Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO Review Facts
The original KSO shoe may be Vibram’s most popular offering to date. For many, it was their first foray into the world of barefoot and toe shoes. As a whole, Vibram has created some pretty remarkable styles over the years, but people wanted a new version of their iconic shoe. The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO is the answer for those who enjoyed the original model but are now looking for something new. This shoe strikes the perfect balance between protection and connection to the running surface. Those who are just starting to get into barefoot running will be especially pleased with the everything offered in this shoe. Vibram has taken what was already working on the KSO line and added innovation to really bring this shoe to the next level.
The KSO EVO strives to be one of the most minimal shoes that Vibram
offers. It takes pride in allowing the ultimate connection to the running surface and this starts with the outsole of the shoe. The max sole thickness of this shoe is only 4.7mm at its thickest point. The material used in the outsole will be familiar to runners who are used to the other shoes in Vibram's barefoot collection. Runners will find Vibrams's signature TC-1 performance rubber used throughout the outsole of the KSO EVO. The outsole here is especially thin and flat, almost to the point of being "floppy". Those who aren't used to such minimal construction may find this off-putting.
The midsole of the KSO EVO is in line with the minimal construction of the outsole. EVA rubber is the material you'll find throughout the midsole. It offers up just enough protection from larger stones and obstacles that you may come across on your daily run. Minimalism is really the key word when talking about the midsole of these shoes. Runners will be able to feel the subtle changes in the ground below them while running. Those who are looking for extra support or stability won't find it in the midsole of the KSO EVO.
Vibram always employs amazing technology when they're constructing the uppers in their shoes. The KSO EVO does not disappoint in this regard. Here you'll find a polyester stretch mesh material that is similar to that used in some of Vibram's other popular shoes. This material is extremely comfortable and contours around the runner's foot. The material is even thinner than that found on Vibram's popular Bikila
line. To add some extra structure to the upper, Vibram adds a "painted-on" rubber material that covers some of the mesh openings. This adds to their stability but limits breathability in some spots. You'll also find an innovative lace-up system to help with the feel and security of the shoe.
These shoes are extremely lightweight. One of the goals for barefoot runners is to limit the amount of heft and structure that surrounds their feet. The KSO EVO weighs in at just at just 4.9 oz for a men's size 10 shoe. This lightweight construction makes these shoes perfect for speedwork on flat terrain. The lack of structure also makes them wonderful travel shoes that can easily fold-up or even roll-up to pack in small areas. Whether you wear socks or not with these, they will feel like you're hardly wearing anything at all on your feet. This lightweight construction must compromise some features but experienced barefoot runners will be pleased with the outcome.
Breathability is certainly not a concern with the best barefoot shoes
. Vibram has become the masters of developing shoes that allow for maximum airflow to the foot. The KSO EVO follows in this tradition. The polyester stretch mesh upper allows for a tremendous amount of airflow and breathability. This will suit runners very well if they typically train in warm climates. Those who live in colder or more moderate climates may have some issues with the KSO EVO shoes. Wind, rain, and snow should have no problem permeating the upper material and causing discomfort for the runner, so plan accordingly.
Comfort is very important with any running shoe, but maybe even more so when wearing a barefoot style. Vibram gets the most out of the minimal materials that they use for their shoes. The KSO EVO will allow runners to feel most things below their feet. That can easily be a source of comfort or discomfort depending on how you look at it. The material used in the upper feels good against the skin. The lace-up system ensures that the foot stays comfortably secure, something you can't say for all minimal shoes
. Those runners who are looking for a more plush, cushioned shoe should certainly look elsewhere.
Style is always in the eye of the beholder, but Vibram has a unique style all its own. The toe shoe
look is something that most runners either love or hate. The styling of the KSO EVO is a little more subdued than some of Vibram's other shoes. The colorways offered here a little bit more muted sticking with grays, blacks, and blues. Laces, albeit not traditional looking ones, make this shoe blend in a little bit more than Vibram shoes with straps or no laces at all. Overall, the slim footprint and svelte design look quite flattering on most feet.
Durability can be a major concern for minimal shoes.
Using less material can result in thin surfaces that are more prone to wear and tear. The leading spot of concern on Vibram shoes is the toe pockets. While the outsole is extremely rugged and durable on the KSO EVO, the material used on the upper and toe pockets could be prone to durability issues. As stated above, these shoes aren't designed for extreme weather and running in those conditions could certainly hinder the durability. The treading on the outsole should wear in a reasonable amount of time after getting many many miles under your belt.
Protection shouldn't be an issue on most types of terrain with these shoes. Where runners may experience issues is when going on more rugged terrain like trails or uneven pavement. Most medium-sized rocks and roots will be felt through the outsole of the KSO EVO. Runners with sensitive feet should take particular precaution when taking these shoes off-road. By no means are these designed to be rugged trail running shoes. Barefoot runners who are looking for something with more protection would be wise to check out other shoes from Vibram such as the Bikila EVO WP
Responsiveness is a category where the KSO EVO particularly shines. With such a minimal construction, the runner will be able to achieve maximum connection with the running surface. This makes them some of the most responsive barefoot shoes available today. Experienced barefoot runners will appreciate this responsiveness and use it to maximise their running cadence and turnover. Those who are new to barefoot running will be pleasantly surprised at just how easy it can be to get this connection with the road and feel your feet naturally splayed out as nature intended. The responsiveness found here is easily on par with any of the best lightweight shoes
on the market.
Support isn't something that the typical barefoot runner is concerned about. The KSO EVO, like most Vibram shoes, does not offer any fancy support or motion control features. The shoe is minimally constructed and it allows the runner to enjoy their natural stride with little support. Having said that, the innovative lace-up system found on this shoe will make the runner feel a little more supported than a shoe with no laces. The foot itself should have no issues moving around within the shoe due to the laces and the individual toe pockets. Heavier runners or those looking for more midfoot support should look into some other types of shoes with more support and stability
The KSO EVO shoe is most comfortable on flat, even terrain. The shoe is not designed as a trail running shoe. Experienced trail runners have plenty of other great trail options
to choose from. The grooves on the outsole do offer solid traction to get over slick grass or mud. Most runners would be ill-advised to take these shoes onto snow or icy terrain. The sweet spot for these shoes is on sidewalks, blacktop, and tracks. Venture onto other terrains at your own risk.
Vibram doesn't promote its shoes as a bargain offering. Most Vibram shoes are in-line with other barefoot shoes that offer this much technology in a minimal package. Sales can sometimes be found on certain models, but most purchases will come at the MSRP for these shoes. Some people may think that minimal shoes should come with a minimal price tag but that isn't always the case. The technology and design process is what drives the price of these shoes. Most runners should be very pleased with their purchase of the KSO EVO.
The grooves found in the outsole of the KSO EVO will help runners maintain their grip on many surfaces. These shoes won't slip on wet grass or minimal mud. In fact, when looking at all types of running surfaces
, the KSO EVO will excel on many of them. The extra grip found in the rubber on the toe pockets will be especially appreciated by those who look to go off the beaten path when running. The TC-1 rubber used throughout this shoe is some of the grippiest material you'll find on any running shoe.
Barefoot running shoes need to be flexible to ensure that the runner is getting the best connection with the running surface. The KSO EVO allows for ample flexibility throughout the length of the shoe. These thin soles can easily be folded or rolled up to illustrate just how flexible they can be. This makes packing these shoes even easier and I'd recommend them for any runner who does a lot of traveling where cargo space is limited. While many of the barefoot shoes allow you to flex your toes up, the flexibility on the KSO EVO goes a step further. Runners should have no problem flexing their toes downward as well in order to get a better grip on their running surface.
Stability is not something that barefoot shoes tend to prioritize. Most runners who are looking for stability opt for one of the more popular stability shoes
. The KSO EVO will allow the foot to naturally
move within the shoe while the toes splay out naturally. Experienced barefoot runners will have no issues with stability but those who are new to the minimal design of Vibram may be wishing they had more stability features.
Vibram prides itself in the minimal construction and the miniscule heel-to-toe drop found in most of its shoes. The KSO EVO is in line with some of the most barefoot shoes on the market. Runners will enjoy a 0mm drop that compares nicely with the highest rated shoes in that category
. Runners will be in touch with all of the details of the running surface and the lack of heel raise will be welcomed by many. Runners who are new to barefoot shoes may want to alternate these shoes with something more substantial until they are properly broken-in.
- Stretchy breathable upper
- Zero drop
- Easy lacing system
- Velvety soft interior
- Rugged outsole
- Amazing groundfeel