Let’s say you’re in this relationship, and there are a lot of really great qualities you love about the other person, but there’s one glaring issue or personality quirk that you’re not sure you can live with. Maybe he (or she) is a smoker; maybe he hates cats; maybe he has an angry or jealous streak a mile wide. You get the idea.
Obviously, that’s cause for concern, and you’d be reasonable to wonder if the two of you were a good long-term match. Now consider this: what if the person actually changed the one thing you wanted him to change? You’d be impressed and happy and grateful all at once, right? You’d feel wonderfully relieved, and completely comfortable in declaring your love for that person.
Like any good relationship story, there’s some history to this one: I began falling for this shoe’s predecessor, the FiveFingers KomodoSport, when I reviewed it earlier this summer . They were comfortable and durable, and had some nice innovations that represented improvements over previous models. I used them for everything from trail running to tennis, and described them as Vibram’s premier all-purpose, do-anything FiveFingers model.
KomodoSport LS - medial view
However, there was one glaring drawback: the fit around the ankle was somewhat sloppy, and the heel strap that was intended to customize the fit ended up sadly ineffective. I typically experienced gapping on the inside surface of my ankles (see this picture ), which was especially problematic whenever I went hiking or trail running.
Well, guess what? With the KomodoSport LS, that problem is solved. There are a couple of other very minor changes to its predecessor - but for the most part it’s the same shoe I nearly fell in love with, only without the one prominent fault that made me hesitant about a long-term commitment. (On a related note … it’s quite possible that I take these shoe reviews too seriously sometimes.)
Elastic speed lace system
Obviously, the major change in this model is right there in the name: LS, for Lacing System, which Vibram first introduced on its FiveFingers Bikila LS last spring. It’s an elastic speed lace system similar to what triathletes use, and serves two important functions: 1) It makes the shoe much easier to put on and take off, and 2) It accommodates a larger variety of foot shapes, making them accessible to a wider range of users. High insteps, wide midfeet, fat heels … pretty much any quirky deformity short of having a 6th toe will fit into these FiveFingers.
Wider opening on LS (right) compared to original KomodoSport (left)
The lace system also allows you to customize the tension across your midfoot area; you can wear them loose for knocking around the house, then cinch them up tight when knocking around a soccer ball. The adjustability is as easy as a quick tug here or there to adjust the tightness, and you’re good to go.
No socks, no problem!
Here’s my favorite benefit of the LS model: the lace tension creates a very secure fit around the entire ankle, eliminating any gaps where pebbles or other debris can get lodged against your skin. Where I used to wear socks with the KomodoSports for trail activity, I have no problem hiking or trail running sockless in the KomodoSport LS. Dust infiltration onto the toes is still present, but more effectively filtered than it is on the original KSO or the Trek Sport – although not quite as good as the leather KSO Trek .
Padded collar on LS (right) compared to original (left)
Another revision that probably contributes to better ankle fit is the heel collar of the LS, which is slightly more padded than the original KomodoSport. However, it’s not a major difference; I’d probably attribute 5% of the improved fit to this collar, and 95% to the laces.
Old strap system on left, strapless on right
Removing the heel strap in favor of laces has one other benefit that minimalist users will enjoy hearing: it makes the shoe lighter. Weight of the LS is 6.7 oz, compared to 7.1 oz for the KomodoSport. Have I mentioned yet how glad I am that the heel strap is gone?
Polyamide mesh with extra reinforcement on last 2 toes
Most of the remaining features are exactly the same on the KomodoSport LS as on its predecessor. The upper is a very soft polyamide fabric with a thin mesh interior lining. The LS has some additional abrasion/tear resistance on the tops of the last two toes, with thicker polyurethane dots on top of a thin plastic reinforcement. If you somehow smack these toes hard enough to tear the fabric, you’re going to have bigger problems to worry about - most likely broken toes. Take my word for it .
Removeable insoles (yellow)
Insoles on both the KomodoSport and LS are removable, although I keep them in on both models. It adds 2mm of height, but the seamless footbed is super comfortable, especially in comparison to the scratchier surface underneath. There’s also a microfiber coating on the footbed that is intended to decrease friction from lateral movement during athletic activity.
Vibram TC-1 rubber outsole
To make those lateral movements, you need an outsole that’s up to the task, and the LS uses the exact same innovative Vibram TC-1 rubber outsole that debuted on the KomodoSport. Grip is great on both dirt and hard surfaces; over the course of multiple activities with this outsole (on both shoe versions), I’d say it’s very nearly equivalent to the knobby outsole on the KSO Trek and TrekSport. Thickness of the outsole is 4mm, giving you a standing height (outsole plus insole) of 6mm, which is thinner than the any of the Bikila or Trek FiveFingers models.
The advantage you have with this outsole over the Trek and Bikila is that it’s truly all-purpose; it performs just as well on asphalt as it does on single-track. Whenever I’m wearing my knobbier FiveFingers models, I find myself trying to avoid pavement whenever possible, because I’m paranoid about wearing the lugs down too quickly. And when I wear my Bikilas, I’m concerned about tearing them up too much on the trail. That’s a major reason I recommended the KomodoSport as the best all-around Vibram model, and obviously the improved fit of the LS vaults it directly to the top of the list.
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