Road Test: Vibram Five Fingers in Cold Weather
I woke up today to several inches of snow in London. It is not often we see snow in London, or indeed have temperatures below 0°C. So I've taken this opportunity to test my Vibram Five Fingers under these conditions. I went for a sprint and did some running drills in the snow, it was -3°C with several inches of snow covering.
There is only one shoe in the Five Fingers range that was designed to be used in cold conditions down to -4°C/°25F. The Flow.
The Flow is a more robust version of the Five Finger KSO. These have a 2mm protective upper layer covering the entire foot and providing insulation against the cold with a neoprene lining (neoprene is used in the manufacture of wetsuits). The sole uses Idrogrip which provides better traction than the usual sole and also works better in icy conditions.
The tests were a mixture of real-world (and just useful to know):
- standing in the snow for a few minutes with feet completely immersed;
- sprinting from a standing start (to test traction);
- running in fresh and settled snow;
- just walking;
- running at speed and attempting to stop suddenly (not so sure about this one)!
- comparing the shoe against the FiveFinger KSO with toe socks;
- comparing the shoe against a trekking shoe;
In terms of traction the Flows worked better than expected. They do offer pretty decent anti-slip protection in the snow, just as well as a pair of trekking walking shoes that I used for comparison.
For thermal insulation, there were no issues. My feet didn't feel numb at all during my activities or whilst stationary for several minutes (my hands however were starting to feel numb after short periods). I also tested without any toe socks.
I am a fan of the Vibram Five Fingers, and feel confident that for cold weather conditions the Flows are more than adequate for any outdoor training I will do this winter. I have tried the KSO's with toe socks at about 3°C/38°F not something I would want to endure for too long. The Flows really are the best choice for cold weather.
Of course common sense dictates being careful what you do whatever you're wearing, as you will never quite know what is underfoot...