Vibram FiveFingers VI-B: A comfortable women's barefoot shoe
When the shoe is unboxed, it comes with a nice carrying bag made of the same material as the mesh upper. The shoe is vegan, and the colors are invariably bright.
This shoe will offer the experienced barefoot runner an incredibly close contact with the ground, and good fit around the heel, toes, and midfoot.
For the new barefooter, as with any minimalist shoe, less miles and more attention to body feedback are needed to get the feet, tendons, and legs used to a zero drop, non-supportive shoe.
The Vibram FiveFingers VI-B is a training shoe with a soft mesh upper and a fit very similar to the Vibram Classic but improved.
Where the Vibram Classic featured a (mostly unnecessary) drawstring around the top, the VI-B has more comfort and no change in fit.
The drawstring created tension on the foot, and the plastic tension holder needed a heel tongue. The heel tongue was stiff and caused blisters.
In contrast, VI-B has no such shortcomings. The upper is comfortable, breathable, and blister-free. The upper is mesh and more breathable than any other Vibram upper.
The smell that can be inescapable in a barefoot shoe after only a few uses is much less noxious.
The sole of the VI-B is quite different than most Vibram FiveFingers. The classic featured, of course, durable and grippy Vibram rubber of a uniform thickness throughout.
Rather than a smooth sole, this sole is textured in every place. This texture creates yet more flexibility to an already incredibly flexible shoe.
The texture also lends extra grip on smooth surfaces and in lateral movement, an improvement over many other FiveFingers models.
This grippy sole is dependable on the road, the trail, and slick shale. While the fun only lasts 600 miles or so in most FiveFingers shoes, these are grippy from the first mile to the last.
The shoe's durability leaves room for improvement, but the increased flexibility demands less material in the sole. The shoe lasts about 600 miles of road running before the sole wears out.
The mesh upper is surprisingly tough and resilient. As far as FiveFingers go, this is fairly normal. For those used to a traditional shoe with thousands of miles of wear, it's no time at all.
The upper never seems to ravel or tear, and there is no tearing of the upper from the lower. The rubber sole of the shoe wears out faster than the wearer will notice any issue with other aspects.
As the photos show, the insole tends to begin to wear and tear as well, at about 400-450 miles. This created no discomfort for me but may create an issue for others.
Nonetheless, it is still stable and without holes, but pieces of the lining have come loose.
Women who love minimalist shoes will love the VI-B. While it “slim-fitting,” those with fairly mid-level foot width will still enjoy a nice fit.
It is a women’s model only. And, because this shoe is specifically built for women, it offers a better fit than some other FiveFingers options.
It has managed a difficult task in being even more dressed down and in contact with the ground than other FiveFingers models.
It’s incredibly flexible. Moreover, the toes are better formed than other models. Some FiveFingers create restrictions in the second and third toe, but not the VI-B.
The heel is close-cupped and almost does not move at all. This non-slip ability of the shoe offers extra reliability and reduces the incident of blisters.
For minimalist runners, gym-goers, and walkers, this is an excellent option. This is best for those who do not need a stability shoe and is well-versed in the aspects of barefoot running.
Barefoot shoes force a midfoot strike and light push off; heel strikes are incredibly painful. And, even the tuned-out runner quickly loses the habit.