Vibram FiveFingers Lontra Review Facts
The Vibram FiveFingers Lontra is the answer for any barefoot runner who has struggled with running in cold and wet climates. This shoe takes all the features of previous Vibram models and beefs up its ability to maintain comfort in extreme weather conditions. Runners will notice improved insulation throughout the toe pockets to keep you warm. Small puddles and light rain shouldn’t be a problem for this shoe either. These shoes are better able to handle a variety of climates. This should allow the barefoot running phenomenon to spread to less forgiving and wetter areas. While adding this weather protection, Vibram was able to maintain the lightweight design and ground feel of their other successful barefoot running shoes.
The outsole is vitally important when choosing a barefoot running shoe
. Ideally, you want an outsole that is rugged enough without adding too much weight. The Lontra does a great job of this. The material used here is Vibram's famous TC-1 Dura Rubber. This should allow for good absorption of impact while being durable enough to handle the wear and tear of barefoot running. The lugs found along the bottom of the outsole are very rugged with an aggressive pattern that should hold up well in wet or muddy conditions. Long-time Vibram runners may notice that the outsole is a bit thicker than they typically find on these types of shoes. That's because these shoes are designed for winter running where the ground may be cold or frozen. The extra thickness in the outsole helps ensure that the feet will stay comfortable even when the ground is particularly cold or wet.
The midsole on the Vibram FiveFingers Lontra, like the outsole, tries to minimize the runner's connection to the elements. Here you'll find an EVA midsole that gives just enough protection so runners won't get hurt on every rock or root beneath their feet. Like most of the other top barefoot running shoes
the Lontra won't offer a lot of midsole support for runners. If you're looking for something with more stability or motion control, the Lontra won't be the shoe for you. The goal of the midsole here is to allow the foot to find its natural stride without much intervention.
The upper portion of the Lontra is where Vibram had to bring the most innovation. For a shoe that is designed to be waterproof enough to handle rain or snow, the upper will need to be durable as well if it wants to stack up with some of the best waterproof shoes
on the market. The upper is a laminated stretch mesh material that also includes an added water resistant membrane. The tongue and upper ankle portion are made of an even thicker neoprene material that feels less flexible than other Vibram uppers. The inside of the uppers is where comfort is paramount. The Lontra relies on a plush micropile fleece liner that aims to be soft on the skin without causing any irritation.
Even for an all-weather shoe, Vibram was able to keep the weight minimal in the Lontra. A men's size 10 shoe weighs in at just 6.75 oz, with the full pair weighing just 13.5 oz. This compares nicely to some of Vibram's other shoes. For example, you'll find the iconic Bikila shoe at just 6 oz but without all of the waterproof benefits of the Lontra. That trade-off of weight to waterproof ability seems well worth it for most runners. These are still light enough to feel great on the foot with the added protection from water and cold. These shoes stack up nicely when compared to some of the best lightweight running shoes.
The breathability on these shoes may not be as good as some of Vibram's other models, but this is intentional in order to keep them warmer and drier than other barefoot shoes. The goal here is for these to be all-condition winter barefoot running shoes. When moisture or cold weather is in play, you want to cut down on the breathability of the shoe. While the upper material will allow some air in, it's less breathable than what most Vibram runners are used to. The other major downside to this is that your feet will get sweaty if you're running in warmer temperatures with the Lontra. Without the added breathability, you will notice sweat develop around the toes and tops of the foot if you're not running in cooler temperatures. Even compared to some of the top minimal shoes
on the market, the Lontra lags behind in breathability.
The Lontra shoe maybe some of the most difficult Vibram shoes to put on and take off. This fact will lower its comfort. The high ankle support is meant to help with the all-weather running capabilities but in reality, it only adds to the difficulty of putting the shoes on. On the plus side, once the shoes are on they are fairly comfortable. In particular, the microfiber used on the inside of the upper feels very pleasant against the skin. The double strap closure systems seems a little unnecessary. One strap probably would have been sufficient. The snug fit of the straps does help keep the foot in place to add additional comfort.
A shoe's style is always a subjective thing. Most runners either hate or love the look of the Vibram FiveFingers family of products. Many of Vibram's shoes come in a wide array of bold colors. This isn't the case with the Lontra. For whatever reason, Vibram only released these shoes in one gray color option. Some people may say this color is a little drab and boring compared to other Vibram shoes. The added straps and patterns on the shoe add some additional flair to help it stand out. So while these may not stand out as much as other Vibram shoes, they certainly will be noticeable and different from most running shoes.
Durability is a key component of an all-weather running shoe. As Vibram markets this shoe as something that will hold up to cold and moisture, it needs to last longer than the average shoe. The outsole of the shoe should have no durability concerns. It's rugged and will be able to stand up to most of the common running surfaces
that a runner encounters. The upper portion of the shoe is where durability concerns may creep up. While the upper here is thicker and more substantial than other barefoot shoes, it still could be prone to premature wear and tear. Runners should pay close attention to where the uppers meet the outsole along each of the toe pockets. This is the most likely place for durability to be an issue.
Weatherproof shoes need to have a certain amount of protection from the elements. The outsole of the Lontra will provide enough protection to run across most types of terrain. Small rocks and roots shouldn't be a problem for the bottom of the runner's foot. The outsole lugs should also protect from mud and slippery grass terrain. The high ankle of these shoes also protects against higher grass or areas where the ankle could be more vulnerable to the elements. These protective elements help the Lontra stand out against even some of the best trail running shoes
on the market.
Like most barefoot shoes, responsiveness is very high with the Lontra. Runners will be able to feel even small details on the running surface. Quick turns and agility will not be a problem when wearing these shoes. The flexibility of the shoe and the nimble toe pockets should allow for maximum ground feel. The foot will be able to naturally splay out as it was intended to. Experienced barefoot runners and newcomers alike will enjoy the responsiveness of the Lontra.
These shoes don't offer a ton of support along the midfoot or heel. The goal of barefoot shoes is to allow the foot to land as naturally as possible without providing any additional support. Runners who are looking for more support, stability, or motion control should really look at more traditional running shoe designs. The barefoot feel of the Lontra will offer just enough support if a runner is demonstrating the proper barefoot running form.
These shoes are designed for all types of terrain. The added thickness to the uppers will make them better suited for cold weather terrain. Snow and ice shouldn't be a problem thanks to the added traction control found in the lugs along the outsole of the shoe. Slippage shouldn't be a major concern and runners should be able to glide along over most types of terrain. Runners should always take caution when running over uneven or unpredictable terrain, but the Lontra is very well suited to accommodate these runs.
The amount of technology found in Vibram shoes tends to keep the price out of the budget category. While some might think that more minimal shoes should command a minimal price tag, that isn't always the case. With the Lontra shoes, Vibram is offering a waterproof, weatherproof, all-terrain barefoot running shoe. With all of the features packed into this model, you can expect to pay a premium. Compared to some of the top-rated toe shoes
, this will be in the upper range of their pricing. But if you're looking for a versatile pair of cold weather running shoes, that price will still be very reasonable.
The lugs found on the outsole of this shoe will offer up enough traction to get through most types of tricky terrain. The added cold weather protection makes these the perfect choice for icy or snowy runs. While runners should certainly still take precaution when running over these types of terrain, the Lontra will make these runs much easier and safer.
Flexibility is key for any barefoot shoe. The runner must be able to flex and feel every inch of the running surface. The flexibility here will be felt in all directions and runners should have no problem contouring their feet around all types of terrain. Runners who are new to the world of barefoot running will welcome the change from traditional running shoes that are much less flexible.
Stability shouldn't be much of an issue with the Vibram FiveFingers Lontra. The double strap system helps to keep the foot in place. These shoes do not have laces but they're designed in a way where laces aren't needed. They fit snugly around the foot and come up high on the ankle. This makes them a little tricky to get on and off, but that does help with the stability. There is no additional midsole material to add any additional support or stability. But if you're an experienced barefoot runner, you won't need it. If you're looking for something with more stability, there are many fine options
Like many of Vibram's shoes, these offer a 0mm drop from heel-to-toe. This will allow for a more natural stride
for runners. These shoes stack up very nicely with some of the best 0 drop shoes
that money can buy. Runners who are not used to barefoot shoe styles
may take some time to adjust to the feeling of 0 drop. It's advised for runners to alternate between these and a more traditional running shoe until they are properly adjusted to the 0 drop feeling.
- Waterpro[infographic]of upper and toe pockets
- Added thickness makes them ready for cold weather
- Double strap system to keep foot in place
- Durable outsole with sufficient traction
- Lightweight construction
- Comfortable inner lining
- Easily machine washable
If you're a cold weather runner who is looking for barefoot shoes, the Vibram FiveFingers Lontra may just be the perfect shoes for you. With these shoes, you can run with confidence in all weather and on all terrain. The waterproof features will be much appreciated when running through wet grass or even shallow streams. Breathability was certainly sacrificed some in order to achieve the waterproofing, so keep that in mind if taking these out in warm weather. Overall, Vibram was able to add some much-needed features to a product line that has been delighting barefoot runners for years.