November 27, 2020

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

 

The Vibram KMD EVO is a cross-training shoe that claims to, “defies gravity (and conventional wisdom), allowing athletes extraordinary freedom for dynamic movement both in the air and on the ground.” Unsure of what that meant, we put them through the widest variety of exercises we could think of. First, to determine what the claim meant, and second, if they could back it up. Here’s what we found.

A Quick Overview
ProsCons
A cleverly designed rubber outsole that provides traction on wet or dry surfaces

Weighing in at only 7.4oz (for the pair!), the featherlike weight certainly won’t keep you stuck to the ground

Super breathable mesh upper that prevents your feet from getting hot and sweaty while working out

The addition of 6mm midsole provides the cushion needed to take the high impact stress out of exercises, while still being thin enough to provide good ground feel

Some “true minimalists” may not like the addition of the 6mm midsole

 

If your second toe is longer than your big toe, sizing can become an issue (I personally recommend going to a store for a fitting if you have this issue)

Versatility: 9/10

As I’ve stated in previous reviews, for me, being able to spread your toes while exercising or running is important. It increases balance, proprioception, and lets our body move more naturally. This is one of the most significant reasons behind why I love Vibram’s in general. Where I feel they are often lacking is in having some kind of midsole to take the bite out of it when you run over rocks, or are doing exercises like box jumps.

That’s why I was so glad to see that they decided to add a 6mm EVA insole to this new model, and why I scored it so high on versatility. I actually enjoy running on the road in these more than my old pair of Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) Bikila’s. It’s far less taxing on the feet for longer runs, even though this is listed as a training and fitness shoe on their site.

And for training and fitness, It’s pretty much perfect. They feel like they’re giving you just an extra bit of boost when you push off for exercises, and the light weight means the shoes never become a drag to have on. And there really is nothing as good as being able to fully separate your toes during speed and agility exercises, or even when lifting weights. Truly a great shoe in this department.

Traction: 8/10

The XS Trek outsole Vibram fitted the KMD EVO with is ideal for cross training workouts, as well as road and light trail running. It will keep its grip on smooth, or even wet surfaces. This is helpful if you’re one of those people who like to work up a sweat in the gym; these will completely prevent slippage.

The only reason I’m taking off points in this category is due to their inability to keep traction in muddy areas. To be fair, they’re listed as training and fitness shoes, but if you send me shoes I’m going to run them through the mud. As far as gym, gravel, or grass go though, they’ve got you covered.

 

Stability: 10/10

Are you stable when you’re just on your feet? I’m going to assume you are (if not, please go have your inner ear checked). That stability spawns from our natural foot movement. Our ability to make minor adjustments based on the feel of the ground, and our ability to tense certain muscles and splay our toes out in response to this. Many people walk around like toes are simply useless appendages, forgotten by evolution. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

When I ran in the Savage race last year, there were many areas where you had to run along steep banking hills that were covered in mud. There were lots of people getting injured (or a least taking embarrassing tumbles) on areas like that. This was mostly due to improper footwear. I was wearing my VFF Spyridon MR’s and never once tripped.

That’s because I could splay my toes out in response to changes in the terrain. That same concept applies when you’re going for your personal deadlift record, or even playing basketball. The ability to make minor changes in your base can mean the difference between setting your personal best, and getting an injury.

 

Comfort & Style: 9/10

Okay, they’re Vibrams. Either you love the look or you hate them. There’s not a whole lot of middle ground on that. So I’m rating this section based on the idea that you’re in the “love them” column, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this far.

So, if you’re like me and you like the look of VFF’s in general, then you are going to love these. The mesh design upper isn’t just practical, it also looks really cool. The upper is incredibly breathable, while still fitting closely enough to your foot to prevent slippage.

This means that you get the classic Vibram glove feel, but your feet won’t get sweaty, and they won’t retain water if you run through a puddle. They come standard with a quick lace system that provides even closure, and prevents the tongue from becoming uncomfortable.

The only reason I had to downgrade in this area was due to the problem those of us who have a second toe longer than the first toe encounter. This can either be a minor irritant, or become a major hassle depending on which size you order. My personal recommendation to those who have this problem would be to go into a running store to try on a pair, and see if you want to go half a size up.

Cost

The cost can vary greatly, depending on where you find them. They’re listed on Vibram’s website for  $160, but are regularly on sale at highly discounted prices. On Amazon, you can find them ranging from $75 to $150 depending on the seller and the size.

Because of the large variation on prices found, I didn’t rate this category. At the initial $160 list price, it is a little bit more expensive than an average cross trainer. However, considering the versatility of the shoe, I would definitely recommend checking it out, especially if you can find it at one of the lower rates.

Final Verdict: 36/40

If you’re looking for a truly versatile shoe that is going to help your performance in the gym, on the road, or even on some trails, this is a great bet. I can’t guarantee that they’ll give you the power of flight, but they will definitely make you feel weightless.

I love the natural feel of these shoes, and was extremely excited about the addition of the 6mm midsole. I have to say that this is definitely my favorite pair of Vibram’s that I have tested, and that’s saying something pretty important about a company that I have so much respect for.

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