What makes Split Toe or Five Finger Shoes so popular?
Well, simply put, for those who are looking for natural, barefoot comfort from their shoes, these unique designs mimic your foot’s natural function as closely as possible.
When we are barefoot, our toes can splay outwards to provide stability and grip when needed. Split toe shoes complement your natural foot movement, and at the same time, offer extra protection and padding. Additionally, they are flexible, breathe well, and weigh next to nothing.
Five finger shoes help correct the heal-strike problem that occurs when wearing normal shoes. They assist in landing with the middle (or ideally) ball of your foot, lessening joint impact and improving your running stride.
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We have picked out the perfect selection for both men and women to choose from, let’s run through the options.
Mens Split Toe Shoes
Men’s EVO Cross Trainer
Our first choice in the men’s category is the Vibram Men’s KSO EVO cross-trainer.
The soles are ultra thin and lightweight, yet strong They give you the closest to a natural barefooted feel. They have a synthetic sole and speed lacing design. This allows you to control the tension and tightness. It also helps accommodating different foot shapes, especially if you have a higher arched foot and need that extra room.
If you are a first time user or these shoes, it is important to take time to acclimatize your feet and body to their unique feel. This is because of the reduced cushioning and support. After some minor adjustments, you will love the natural protection they offer where its needed.
The Vibram’s Men’s KSO EVO cross trainers are ideal if you are looking for the most “natural” feeling, all purpose shoe for running, hiking or going to the gym.
Men’s El-X Yoga and Fitness
Our second pick are the Vibram Men’s EL-X five finger shoes.
These were originally designed for use as Cross-trainers. They have a synthetic sole with a breathable mesh material on the upper part of the shoe. They are light, flexible and breathe well. This drastically reduces the absorption of sweat into the fabric.
These have the thinnest soles available from Vibram. This makes them amazing for those who prefer being barefoot. As a sharp rock or twig can easily puncture them so they are best suited for indoor use.
These are the perfect choice if you want a comfortable gym (or even yoga) shoe but don’t want to go the traditional “cross trainer” route. If you are happiest barefoot but have to wear shoes some of the time, these are the perfect win, win solution.
Men’s Fila Trainers
Another strong contender is the men’s Fila Skeletoes with 4 fingers. (Toes 4 and 5 go together.)
These have a slightly thicker sole with excellent grip. This makes them better for trekking through rivers or making your way over rocky or stony areas. They are designed to suit a variety of water activities including river rafting, cliff jumping and kayaking.
As the soles are slightly thicker you won’t have as much of a “natural” feel as with the two pairs reviewed above. However, due to the added cushioning, they’re more suitable for rugged terrain and offer more protection.
These are ideal if you are looking for a great looking, all purpose sports shoe that can be used on smooth and rough ground including water.
Women’s Five Finger Shoes
In the women’s split toe category, the Vibram Women’s Bikila Evo Road Running shoes are our first selection.
It is beautifully soft with a very thin sole to give you an ultra natural, barefooted feel.
Like with most thin soled footwear, these offer no arch support so if you have a higher arch, you may take a bit of time to adjust to the feel. This is a worthwhile compromise if you like the natural feeling of running barefooted but want that extra bit of added protection.
These are perfect for you if you are looking for versatility in one pair of shoes. Considering the thin sole, they are well suited for outdoor road running or even mountain tracks but are equally at home indoors at the gym.
Women’s Fitness & Yoga Shoe
Again, versatility is on offer with the Vibram Women’s Aliza Loop fitness yoga shoe.
They are light, breathable and they fit like a glove. These are perfect for everyday wear and can be worn at home, to the shops and to your fitness or yoga class.
If you are not accustomed to barefoot or split toe shoes you may have some difficulty adjusting to them initially. Persevere and you will never look back.
These are perfect if you are always on the go and need a comfortable, all purpose shoe to match a varied day of activity. From morning runs, breakfast, dropping kids at school, work and gym, these comfortable companions will have your attention 100% on the task at hand and not on aching feet.
Women’s Cross Trainer
If you are looking for more of a Cross Training Shoe, the Vibram KMD LS offer another comfortable option.
The soles are more robust and thicker than the Alitza Loop style above. This makes them excellent for cross country running and trail hikes.
Because the soles of these are slightly thicker, you won’t have as much of a barefoot feel. This allows you more versatility and access to rugged terrain without too much sensitivity to your feet.
If you love walking and hiking on or off trail, these shoes will offer you the level of protection you need without compromising on a comfortable, natural step.
Why Wear Split Toe Footgear?
Being outdoor enthusiast ourselves, we love taking weekly hikes or trail runs into the mountains. When we came across an article about split toe foot wear a while back, we had mixed ideas but were curious to find out more.
There is a lot of science and history to backup the fact that running barefooted can actually be better for your overall form. Tribes in Africa cover vast areas running barefooted. However in the West, we are used to the massive and constantly evolving selection of cushioned running sneakers that we seldom do anything barefooted. These are bad for your gait as they encourage you to Heal-Strike (hit the ground with your heal first) while running.
Why is Heal-Strike running Bad?
Proper Running Form vs Heel Strike Running
Ultimate Foot Comfort
“Split toe” or “five finger shoes” as they are also known, were developed to mimic the feeling of being barefooted. They offer a margin of padding which helps those who are not used to doing their daily activities shoeless. Traction and grip are excellent. You will find that when you leave the beaten path and take on rougher terrain, your footgear will help significantly. (Check out our Vegan Hiking Boots for Women review for covering extra tough terrain.)
Not only are these perfectly suitable for land-use but many are so lightweight and designed in such a way that you can even go swimming with them or wade through rivers with no hassles at all. These are an excellent choice for any outdoor adventurer who loves exploring.
We hope you have found our reviews useful and would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below on which style works best for you.