Summary

We spent 6.8 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

5 reasons to buy

  • The shoe is very light and offers great ground feel based on some reviews.
  • The upper of the KSO EVO is very breathable and flexible, as noted in some runners’ reviews.
  • It features the XS TREK technology that provides traction, stability, comfort and durability.
  • It has a quick lacing system.
  • The shoe is available in an affordable price.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Based on some reviews, the sole is too thin and not durable.
  • Some were complaining that the toes were too tight.
  • Fabric wears off quickly, said some runners.

Bottom line

The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO offers a combination of impressive ground feel and protection. It gives runners an enhanced running experience with impressive grip and flexibility. This minimalist shoe is best for runners who are looking for an affordable and lightweight road running partner.

Facts

Terrain: Road
Arch support: Neutral
Weight: Men: 4.1oz | Women: 3.5oz
Heel to toe drop: Men: 0mm | Women: 0mm
Pronation: Neutral Pronation
Arch type: High arch
Material: Vegan
Features: Slip-on
Strike Pattern: Forefoot strike
Distance: Competition
Heel height: Men: 4mm | Women: 3mm
Forefoot height: Men: 4mm | Women: 3mm
Brand: Vibram FiveFingers
Type: Low drop | Zero drop | Barefoot
Width: Men: Normal | Women: Normal
Price: $90
Colorways: Black, Blue, Green, Grey, Pink, Purple
Size
Small True to size Large
See more facts

Rankings

Among the better Road running shoes

Expert Reviews

Experts are runners, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

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85 / 100 based on 14 expert reviews

  • 82 / 100 | James Smith

    KSO EVO first impressions & quick run review

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    So after getting back into running after several years of nothingness I just went for some "whatever" running shoes. I didn't really think too much about it. Went through one pair and then bought another different pair of "whatever".

    However after about 300 miles in them, I started to ramp up my training ready for a marathon I was planning on doing in October this year, and boom! Shin splints... I tried to run through them and it has resulted in me needing to get an x-ray on my leg for a suspected stress fracture... Bad times!

    (Worth pointing out that it was definitely a combination of too much too quickly, poor form and, I think, bad shoe choice that caused my injury.)

    I've taken this 'opportunity' to take a look at my running. I decided that I need to sort my form out and following a lot of research I've decided to try out barefoot-style running.

    I'll need to start slowly anyway because of my injury so it's the perfect time to start a transition to barefoot running.

    Enter the Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO... Excuse the pumpkin, I couldn't help myself!

     

    Design

    These things look crazy! But in some slightly insane way, I also think they look really cool, especially once they're on your feet!

    Everything about these shoes feels as though it was well thought out.

    You get a real sense that the guys at Vibram really wanted to create something great for feet everywhere. They are so light that you could almost forget you have anything on your feet when wearing them. They're very comfortable and are meant to last for miles upon miles.

    Fit

    They really do fit like gloves for my feet.

    The padded tongue adds a lot towards comfort in these shoes which is surprising considering how slight it is.

    The quick lace-up system is genius, probably my favourite feature of the shoes because it makes life so much easier as well as adding a lot of security.

    The amazingly comfortable fabric that encases your feet when you have these on and the fantastic sole come in close behind the laces.

     

    Grip

    I already know I'm going to get more grip out of these shoes than from my old conventional trainers. They stick like glue to my wooden flooring at home at least. Everyone knows that Vibram makes brilliant soles for shoes but these uber thin ones are incredible.

    They really have hit the mark with the design here. It's responsive and flexible but feels like it'll offer enough grip and protection for all of the road and light trail running that I do.

    Support

    The insole (the one that's barely there...) somehow feels more comfortable than my old running shoes even though it's mega thin! I guess that must come down to its quality.

    It feels soft, firm and supportive all at the same time somehow. Time will tell how well this will last but so far so good.

     

     

    Putting these shoes on for the first time feels a bit odd but I'm already getting more used to it. With the lacing system tightened, my feet feel snug in them.

    It almost feels like I could just run and climb a tree without even worrying about it. I keep finding myself wanting to jump around randomly because they feel so good.

    First impressions wise I really like these shoes. They feel very well made and I'm excited to take them for a proper spin. I couldn't resist for long!

    Performance

    After wearing the Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO all day long, they got more and more comfortable. They were just moulding to my feet perfectly.

    The feeling is actually really hard to describe.

    By the end of the day, it felt as though they had been sprayed on to my feet! So I just went for it, a quick 2 mile run around the block. Really easy of course! (Slow and steady post injury and beginning barefoot running).

    You can really feel the ground through the soles of these shoes, especially the rough bits. It's going to take some getting used to, especially where I run primarily on pavements and hard trails.

    Having said that there was something sort of thrilling about it too. The feeling of the ground and the control you have over your body with these on is something else.

     

     

    The grip was very good. It didn't get tested to any extremes so I cannot say how it'll do over time but so far it feels better than my last pair of conventional trainers.

    I think it's not even just the sole that helps in this area though.

    As I mentioned before the extra control you have in these shoes is amazing and I think that definitely helps when it comes to grip. You're able to easily make adjustments as you run to maximize traction.

    My running form changed pretty much immediately after setting off for my run as well. A combination of these shoes and being very conscious of my leg I'm sure, but it felt so much easier on the rest of my body.

    My feet are aching but my shin is not and that is something I've not felt for some time now. You're forced to run on your forefoot in these shoes and that, in turn, increases your step count, or at least that's what happened to me. Both of these things are ideal for form and reducing injury too which is great news!

    Here's an image of the shoes post run. They still look brand new! Just brilliant!

     

    Bottom Line

    I am so happy with these shoes, I can't even take them off now!

    I would recommend them to anyone who's having shin splint or stress fractures woes! You won't regret it!

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 93 / 100 | Augustus Huang

    Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO: Versatile, no-nonsense, barefoot workhorse

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    The KSO EVO offers just about everything in terms of the anatomical and efficiency benefits of a true barefoot experience.

    If you are interested, I go into much greater detail on the personally-tested reasons why I believe every runner should at least train with barefoot shoes - in this review here.

     

     

    Interestingly, the KSO is marketed by Vibram simply as “training shoes”, with no indication of the term running anywhere. At first, I was a little concerned with the vagueness of this label because I wasn’t sure then if the KSOs were actually designed to be taken out for long runs on the pavement.

    That said, after running over 70 miles in the KSOs, this did not prove to be an issue. While Vibram could perhaps do a better job overall delineating what models are meant to serve what purposes, I also think that the very absolute minimalist nature of their shoes makes most of them suitable for barefoot running anyway (the outsole is really the most important part).

    So for full clarity, I will be reviewing the functionality and quality of the KSO EVO specifically as a running shoe.

    My first experience with Vibram FiveFingers was with the VFF Bikila EVO, with which I went through two pairs and hundreds of road miles.

    Given this, I found it appropriate to use the Bikilas as a benchmark barefoot shoe as I compiled my thoughts for this review on the KSO. Even still, readers will not need to have an understanding of the Bikila itself to understand this review of the KSO. So without further ado, let’s begin!

    Comfort and fit

    I wear a US men’s size 9.0, which equated to a size 42 for the KSO (VFF uses European sizing).

    The fit felt great, and what I especially like about the KSO is that even though I need to get extra wide (EE) for typical running shoes, the KSOs still fit well because the mesh frame of the upper is intended to match the shape of the wearer’s foot. My toes were able to splay freely and comfortably.

    Unlike the Bikilas, the KSOs make use of a relatively thick and plush tongue. It feels good on the top of the foot, but I personally feel this was a rather immaterial feature of the shoe (the Bikilas used a paper-thin tongue that also felt good).

     

     

    In identical fashion to the Bikilas, the KSOs deploy a lock-lace style lacing system that makes it extremely easy to adjust the shoe to your liking. This is one of my favorite features of the shoe and it makes for increased convenience and control of fit.

    Outsole

    Like all FiveFinger shoes, the outsole boasts the trademark Vibram outsole that prides itself on traction and light weight.

    I ran in the KSOs several times in wet and rainy conditions and felt no issues with traction. Compared to the Bikilas, the outsole of the KSO boasts an upgrade in durability. After 70+ miles in the KSOs, the outsole pattern still showed no signs of any fading.

     

     

    While this may be normal for typical running shoes, I find this to be impressive for a FiveFinger model based on my experiences. That said, I did notice that the outsole of the KSOs is a lot stiffer compared to that of the Bikilas, so I imagine that the outsole is made of harder rubber. However, this stiffness did not appear to cause any real downsides.

    Also note that despite this stiffness, I still felt things such as rocks, gravel, acorns, etc. underneath my feet. A defining and superb trait of VFF (and running barefoot in general) is the ground feel, but be sure to be aware of hazardous objects and surfaces.

    Another feature I liked in particular about the outsole is that it seemed to wrap slightly up and around the sides of the foot. This is a clever feature because it actually appears to protect the KSOs upper from scraping against the ground when the foot is splaying.

    Upper

    I was also impressed by the durability of the KSO’s upper. After 70+ miles, all sides and angles of the upper still appeared free of wear and tear. I believe this is due in part to the design of the outsole as described above, but in addition, the upper material is relatively thick compared to the Bikilas.

     

     

    The potential downside of this is that, despite the small ventilation holes, I still found the shoe a lot less breathable than the Bikilas, and my feet would get pretty sweaty (VFF shoes are all machine washable). The flipside of this is my feet still stayed pretty warm even on colder runs despite my lack of socks.

    On road performance

    For those who are accustomed to barefoot running and FiveFinger shoes in general, the KSOs are a great option for both daily training and road racing. The durable and highly gripping outsole allowed me to step confidently while upping the pace.

     

     

    And as a barefoot shoe, the KSOs will help make my average cadence faster and my form more efficient. I took the KSOs for 9-mile pavement run and had no major issues, and could have comfortably run longer. My only qualm with the KSOs is that I had to tighten them a little more than I would have naturally or intuitively.

    I originally did not do this, and after 4 miles or so during runs, I would begin to feel blisters on the bottom of my feet forming. So even though the shoe felt completely comfortable and properly adjusted, there was actually enough subtle wiggling going on to amount to blisters after enough miles. After being cognizant to adjust the shoe very tightly before runs, the issue seemed to disappear. All in all, this is a great shoe to train and go fast in.

    Summary

    The KSOs are an ambiguously categorized shoe that I’ve determined works well as a highly responsive and lightweight running shoe on road surfaces.

    In spite of its minimalist nature and appearance, it exhibits a high level of durability that makes it more worth the money than meets the eye. The outsole is stiff and provides good traction even in wet conditions.

    The upper is slightly less breathable than other VFF models but still allows for a flexible fit for your foot shape. I would recommend this shoe to all barefoot fans, with the differentiating factor being that runners will be able to get more mileage out of the KSOs than might be expected.

    In terms of additional features, I think VFF should include reflective material or designs on future models, as more safety features are always on my preference list.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 92 / 100 | Kalclash Fitness | | Level 1 expert

    Brilliant ground perception, brilliant tread, lightweight, super flexible.

  • 87 / 100 | Plant Sugar | Level 1 expert

    These have great grip, don't smell as bad as sole runners, easy to clean and pretty durable.

Become an expert

  • The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO is an all-encompassing pair of shoes that are actually shaped like actual feet. Each toe even gets to be wrapped entirely by its fabrics and systems. Made from durable components, this running shoe ensures the comfort and safety of its wearer, keeping the performance as lightweight and natural as possible without sacrificing quality protection and efficacy.
  • The upper unit of this running shoe uses durable polyester to ensure that it stays intact, even after many uses. It is not stiff in form, so it allows the foot to be as flexible as it is able. The inner lining features a soft mesh that’s not irritating to the skin. A speed lacing system permits fast adjustment to the fit, therefore keeping the coverage easy to manipulate.
  • The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO utilizes individual toe slots, which change its façade to actually look like the shape of the human foot. The purposes of this design is to enhance the natural dexterity and versatility of the foot’s movements, enabling the toes to splay naturally and let the shoe adapt to the runner’s own biomechanics.
  • The sole unit uses 2mm EVA, which isn’t much compared to the usual thickness of running shoes’ mid-soles, but it’s meant to be that way because it aims to deliver a barefoot-like running experience on all types of terrain.
  • The outsole uses a high quality compound that is created to withstand abrasion or wear. It is able to hold onto a variety of surfaces with ease, making sure that the running experience of its wearer isn’t limited or restricted to just flat surfaces. It can even handle trail adventures.

The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO is true to its size. The sizing scheme that is used for this model follows the regular measurements when it comes to length. Its width is medium, so it allows those with medium sized feet to acclimate well to it when wearing it. Its semi-curved shape follows the natural curvature of the human foot.


The Vibram XS Trek is a rubber material that is of high quality make. The durability of this section is reliable; it doesn’t easily wear off or lose its efficacy, even after many uses. Traction over the surfaces is very much afforded to the runner. This outsole material is also utilized in some Vibram FiveFingers running shoes.


The platform of the Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO is very flexible. It allows the foot to move naturally through the gait cycle, making sure that the focus is given to the preference of the wearer, in terms of performance.

A 2mm Ethylene vinyl acetate foam is used as the underfoot cushioning system of this foot-shaped shoe. It is comfortable and it provides mild comfort that’ll make each ground contact easier and smoother.

The Drilex® nylon covers the EVA foam. It features anti-microbial and anti-moisture capabilities, thus keeping the interior as clean and healthy as possible for the foot.


Durable polyester makes up the main upper fabric of the FiveFingers KSO EVO. It covers the foot well, hugging it snugly and securely. It even allows air to enter the shoe in order keep the foot cool and dry.

The lining has polyester mesh, which is soft and smooth. The runner can even wear this without socks, as it doesn’t make the coverage feel irritating.

A speed lacing system makes it easier for runners to adjust the fit. Only one tug from the laces and the shoe will be able to feel adequately tight or loose. No knots are needed for this.

Comparison