My new all-time favourite Vibram FiveFingers (VFF)
I’ve reviewed over a dozen VFFs in my minimal footwear reviewing career. I can honestly state that the new Vi-B is my new all-time favourite VFF. It is the perfect combination of comfort, function, style, and (finally) breathability in a women-specific, ballet flat-inspired design.
Price: $80.00 USD
Width: Narrow to Extra wide
Sole Thickness: 3.5 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Weight: 3 1/8 oz or 86 g
Insole: None included
Sizing: 36–42; Full sizes only
Category: Minimalist Sandal and Casual
Comfort & Fit
Everything is comfortable about the Vi-B. There are no tight, binding, scratchy, or poking parts. The heel cup fits perfectly and the suede-like material on the inside helps keep the shoe in place without being the least bit obtrusive. The toe pockets fit me perfectly and yielded no blisters after over 30 minutes of walking. The collar is slightly stretchy preventing any binding. The mesh of the upper also has the smallest amount of stretch, maximizing the range of foot widths the shoe can accommodate, in addition to their open design. These shoes will likely work for narrow feet as well as my extra wide ones, and every width in between.
The Vi-B has no removable insole but the footbed is an anti-microbial Drilex sockliner to keep them smelling fresher longer.
Barefoot Feel & Function
There is no cushioning in this shoe, just outsole and sockliner between you and the ground. The sole thickness is 3.5 mm of fantastic flexibility so your feet will feel everything. Natural foot movement is maximized in this shoe with its open design and great ground feel.
Weighing in far under 86 grams, these shoe feel slightly heavier than a thick pair of socks and are just as comfortable.
The grip is approximately 2.5 mm at its deepest providing plenty of traction on any man-made surface as well as dry natural surfaces.
The upper is made of a polyester mesh with PLENTY of breathability; in fact, more than any other VFF I’ve reviewed so far. One of my few problems with VFFs in the past has been the lack of breathability, which causes sweaty feet, resulting in chafing and blisters. The Vi-B is so airy that this is definitely NOT an issue.
There is no break-in period required as they were instantly and abundantly comfortable right out of the box. If they do start to smell, which mine have not after plenty of wear, they are easily machine washed and air dried.
The outsole is 3.5 mm thick and made of XS-Trek according to the Vibram website. It is a proprietary Vibram rubber compound that “offers 30% more adherence to smooth surfaces than previous formulas” while also having good durability. As Vibram has been making high performance rubber soles for over 70 years, I’ll believe their website claims. I do know that I have had no traction issues whatsoever in all my testing on indoor surfaces.
The outsole is also extremely flexible, easily bending around pretty much everything I’ve stepped on.
There is also no arch support designed in the shoe. The only raised areas of outsole are at the medial and lateral metatarsal joints and they help keep the shoe in place on the foot without feeling obtrusive or limiting splay.
The quality of the materials appears excellent from the rubber outsole to the polyester mesh upper. As encountered with many a VFF model, there is visible glue marks on the toe pockets but you have to examine the shoes very closely to see them. With casual wear, I suspect these will last many seasons.
The style of the Vi-B is definitely minimalist ballet flat. It would be difficult to be more minimal with such little material and that being of mesh. I adore the elegant, minimalist style and have received numerous compliments from people, even from individuals who have confessed to not liking the toe pocket VFF design in the past.
The Vi-B is currently available in red, blue, and black. The only accents are yellow on all three colourways and they depict the Vibram logo. (I would prefer if they weren’t plastered with logos as I prefer a more purest minimalist look, but I can understand how Vibram might think otherwise.)
Need a comfortable summer sandal? Elegant minimalist ballet flat, perhaps? Everyday casual shoe that’s barely there? The Vi-B may just be the perfect shoe for you. I know that I’ve worn them quite a bit around town doing errands, walking the dogs, or out for dinner. They are casual shoes so I wouldn’t recommend running or mountain hiking in them, but they’re perfect for warm weather walking around.
At $80.00 USD, they are priced at the low range for VFFs and the high range for a simple ballet flat. There are so few stylish, minimalist women’s shoes on the market that I would be happy to pay this amount for a comfortable, durable, and extremely versatile shoe as the Vi-B.
I was not exaggerating when I wrote that this is my new all-time favourite VFF, of which I have expansive experience. The Vi-B design and materials solve all the issues I’ve ever had with VFFs including a lack of breathability, sometimes constrictive fit, or the occasional pinching toe pockets. And they look fabulous, too. They have amazing ground feel, great grip, and my feet function as naturally as if I was wearing toe socks. I adore everything about them.
To find out more or to purchase a pair of Vi-Bs, please check out the Vibram website.