Vibram FiveFingers See Ya- Women's Review
Cons: Limited protection, not very warm
Our Analysis and Test Results
The SeeYa is Vibram's streamlined running version of their FiveFingers. This model has been pared down to the minimum features necessary for a running shoe so that you can have the most barefoot feeling possible.
These shoes received our second highest score for barefoot feeling, coming in just behind the simple and casual Vibram FiveFingers Alitza. The middle and arch of the sole has only a thin layer of tough rubber that is not meant to be grippy. The absence of the TC-1 rubber in those areas of the outsole allows for more flexibility and sensitivity in the shoe. The reduced thickness of the outsole and the simplification of the overall design gives you one of the best barefoot experiences of all the FiveFingers we tested.
Due to the thinness of the mesh and outsoles, these shoes are not really meant to keep your feet warm. They received our second lowest score for warmth. This is fundamentally a trade-off for the notable barefoot feeling. They are not shoes to wear in cold or snowy conditions.
The outsole rubber on the See Ya has a very streamlined design which helps give this shoe its remarkable barefoot feel. The tread rubber is made of Vibram's TC-1 rubber, which grips well in many conditions, but the tread is low-profile and the sticky rubber is mapped to only be on the forefoot and heel. This makes the outsole among the thinnest of the shoes in this group, and makes them best used on paved or well-groomed surfaces, rather than on loose dirt trails. This ranks the SeeYas on the lower end for the traction metric compared to the other shoes we tested.
The trade-off for the noticeable barefoot-ness is a lesser degree of protection. Marketed as a running shoe, this pair is best reserved for jogs on pavement or well groomed trails where contact with rough objects is limited. While the uppers on the SeeYas are fairly low cut, the mesh does cover most of your foot, which helps to keep out little pebbles and dirt better than the Alitzas. There are several other running-specific five-fingers that still allow for a fairly good barefoot feel but also offer more protection while running, such as the Editors' Choice winning Treksport, the trail running specific Vibram Spyridon LS - Women's, and the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO - Women's.
The entire top half of this shoe is a thin mesh that is highly breathable. This is probably as close as you can get to having a naked foot (minus the rubber on the bottom)! The SeeYas earned our second highest rating for breathability, behind the Alitzas.
The mesh uppers are not only highly breathable but also very stretchy. They keep this shoe snug and in place no matter how you move your feet. Our lead tester found that the Velcro strap that runs over the top of the foot's arch would sometimes rub, but if the strap is loosened, the mesh still holds the shoe in place and the rubbing goes away. Our main tester does have pretty high arches, so another tester with a flatter arch tried these shoes, and she claimed she had no irritation from the strap. One issue that may come up in the long-term use of the SeeYas, is that eventually the mesh elasticity will wear out and the Velcro strap might be more important for keeping the shoe secure, which could be an issue if the strap does rub on your foot. Sometimes it felt like the back of the shoe was about to slip off of the heel. This is probably because of the low-cut of the uppers and because the only thing that is holding the heel on your foot in the elastic material — there are no straps around the heel that you can tighten to keep a snug fit. That being said, our testers never had any problems with them actually slipping off and the low-cut profile helped make them easier than most of the other shoes to get on and off.
These shoes received one of our highest style ratings compared to the rest of the models we tested. This is because they aren't overly showy with lots of conspicuous graphics or colors, but they also weren't just black. While they aren't cute little slippers like the Alitzas, they are meant to be running shoes and not just casual shoes. We think they'd be cute enough to wear around town for errands, etc.
The SeeYas excel at road running for someone who wants the ultimate in barefoot feeling. They would also be great to use for fitness classes or working out in the gym.
Full MSRP price for these shoes is right around $100, which puts it right in the middle compared to the other shoes in the group we tested. For those craving the best barefoot running experience, this is a price worth paying.
The SeeYa is a super lightweight, simply designed shoe which is best for running or walking on paved or well-groomed surfaces. This pair is also fairly versatile for other purposes — such as around town wear or general exercise.
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Most recent review: July 4, 2014
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