By Tina Dubois
Review of Vibram FiveFingers Women’s Trek Shoe
We are very pleased to review the Women’s Trek, it was a long time in coming and an example of how much Vibram values the input and requests of their customers. The Trek sole is the most rugged of the Vibram FiveFingers’ line and is designed for trekking and trail running, and in these activities they perform phenomenally. They were a long anticipated and very welcome addition to my minimalist shoe collection.
Regarding the fit of the Trek, they fit much looser than other VFF products, which allows them to work really well with socks. There are absolutely no tight spots anywhere around my feet. That being said, I have experienced hotspots on the bottoms of my feet, specifically the bottoms of my big toes, because the shoes do move around a bit while running on rugged terrain and the friction of repetitive slipping inside the big toe pockets eventually leads to a blister. This is probably a question of my toes being too small for the big toe pockets and would probably not affect everyone. The VFF design is made in such a way as to accommodate as many foot shapes as possible and this is one aspect of my feet not being ‘average’ in this dimension. Despite the hotspots, I still love the comfort of these shoes. I appreciate the extra room because of the activities that I do in these shoes, specifically a lot of trail running, when my feet tend to swell after long distances. These shoes really are ideal and extremely comfortable on rocky terrain, which very few minimalist shoes can claim.
Regarding the feel of the Trek against my skin, the leather footbed and sock liner inside the upper feel soft and practically seam-free. Although my hands can feel seams on the inside of the upper, specifically within the toe pockets, my feet definitely do not. I do wear socks for the most part when I run with the Treks, though, and have not spent much time in them sockless.
Each size W39 Trek weighs just under 5 ounces, or 140 grams. Although this is the heaviest of the VFFs that I own, they are far from heavy as a minimalist shoe. Even after relatively long runs, I do not feel the weight of these shoes on my feet.
Flex / Sole
The sole is comprised of a 4 mm EVA midsole, which offers plating protection from stone bruising, and a 4 mm Vibram performance rubber outsole with considerable lugs (for a minimalist shoe) to improve traction on rugged terrain. Although it is not as flexible as the KSO and other VFF models’ soles, it is still quite flexible when bent in any direction. The total 8 mm sole is the thickest sole I’ve tried on a minimalist shoe but considering the rocky terrain that I’ve run on with them, I do not have a problem with the thickness in the least. I have experienced stone bruising while running on trails in my KSOs and after running on the same trails and gravel roads in the Treks, I have never experienced a similar problem. The 4 mm midsole definitely does its job protecting the foot arch from stone bruising.
I must admit that the first time I tried the Treks on, I did feel noticeably higher off the ground than in any other of my minimalist shoes. However, his was on concrete, once I stepped onto a trail, this feeling disappeared.
Support / Insole
Like all other VFF models, the Trek has no arch support designed into its shape. Although the midsole is contoured like the shape of the medial longitudinal arch of the foot, it does not provide any support.
There is no removable insole included with this shoe but the footbed is soft, smooth kangaroo leather and feels wonderful.
The 8 mm sole does sacrifice some barefoot feel. However, this shoe is designed for trail running; on rugged terrain at speed, the barefoot feel that it does have is adequate and I wouldn’t want any more than what the Treks offer for this activity.
The grip of the Treks is fantastic. They have amazing traction on rocks, gravel, sand, grass, and of course concrete, both wet and dry as well as going uphill, downhill, or on flat. In the mud, they have pretty good traction as well, especially on tacky mud. On deep slippery mud, they perform well as long as the slippery part is not more than 4 mm deep, deeper than that, and the lugs won’t hold. I have extreme confidence in the grip of the Treks because of the design of the cleated rubber outsole.
The Treks feature outstanding breathability because of the grain of the kangaroo leather used to make the upper.
Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the manufacturing on this pair of Treks is impeccable: the seams and gluing are all perfect. The quality of the kangaroo leather upper and the Vibram sole are outstanding and I know these shoes are going to last a long time.
Like all currently available VFFs, the Treks are not water proof. If you stand in a puddle deeper than the 8 mm sole, water is going to seep in through the toe pockets.
The sizing of the Treks is the same as the KSO. If you are not familiar with VFF sizing, there is a useful size conversion chart on the Vibram website. As mentioned before, I think the Treks are wider than the KSOs and offer more room on the inside of the shoe but the length is the same. In terms of conventional sizing, I wear a size US 8 conventional shoe and the size W39 fits me well.
The Treks are offered on the Vibram website for $125 and for a leather, rugged trail running shoe, this is a good value.
If you like the toe pocket design of the VFF line, the Treks look fantastic with their suede leather upper and smooth leather strap. I have read many reports of customers wearing them to work because their style is most versatile. I think the full-foot leather upper looks great and because they come in all neutral colors, of black and dark brown, they go well with almost any colored outfit.
As with all the VFF products, there is no break-in period for the Treks. If they don’t fit well when they are brand new, they likely will not fit well in the future, making initial fit very important.
The Treks do not need to be leather-protected before use but if you wanted to, I doubt that it would damage the material. They can be machine washed and air dried for cleaning.
Because the Treks are a full-footed leather shoe, they can be worn in cooler temperatures than the other VFF models. Also, because the sole is 8 mm thick, you could walk or stand on frozen ground for much longer than most minimalist shoes with thinner soles. This is a definite plus in the winter months. For added warmth, socks fit comfortably in these shoes (provided they have toe pockets as well) because of their wider design.
The Treks are designed for light trekking, trail running, and travel according to the Vibram website. I think they are great for any activity requiring a full-footed shoe. Although the lugs will wear faster on concrete surfaces than trail, their neutral colored styling makes these shoes ideal for casual wear as well.
Keep in mind while trail running, however, that although they are absolutely fabulous on rocky terrain, on grass and other vegetation, you will be picking up green debris between your toes.
The Women’s KSO Treks are another fantastic product from Vibram FiveFingers. I would like to thank Vibram for listening to their customers and making this shoe in smaller sizes that were not originally intended. There are few minimalist shoe options currently on the market designed for trail running and these shoe fill that niche most excellently. In addition to trail running, these stylish shoes can be used for other more casual activities as well (as long as you don’t mind the added attention of the toe pockets, but that is an issue for all the VFF line-up). I waited a long time to try the KSO Treks and they did not disappoint.
As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.
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