The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Vibram FiveFingers KSO - Women's Review

Vibram KSO - Women's
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Price:  $90 List | $63.75 at Amazon
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Pros:  Multi-use, good for water
Cons:  Basic, no frills
Manufacturer:   Vibram
By Sarah Hegg ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 5, 2014
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67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Barefoot feeling - 30% 6
  • Warmth - 10% 6
  • Traction - 15% 6
  • Foot Protection - 15% 7
  • Breathability - 10% 8
  • Comfort - 15% 8
  • Style - 5% 7

The Skinny

The KSOs are a great FiveFinger option if you want an all-purpose shoe and you also regularly enjoy watersports. Of all the shoes we tested, this pair's tread is unique and keeps the best traction on the smooth slippery surfaces of boats, stand-up paddleboards, and other water toys. The smooth sole also provides one of the best barefoot experiences of all the models we tested. They are similar to the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport - Women's, but the Treksports have a few extra comfort features that we like better, while the KSOs remain simple and basic.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The KSOs are a classic, multi-use FiveFinger shoe which have been around since the beginning of FiveFingers, though in a few different iterations. The tread is unique among the FiveFingers we tested and is the best shoe in the group for water sports, such as stand-up paddleboarding.

Performance Comparison


Direct comparison testing with the SeeYa on left (right foot) and the KSO on right (left foot). The See Ya are thinner and more flexible  and allow for more freedom of movement in the toes than the KSO.
Direct comparison testing with the SeeYa on left (right foot) and the KSO on right (left foot). The See Ya are thinner and more flexible, and allow for more freedom of movement in the toes than the KSO.

Barefoot Feeling


The KSOs rank in the middle of the pack for barefoot feeling. The tread rubber is thinner over the parts of your feet that need to bend and move the most (between your forefoot and toes, and between your heel and forefoot), which adds extra flexibility. The tread is also smooth, which means there aren't lugs which could interfere with the maximum barefoot experience.

Warmth


The KSOs also rank in the middle for warmth. They don't have any specific insulating features, but they do have uppers made of stretch polyamide mesh covering your whole foot, which helps keep them a little warmer.

Traction


The tread of the KSO is made of Vibram's comprehensively tested TC-1 rubber, which is highly versatile and grippy in many situations. The tread design is smooth with razor-siping. The siping helps to give the tread extra flexibility and slip-protection. It also has grooves that help to whisk away water.

This photo shows the laser siping in the tread of the KSOs  which helps to whisk away water and provide better traction in wet conditions and on slippery surfaces.
This photo shows the laser siping in the tread of the KSOs, which helps to whisk away water and provide better traction in wet conditions and on slippery surfaces.

Foot Protection


The KSOs also placed in the middle of the pack for protection. Compared with the other FiveFingers we tested, they cover all the basic grounds to protect your feet well in most situations. The Spyridons have the added rock block protection of the nylon midsole and the Lontras have significantly more protection from wintry temps. The TrekSports have a slight edge over the KSOs because of the addition of reflective material which adds a little extra safety during night time use.

Breathability


The uppers on these shoes consist of two types of breathable mesh material. Down near the toes there is a close-woven, more durable materia,l and around the mid foot there is a more breathable mesh. The rest of the shoe is either rubber or a non-breathable material, so this positions these shoes on the mid to low side of breathability when compared to the rest of the test group. The SeeYas and Alitzas are much more breathable than the KSOs. They are about on par with the Spyridons and TrekSports, and much more breathable than the Lontras.

Comfort


These shoes are again in the middle ground for comfort. We never had them rub in any one place, but they are also a no-frills, basic model. The TrekSports are a very similar, but with a few cushy extras. The KSO stay secure on your foot with full coverage uppers and hook and loop straps that wrap around your heel to help them stay put. There is a thin layer of padding underneath the strap on the top of the foot to make sure you can keep the strap tight without rubbing.

The KSO on the left and SeeYa on the right. This comparison highlights the low cut uppers of the SeeYa and the lower placement of the Velcro strap on the SeeYas  compared to the KSOs. The KSOs are similar to the TrekSports  Bikilas  and Spyridons in upper material height.
The KSO on the left and SeeYa on the right. This comparison highlights the low cut uppers of the SeeYa and the lower placement of the Velcro strap on the SeeYas, compared to the KSOs. The KSOs are similar to the TrekSports, Bikilas, and Spyridons in upper material height.

Style


The KSOs are one of the most basic shoes that we tested. They only come in black, and this makes them visually low-profile, especially when compared to some of the other FiveFinger shoes that have bright colors and showy graphics. So, while they are basic, we still ranked them in the middle-upper range for style because sometimes it is better to be classic and not flashy, especially when wearing barefoot shoes that tend to attract strange looks anyways.

Best Applications


The KSOs are unique compared to the other shoes we tested in that they perform the best in watery and slippery conditions. They are also good all-around shoes that will perform well in many other situations including light trail use.

Value


The KSOs cost around $90, and with their classic and multi-use design, this makes them one of the best values of all the shoes we tested here.

Conclusion


The KSOs are a great option for a multi-purpose FiveFinger and one of the best options for water sports. For a mid-priced and versatile model, we think these are an excellent choice for anyone devoted to the barefoot movement.


Sarah Hegg