the size of a shoe box. Huh? Inside the small box I found a nylon carry bag with two shoes inside which were folded in half. Ok, these were already the most unique shoes I'd ever seen even before I took them out the bag.
To try them on, I unfastened the hook-and-loop from both sides which opens up two wrapping wings. Underneath is what looks sort of like a ballet slipper with a nylon cover at the toe and a fairly substantial back. I slipped my toe under the toe box and wrapped the sides to what seemed like a comfortable snug fit. I tried them with the thin athletic socks that I was wearing and found the fit to be a little large. I was able to wrap the wings tightly around my foot though so that there wasn't movement.
The wrap and hook-and-loop closure system allow for quite a range of adjustment. I also tried wearing the Furoshiki barefoot and found them to be too large. I was considering exchanging them for a smaller size but I don't really like to wear shoes barefoot. The feel of the materials against my feet just isn't comfortable to me and these shoes are no different. So, then I tried them on with my typical lightweight hiking socks and they fit nicely. This is most likely what I'll be wearing on the trail when I'm in camp and want to wear the Furoshiki. So, in the end I decided to keep the size I have.
The shoes are very light and flexible making for a comfortable slipper-like experience. I can immediately feel little support and little cushion which is typical of a minimalist shoe. They feel more like being barefoot but with nice sole protection and top coverage.
WASHING INSTRUCTIONS & WARRANTY
Washing instructions say to wash in cold water and drip dry. Additional details on the website say to hand wash or machine wash on gentle cycle in cold water with detergent and air dry. Simple enough. They also have a warning that hot wash water or machine dryers will likely ruin the shoes so be careful.
The warranty on Furoshiki shoes is a 100% satisfaction guarantee if the shoes are purchased at full price and returned within 6 weeks of purchase. No questions asked. Defective material is warranted for 90 days after purchase.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I wore the Furoshiki Shoes during multiple short backpacking trips, for car/base camping and for short day hikes and nearly daily around the house and for walks.
Car Camping/Base Camp:
Arizona trips ranged from 1,500 to 4,100 ft (450 to 1,250 m) elevation; 38 to 72 F (3 to 22 C) with clear to cloudy conditions.
Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona: 3 nights
Apache Lake, Arizona: 1 night
Oak Flat, Tonto National Forest. Arizona: 1 night
Joshua Tree National Park, California: 2 days; 7 mi (11 km); 3,000 ft (900 m) elevation; 28 to 52 F (-2 to 11 C); clear
Marble/Cottonwood Canyons, Death Valley National Park, California: 3 days; 34 mi (55 km); 1,167 to 4,680 ft (356 to 1,426 m) elevation; 32 to 62 F (0 to 17 C); clear to cloudy with breezy conditions
Tonto National Forest, Arizona: 2 days; 12 mi (19 km); 3,964 to 4,100 ft (1,189 to 1,250 m) elevation; 38 to 62 F (3 to 17 C); clear to mostly cloudy
Bulldog Canyon, Arizona: 2 days; 6 mi (9 km); 1,500 to 2,500 ft (450 to 800 m) elevation; 50 to 70 F (10 to 21 C); sunny and clear
Lake Mead Recreation Area, Nevada: 2 days; 10 mi (16 km); 1,230 to 2,470 ft (375 to 753 m) elevation; 55 to 72 F (13 to 22 C); partly cloudy to rainy
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The shoes are so comfortable that I found myself wearing them almost daily in the house as slippers. They are so light that they almost feel like I'm not wearing any shoes at all. So, at first, when I'd head outside for firewood, onto the deck or to the garage I would feel like I need to slip on shoes...forgetting that the Furoshiki have a Vibram sole! It was so nice to remember that and realize that these shoes are solid and rugged despite their whisper-light feel. That evolved to just leaving the shoes on and wearing them during our home remodeling project with frequent trips to the garage and outside. I would leave them on for walks down at our local riverside track.
Throughout the test I wore the shoes mainly with light hiking socks. I occasionally wore them in the house without socks. But even as slippers, I preferred to wear socks with them probably due to their being slightly large for me.
I took the shoes on many short backpacking trips as camp shoes and wore them for car camping and on short day hikes. They worked great for keeping my feet protected. The uppers are very thin so any sticks or rocks would definitely be felt but my feet stayed covered. The only time I chose not to wear them in camp was when we were too close to many cacti. I was afraid that a nighttime potty break might be dangerous.
The shoes did a great job at keeping out small rocks, debris and decomposed granite. I found that after a few miles of hiking that my feet were fairly tired so I ended up adding some more substantial insoles. This allowed me to wear them for longer mileages in rougher terrain.
The soles were grippy and I could count on them to not let me slip on rocky surfaces even when there had been rain and everything was wet.
After the desert trip, the Furoshiki were looking pretty dirty and trashed so I didn't want to wear them in the house like I had been doing prior to the trip. So, I threw them in the laundry along with dark items and washed them in cold water. They came out looking new! I let them dry just sitting out.
I found that I didn't use the storage sack that came with the shoes. I didn't really find a sack necessary and I didn't like having the shoes folded in half which is necessary to use the sack. Keeping them folded in half for any amount of time seemed to make the toe want to curl upwards reminding me of some kind of elf shoes. I found my doing the opposite and keeping the hook-and-loop loose so that I could fold them backwards or at least keep them flat. It seemed to help but the toe still wants to curl upwards probably somewhat because the shoes are a bit too long for me.
One thing that I really appreciate about these shoes is that they could serve as hikers in an emergency situation. If I'm going to carry extra shoes on the trail, I want them to serve as water shoes, camp shoes and emergency shoes. Granted, I wouldn't want to hike too long in these but these provide needed protection. With them being slightly oversized for me, they also allow for room to insert an insole which would extend the mileage that I could hike in them.
The durability has been fantastic so far. These shoes have gotten a lot of wear and despite their lightweight uppers, there are no detrimental effects to the fabric. The soles are looking great. The hook-and-loop closures are still holding fast.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I continued to wear the Furoshiki Shoes nearly daily wearing them for short backpacking trips, short day hikes, on walks and around the house.
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 5.3 mi (8.5 km); 6,200 to 7,000 ft (1,900 to 2,100 m); 35 to 60 F (2 to 16 C); clear sunny conditions; hard-packed crusted snow
Multiple hikes in Auburn Recreation Area, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 2.5 mi (4 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 55 to 83 F (13 to 28 C); mostly clear to partly cloudy conditions; dirt trail with some rocks and mud
Monroe Ridge, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 4 mi (6.4 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 60 F (16 C); pine forest to rocky soil
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Almost every morning, I'd put on these shoes just after showering. They are excellent house slippers especially in our house where half of it is under construction so my feet need protection. I'm constantly back-and-forth to the garage for tools and outside for bringing in and taking out construction materials. I also wear them often for walks or hikes down by the river. I've worn them on many short hikes on trails that are not too rocky. That combination seems to work best for my feet in these shoes.
I love how versatile they are though, so I don't mind carrying them in my pack as camp shoes. By adding my own insoles, I'm able to walk much further on much more rugged terrain so they make the perfect camp shoe for me. If my trail hikers blow out, I'd always have these as a back-up to finish a trip. I haven't gotten to try them yet for water crossings but I'm looking forward to that.
The comfort is the main feature of these shoes. I wouldn't wear them so much except that they are incredibly comfy! I like the wrap design which covers my feet for some protection although it is light. The soles are rugged for great traction and protection. On the snow trip, they didn't provide much protection from the cold, as expected, so I only wore them on quick jaunts out of the tent and mostly just in the tent.
The durability has been very good. The soles are in great shape and the hook-and-loop closures have held with no problems. Even the fabric which seems to be so lightweight doesn't show any signs of wears. There are no snags, pulls or tears.
I machine-washed the shoes again during this test period. It is so easy to toss them in with a load. I usually throw them in with garage towels since the shoes are so filthy that I don't want them to ruin anything good. They come out looking like new. It's just hard to remember to wash them since I'm usually wearing them.
I stopped using the storage sack and I wear the Furoshiki with other insoles sometimes, so the toes aren't as curled up as they were. I like this look and feel much better.
The Vibram Furoshiki Shoes are a unique pair of lightweight shoes that wrap the foot with nylon and have a rugged but flexible outsole.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
Overall, I love the Furoshiki for home and play. They work great for me as camp shoes on the trail especially since they are rugged enough to double as hikers in an emergency.
Keep out debris
Multi-use camp shoes
Folding in half in storage sack curls up toes
This concludes my Long-Term Test Report and this test series. Thanks to Vibram and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test out these unique shoes.
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