Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review

I love to run barefoot as much as I can because it has an amazing influence on cleaning up my forefoot running form. When I’m not running barefoot however, I like to run in a shoe that feels as if I am barefoot. This is why one of my preferred forefoot running shoes is the Vibram KSO EVO.

Even better, like most Vibram shoes, the KSO EVO’s overall structure fully compliments the human foot’s anatomy and the shoes fluid flexibility provides the feet greater opportunity to engage and self-strengthen, an opportunity the feet never get in regular traditional running shoes

Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
The individual toe sockets of most Vibram shoes, including the KSO EVO, is one of the shoes more robust features that keep the toes re-engaged at a very high level and provides a special opportunity for better toe-splay, aiding in sturdier balance control
Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
In the KSO EVOs, the toes take a more proactive role in securing a more stable, steady, strong footfall during forefoot running, which will have big payoffs in avoiding ankle injury..

The KSO EVOs are one of Vibram’s thinner, softer, lighter running shoes and are made for both road and trail running. Additionally, the KSO EVOs provide warmth for running in cooler weather because Vibram has improved the inner-lining materials to allow more thermal protection and feels much softer on your foot, so the shoes can be worn comfortably without socks. 

I also love that the KSO EVO is great for running in the rain as their unique zig-zag tread pattern (shown a few scrolls below) provides excellent grip on wet, slippery surfaces. They can definitely be considered a water shoe alongside being a supreme, lightweight running shoe!

In general, there’s a reason the Vibram Five Fingers are gaining more influence. For one, they play a defining role in keeping the toes strong, flexed and engaged at each step, which is going to safeguard against balance instabilities. Most of us have had our feet locked in the traditional running shoe — shoes that have a stiff, narrow toe-box, causing the toes to be under-engaged, weak and unable to spread out and flex as they normally should!

Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
When the toes are weak, this does not sustain well for balance control during running! This is why the Vibram Five Fingers should top your agenda because they encourage the full involvement of toe splaying, flexion and extension which will recharge foot strength and reshape the foot in positive ways narrow traditional running shoes can never do!

In regards to the KSO EVO, the upper is non-restrictive, but fluid, stretchy and flexible, working with your foot, not against it, enabling your toes to be over-engaged in the way that they should in stabilizing your footsteps, bringing together better balance control. Just as equally important, when it comes to maintaining good forefoot running form, proprioception matters! That is, you have to remember, the bottoms of the bare feet are studded with sensory and pressure nerves that have a strong involvement in managing mechanical effectiveness. Your feet need to sense the ground to help pull together the mechanics that produce lighter footsteps and prevent high impacts from creeping up!

These nerves also directly influence muscle and soft tissue tone in the foot! This is why our feet are very sensory-seeking AND in order for our feet to thrive in strength and function, the sensory nerves need to be continuously stimulated and firing. This is what makes the KSO EVO a fantastic forefoot running shoe because its super thin outsole taps the sensory input that your feet crave for sustained vitality!

Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
It’s becoming increasingly evident in the scientific literature that sensory input at the feet is going to have an influence on helping you make the best changes to your running form –changes such as landing with a forefoot strike. What makes the KSO EVO’s so effective is that they give you the sensory access you need to enable you to put into action the mechanics that foster low impact exchanges. Aside from running barefoot, the KSO EVO finishes the job in helping you get a properly aligned forefoot strike, preventing harmful impacts from creeping up.

Highly regarded as the perfect blend of comfort and function, here are other notable features of the KSO EVOs:

  • The KSO EVO has a 4.7mm max ousole thickness, giving excellent ground feel, prompting a more controlled, effective forefoot strike landing pattern during running.
Vibram Five Fingers KSO EVO Review for Forefoot Running
In the minimalist/barefoot running world, the Vibram Five Fingers usually gets the most attention because of their signature toe pockets, but also for their incredibly thin outsole of which sensory input contributes more fully in helping your forefoot strike be engaged in the way that it should.
  • Wide, stretchy toe-box allows maximal toe splay for balance control, impact deflection and energy return when forefoot running
Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
I’ve had the KSO EVOs for a couple years now. I run 18km-21km daily in them, on grass, dirt/dusty trails and pavement, mostly in the spring, summer and fall. Structurally, they’ve held up pretty well, but you can tell that there’s been a lot of miles tacked on them! Nonetheless, I will continue to wear them because Ive had nothing but success and good quality miles in them.
  • Conveniently quick lacing system with added Velcro to prevent the cord from moving around; gives a more controlled fit on the foot
  • The bungie cord lacing really locks and secures the shoe onto your foot, fitting snug, just below the ankle, preventing debris and dirt from getting inside, too
  • Provides an overall light and smooth fit! Inside, the shoe feels soft, smooth and supple like a sock; you dont need to wear socks with them for that reason
  • Nice ground-feel; you can feel the sensation of the floor; you can feel every pebble, which is a MUST because crystal-clear ground-feel is one of the most reliable ways to bring together more stable mechanics, and when you’re more stable, you’re less prone to ankle and knee injuries
  • Enough rubber material on the outsole to protect against hot pavement
  • Excellent for running on roads, grass, the beach and other softer surfaces; excellent for high agility movements, perfect for water sports, such as kayaking and kite-boarding, very durable for gym workouts, great for long hikes, perfect for everyday use!
  • Excellent breathability for summer running, yet somehow, provides warmth for cooler temps!
  • Easy to put on and secure
  • Great for runners who overpronate because you have better control of your feet
  • 4.7mm outsole thickness, but provides protection from sharp hazards
  • Washable and dries fast when wet
  • Allows you to tread safely on slippery surfaces because the XS Trek compound, zig-zag patterned outsole provides prime traction with lots of flexibility in all directions; handles well on wet, rocky surfaces, too!
Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
The zig-zag tread pattern on the kso evo provides excellent grip and traction on wet surfaces, but provides enough rubber-material protection from rocks.
  • Durable upper provides excellent overall protection and a comfortable, plushy, soft fit everywhere on the foot; stretchable, adapts well to the structure of your foot
Vibram KSO EVO Forefoot Running Shoes Review
I love how the flexible, stretchy, movement-accommodating upper of the KSO EVOs deepens and intensifies foot muscle engagement, promoting a wider range of muscle activity that fosters a stronger, more resilient foot.
  • From gathering existing anecdotal data, the KSO EVO play a pivotal role in relieving toe pain, reducing knee pain, remedying Achilles tendinosis
  • High degree of flexibility improves circulation in the foot, helping usher in oxygen and nutrition-rich blood deep within the foot muscles and soft tissue structures of which more progress can be made in accelerating foot strength and health

How the KSO EVO’s Compare to Other Minimalist Shoes

  • Thinner than the Bikila EVO
  • Very similar fit, feel and weight as the Vibram E-LX 
  • Lower profile, flatter than most Vibram running shoes
  • As compared with the Vibram KSO Classics, the KSO EVO has more overall padding and softer underfoot protection, but still retains high degree of proprioceptive input (sensory feedback); the toe sockets and the rubber outsole of the KSO EVO are more flexible and soft than the KSO Classics; the KSO EVOs are also more stylistic, lower profile and sleek than the KSO Classics; provides better traction than the Vibram KSO Classics AND the outsole of the KSO EVO doesn’t come up the side of your foot like the KSO Classics, giving the KSO EVOs a more natural, barely-there feel, like you’re wearing a sock rather than a shoe!
  • Thinner outsole than the Vibram Trek, but provides similar warmth in cooler conditions
  • Comparable to the Sockwa G4

I must underscore that because of their glove-like fit, the KSO EVO fit small and snug, but not tight, so be sure to order one size up from your regular size.

For a more clear-eyed view, check out my video review of the KSO EVO here!

Where to get the Vibram KSO EVOs? You can get them at:

Here are other barefoot running shoes to add to your glorious forefoot running shoe collection!

You can also check out my YouTube video: here, where I provide a more in-depth assessment on the functionality of the Vibram KSO EVO and how the shoe fits in on preventing structural weakness of the foot and how they play an integral role in improving the quality of your running form.  On my channel, you will also learn more about the health and performance benefits of barefoot running and minimalist running as well as nutritional info to help you grow your endurance and enrich your post run recovery!

If you’d like, you can support Run Forefoot and help keep it going in full force by making a donation in any amount of your choosing:

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

1 Comment

  1. Hi Bretta !
    First, thank you for all the effort you put in this blog. As someone who’s considering to step in the minimalist shoes world, it’s given some useful piece of advice on the subject, which i really needed.
    Now, i was wondering, between this model (KSO evo) and the sokwa X8, which one would you rather have, personally, as a long time runner ? In terms of durability, confort… I can’t make my choice between the two.
    ps : Sorry if any mistake snuck in my comment. I’m not a native speaker, so it happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.