I have previously written about my Merrell True Gloves, and I have to say I still really like them. Yesterday I was at the Westfield shopping centre though, and there a new Vibram shop had just opened. And – unusually I have to say at the moment – they had stock, and they had stock at my size. So I finally tried the VFF KSO’s – and I loved them, bought them, and was seriously thinking about keeping them on in bed. Well, sort of, but I was wearing them all day yesterday, and today again, even taking them to a spin in the gym. So after one day of wearing the VFF’s, here my initial assessment:
Here the VFF’s win hands down. And not because the Merrel’s arent good – it is just that the VFF’s are better – much better in fact. I would say that the difference between regular shoes and the Merrells is smaller than the difference between the Merells and the VFFs.
The reasons for this are manifold. Firstly of course, the Merrell True Gloves are not really “true gloves” – at best they are true mittens, but of course that would not have sounded nearly as good. The VFF’s on the other hand are “true gloves”: the separation of toes makes a huge difference in the overall experience – the foot feels much closer to the ground, being able “grab” it for the lack of a better word. So whilst the Merrell’s feel like one single (albeit rather flexible) shoe, the VFF’s feel like they have seven different parts that can all move independently: the toes, the ball, and the heel. Awesome!
Facit: whilst the Merrel’s are sort of barefoot, you will probably not longer consider them true barefoot once you have tried the VFF’s.
Impact on feet
This is sort-of a sub-point of the previous one, but it is still worth pointing out separately: even with my 24h experience I can tell that the impact on the feet will be markedly different. I am a barefoot person – I always take my shoes off in the house, and whenever else I get an opportunity to do so.
When I got the Merrell’s, walking in them was OK. Yes, it felt differently, but neither walking nor running did put a lot of stress on my feet. With the VFF’s this is different: I was wearing them at Westfield yesterday immediately after I had bought them. After an hour – and how much can you walk in a shopping centre in an hour? – my feet felt tired. Not bad tired, but like they had a real workout.
So my conclusion here is that the VFF’s are much harder on the feet – which is a good thing. That’s the point after all of barefoot shoes. It is just worth keeping this in mind when first wearing them – I am sure the feet will take a while to adapt.
Comfort is of course highly idiosyncratic. The Merrell’s are rather tough to get into, even though this gets easier over time, be it through training, or be it because the shoes adapt. More importantly, at the beginning they were really rubbing my heels. I am not the only one who had this problem by the way – I get a couple of hits from Google every week along the lines of “Merrell rubbing heels”. However, this has been over after a couple of days, and now they are extremely comfortable.
With the VFF’s it is difficult for me to make the final assessment. On the one hand, they really feel like gloves, and in that respect are even more comfortable than the Merrell’s. The only thing is the fabric between the toes – the jury is still out whether or not this will hurt me. I have had other people telling me that they have problems with it, but I believe that I will be alright. Knock on wood.
That’s certainly the point where the VFF’s have a problem. I mean, they VFF’s just look awful, or ridiculous, or both. I really wish they would sell some with a piece of fabric losely draped over the separated toes so that I wouldnt look like a frog, or a gorilla when I am wearing them. I got quite a few funny looks (and even a number of comments) today – and no, this was not because I was on a scooter. I am on a scooter every day.
The Merrell’s on the other hand just look really cool – I am wearing them almost every day, with jeans or sports cloth and they just look – normal.
Horses for courses I guess. I am glad that I have both the Merrell’s and the VFF’s, the Merrell’s for when I need to look half-way serious, and the VFF’s for exercise and occasions when I can look a bit more relaxed. My advice: if you can afford it, get both, and dump all other trainers you have.