Kit Review: Vibram 5 Fingers V-Alpha Shoes

Andrew Wallace
28.05.20 04:50 PM Comment(s)

Kit Experimentation - Using 5 Finger Trail Running Shoes for Swimrunning

I have been trying barefoot running now for a year or so, mainly as I was suffering from so many ankle roll type injuries using 'normal' trail running shoes like the popular Salomon range, which although look great, with big gnarly soles, limited the 'feel' of the ground to pretty much zero and elevated your heel that much that the clunky heel used to bruise my ankles on the opposing foot.

After trying some well known brands I moved to the Vibram 5 Finger range, specifically the first pair I am trying now is the V-Alpha.

Soft flexible shoes are best for swimrunning

The shoe has a tongue, strong with a leather top for anti slip. It seems to shape to your foot and does not poke out of the top, it's great, really comfy. Five toe fingers, like a Ninja boot. Extremely comfy sock-like feel.

The upper shoe is nylon mesh and drains quickly. There is another model 'Aqua' that has drain holes but it uses velcro fastening straps that in our opinion will loosen and/or degrade over time and lose their fastening power. The Alpha model drain fine.

Shoe Body
Sock variety. Very comfy fit. Pull on loop at heel. Nylon lace and quick tighten/release 'widget' help you to get the shoe on and off. There is a velcro fastener to stop the excess lace flapping when tightened.

These shoes seem not to let in any sand, which reduces the chance of blisters due to grit/sand on the foot. We did chat a lot with the Vibram sales person online beforehand though to ensure we got the best fit. The shoe seems very high quality and should last a long time. These are probably the hardest core 'barefoot' shoes on the market, so take some getting used to but the feel they offer is amazing and they are even better than the Vivobarefoot swimrun shoes for swimming in.

Swimrunning shoes review

Very very light. The lightest shoes we have come across. Absolutely minimalist. Weight is not affected when wet.

No drop whatsoever. These are true 'barefoot' shoes, in fact they are more like a sock with a sole. The feel is the same as running barefoot, which goes so well with swimrunning. Take time to get used to the shoe. Build distance up slowly. Swim propulsion is the best we have seen due to the 5 toe design.

Sole and Tread
The grip offered on this model is surprisingly excellent as the grip looks quite minimal. The sole material is almost 'sticky', the only material it is not great in is wet river mud, but we're yet to see a shoe that is!  There is an excellent 'feel' of the ground under your feet and the 5 toe design means your toes can splay around rocks and tree roots etc for extra grip.


Great shoe. Great 'feel' of barefoot running. Superb to swim in.

Andrew Wallace