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Breaking In A New Pair Of Five Fingers

by Tyler Hurst » on Apr 12, 2011 7

Most shoes require a bit of a breaking in period. Whether it’s the shoe adjusting to your or your foot adhering to the shoe (for shame!), this is not a pleasant process. I remember numb feet and bruising whenever I was breaking in my old Asics, and thankfully new Five Fingers don’t have the same problem.

I am oddly impressed by this.

Break In

But Five Fingers DO have a break in period in which care should be taken to make the process a little easier to handle. I’m now on my fifth pair of Five Fingers, and they’ve all had a similar break-in method. Surprisingly, the amount of fabric, say a KSO versus a Classic, had little to no difference in the break-in time. I thought it would.


Sole Man

I once wore a new pair of Classics while walking the near entirely of downtown San Francisco. It was a little warm that day, so my feet were a bit damp. Because the footbed was quite prepped for my foot, it rubbed and gave me a nice blister. I should have brought some foot powder in anticipation of so much walking. Nowadays I can walk miles without issues.

The Perfect Fit

I’ve never worn new Five Fingers for less than two weeks before I first washed them. Like a new pair of jeans, it takes some good body oils and heat to really get them to conform to your unique shape. The first few days may make you swear as the Five Fingers JUST WON’T FIT CORRECTLY but it will be over soon.

Give A Foot

Clean feet make dealing with stinky Five Fingers much, much easier. The less dirt you track into the footbed, the less often you’ll have to worry about scrubbing and washing. You’ll thank me after you own them for more than a few months.

Don’t Dry For Me

Five Fingers SHRINK IF DRIED. Whether that’s in the dryer, in the sun or in the microwave. While my first instinct was to dry mine on high heat when I thought about bacteria, I found it far better to scrub before wash and occasionally lay in the sun when mostly dry.

Anything you do with new Vibrams? Maybe wrap them up with a baseball and oil?


  1. Corey Nagle

    April 12th, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Not really anything to do with new FiveFingers, but put ’em in the freezer to deal with funk (preferably after being washed and air-dried). Not good if you plan on wearing them quickly, but seems it seems to help and doesn’t cause any shrinkage.


  2. 2for1

    April 12th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    The best thing I’ve found for the funk? I use 3 or 4 denture cleaner tablets in a bucket of water for each pair I’m cleaning. Soak your VFFs in there for a few hours, and then wash with a detergent that is used for sports (Penguin and the new Tide Sport are my fav), and air dry. That should clear it up, at least for a bit. I’ve found that once it’s there, you have to wash them more often.


  3. Agent Orange Blossom

    April 12th, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Since 2005 my only footwear has been VFF’s and nothing else. I hear and see horror stories about the unbearable funk that follow some users like a nuclear mushroom over their heads…. I have to admit that I have never encountered such problem, ever. I have these simple rules: I wash my feet before I get in my VFF’s then I clean-rinse my VFF’s at the end of the day, let them air dry wherever there is air circulation (be creative here, like window seal during summer, near an air vent in winter…). Every 2-3 days, depending on my daily activities My VFF’s will get a real wash in the machine and will air day as usual.

    Foot odor come from sweat, dead skin and the corynebacteria and micrococci bacteria; A human foot with it’s 250,000 sweat glands can sweat up to 1/2 pint of liquids, fatty acids, urea, sebum and many other organic compounds during the course of a day. When you wear regular sneakers with socks you don’t wear your same socks for an entire week… Socks absorb sweat & dead skin. When your wear VFF’s barefoot your footwear absorb sweat & dead skin. That needs to be washed or it will stink sometimes very very bad depending on the individual’s chemistry …..

    it’s basic hygiene


  4. aBeastlyMonkey

    April 14th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I have a new pair of Bikilas. I’m not sure if I’m breaking them in or they’re breaking me in. At a mile and a half into my second run with them, last night, my left calf cramped up on me like I owed it money. For some unknown reason I’m getting a blister just where the ball of my foot starts to turn into the arch of my foot.
    I’m hoping all of this will pass soon.


    • Misha

      April 18th, 2012 at 10:08 am

      I don’t think you’re supposed to run so much with them so soon. Completely different muscles are used when running with the fivefingers than with normal shoes. You’re supposed to work up to it.


  5. shaffer

    July 01st, 2011 at 10:58 am

    another little tip, the tougher your feet are early on, the easier VFF’s will break in and the slower they’ll get funky afterward.


  6. Marvin

    October 19th, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I am 2 months into my first pair of Five Fingers Vibrams. They were really hard getting my feet into at first, but now I’ve got it down pretty well pat and 80+% of the time I can maneuver my toes in with hardly any assistance. The rest of the time a slight adjustment with my fingers. I enjoy wearing them, because they make me feel more grounded. I have always tried to put in clean feet but now when I inhale I can tell they are about due for their first wash. Is it really safe to put them in the machine with other clothing? What does VFF stand for anyway?


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