Another difference with the Trek LS uppers is seen at the toes, where the leather material covers all sides of the toes, rather than having a mesh material between the toes (you have to really zoom in to see it) on the KSO Trek. The all-leather pockets provide a bit more comfort and improved water resistance compared to the KSO Trek, as the area between the toes is usually the first point of water infiltration on most FiveFingers models.
The biggest difference in the uppers is the lacing feature of the Trek LS in comparison to the distinctive strap on the KSO Trek. As I’ve described in reviews of other LS models, laces allow the upper to be opened very wide, worn loosely, and able to accommodate a wider variety of foot types. All of those are upgrades in my book. The laces themselves are cotton, instead of the elastic speed laces that are on the Bikila LS and KomodoSport LS ; considering the overall look of the shoe, this was a good call on Vibram’s part.
The heel collar of the Trek LS also has a bit of padding around it that isn’t present on the KSO Trek, which makes for a comfortable fit around the ankle. I wear socks with these whenever I’m hiking, but for casual use I often go sockless, and both the collar and interior surfaces are quite soft against the skin.
With the padded collar and thicker leather, the heel area of the Trek LS has a bit more structure than the KSO Trek. There’s also an extra Vibram logo there that wasn’t there before. Speaking of logos …
Is it just me, or is Vibram making an extra effort to label their products more extensively lately? Considering that the company is the target of more knockoffs and forgeries than perhaps any other shoe manufacturer, it’s completely understandable … but still, I’m hoping these things don’t start to look like NASCAR racers in a few years.
There’s also a logo on the outsole, which is identical to all of the Trek models in the FiveFingers lineup. It’s interesting to note how far the traction and durability of minimalist shoe outsoles has come recently; at one time, this Vibram pattern was one of the best on the market for minimalist off-road use. Then the New Balance Minimus came along, and Merrell’s Barefoot series trumped it (in my opinion), and Terra Plana introduced the Neo Trail … and now this Vibram outsole isn’t quite the cream of the crop anymore.
Outsole traction still quite good, with protection that is more than adequate for all sorts of trail conditions – but as long as the company is innovating so frequently, I’d love to see them raise their game a little bit with a super-grippy outsole pattern. It shouldn't be too much to ask - after all, Vibram makes the outsoles for both the New Balance and Merrell models mentioned above - but until then, this one will do just fine.
Standing height of the Trek LS is a total of 8mm: 4mm for the knobby outsole, with another 4mm coming from the EVA midsole. These are the exact same specs as the KSO Trek, so ground feel is pretty much identical.
The outsole/midsole combination should theoretically have the same degree of flexibility - however, thanks to the thicker and more substantial upper, it’s harder to compress the Trek LS than the KSO Trek. Granted, none of us ever roll our feet up into balls like this, but the Trek LS does feel a bit more rigid overall than the KSO Trek. This is one of the few drawbacks of the Trek LS from a functional standpoint.
Somehow, the weight of the Trek LS actually comes out slightly less than the KSO Trek according to the Vibram website – 6.5oz for the Trek LS compared to 6.7 for the KSO Trek. With thicker leather throughout the uppers on the Trek LS, I would have guessed the opposite, but perhaps the strap on the KSO Trek accounts for the difference.
Despite my initial confusion about this model, during my testing, two functional purposes of the Trek LS became clear. It would be a great multi-purpose casual shoe that could even pass in an office setting if you’re willing to push the fashion envelope a bit. My primary recommendation, however, would be to use it as a sturdy all-around minimalist shoe for hiking, camping, trekking, and assorted outdoor exploration. The price point for this model is higher than average for Vibram, but I anticipate that durability, either as a casual shoe or a hiking shoe, is strong enough to merit the investment.
The Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS retails for $140 from TravelCountry.com .
*Product provided by TravelCountry.com. Affiliate sales support Running and Rambling.
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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