“Our first trail running–specific model, the Spyridon LS provides the perfect balance of ‘foot feel’ and protection on rugged surfaces. A minimalist 3.5mm Vibram rubber sole provides impact protection from stones and debris, while better allowing proper barefoot dynamics. The aggressive tread design delivers sure-footed grip in all directions, molded nylon mesh in midsole adds a ‘rock block’ effect, dispersing impact over a wider area. The Coconut Active Carbon upper offers natural breathability and an adjustable hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit. 3M reflective applications for safety after dark. Machine Washable. Air Dry.”
- Available from: www.primallifestyle.com
I have fancied a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes for a few years now. As such, I was delighted when the opportunity arose to review the first trail running specific model, the Spyridon LS. I can’t compare the Spyridons to other VFF models given that this is my first outing in a pair of the ‘toe shoes’. However, I do have plenty experience of other minimalist shoes to see how the Spyridons stack up against them.
The shoes are named after Spyridon Louis, the Greek shepherd who won the first modern-day marathon back at the 1896 Athens Olympics. (I just had to investigate the cool name! – Spyridon Louis on Wikipedia)
In terms of fit, my experience of the Spyridon has been mixed.
On the plus side, the stretchy upper contours the shape of the foot and I found that, even with my wide feet, this resulted in a very comfortable, close fit without feeling overly restrictive. The speed lock lacing system let me adjust the snugness to the desired level and the laces then tucked away nicely thanks to the use of a neat Velcro fastening system. The end result was more of a glove like than shoe like fit.
My problem was with regard to the toe pockets and, I think, was a personal problem rather than anything wrong with the shoe itself. Unfortunately, I have been ‘blessed’ with fairly stumpy toes and, as a result, they just failed to fill the toe pockets, resulting in a looser than desired fit in this area.
The problem was partially remedied with the addition of a pair of Injinji socks, filling up some of the free space. However, I suspect that a 1/2 size to a size smaller may have resulted in a more comfortable fit. I would strongly suggest that you try on VFFs if at all possible before purchasing just to make sure that you get the best possible fit. I was testing a size 8, the same size that I would normally wear in trainers.
In terms of actual usage, I had the occasional slip on wet concrete and didn’t have any success at all in icy conditions, but then I would have experienced issues staying upright with most shoes such was the level of ice! In all other conditions and, especially, when out on the trail, where the shoes were designed to perform at their best, the levels of grip and connectivity were excellent.
The Spyridon makes use of square-shaped cleats on the outsole. The cleats are not excessively high as this would detract from the minimalist feel of the shoe. However, they are sufficiently raised as to offer good levels of traction on both ascents and descents. One reviewer of the Spyridons compared the sole to a mountain bike tyre and there are definitely similarities.
As you would expect from a shoe with a 3.5mm sole, ground feel is excellent. On the plus side, this increases the connectivity. On the down side, if it happens to be a stone, a root or some other obstacle underfoot, you will feel it.
However, the Spyridon sole has been constructed in such a way as to offer some protection. The sole includes a moulded polyester mesh in the midsole area. This 3d Cacoon technology offers protection from stone punctures and serves to disperse any impact over a broader area. It manages to do this without impinging on the minimalism or flexibility of the shoe and it certainly helps to lessen the feeling that you may hurt yourself on making contact with roots or stones, letting you just get on and enjoy the run.
The fact that you can still roll the shoe up, despite the rock plate, demonstrates just how little impact the extra protection has on the overall flexibility. The usefulness of the rock plate doesn’t stop there – it also helps dissipate some of the impact from foot strike.
Aesthetically, I thought the Spyridons really stood out and they have been christened as my ‘skeleton shoes’ by many of my family and friends. They certainly do have a skeletal look to them with their distinctive colouring and this accentuates the toe pockets. I noticed more than a few second glances from people I passed! There’s some good use of 3M reflective material in the heel area of the shoe, providing a nice amount of reflection while out running at night.
One great advantage that VFFs have over most other trainers is that they can be thrown in the washing machine without impacting on the performance of the shoe. As such, there’s no excuse not to have that distinctive styling looking clean and fresh!
Overall I have been impressed with the Spyridons and it’s great to see a trail specific version of Vibram Five Fingers. For me, the only drawback has been the less than perfect fit in the toe area but, as discussed earlier, this might be remedied by trying a 1/2 size to size smaller. I will definitely try to resolve the sizing issue as I liked the feeling of running in the Spyridons and would be interested to try other VFF models in the future.
- Snug glove like fit
- Great traction
- Rock plate protection
- Aesthetically cool
- Sizing (though this could potentially be remedied with a different size)
- Retailing at £100 to £120 they are not cheap
- Can get quite hot
- Upper – Stretch Mesh and Polyamide
- Sole – XSTrek Vibram Rubber
- Footbed – 3mm Polyurethane Insole Anti-Microbial Dri-Lex Sockliner
- Machine washable. Air dry
- Weight: Men’s size 44 – 6.88oz. each, 13.76oz./pair