Walking

Vibram Guide: Sole Searching

Anyone who has experienced walking in extreme conditions will testify how important having the appropriate equipment is and how investing in high quality gear can improve your experience and keep you safe. It is this factor that first inspired Vitali Bramani to create his Vibram sole.

 

Born Through Tragedy

Two years before the launch of his innovation, Bramani lost six of his companions in a tragic accident during a mountain climb. It is said that he lay much of the blame for this tragedy on their poor equipment, particularly their footwear, and its inability to adapt to and protect them from the changing and challenging weather on the mountain.

Taking the first few letters from his first and surname, Vitali Bramani launched his first Vibram sole in 1937. These soles were created for suitable use on a variety of surfaces while remaining functional, long-lasting and protective of feet. Since then, Vibram has continued to grow in size as a brand and its reputation has risen with it.

 

Most Iconic Sole on Earth

Vibram’s Carramato sole has been called “the most iconic sole on earth” as it is the first shoe sole ever created with rubber lug soles. Taking its name from the Italian word for “tank tread” it works on a similar premise that through its firm indentations, grip is created. These soles are known for being versatile with their all-in-one sole technology designed to give excellent traction across a range of surfaces, from hard-packed snow and forest floors to bare rock and loose rubble terrains. They come with a high degree of abrasion resistance as your shoes are no good if your feet are damaged.

 

Legendary

In 1954, Vibram equipped the first successful climbing team to conquer K2 (the world’s second highest mountain) with their walking boots. These specialist shoes and soles were designed to tackle each leg of the expedition, with their separate needs, and cemented Vibram’s place as an industry frontrunner for active wear shoe soles of the highest quality.

 

What Makes Vibram Soles So Great?

Vibram soles are known for being long lasting and durable whilst providing a superior grip on a variety of surfaces. They are slip resistance and designed to keep you safe as well as remaining comfortable and resistance to abrasions.

Don’t take our word for it? Let us break it down for you:

Their large contact area is designed to improve your grip on rock and the multiple hexagonal rubber lugs improve the sensitiveness and grip of your tread. The strong undercut in the heel contributes to downhill braking performance. The sole includes mud clearing channels to allow for your boots to self-clean while en route to keep you safe on heavy grounds. The sole’s engraved shank allows for better grip on uneven ground and the midsole creates durable shock absorption but without affecting the comfort of the boot.

 

Vibram vs the Rest

Vibram continue to be a frontrunner for creating walking soles of the highest quality. Creating durable, versatile and comfortable soles is their main focus and they have a long history of making them. Have a look at any Vibram sole vs any other rubber soled competitor and you will see the variation and complexity of Vibram’s soles compared to your standard walking boots.

As the creator of rubber lugs technology to improve grip and traction on shoe soles, they keep investing in ongoing research and development to keep their products relevant. It would be false to claim that Vibram are nowadays the only developers of lugged boot soles, but Vibram is the brand that started the whole process back in 1937. Vibram lead whilst others follow.

Vibram have a large number of testers across the globe who test their products on the most extreme conditions. This group of athletes and enthusiasts provide truthful and valuable insight into how performance can benefit from different sole techniques, keeping Vibram up-to-date and in the lead when it comes to sole development.

In comparison to leather walking boots, Vibram has the upper hand in regards to durability. Leather absorbs water while Vibram’s rubber soles are water resistant which will keep your feet from getting wet and prevent water damage. Rubber is more flexible than leather meaning your Vibram soles will take less time to break in and prevent the need for blister plasters.

 

Waterproofness

Vibram footwear is specifically created to repel water in order to keep your feet and socks dry while tackling the elements. There are a variety of characteristics that Vibram employ to achieve this goal, depending on what products you look at.

The Walker Leather Vibram Walking Boots are designed to withstand tough conditions with a waterproof yet breathable membrane, to prevent dampness and overheating simultaneously.

Our Nomad DLX Vibram Walking Boots have a similar waterproof membrane as well as a gusseted tongue and ankle supports to keep rain out of the shoe.

Vibrams boots can also come with a HydroGuard waterproof system like our Renton DLX Vibram Walking Boots which paired with a durable mudguard and protection around the top of the shoe, makes them perfect for regular outdoor use. The HydroGuard waterproof membrane allows the body’s water vapour to pass freely, reducing the condensation inside the shoe, while preventing rain and snow from penetrating the boot.

These boots come to above ankle height, but we also carry a lower cut style in the Keyboard DLX Vibram trainers.

 

What Are Vibram Shoes Best For?

Walking/Hiking

Vibram soles are all designed to prepare your feet for a range of terrain whether you are out for a stroll, hike or a ramble. Many features contribute to their effectiveness including ankle supports that will protect you from injury and debris, reinforced toe protection and metal shanks to keep your boot’s shape on uneven ground and to provide effective protection and comfort.

Vibram walking boots have sturdy soles made from varying materials to balance robust grip and comfort allowing you to keep moving throughout the day. Their cushioned sole ensures comfort after hours of walking and the softshell fabric keeps the boots lightweight and flexible.

Featuring gusseted tongues and waterproof membranes, Vibram walking boots will keep moisture locked out while encouraging breathability, meaning your feet will stay fresh come rain or shine. The strong and durable materials used in the upper section of the boots means the boots are long-lasting, fit for purpose and are a must have addition to your walking equipment.

Visit our website and check out our extensive range of Vibram walking boots.

Running

Our Keyboard DLX softshell running shoes come with a Vibram rubber sole and are great at allowing you to maintain grip and stability on tough terrain whilst maintaining its durability. The Phylon midsole is made from lightweight foam pellets that are compression moulded to fit a variety of designs. It works as a shock absorber that will protect your joints from the impact caused by running on hard ground.

The lining is breathable and waterproof, which will keep your feet feeling fresh, dry and prevent overheating. The lightweight material allows you to get the most out of your run and improve upon your times without feeling the strain of a heavier and bulkier shoe.

Weightlifting

Many weightlifters recommend using a flat sole to prevent any power being lost through the cushion of a shoe. Many others recommend going completely barefoot – but in a gym environment this option can be rather unhygienic. Vibram’s FiveFingers footwear creates the best of both worlds, allowing you to get as flat to the ground as possible, and giving you a more fine-tuned control over your balance. You can push down through your toes and feel out any instabilities that would contribute towards bad form. The FiveFingers shoe can also help you to recognise and activate the proper muscles for each exercise which optimises your performance and can prevent injuries in the long run.

Climbing

Vibram offer a range of climbing boots with special features to provide maximum sensitivity, allowing your feet to function naturally and allow for complete freedom of movement. The materials used are designed to help maintain the shoe’s original shape whilst guaranteeing maximum grip and abrasion resistance. The downward sole reduces the distance between your feet and the rock’s surface, to help increase the sensitivity of your foot and keep you in control. Vibram seek to create equipment that provides a more natural experience for climbers and their climbing footwear range is designed to achieve just that.

Yoga/Pilates

Vibram has developed a variation of their FiveFingers footwear specifically for yoga and pilates. The sole used is thinner than usual to keep your feet protected whilst allowing for optimum flexibility and a range of motion. The flat sole also helps to align your posture and puts less stress on your body. Your muscles are stimulated, your body awareness enhanced and your senses are aroused allowing for a safer, more intense workout experience.

Fitness studios experience a lot of intensity throughout the day so Vibram look to give your feet a hygienic alternative to going barefoot without affecting your performance. These soles also create their own traction on a variety of surfaces which is perfect for busy days when you may have forgotten, or can’t be bothering collecting, your yoga mat. This way you always have the option of practicing no matter where your location.

 

How to Clean

Although Vibram soles come with mud clearing channels and mud guards, we recommend giving your soles a clean after any outdoor activity to ensure your grip doesn’t become hindered by excessive dirt in the creases.

Lucky for you, Vibram soles are machine washable! Use a gentle warm cycle with any liquid or powdered detergent you have. However, with heavier walking boots you may not want to risk damaging your machine (or you may not have a machine) so we would recommend using warm water with liquid detergent and give them a gentle scrub – toothbrushes are great for getting into those cracks!

Once clean you can simply hang them out to air dry but make sure to keep any leather boots out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source while drying as leather can shrink. To speed up the drying process of your boots you can stuff newspaper inside to absorb any excess moisture.

You may want to consider applying conditioning or waterproofing treatments to your boots after excessive washes. You can read guides on How to use Dubbin for boots and shoes and How to waterproof boots and put this insider knowledge to good use.

 

What Are Vibram FiveFingers?

Vibram’s FiveFingers are a barefoot style running shoe with a variety of different styles to suit other activities including yoga, weightlifting and outdoor swimming.

FiveFingers are enabling athletes to experience the sensation and freedom of going barefoot with the added protection, traction, dexterity, and control of a Vibram sole. They allow the wearer to feel more connected to the earth and more in tune with their bodies whilst experiencing other benefits like improved form, posture, increased balance and greater agility.

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