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Vibram FiveFinger Spint Review – Amazing!

The Vibram FiveFinger Classic (left) vs Sprint (right). For running, the Sprints win hands down!
The Vibram FiveFinger Classic (left) vs Sprint (right). For running, the Sprint's win hands down!

You all know by now if you read this blog or follow me on twitter that my new favorite hobby is barefoot running. I can’t explain how much fun it is. You just need to go out and try it! While I was in Portland this weekend I hit up REI to see if they had any good sale items. I saw that they had Vibram’s FiveFinger Sprint’s in stock (I previously used the Classic’s) and tried them on.

They felt good, albeit quite snug. The store clerk mentioned that they fit a little different than the Classic’s, and I thought it would be better to go a little on the snug side than the loose side. I’ve been using the Classic’s for a few months and they are good, but they cause a bit of chafing near my achilles tendon. It got to the point where I tried taping the area with medical tape before every run (didn’t work) and then duct tape to keep my skin from rubbing raw. After a mile of running it would be uncomfortable and after two miles painful.

The Vibram FiveFinger Sprint model: the strap across the top gives a snug feel
The Vibram FiveFinger "Sprint" model: the strap across the top gives a snug feel.

You can see in the photo below where the Classic’s have a rubber heel tab that could definitely be problematic for certain foot types. The Sprint’s (photo above) didn’t have this rubber on the heel tab, so I figured they would be better for me.

The Vibram FiveFinger Classic model: The rubber-torture-device--heel-tab-thingy that digs into my heel when I run! Not good for running.
The Vibram FiveFinger "Classic" model: note the rubber-torture-device-heel-tab-thingy. It digs into my achilles tendon when I run! Ouch! Not good for running.

I drove home in the Sprint’s and have since spent a day walking around in them, been to the gym for a workout and just got back from a 2 mile run with them. WOW! They are so much better for me than the Classic’s! Not only does my achilles not chafe, I also feel like they fit so much better. The strap across the top of the Sprint’s gives them a more snug fit (I don’t do anything to the straps on the sides of the heels, since my heel is snug enough without tightening them).

The other thing to note is that I got a size smaller in the Sprint’s vs the Classic’s. The smaller and snugger fit definitely makes them feel more responsive when running. They really feel like a second skin. Another thing, noticed that I haven’t “tripped” on them or caught my toes on anything while walking around (this happened every now and then with the Classic’s). The tighter fit might have something to do with it.

Another view of the Sprint model, I didnt need to use the heel straps, they were snug enough
Another view of the "Sprint" model, I didn't need to use the heel straps, they were snug enough

So, ultimately I think that had I gotten a size smaller in the Classic’s they would have felt better and maybe not caused as much pain in my achilles, but the Sprint’s win hands-down as my preferred barefoot runner since they don’t cause chafing and the top-strap helps me get the right fit. If you are looking to get a pair of VFF’s for barefoot running, definitely consider the Sprint’s.

btw…I didn’t try the KSO model (they didn’t have them in my size), but they don’t seem to have the annoying rubber-chafing-torture-thing on the heel either so you may want to consider them until Vibram releases their running specific FiveFinger model next year.


  1. Tara says:

    I have a pair of Sprints and I have the problem of my achilles being rubbed raw in these! I know you guys all say they’re great.. but they’re very painful for me. I was thinking about getting Classics because I thought they wouldn’t be as painful as my Sprints. Could it be more about feet being different as opposed to just the way the shoe is made?? (I’m nearly certain I got the right size, I went to a store and they said mine should be the right size)

  2. SterF says:

    hi Ravi,
    i just bought a pair of classic, i’m also having problems with the tab. did you ever try cutting if off or something?

    • YogiRavi says:

      the classic’s don’t work for me, they always dug into my achilles tendon…I have the sprint’s and they are awesome…the bikila’s are great too.

  3. Conor says:

    I’ve been VERY interested in these shoes for about a year. I’m always barefoot, but I get glass, rocks, etc. stuck in my foot, and I get callouses, and it’s just plain DIRTY sometimes. So I’m hoping to get some VFF for my next pair of shoes. I’m happy I found this blog because my #1 concern is that they’ll chafe: if a pair will cause chafing, I don’t want them- I want comfort. I actually assumed that the straps would be the problem area with chafing, but I’m guessing that it’s not, as you didn’t mention chafing with the Sprints? If so, the sprints will be my choice, they’re more durable and fitting than the classics, but retain more of the natural feel than the KSO. Being someone who’s worn them, would you agree?

    • YogiRavi says:

      The Sprint’s are awesome, I’ve been using them and they don’t chafe at all. The classic’s really chafe badly, to the point where I cannot where them anymore. I think the KSO’s will not chafe…and provide more coverage over top of your foot if you want that. I highly recommend the Sprint’s.

  4. suneo says:

    Hi there…just thought I’d ask your opinion on something.
    I just got a pair of Classics on sale in the mail, and after wearing them for about 30 minutes found that the heel tab rubs up against my achilles and also around it (the padding next to the heel tab that spreads out about 3/4 inch on either side of the achilles) and eventually it feels raw and hurts. You mentioned the sprints don’t have the tab…how does the padding area look? I’m hoping I can somehow either exchange my Classics (probably not the online store I got them from doesn’t have any) or maybe try to sell them and look for a pair of Sprints myself. The tab looks to be a lot more soft and flexible and all around more comfortable. Perhaps it’ll alleviate the friction pain i get from the Classics?

  5. Mike says:

    Hey Ravi,
    do you still have the sprint and run with them? are the new running version out?
    I would like to get them if you think they are still great!

    • YogiRavi says:

      I still have the sprints, and in fact have not run in anything but Vibram FiveFinger’s since getting them last September! I did a couple 5K’s in the past few month’s as well. Even for just lifting weights or walking around they are incredible. Definitely given them a shot. I recommend going to REI, and having them order 2-3 sizes. You need to make sure they fit well and snug, and that way you won’t have to pay shipping if they end up not fitting well.

      I don’t know when the running model is coming out, it was supposed to come in February, but it has been delayed…the sprint’s are fine though and I often run 3-4 miles in pavement with them and feel great. It takes a while to build, start with 1/2 mile or so and build gradually. Running on dirt or grass trails is a great way to start with them until you feet strengthen.

  6. Kirk mcKinlay says:

    Have you ever done anything like trail runs or at least off road in the Fivefingers. I currently use conventional trail shoes and do both trail and street runs. I mostly run 10K’s with one 1/2 marathon per year. In training I mostly run on gravel & packed earth type roads & trails. I’m fifty eight and get some mild persistent Achilles tendon pain, heel & hip pain. Too much of the information on Fivefingers I can find is form newbies and/or non-runners. Looks like you don’t fit the category. What can you tell me.

    • Ravi Raman says:

      Most of my runs are 3-5 miles in the VFF’s, mostly on pavement…with some dirt trails. It takes a while to build….but start slowly and work your way up (took me about 6 months to get this far….but I’ve taken my time). Even if you just run in them a couple times a week, or walk around in them a little…they will strengthen your feet and help you re-learn proper stride.

      I have done a few hikes in them and they feel awesome! Grass and dirt feel really good….if your trails have lots of rocks…it can be a bit painful at first…all depends on the trail.

    • Ravi Raman says:

      @Ayush : which kind did you get? Let me know how your first run goes! I haven’t put on my normal running shoes since I started using these last Sept. I can not run 4-5 miles on pavement pain free….but it took a while to build up.

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