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Five Fingers in the (very cold) city

by Tyler Hurst » on Dec 16, 2010 1

I love wearing my Five Fingers year round. In Arizona, that’s pretty easy. In the far colder New York City, where it was 50 degrees colder than AZ this week, this requires I make some slight adjustments to my normal outfit. Yes, I could just buy normal shoes, but unless you’re talking about snow boots and some serious wool socks, they usually aren’t that much warmer that my Five Fingers.

And no, it wasn’t snowing, but the sub-30 degree weather (30 was the HIGH) demanded I bring my thermal underwear, stocking cap, sweatshirt and winter jacket out of hiding in the closet. Thank god all of it still fit after sitting in a box for nearly eight years.

My schedule in the city consisted of flying in to JFK at night, taking the AirTrain and subway to midtown, walking to find my hotel and food, and more walking the next day, along with a 20-minute stroll to the Hudson Terrace and a two-hour walk to Rockefeller Center and the 5th Ave Apple Store, and then back to JFK for my flight home. I flew in with only $120 in cash, and was determined to spend no more than that, so cabs weren’t an option. Here’s what I did to stay warm in my Five Fingers:

1. Injinji Performance Socks
I was very hesitant to wear socks with my Five Fingers, as I assumed the tight fit would be ruined if I wore socks that stretched them out. I was most certainly wrong, as the Injinji socks are quite comfy and provided exactly the warmth I needed.

2. Wear KSOs or other covered Vibrams
Wearing any open-toed shoes when it’s below freezing seems ludicrous to me, especially when a lot of walking is involved. I definitely saw plenty of women in heels and those ballet-style shoes, but I’m pretty positive they weren’t walking around for more than a few minutes.

3. Resist the urge to walk on your heels
I often find myself trying to walk too fast when I’m in any city, especially when it’s cold. Walking too fast usually means lengthening my stride, which makes me heel strike, which means I’ll be pushing off my forefoot, which means my foot will actually be on the ground LONGER than if I picked my foot up and put it down like normal (this is also something I learned from Chi Running). The shorter my stride, the less time my foot was on the ground to absorb the cold and the quicker my toes could go numb. Light and quick, just like Chi Running.

4. Dress in layers
The cold ground was far less of a problem than the cold air and even colder wind. With my thermal underwear, jeans, sweatshirt, overcoat, scarf, stocking cap, Injinji socks and Five Fingers, I stayed toasty outside and could quickly shed some layers when I stopped for coffee.

5. Accept that being cold is actually pretty refreshing
We spend a lot of time protecting ourselves from the elements, from turning our air conditioning on full blast in the summer to heaters up so high in the winter we can wear shorts and tshirts. Living in AZ has taught me that the best way to deal with the heat is just accept it, instead of sitting inside all day. The cold in NYC was the same way, and I noticed that once I started breathing and moving around, I was pretty comfy.

And yeah, I was the only guy at the party in Five Fingers.

1 Comment

  1. Geoff Snyder

    December 17th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Tyler.

    I’ve been looking into FiveFingers for both everyday use and for time spent at the gym. You’ve brought up some interesting points and I will keep them in mind when I first venture around in mine.

    Thanks again,


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