Five fingers report back..

Posted on May 27, 2010


[this is a follow-up to this original post called: Frugal Footwear Failure]

I have some sad news friends. You see, the back-end of this blog has a whole world of stats which shows how many people are reading and where they’re coming from. Unfortunately for a frugal blog, a disturbing number of readers land here from searching for those bloody five finger shoes (ie: expensive, new, consumer product!). It’s Ok, I won’t get mad, but now just for you I’m doing a report back on these unusual pieces of footwear.

One of the many walkman models I went through in school

Background/tangent: I’ve always had a keen eye for design which used to lead to the odd “early adopter” style of purchase when I was younger. I’ve had several walkmans/discmans starting 15 years ago and a slim Palm PDA/organiser style thing when I was studying a sustainable design major six years ago (as part of an Industrial Design Degree – which is product design basically). Since they weren’t the norms of the time; people used to often ask “why have you always got your earphones in?” or why they were hanging around my neck and if my PDA was a phone. It wasn’t, I used it for diary, contacts, notes, and as an ebook reader but it had many before-its-time features in terms of interactive touch screen and more. Like being able to scribble a note on the screen then attach it to an email when back at the computer and such. I used it a few times to get people to sign for things which they were taking in event management situations and it worked a treat. I also later experience some dependence withdrawals when it needed repairs and also post-data-loss depression.. Which I imagine many an apple macintosh mobile telephone user might experience at some point or another when their screen cracks on something (that’s right im not even going to use its marketing-loaded name).

Palm Tungsten PDA

My point of this tangent is that even with those examples and a few others I have never experienced anything like the response to these bloody shoes. Its product fetishism out of control, I’ll admit they’re an unusual design but sometimes they immediately show how shamelessly consumerist some people can be. Usually in the form of “Ohh where did you get those ?!?!” or more blatantly on the sight of them “I need to get some of those things!” excitedly happily shouted across the road from complete strangers. No: “Hi, how are you? … My name is …” bizness just straight up wow I want to buy those strange things on your feet. A litt-le bit scary. .

This is a response to the tainted hits im still receiving for the post which included the barefoot style shoes. Its my case to urge you to not consume these shoes..

Ok so lets start with the good things though, of which there has been many. Through using this footwear as my default for the last many months I have enjoyed many benefits of the pseudo barefoot style. Increased foot strength, leg strength and ‘toe independence’ were the initial results. Theres a challenging wear-in period where each new activity in the shoes leaves you sore the first time.. then leads to strength building in all those muscles in your legs and feet which aren’t used to so much attention. Of course the most simple and frugal option would be to go barefoot, but that’s a little hard to do in our urban surrounds and all the impermeable surfaces. These benefits have traveled up the legs to the rest of my body helping the knees and back to a degree and also have been part of phasing out pain from cycling.  This was along with a few other strategies including holistic phisio bodywork sessions, continual effort, stretches and learning.

But of course its the not so good things that have inspired this post-back. As well as the wet, cold and consumer response ive mentioned before – I’ve had a few issues with the build quality I’d expect from footwear pushing the $200 retail price tag. Within a month of wearing them the stitching was fraying on a right toe-pocket. It seemed to settle and not go further but didn’t leave me feeling good about the quality early on. Actually I might emphasise earlier warnings about the wet factor with these things: you step in the slightest puddle, stroll through moist morning grass, light rain etc and you get cold, wet toes. Ugghh.  The rubber sole held up impressively for the first five months or so then started to wear thin on the ball of my right foot. The straps which have a nifty little way of wrapping around the ankle wore and frayed at all the bend points. This led to the right foot strap breaking and becoming useless a few weeks ago and then the left foot followed recently.
I was aware of the strap being a bit fragile and followed advice to keep it loose but they still both broke from wearing against the plastic eyelet. They are now little annoying straps which dangle around the back of my ankles. I would cut them off but I’m hopeful of getting them sewn up at some point. Oh well.

So that’s the five finger report back. Final verdict? The five fingers have their place in the running/rock climbing worlds but for wearing as main footwear I would only consider the flow model (neoprene) and im also told that the more recent kangaroo leather-upper ones feel good in that way. Pretty sure they breach the $200 mark though and I think there is a supply issue in our neck of the woods in general. I’m getting sized up for some local, hand-made, custom-sewn leather moccasins soon. They’re pretty exciting so I’ll let you know how they go.

This post was brought to you be the letter “k” and the “comma” punctuation mark. Both which aren’t working on this keyboard. Or should I say not ‘woring on this eyboard’ – and need to be creatively source elsewhere.