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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR > Owner Review by Kurt Papke

Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR Trail Running Shoes

Owner Review by Kurt Papke
January 21, 2015

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have included a combination of Minnesota hikes where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona trails where I moved to take a new job about five years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  Since moving to Arizona, I have transitioned to running and hiking in minimalist style shoes.

Product Information

VFF Spyridon MR

FiveFingers Spyridon MR
Year of manufacture
US $120
Manufacturer website
Also available: Black/Grey
(one shoe only)
Listed: 5.64 oz (160 g) for men's size 43
Measured weight:  8.0 oz (227 g) for men's size 45
Uppers: Polyester
Insole: 3mm Polyurethane + Antimicrobial Drilex sock liner
Sole: 4mm MEGAGRIP + 3D Cocoon technology (Vibram proprietary)

Manufacturer's listed features include:
  • Speed laces (no need to tie)
  • 360-degree lug pattern
  • Zero drop from heel to toe (important for minimalist shoe wearers)

I bought the shoes on the recommendation of the sales person at REI - she recommended them as having the best protection for Arizona trail conditions out of all the Vibram FiveFinger models.

This was my third purchase of Vibram FiveFingers shoes.  The first two were both running shoes, and I had been very satisfied with their performance.

Test Conditions

Some pictures of the Vibram Spyridon MR shoes on the trail


Terrain/ trail type
Altitude range
April 5-6, 2014 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon
10 mi
(16 km)
Mountain canyons Sunny, 38-68 F
(3-20 C)
2600-4800 ft
(790-1460 m)
August 9-10, 2014
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona
Samaniego Ridge 7 miles
(11.3 km)
Mountain ridgelines
55-75 F
(13-24 C)
Sunny, dry
7700-9100 ft
(2350-2770 m)
August 16-17, 2014
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon 10 miles
(16 km)
Mountain canyons
65-95 F
(18-35 C)
Humid, overnight rainstorms
2600-4020 ft
(790-1225 m)
August 24, 2014
Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista, Arizona Ramsey Canyon 5 miles
(8 km)
Mountain canyons
72-75 F
(22-24 F)
5500-6300 ft
(1680-1920 m)
October 12, 2014

Saguaro National Park, Tucson Arizona Sweetwater 7 miles
(11.3 km)
Mountain ridgelines
Sunny, 85 F
(29 C)
2800-3800 ft
(850-1160 m)
October 16-19, 2014
Gila Wilderness, near Glenwood New Mexico San Francisco Hot Spring and Box Canyon 12 miles
(19 km)
Tree-covered mountain trails + water-filled canyons
Mixed rain showers and sun, 32-75 F
(0-24 C)
4600-7200 ft
(1400-2200 m)
November 13-14, 2014
Coronado National Forest near Tucson Arizona Romero Canyon 12 miles
(19 km)
Mountain canyons
Sunny, 40-75 F
(4-24 C)
2800-4500 ft
(790-1370 m)

This is a total of 63 miles (101 km).

Outcomes and Experiences on the Trail

I really liked wearing these shoes on the trail.  Though it took me several years to adapt to minimalist shoes, 18 months for running and about an equivalent period for hiking, once I made it through the transition they are great.  The FiveFinger shoes have prevented me from ever getting a blister on the trail, even though I am prone to nasty foot blisters.  The soles have phenomenal traction - felt like I could walk up boulders with impunity.

As can be seen in several of the above photos, I normally wore them with very lightweight gaiters.  The FiveFingers are quite low on the ankle, and Arizona trails are nothing but sand, gravel and rocks, many of which would end up in the shoes if I did not wear gaiters.

mr07The bad news: on the Gila trip I began to notice I was ending up with a lot of sand in my shoes.  On the  Romero Canyon hike the approach/exit trail section is about a mile of fine sand, and on my last hike there when I returned to my car I noticed my shoes were filled with sand.  Upon inspection I found several very large holes between the big and second toes as can be seen in the photo at left.  The holes were in the identical place on both the left and right shoes.

My thinking is that the holes are caused by the substantial sewing seam between the fabric between the toes and the soles that is somewhat visible through the hole.

I was totally disheartened by this.  I *really* liked these shoes, but this is a fundamental design flaw, and I simply cannot afford to replace shoes every 63 miles (101 km).

mr08While I was taking the pictures for this report I spotted a second failure while photographing the soles.  As can be seen in the photo at right, several of the traction lugs are separating from the soles.  The fibers visible in the photo must be what the manufacturer calls its 3D Cocoon technology, molded in to attempt to keep the soles from breaking apart under stress.

Though the soles were still functional, clearly they would continue to break down if I proceeded to hike with them.  This is really disappointing from the manufacturer that is vaunted to make some of the best shoe soles on the planet.


Good Things

  • Great trail feel
  • Superb traction on rocks and boulders
  • Never a blister

Areas for potential improvement

  • Durability of the fabric between the toes
  • Durability of the soles

Unfortunately, these are going in the garbage even though there is life left in the soles.  I can't see how I can easily mend the fabric in a fashion that I could have any confidence that it would be reliable.  I am unwilling to hike in the backcountry of Arizona with shoes that have such substantial holes in them so close to the ground.

Read more reviews of Vibram gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR > Owner Review by Kurt Papke

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