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Don’t Get Cold Feet – FiveFingers in the Cold & Snow

by Corey Nagle » on Jan 12, 2012 7

One of the biggest questions (besides “Are they comfortable?”, or “How do those feel?”, or “Do you really like those?”, and my favorite “You’re not really going to wear those out, are you?”) is “How do you those do in the cold?”

FiveFingers in the Snow


My answer: “Great! If you like having cold feet.” There’s not any way around it. Sorry folks. If you want to wear Vibram FiveFingers, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.

I’ve worn my FiveFingers in everything from 110+ to well below freezing. Funny how no one wants to know if your feet are burning up when you’re standing on asphalt that’s creeping awfully close to becoming a semi-solid, but as soon as the temp drops below shorts weather, the questions start flying.

I wear my Classics in the snow. No socks, because I’m a tough guy. Truth is, if the snow gets more than a half-inch deep, or it’s slushy, or not packed… Okay, if you’re not able to just walk across the top without sinking, you’ll end up with squishy toes. No way around it.

How do you avoid freezing your toes off?

Add some insulation

Black Injinji Socks

At the very least, start with a pair of socks. I’m a huge fan of the Classics and Sprints, but they are the suck when it comes to the cold. A pair of Injinji socks or AFX Toe Socks can go a long way to mitigate biting temperatures, and help ease chilly winds. As far as snow goes, you’re going to end up with wet feet. Period. Unless there’s just a light dusting on the ground, there’s no way around it. If you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, you’re probably going to want to avoid this.

Tip: If you’re out running errands and in and out of the car, just crank the floor vents on high. It’ll help dry your FiveFingers out and keep the feeling in your toes.

Change your shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS

Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS

A pair of socks just not doing it for you? Upgrade to a pair of leather or neoprene FiveFingers. A pair of KSO Treks, Trek LS’, or Flows may be in order. The Trek and Trek LS both feature kangaroo leather uppers that won’t soak your feet, while the Flows are made of neoprene. As an added bonus, both models of Trek offer lugged soles for some extra grip on the snow and ice. The Flows have the same “classic”-styled soles as the orginal models, so tread lightly. The razor-siping only goes so far on ice and packed snow.

Vibram FiveFingers Flow

Vibram FiveFingers Flow

If you’re feeling fancy you could always throw on a pair of Bormios. Keep your feet AND ankles warm in style! (YMMV)

Vibram FiveFingers Bormio

Vibram FiveFingers Bormio

Disclaimer: If you go with a leather pair of FiveFingers, some kind of waterproofing is probably a good idea. Eventually, water will work its way into the leather and cause premature wear if not taken care of properly. Most waterproofing waxes, sprays, etc. will darken leather. Just a heads up.

How do you keep your feet warm in your FiveFingers?

Submitted Comments

  1. Tyler Hurst says:

    I have pack boots for the really wet stuff, unless I’m running, then I don’t care or wear Injinji.

  2. Levi Smith says:

    I find as long as I keep moving, the circulation keeps my feet warm enough in pretty much any of the VFF’s. Standing still in snow is another matter.
    I have Injinji’s but the idea of just having them wet as well doesn’t make me think they’d be any warmer.
    I *think* the flows are about the warmest, but the toes are so tight that when not moving they cut off circulation after a bit, and they also don’t breathe very well so my feet are almost immediately sweaty and squeaky in there. I also was surprised to find that the Flow’s and Classic’s seemingly smooth tread grips surprisingly well in the snow, etc. I can only assume it has to do with being able to flex your feet around the ground, etc. I have normal shoes with more tread that I feel much more slippery/unstable in. Which is another part of it. When I went walking around our grassy/snowy trails on hills, I did find I was slipping semi-frequently, but I also didn’t feel like I was going to fall. It seemed like they just slipped a touch and then I found stability. As opposed to normal shoes where I’m almost falling as soon as there’s any slippage.
    Trek’s are excellent winter ones as well. I’d be kinda hard pressed to pick one over the other as far as that goes. Though I would say that where I can/do wear the Trek’s all day, I wouldn’t be near as comfortable in the Flow’s. They’re fine on the way in to work, but then I’m sitting at my desk and they’re getting cold and sweaty. So I just bring my Classics with me and switch during the day. Throw the Flow’s on again if it’s a really cold day for my walk at lunch.

    I’ll also say that I tried a quick, like 30 second run out to my garage barefoot in the snow. Trust me, as cold as you think your feet are in VFF Classics, they are WAY warmer than barefoot. I was literally in pain almost immediately from the cold with skin to snow/ground.

  3. We have been dealing with the same question (especially when considering we are in Wisconsin) and we’ve come up with two solutions very similar to yours. First off, if you’re going to try bundling up, I would suggest the Smartwool toe-socks. Wool is the only natural fabric that stays warm when wet and the Smartwool toe-socks are extremely comfortable, not itchy, and perfect with a pair of FiveFingers. The other option is to go with a different minimalist shoe. The only problem with the second option is you will find yourself dealing with very high prices because in order to purchase a quality pair of minimalist shoes, that are also waterproof/water resistant, you will be looking somewhere between $110 – $170 a pair (try the Merrell Embark Glove or the New Balance Minimus Multi-sport).

  4. Nick says:

    The best VFF for snow is the Lontra with those nice socks. With the high ankle, water resistant, and Trek Sole they are hands down the best for cold. My girlfriend uses the Trek LS but if you plan a jaunt through a harsh Michigan winter the ankle is too low and lets snow build up and water starts to creep in. I even like them for warm weather out on the trails, where an accidental step in some deep mud or even retrieving a fishing hook caught in the shallows doesn’t ruin your day with soaked feet.

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  6. Danno says:

    Disgusting things .

  7. Štěpán says:

    I sprayed my Trek Ascent Insulated with Collonil carbon spray. It should be practically waterproof.

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