Our verdict

The Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek is a complete package for hiking, trekking, and walking, thanks to its ankle-high support, comfortable upper, and grippy outsole. We are sold by these shoes simply because they speed us up, give us the support we need, and protect our feet without losing connection to the ground. This shoe, however, needs some breaking in to achieve a precise fit. Furthermore, we find its unique structure requires a little bit of getting used to.

Pros

  • Top-notch comfort
  • Superior level of protection
  • Powerful grip and traction
  • Glove-like fit
  • Incredibly Supportive
  • Durably built
  • Performs consistently in the cold
  • Quick drying

Cons

  • Needs breaking in
  • Hard to put on

Audience verdict

82
Good!

Who should buy

We recommend the Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek as an excellent companion to hikers: 

  • In the market for an insanely lightweight shoe that feels like barefoot hiking
  • That prefer a minimal hiking shoe with lots of ground feel that's still comfy and protective
  • Who hike in colder temperatures frequently and need a shoe that’s consistent year-round
  • In need of a shoe that dries quickly and doesn’t take up much space in a pack
  • Are willing to experiment with a truly unique hiking shoe

Who should NOT buy

The Fivefingers V-Trek suffer from sub-par breathability that means it will feel rather toasty in the summertime. Those who want a more breathable option to avoid sweaty feet should consider the Salomon Outpulse instead. 

The Fivefingers V-Trek’s subtle lugs make it a less-than-ideal choice for very gravelly or muddy trails. For a hiking shoe with more aggressive lugs that will bite into just about any surface, we recommend the Merrel Moab 3 which is also much easier to slip on and off quickly. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek hjehvev

We don’t recommend the Fivefingers V-Trek to beginner hikers as the shoe’s unique design takes some getting used to. We recommend the KEEN NXIS Speed as a more traditionally shaped alternative that requires little to no breaking in.

Breathability

We pumped the Fivefingers V-Trek full of smoke to get a visual idea of how breathable it is. As the video demonstrates, the shoe only lets out a stream of smoke through the porous tongue initially until it eventually seeps through the synthetic upper material in staggering wisps. This lackluster performance leads us to give the Fivefingers V-Trek a breathability score of 2 out of 5. While not the worst result, it does mean that sweaty feet are inevitable during warmer treks. 

 

The well-insulated nature of this shoe is clear to see when inspecting a backlit cross-section of the upper and seeing how it entirely blocks any light from shining through. 

Looking at the Fivefingers V-Trek under our microscope reveals that there are almost no gaps whatsoever for air to flow between the tightly woven fibers that make up the shoe’s upper.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek bygftftft

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Breathability
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 2
Average 2.8
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

First up to face the Dremel in our battery of durability tests is the Fivefingers V-Trek’s toebox. Spinning at 5K RPM, we applied the tool’s grinding element to one of the rubber-reinforced toes with 3.2N of force. 

After a false start and failing to get a good grip on the shoe for four seconds, we found that our tool had only managed to scrape off the protective nubs and scuff the shoe’s upper material. This leads us to give the Fivefingers V-Trek a better-than-expected toebox durability score of 4 out of 5.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Toebox durability
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 4
Average 3.7
Compared to 9 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Despite having very little padding to protect, the Fivefingers V-Trek’s heel counter put up an even more valiant effort against our Dremel. 

Once the four-second test had run its course, we found that the tool had merely frayed the lining in a way that had no perceptible effect on the shoe’s lockdown, thus leading us to give it a perfect 5 out of 5 for heel padding durability.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Heel padding durability
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 5
Average 3.5
Compared to 8 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

The Fivefingers V-Trek’s outsole is remarkably soft, giving us a durometer reading of only 65 HC. On the one hand, this implies excellent grip as the rubber is pliable enough to really bite into surfaces to provide strong traction. On the other hand, however, it doesn’t bode well regarding its durability which will be put to the test in the next section. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek kvfkj fd

The softness of the rubber also serves to soften the impacts of our landings as we walk in a way that nicely complements the shoe’s scant midsole cushioning.

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 65.0 HC
Average 83.6 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
65.0 HC
Outsole hardness
89.1 HC

Outsole durability

This time spinning at 10K RPM, we unleashed our Dremel for its third and final outing against the Fivefingers V-Trek’s outsole for twenty abrasive seconds. 

Once the dust had settled, we used a tire tread gauge to measure the extent of the damage and found that 1.12 mm of rubber had been eaten away over the course of the test. This puts the Fivefingers V-Trek’s outsole on par with our current lab average and means that we expect it to last a good 400 to 500 miles before showing any major signs of wear and tear.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Outsole durability
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 1.1 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 8 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The outsole is slightly thicker than average at 3 mm thick according to our caliper measurements.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Outsole thickness
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 3.0 mm
Average 2.5 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.9 mm
Outsole thickness
4.0 mm

Weight

At 6.5 oz (184g), the Fivefingers V-Trek is the poster child for a barely-there hiking shoe. Wearing them feels like having reinforced feet, allowing our movements to feel natural and nimble as we traversed the trails. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Weight
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 6.49 oz (184g)
Average 13.37 oz (379g)
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
6.49 oz (184g)
Weight
17.14 oz (486g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The Fivefingers V-Trek is about as minimal as it gets, with a heel stack that’s only 9.9 mm thick according to our caliper measurements. This is much lower than our current lab average which contributes to the shoe’s barefoot feel. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Heel stack
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 9.9 mm
Average 30.4 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
9.9 mm
Heel stack
37.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The Fivefingers V-Trek’s stack is actually slightly higher at the forefoot, measuring 10.7 mm thick based on our caliper measurements. This is still much shorter than the average hiking shoe and means that we enjoyed maximum ground feel while testing this shoe. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Forefoot stack
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 10.7 mm
Average 20.1 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
25.5 mm

Drop

The difference in our stack measurements leaves the Fivefingers V-Trek with a negative heel drop of -0.8 mm.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek jvbjvebjkw

This, for all intents and purposes, feels like a zero-drop shoe which is ideal for those who prefer a more natural, parallel-to-the-ground walking experience as opposed to having an elevated heel. 

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek -0.8 mm
Average 10.3 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
15.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The thin strip of foam that makes up the Fivefingers V-Trek’s midsole is extremely plush, giving us a durometer reading of 13.5 HA.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek jvefiueeqerv\

This is much softer than average and serves to provide us with a certain level of protective impact dampening however, the low-profile nature of the shoe means we aren’t really able to savor the softness of the foam before it bottoms out.

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 13.5 HA
Average 27.3 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
13.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We placed the Fivefingers V-Trek in the freezer for twenty minutes in order to see what effect cold conditions have on the midsole. Once sufficiently chilled, the Fivefingers V-Trek gave us a durometer reading of 16.1 HA. While becoming 19.5% firmer post-freezer makes the Fivefingers V-Trek about as consistent as the average hiking shoe between warm and cold conditions, this is still a remarkably soft reading. As such, the Fivefingers V-Trek should feel just as protective and comfortable underfoot during frigid winter hikes.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 19.5%
Average 19.1%
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

While the Fivefingers V-Trek does rock from side to side quite significantly as we shift our weight from side to side, the low-profile, barefoot nature of the shoe means that we feel extremely well-balanced while walking in this shoe. 

Torsional rigidity

We were basically able to wring out the Fivefingers V-Trek with how little resistance the shoe offered as we bent and twisted it in our hands, leading us to give it a torsional rigidity score of 1 out of 5. This means that the shoe easily conforms to the contortions of our foot throughout our stride, further contributing to how natural and barely-there the Fivefingers V-Trek feels. 

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 1
Average 3.3
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The Fivefingers V-Trek’s heel counter has little structure to it and is also extremely pliable in the face of our manual manipulations, earning it another score of 1 out of 5. As such, the shoe doesn’t do much to hold the rearfoot in place which feels quite easy and comfortable on our tendons. However, this lack of structure means that we have to exercise caution in this shoe as rolled ankles aren't beyond the realm of possibility. 

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 1
Average 3.7
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

At 104.5 mm wide at the forefoot, the Fivefingers V-Trek’s midsole is slightly narrower than our current lab average, though this didn’t present us with any stability issues over the course of testing this shoe. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 104.5 mm
Average 110.0 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
103.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
116.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Back at the heel the midsole is significantly narrower than average at only 64.2 mm wide. This definitely takes some getting used to, but means that the shoe is better able to wrap around the foot for a more secure lockdown. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 64.2 mm
Average 86.9 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
64.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
93.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We secured the Fivefingers V-Trek to our workbench and, using a force gauge, found that only 2N of force is needed to bend the shoe to 90 degrees. This is an incredibly flexible result that makes the Fivefingers V-Trek the most pliable shoe we've tested in the lab so far. 

As such, the shoe puts up almost no resistance to the natural flexion of our foot which greatly contributes to the shoe's comfy and forgiving ride that doesn't feel like having shoes on at all. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Stiffness
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 1.8N
Average 30.0N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.8N
Stiffness
54.0N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After leaving the shoe in the freezer for twenty minutes, we also repeated the stiffness test and found that the shoe stiffened at about the same rate as the average Hiking shoe. That being said, with only 2.5N of force needed to bend it to the desired point, the Fivefingers V-Trek remains much more flexible than average and will still conform with the natural flexion of our foot no matter how cold the surroundings are. 

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 42.9%
Average 37.5%
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Despite the lugs being shorter than our current lab average at only 2.1 mm, they provided us with excellent grip and traction over a variety of surfaces, whether dry or wet, during our test hikes. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Outsole thickness

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Lug depth
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 2.1 mm
Average 4.0 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.1 mm
Lug depth
5.0 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Using our caliper, we measured the Fivefingers V-Trek’s toebox to be 99.4 mm wide at its widest point. This is right on par with our current lab average and means that it should accommodate most foot shapes except those that are very broad. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 99.4 mm
Average 100.6 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
95.4 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
107.7 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Unlike most shoes, the Fivefingers V-Trek’s toebox tapers to become wider towards the toes, measuring 108.8 mm wide around the big toe.

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek jkevbjkeqf

This is much wider than average, giving our toes plenty of clearance to ensure that they slip into their respective toe holes with ease, regardless of foot shape.

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek 108.6 mm
Average 81.6 mm
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
68.8 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
108.6 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The Fivefingers V-Trek's tongue is non-gusseted, though we didn't experience any issues with slippage thanks to the shoe's snug fit that feel like it;s wrapped around our foot. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek None

Comfort

Tongue padding

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Tongue padding

Heel tab

The Fivefingers V-Trek features a handy finger loop at the heel that's useful for grabbing onto as we try and squeeze our foot through the tight hole. 

Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Heel tab
Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek Finger loop

Removable insole

In the pursuit of keeping the shoe as minimal as possible, the Fivefingers V-Trek doesn't feature an insole to begin with. 

Test results
Vibram Fivefingers V-Trek No