Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sticky Fingers: VFF Spyridon Review

VFF Spyridon: Crazy awesome
So, I am really excited to finally get a review up for the Spyridon's from Vibram Five Fingers that were released earlier this year.  I really like the VFF Flow's that I have (review here) and enjoy running in them, but they are better suited for beaches or less rugged trail since they are lacking some protection, and also have no tread pattern to speak of. The Spyridons seem to have a much more gecko like tread.. especially in green!

Spyridon LS
The latest Spyridon is similar to the Spyridon LS pictured above which came out first.  The Spyridon LS was the first trail-specific shoe from VFF, so when I first saw those, I was dying to try them out since I love being on the trail so much.  As you can see, the major design difference between these two trail models is the lacing system.  The LS model uses a speed lace system , versus the hook-loop strap system on the Spyridon model.  I never did get a chance to try the LS model, so I can't compare, but I can say that I really do like the fit of the Spyridon. Unlike other minimalist shoes or huaraches, VFF's are designed to hug your foot like a glove.  I like the feeling, but its not for everyon.

But, before I jump into my impressions of the shoe, I'll break down some of the details.  As you can see, the outsole is 3.5mm, and is topped inside with a 3mm Polyurethane insole for a total stack height of around 6.5mm.  The great part about this sole is the molded mesh in the midsole that works like a rock plate. It doesn't impact the flexibility or ground feel very much, but it does a great job of dispersing or spreading any nasty sharp jabs.  Not that you won't get a stinger from bad foot placement (I did a few times), this added protection provides a little more insurance for those times when attention is lacking.

The stretch mesh upper is pretty comfortable, however I ran with no socks in my first run, and I ended up with a hot spot just above the arch of my foot.  I think it may have had to do with the bit of extra fabric on some of the seams in the upper, and perhaps it wasn't folded down flat. For the most part the interior of the shoe is relatively smooth, especially along the bottom, but as you can see there are some seams like the one above, and similar ones around each toe sleeve that could potentially cause an issue over a long run.  My personal preference is to wear a light weight Injinji sock in any minimalist shoe (except for huarache sandals), so went that route with the Spyridons.   I was very happy with the pairing of the thinner Injinji's, and didn't experience any other issues from that point forward.  Also, they still smell good :-)

This is how they look after just under 50 trail miles logged.  Granted, I'm pretty good about rinsing/dusting them off after each run.  Also, I really like the green... they stand out, and I'm a big Gumby fan, so green works for me!   You can also get them in an orange/olive/black style as well.

So, how do they perform? For a minimalist trail shoe, I love them.  I ran in them for 2 (out of a 4 race series) trail races, that were over some pretty rugged, rocky and technical trails.  A lot of the trail was loose rock, large boulders at off kilter angles, and some really good up and downhills.  What I liked was that even with a 6.5mm stack height, the ground feel was good. I think a lot of that comes from the individual toes sleeves that make VFF's very flexible and responsive. And, I was able to pick my way down some technical downhills quickly (well, relatively... at least I was actually passing people!) because of the great traction provided by the aggressive tread pattern.  While I didn't take any plunges into deep water, the Spyridons shed any water from small puddles well, and combined with the Injinji's, my feet stayed warm, even during a 7 mile race with temps in the mid 20's.

And of course, I've logged a number of climbs up the Manitou Incline, plus the run back down Barr Trail (pictured above).  I've really enjoyed taking these out on the trail, and I think Vibram has filled a gap in its product line by offering a true trail ready minimalist Five Finger shoe.  I really don't have any particular complaints or concerns about the Spyridons.  I do know that VFF's are not for everyone, as getting them sized and fit to your foot properly doesn't always work, based on the shape of your foot etc.  So, I would recommend trying them on, versus just ordering online.  The Spyridon's retail for $110, but its worth keeping your eyes open for any specials or discounts out there.

VFF Lontra

Finally, I can't help but give you a peek at the VFF Lontra's that just came out.  I am as excited about these as I was for the original Spyridons. These are the first cold weather trail VFF's that should perform great in snow as well (if we ever get any). Water resistant with a micro-fleece pile interior.... awesome!

Thanks again for tuning in.  As always, please leave comments/questions/feedback below.  Welcome to December, and hopefully some snowy winter weather!

Happy trails!



  1. great review, thanks for sharing! I haven't had VFFs in a while but these look like improvements - may be time to try them again!.

    i'll do orange since i'm a fan of Pokey!

  2. i have these too and love them.

  3. I have always been a bigger fan of the KSO soles over any others because of the ease of Plantarflexion (ie, I can grab stuff with my toes) these allow for that? 6.5 mm seems like a HUGE sole (at least to lil old barefoot me)

  4. Great review! I too had the "hot spot" problem on the LS. Actually, it turned into a nasty blister and I had to run barefoot back to base. So I got the velcro strap version and those have been great. I will say the Spridons are not as durable as the trekSports I used before. I have already blown through the toe box fabric (the fabric impacts the ground because the toe rubber is so thin and the toes splay out the fabric). I am on my second pair of Spyridons.

    And the Lontra's look awesome! I am looking for VFF that I can wear while fast-packing and those look like they'd fit the bill!



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