Review: Vibram 5-Finger XC Lite Shoes

Almost Barefoot!
I’m sure we’ve all seen that guy golfing without any shoes, or maybe  we’ve even tried it before.  Let’s be honest, most golf courses have some of the nicest grass around.  While visually that may be true, most courses achieve that through many applications of fertilizers.  So not only are there toxins, the sharp sticks, broken tees, stones, or whatever else is left behind seems to make walking 5 miles during a round of golf barefoot a rather poor idea. 
Vibram 5-finger XC Lite shoes are about as close as you get to being barefoot.  There are a number of other companies that claim to make barefoot golf shoes, but no one does it like Vibram.  They are the thinnest, most flexible, lightest and closest to the ground.  Their glove like design is almost like going barefoot, with some great benefits like: traction, safety, covering and some support.

2 years ago I was one of the first reviewers for Vibram 5-finger shoes for golf, even before they officially made a golf shoe.  I wore their KSO Trek shoes and found them to be very well suited for golf.  Now a couple years later, Vibram will be officially marketing the XC Lite shoes to golfers this fall.  They have made some refinements that now make these better than the KSO shoes I first tried.

The most glaring  difference is the color.  Vibram decided that their official golf shoes would have color.  I think this is a good move.  The brown leather KSO shoes I have are great, but they regularly were a punch line for some sort of monkey or ape foot joke.  The XC lites however are bright and while still at times people take jabs, they are obviously golf shoes.  The look now is much better.  They will come in a couple different color options too.  If you are going to wear Vibram 5-finger shoes, don’t even bother to try and hide it.

The second biggest difference for me are the laces instead of the velcro strap.  The laces open up the top of the shoe much better so that getting the XC Lite shoes on is much easier than the KSO shoes.  While I’ve had some time to get my feet accustomed to wearing 5-finger shoes over the last couple years, even still the KSO shoes take a little more effort to get on compared to the XC Lite shoes.  This is a huge improvement in my opinion.  There was nothing more frustrating than just trying to get your shoes on.  These are still a little more difficult than regular shoes, they don’t quite slide right on, but the extra 30 seconds or minute to get each little piggy where it belongs isn’t too bad.

On the course I found many of the same feel factors in play from the KSO to the XC Lite.  You have never felt the course like you do in a Vibram 5-finger shoe.  Every bump, every contour, every little nuance of the course can be processed through your feet.  I found driving and putting were the 2 biggest improvements while wearing these shoes.  I felt much more aware of what my feet were doing during those strokes compared to a traditional shoe.  I also appreciated the zero drop from heel to toe.  I’ve come to appreciate that change in posture and it seems to help hitting the driver more solid and feeling more comfortable over the ball.

The mesh uppers are so soft and so comfortable they really start to disappear from your thoughts that you are even wearing them after a while.  They lace up so you can get just the right tightness.  The one factor missing from these compared to the KSO is that the XC Lite are not waterproof.  If you walk through dewy grass, your feet are going to get wet.  These are perfect for dry conditions.  Although because they are mesh and even machine washable, they do dry quickly.

I had the benefit of reviewing and using Vibram 5-finger shoes for golf in the past.  While they weren’t my everyday golfing shoe, I did play a number of round in with them.  The new XC Lite shoes are even better from my perspective by being brighter, more comfortable and much easier to get on.  If you’ve never owned a pair of Vibrams I suggest you give them a look.  It is like you are almost barefoot on the course.  Just be careful the first few rounds with your feet.  They may not be used to flexing so much.  You might have some really sore feet muscles after your initial rounds.  Ease into going almost barefoot.  They are gain popularity in many other sports and are now set to make an official splash in the golf shoe world.  You might just like going almost barefoot to play golf.

For more information:

Quick Hits
+Almost barefoot
+Better looks
+Excellent traction
+Easier to get on
+Super lightweight

-5-finger look isn’t for everyone
-Not waterproof