Vibram KSO ECO Wool: Barefoot Road Shoes For Cold Weather

February 9, 2024Barefoot toe shoe with a 3mm sole, wool blend upper, bungee laces, and minimal tread.

Hello, my name’s Andrew, and these are the Vibram FiveFingers KSO ECO Wool, a lightweight barefoot shoe with a warm wool upper and minimal tread for walking, running, and casual.

Vibram Fivefingers Kso Eco Wool Barefoot Shoes Features Showcase Desk

Features

Back in 2017 I bought my first pair of Vibram V-Trek’s, and they were so versatile and durable that seven years later, they’re STILL my favorite minimalist shoes of all time.

However, their one flaw is that they’re not that warm in winter, so I finally asked Vibram for a free pair of KSO ECO Wool’s to test, and they’re kind like of a wool coat for your feet but with an extra flexible set of zero-drop hooves.

Upper/Inner

Because the KSO ECO Wool’s have a wide foot-shaped toebox that’s made extra-wide by the separate toes, along with a stretchy wool blend upper that’s extremely warm and breathable.

Up top there’s a quick-lace drawstring with a velcro tab for quick on/off and reinforcement panels to prevent tear-outs, plus a wool tongue and lining for extra insulation.

Sole/Tread

Underneath you’ve got a thin 3mm zero-drop sole that’s made with recycled Vibram rubber, as well as a minimal tread for roads and angled cuts at the toe, forefoot, and heel for added grip.

Testing

When I first got my V-Trek’s it took a little while to adjust to the feel of barefoot toe shoes, but the KSO ECO Wool’s were so soft and stretchy that it was like pulling on a comfy house slipper.

Walking

Heading out for a walk the KSO Wool upper was surprisingly warm, even down to freezing, and although I noticed some thicker rubber around the ball of my foot, it didn’t seem to bother me.

Honestly, I’m probably spoiled by having worn my V-Trek’s in for almost seven years, but that’s the great thing about barefoot shoes—the longer you wear them, the better they feel.

Also, unlike my V-Trek’s, the KSO Wool’s thicker fabric did a better job of keeping water from coming up through the toes, and the great thing is that even when it did soak through the wool actually got warmer when it was damp.

Running & Training

Like the V-Trek’s there’s an exhilaration that comes from wearing a shoe that only weighs 162 grams, and right away I felt the urge to change my first walk into a first road run.

Cruising on pavement the 3mm zero-drop sole was about as close to being barefoot as you could be, but it also felt very rugged and protective on gravel, or even some light hills.

Stopping by the track the KSO ECO Wool’s were a beast for cold weather mid-distance training and even sprinting full-out for some 100m and 200m’s, along with stair workouts and other types of cold weather calisthenics.

Casual

Lastly, while most toe shoes obviously look like toe shoes, the KSO Wool’s felted texture and monochrome style make it a lot easier to slip under the radar for casual use, and I found the upper to be fantastically cozy and breathable for running errands.

Especially with a layer or two of Injinji merino wool toe socks!

That said, below freezing I definitely had to keep moving, because my toes got cold pretty fast just standing around.

Conclusion

Overall the Vibram FiveFingers KSO ECO Wool is an excellent option for anyone who wants the freedom and flexibility of a barefoot toe shoe with some extra insulation for cold weather.

Pros/Cons

Because the upper is wide and temperature regulating, the drawstring makes it easy to whip the shoe on and off, and the 3mm Vibram sole provides tons of flexibility and ground feel for roads.

However, the KSO Wool can soak through in slush or puddles, separate toes can get cold if you’re not moving, and the minimal tread isn’t aggressive enough for slippery trails.

Alternatives

In terms of similar barefoot road shoes…

  • Vibram V-Trek: wide toebox, breathable wool upper, 4mm sole, and semi-aggressive tread for roads and trails.
  • Vivobarefoot Primus Lite All Weather: wide toebox, water-resistant vegan upper, 4mm sole, and minimal tread for roads.
  • Softstar Primal RunAmoc: extra-wide toebox, water-resistant leather upper, and optional 2mm, 5mm, or 6mm Vibram Megagrip tread for roads and trails.
  • Resources

    If you’d like to support the channel, you can shop with the referral links above/below, browse products at barefootwear.org, or watch my Zero-Drop Transition video to learn more about barefooting.

    *15% off Vibram automatically applied at checkout.

    Finally, if you have a question about the Vibram FiveFingers KSO ECO Wool, or about barefoot shoes in general, let me know in the comments.

    Andrew Folts

    Andrew is a writer/filmmaker who creates video guides and reviews for a community of 25K+ creative rebels on YouTube.