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Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated review. Should you get a pair?

This is going to be a casual guy review of Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated running / walking shoes dedicated to all of you who are considering buying your first pair of FiveFingers and are not sure if you should get ’em. Short answer is YES. For longer one please continue reading.

How everything started

After I started running barefoot / minimalist I naturally dug into right-shoe-research as my 3$ Black-Star Converse knock-offs got me blisters after first 6k of “toe striking”. After some googling I bumped into FiveFingers and discovered they are quite popular among barefoot runners. So I made a fast decision to get a pair. Unfortunately winter was coming and we have cold and snowy winters here in Lithuania so I got concerned if I’ll be able to try a pair of FiveFingers in cold season. It turned out they do provide a solution (several in fact) for winter weather. My research got a new direction of what model and most importantly what size to get thereafter.

Searching headaches

Because the nearest Vibram retailer in my country was 350km away, online shopping was the most real option for me. Of course – best way scenario should exclude online shopping for FiveFingers completely but most of the time best way scenarios never happen. So I spent a fair amount of time trying to decide what kind of Vibrams and more important what size of Vibrams should I get.

The hardest part with buying FiveFingers online is to make peace with the idea that you might be ordering the wrong size. So you should do your best to stick your foot into a pair of Vibram FiveFingers before confirming a payment just to see how size numbers interact with your limbs. I didn’t have this comfort…

After tiresome reading about materials used and reviews in general, finally I decided to go with Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated for winter season and V-Run for summer. If you don’t want to wast time doing same useless research I did and just go running in your new Vibrams ASAP, I would advise you do the same. Trek Ascent Insulated for colder/wetter seasons, V-Run for everything else. Just try picking the right size.

Tips for choosing right size

There’s only one tip for choosing the size of your first FiveFingers. If you’re looking for a pair for warm season – go one size up (or if you between sizes – go with the larger one) of what you usually wearing. Cold season (insulated versions) – two sizes up. At least this is what worked for me.

My casual footwear varies between EU sizes 41 and 42. So I got myself a pair of Vibram V-Runs size 42. Perfect fit. In fact I ordered a pair of Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated shoes first, ran few kilometers and hit the online store once again for V-Runs after a month. A guy from Vibram Europe advised to go two sizes up with Trek Ascent Insulated (for winter season) and he was right! I took his advise seriously and ordered a pair sized 43. Perfect fit – again. Only with some space for a thicker sock. Sock? Yeah.

How stupid is it to wear socks with you “barefoot” style shoes???

Well there’s nothing stupid about that. You should always wear five fingered socks inside your FiveFingers for more comfort. That’s my opinion of course. I’m always wearing a thicker version of Injinji socks once I go for a run in winter (our winters involve lots of snow or ever melting snow). I believe I will continue wearing socks inside my V-Runs as well in warm season just because it’s more comfortable for my feet blister-and-smell-wise. I know there are opinions between “barefoot” style runners that for most authenticity you shouldn’t wear socks inside your FiveFingers, because what is the point of “barefoot” if you have socks. Well what is the point of “barefoot” if you wear shoes then? In my opinion – you should do whatever fits you. If you feel comfortable without socks – go ahead. With socks? Go ahead.

Wear in and body adjustments

Every article about FiveFingers I landed on had a paragraph dedicated to famous “wear in”. Meaning to start feeling comfortable inside your FiveFingers you’ll need to spend some time in them. Talks like that might discourage people from trying it. The truth is we are all different. Some of us will need the wear in time, while others won’t. I felt comfortable in my Vibrams right away. Siting, standing, walking, running, stretching, jumping rope etc. Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated were the first shoes in my life I felt comfortable wearing just after I’ve put them on. Honestly I can’t imagine a situation where one healthy person would need time to adjust. You put them on and if the size is right or right-ish you should instantly feel comfortable. I bet your body will “adjust” itself to the shoes much faster than going from a car with manual transmission to automatic or switching from retina display to usual FHD. Basically ignore all the talks about wear in. If you’re crazy and wild enough to go for a run once a week or month and think about FiveFingers – you’ll be fine in them.

First runs in Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated in snow and melting snow

There’s one main question about Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated and everything with a word “insulated” in Vibrams product line up in general: will whey get wet? And there is only one simple answer: if there’s water on your trail your insulated Vibrams will get wet. Period. But most likely you won’t care about that. At least I did not. During my initial run and all runs after that one I was and am just enjoying “barefoot” style running in FiveFingers.

As I said if there’s even just a small amount of water on my trail, my shoes and socks usually end up wet, but nothing near to cold. If there’s lots of snow and temperature drops below 0°C more often than not my shoes stay dry or dry-ish.

running in Lithuanian forest covered in snow

This is how my running trail looks like. It was about -5°C and I returned home with reasonably dry Vibram Ascent Insulated FiveFingers.

Conclusions

To summarize everything I said:

  1. If you’re already running “barefoot” style i.e. landing on your toes and front part of your foot instead of your heel or whole foot and you’re thinking if you should try FiveFingers. Answer is YES. Because otherwise you will be thinking about it until you try ’em anyway.
  2. If you can’t decide if you should get “insulated” version for cold season. Answer is YES. Because “insulation” ads some thickness and feet love thickness in cold weather. This “insulation” might even save you from getting wet feet occasionally.
  3. If you can’t decide what size you should get. Go with the rule “one or half (EU) size up for warm season, two or one and a half sizes up for cold one” (halfs are for those who are in between sizes). Do whatever you can to try a pair in real life before online checkout.
  4. Should you wear socks with insulated FiveFingers? My personal preference is YES. But it’s up to you actually.
  5. Will your insulated Vibrams get wet in wetness? YES, definitely.
  6. Will your insulated Vibrams get wet in snow and temperatures below 0°C. Most likely NO.
  7. Will your feet start getting cold after they get wet? Not necessarily and most likely will they not if you keep running.

That’s it. As always thank you for reading, I hope you found something useful in here. And if you have questions – go ahead and crazy in the comments.

pair of vibram trek ascent insulated shoes after run in snow

A pair of Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated Fivefingers after a run in heavy snow at -5°C.

vibram trek ascent insulated shoe in snow

Single and dry Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated shoe after a 6k run in heavy snow at about -5°C.

5 comments

  • Thank you for the informative review! I’ve struggled with whether to get some insulated Trek Ascents since they came out, mainly because I invested in a couple pairs of standard low hiker shoes for walking in snowy conditions (USA, Nebraska). Your experience is very helpful.

  • Hi, we usually don’t have such cold winter weather where I live. Would these shoes be great for 0-12 degrees celsius runs? Or are they way too warm for that? And I understood that the shoes feature a special sole for ice and snow. Will it be suitable for non-snow terrain as well? Not having much snow here either. 😉

    • Hey, sorry I’m so late. What I figured out trough time is that every one’s of us bodies react differently to cold. If say it would be much too hot to run in 0 to +12 degrees Celsius in a pair of Trek Ascent Insulated, I bet it would feel freezing for my wife. So speaking about warmness I’m in no position to give advice to you personally.
      However if we believe what Vibram advertises those shoes are highly recommended in conditions where it’s cold-ish, but still no snow. Because the insulation isn’t THAT insulating to prevent your feet from getting wet be if from snow or a puddle.
      Oh, and the soles do not help on ice at all. Those shoes will slip everywhere every other casual running shoe (designed for cold season use) would slip.
      I know this wasn’t much help, but did my best here to not deceive you.

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