Vibram FiveFingers Lontra ReviewJanuary 9, 2013
- Significantly improved insulation compared to other FiveFingers models
- Good water resistance in puddles, mud and rain
- Solid traction on wet or muddy terrain
- Comfortable interior lining for sockless running
- Great barefoot ground feel
- Difficult to put on
- High ankle may irritate Achilles tendon
- Fit too snug for most socks
- Velcro strap is largely ineffective to improve fit
If you love FiveFingers but hate the way your toes easily get cold or soggy in winter conditions, the Lontra gives you all the protection you need to make it through the winter. They’re more cumbersome to use than other FiveFingers models, but maintain all the design and performance features that make this footwear so fun to wear.
With the Lontra, Vibram managed to add protective features without compromising weight. The Lontra weighs 6.75 oz, which isn’t too far removed from their 6.0-oz Bikila road running model, and actually lighter than the company’s outstanding 6.9-oz Spyridon LS trail shoe released last year.
Fit and Comfort
Thanks to a high, very snug ankle collar, the Lontra is definitely the most difficult FiveFingers model to get on your feet. Once they’re on, the soft microfiber lining and light cushioning make the Lontra quite comfortable against bare skin, and there’s very little movement of the foot inside the shoe even on irregular terrain. The neoprene ankle collar may dig into your Achilles tendon and cause irritation or even minor cuts on your first few runs, but softens with continued use. Thermoregulation is solid, providing adequate warmth for sockless running even with temps in the 30s.
Strong flexibility from heel to toe and in all directions laterally and diagonally. Your feet can contour around most ground objects on the trail.
Total stack height is 7mm – 4mm outsole/midsole plus 3mm footbed – placing you fairly close to the ground. While this isn’t the thinnest of Vibram’s offerings, the combination of low stack height and full-range flexibility allow you to feel most rocks and roots on the trail.
As recently as a year ago, this TC-1 rubber tread pattern was Vibram’s top of the line offering for trail running. That changed with the introduction of last year’s Spyridon LS, but this pattern provides very adequate traction in wet and muddy conditions. It loses grip slightly on steep gravelly descents, and knobs in the heel area wear down after about 150-200 miles of trail use (or sooner with hybrid road/trail mileage).
Water resistance of the Lontra is outstanding, and keeps the elements at bay even during multi-hour mud runs. The stretch mesh upper demonstrates good resistance to tearing when bushwhacking off-trail. Interface between uppers and outsoles shows no problems with holes or tearing. It would be nice if the outsole knobs lasted a little longer before grinding down.
At $150, you’re definitely on the high end of the minimalist spectrum, but the price point is similar to other winterized trail shoes.