Introduction: Vibram FiveFingers + Sugru

Picture of Vibram FiveFingers + Sugru

I've had my Vibram FiveFingers for about a year now. During which, they got quite the extensive and rough usage. The school year saw a daily 4 mile trek to class over asphalt and concrete, which took a toll on parts of the shoes where my stride was heavier.

It got to the point this summer where the already thin rubber was down to less than 1mm, or at the fabric on two of the toes. Rather than paying for a new pair I decided to try out Sugru, and hope for some good results.

Note: Please keep in mind that this is an experiment, and I'm told Sugru has a hard time with abrasion.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Obviously you're going to need to order some Sugru, if you don't already have some. When I ordered mine from their site, they basically doubled the order for the price of one, to empty out their stock of the old packaging design.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 packs of Sugru (depending on the wear)
  • Knife
  • Wax Paper
  • Working Surface
  • Scissors
  • Rolling Pin

Step 2: Prep Shoes

Picture of Prep Shoes

You'll want to make sure the shoes are completely clean, and free of any dirt or grime before we start putting any Sugru on them. Thankfully, these shoes are really easy to clean. You can just chuck them in the washing machine on a colder setting (without soap), and then let them air dry.

I went the extra mile with mine, and cleaned the areas I was planning to repair with rubbing alcohol.

Step 3: Flattening the Sugru

Picture of Flattening the Sugru

Once your FiveFingers are clean and dry, take out two packs of appropriately colored Sugru. I decided to go with yellow for two reasons. It matched the KSO color scheme of yellow and black, and I could see how long my repair would last when it wears down to the original black sole, through the yellow Sugru.

Open up one packet of Sugru and lay it down on some wax paper. Fold the paper over the top (to protect your rolling pin), and start flattening out the Sugru to your desired thickness. I got mine to about 2-3mm before applying it to the sole.

Before you do that though, cut off a small sliver, which we will save for the toes.

Step 4: Applying the Sugru

Picture of Applying the Sugru

With the Sugru still on the wax paper, place it over the damaged area on the shoe and press it firmly into place. The Sugru will still to the wax paper, so you'll need to carefully peel back the paper, and help hold the Sugru to the shoe when it gets lifted by the paper.

From there, it's a matter of personal preference. I spread mine out wider than the original transfer, and cut some off overhanging from the toes, to add onto the pinky side.

Roll the remaining sliver into a tube, and cut it into 4 equally sized pieces. Each of those sections will need to be rolled into a ball, and placed on each toe. Smash them down, and form them into appropriately sized pads.

Note: I took much better photos documenting the application/forming in the next step.

Step 5: The Other Foot

Picture of The Other Foot

With the first shoe finished, you now need to match the process from steps 3-4, trying to keep the design somewhat similar.

Note: If you're low on Sugru you can use a small chunk like an eraser and get back some gunk stuck to the wax paper/wrapper.

Step 6: Finish

Picture of Finish

I won't be living as close to school this year, so I'll be riding my bike, rather than walking the 4 mile round trip. This will probably skew my results some, but I'll be happy to use my FiveFingers without worrying about wearing down the sole further. 

It took me about 15-20 minutes for each shoe, and it was my first time playing with Sugru. I would highly recommend the product,  and I can't wait to use up the rest of my little packets.

Step 7: Wear and Tear

Picture of Wear and Tear

Update 9/21/2012 (one week)

It doesn't look to hopeful. A few large chunks have been take out of the shoes, and the toes have already taken some extensive wear. At most, I'd say this repair would last a month.

This is just from wearing the shoes a little more than half the days of the week, and mostly walking around the office, and campus. Nothing close to what I was trekking before.

I'm going to keep updating, but I'll probably be trying out Shoe Goo pretty soon.


hassancehef (author)2017-12-16

Nice piece! I was thinking about a similar thing for repairing climbing shoes, it is sticky?

LuXziaO (author)2016-08-17

try to stick a bicycle patch, the one that is used when u need to fix a flat tire

darrenhall (author)2016-02-15

Hi - this was a cool idea and although it did not quite work out it does save anyone thinking of trying the same an idea of how long the fix will last - - buuuttt! it also makes the more experimental of us think "hhhhmmmm, could a combination work"??? - how about a Sugru and JB Weld mix or even a Sugru and Epoxy mash up.
We are always being told ya cannot mend shoes/trainers, but who knows, if folks like you and the guys on here try stuff then who can tell what might be discovered.
Nice INS.

davidbealair (author)2015-02-06

Maybe Sugru could have been a nice flexible glue to use to add a thin rubber sheet to the shoes (ie bike air tube/tire parts).
Maybe this would have last longer.

andy.knote (author)2014-12-30

Too bad it doesn't look like it will work for a long term fix.Great instructable. Great photos, great step-by-step. Nice work!

duncanMKZ (author)2014-08-18

Freesole works well to repair these Vibram soles - I've used it on several pairs of Vibrams. It is extremely tough - much more durable than Shoe Goo. It is a runny liquid, and takes a day or so to dry. You can either apply it in thin layers, or pour in a large quantity and put tape around the area to keep it from dripping out. The finished surface seems to last as long as the original soles, however, it's not as flexible, and has a smooth surface. Some people pour rice on the wet surface, picking it out afterwards to create a rougher, more grippy surface. Rock salt or large sugar crystals might also work, but I haven't tried it yet. (I'm thinking you could dissolve it away by washing the shoes in a warm bath.)

agis68 (author)2012-09-24

the most hillarious shoe made ever, makes you like frog

rrobles rivera (author)agis682014-04-25

a happy frog

repguy2020 (author)2013-06-21

How did the Shoe Goo go?

I actually haven't tried it out. I've been using them indoors just for workouts and such, while I bought a new pair off of this site that I use outside.

Someday I'll get to it...

mrjpeg (author)2012-12-05

try plasti-dip

archersolo (author)2012-11-25

Oops! Forgot to add the site:

archersolo (author)2012-11-25

Try this site for "Sole in a Jar", or "Shoe Goop". (NOT "Shoe GOO") It's used to re-sole hunting moccasins and dog booties. Or...
You could do what I did. Bought some Barge Cement on E-Bay; asked for a shoebox full of free rubber shavings from a local tire re-tread outfit nearby and made my own. Just sift the rubber to get the "dust" and pick out the little metal pieces of wire before mixing w/ the cement. Mix only amount needed in a jar w/ straight sides and use a flexible knife and slowly build up thickness. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

Rigidman (author)2012-10-05

There is also this new rubber stuff in a spray. I can't remember the name but the ad shows this guy spraying a screen door in the bottom of a boat and it floats. Since it's rubber it shouldn't slip. just tape up to prevent overspray, spray, then remove tape. Thanks. Later

cannonwashburn (author)Rigidman2012-11-20

Flex seal, its more useful for water proofing. There's similar product for liquid pond liners, potted ponds, and plywood fish tanks. Not sure it if would fare any better with abrasion.

bellinghammakerspace (author)2012-10-04

Don't know if someone mentioned this... what if you scuffed up the bottom... with sandpaper or something so the stuff sticks better. Also, it seems to come off at the edges... what if you put it on so there were fewer edges? Connect the toes to the big pad? maybe wrap the yellow stuff a little more around the edge of the toes so the ground can't find an edge?
I also love that you did... tried.... and need to modify.

nuketz (author)2012-09-24

I have had several pairs of Vibrams, and I wear them as my daily shoes. I actually tried Shoe Goo on the last pair I had, and unfortunately did not have much success. While Shoe Goo is fairly flexible, and is great for normal running shoes, it's not quite flexible enough to work with Vibrams. After just a couple of days of wearing them the glue began to peel up at the edges, causing it to snag on everything and just rip off. It's also surprisingly slippery, especially compared to the rest of the shoe. Nice job with the Surgu though, it fit with the rest of the shoe. How was the grip that?

LegoBrickMaster7 (author)nuketz2012-09-25

It's pretty much like the normal grip. However it's not looking like a long term solution.

Seems like people are getting some different results with the Shoe Goo. What did you clean the soles with before you applied it?

nuketz (author)LegoBrickMaster72012-09-26

I had just thrown my shoes in the wash, and if I remember correctly, I used a little denatured alcohol to clean the specific spots where I was applying the Goo. They were mostly around the toes, which is the part of the shoe that bends the most, so that could have been part of the problem. But even on the flatter, less bendy parts I had problems with the the glue peeling up.

armourkris (author)2012-09-23

I'm amazed you managed to kill the soles before blowing out between the toes, I've gone through 5 pairs of vibrams now, every one has eventually had the fabric on the inside of the big toe tear free from the sole or wear through if i don't reinforce it with leather

Nyxius (author)armourkris2012-09-24

That mode of failure would suggest that you are wearing a size that is too small in the width direction.

I know this from experience because I have extra wide feet due to extra bones. Most shoes are not designed to have the fabric under tension at the sole fabric junction.

armourkris (author)Nyxius2012-09-26

damn, that's disappointing, any larger size is just to long for my feet.

zipped_shut (author)2012-09-23

Do you think plasti dip would work for repairs on vibram?


It's probably similar to Shoe Goo. I just wouldn't know how well it would hold up to abrasion.

I'm thinking not well (like Sugru) since it is primarily meant to re-coat tool handles.

its made to withstand abrasions and is used for more than just tools (i've used it in the past for other projects not on tools). :P Guess I'll take a chance and try it once my vibrams wear a little more. If it fails then I will try shoe goo and hope for the best. Hope you find something that works as well. :D

DeusXMachina (author)2012-09-25

You should try experimenting with RTV (room-temp vulcanizing) silicone composites.

I would try mixing in varying ratios of ultra-fine sand and corn starch or other moisture-donating agent, or acrylic caulk, which donates water as it polymerizes, into off-the-shelf RTV silicone. The hard silica in sand would increase your abrasion resistance.

You could also try bonding tough materials such as leather or vulcanized rubber (maybe even chipped up used tires) to the bottom of the shoes using sugru or other silicone agents.

thattori (author)2012-09-19

When I am breeding cats, I have just sketched such shoes. It's very interesting to develop cat-styled shoes.

tjesse (author)thattori2012-09-20

I too made cat shoes. The trick is to distract them when you tie the cat to the bottom of your feet.

moparman (author)tjesse2012-09-25

Hillarious!!! - Love it.

nwlaurie (author)tjesse2012-09-23

which way up do you put them?

bryan3141 (author)nwlaurie2012-09-23

You have to wear them feet down, of course...otherwise you risk levitation when the cat's natural ability to land feet first kicks in.

nwlaurie (author)bryan31412012-09-24

Oooooh, Of course! Silly me...

darthbagel (author)2012-09-23

I used shoe goo to patch my first pair of five fingers for quite a while. I only used them for running, and the patches would last maybe a little more than a week (~30 miles?). Basically I was patching them every weekend, just globbing on layer after layer of shoe goo that would get mostly worn off again during the week. I don't think it would hold up if they're your daily shoe. Less work to re-patch than the sugru though.

TerminalLance (author)2012-09-23

This was very creative and informative. Thanks for sharing. If you have an REI in your city, I suggest joining the Co-op. With that membership, you can bring back anything for even normal wear and tear or fading. And once a year, they take all those returns, and have a members only garage sale, and everything is labelled with what is wrong or why it was returned. Went to my first garage sale yeaterday. There were hundreds of 5fingers, from trashed to new and worn once, and I picked up 2 new pairs for $35 each. I highly recommend this to others who wear 5fingers, as I am on my 3rd pair due to torn out toes from trail running.

diq (author)2012-09-23

I believe that Shoe Goo and E6000 are pretty similar, but I always go with the latter. It is craaaazy tough. I'd use a piece of bike tire innertube and a very thin layer of E6000 in order to keep the feel of the Five Fingers, as well as giving you the right grip and look. You could even try razor sipping the innertube before you put it on, like in the original sole.

HollyHarken (author)2012-09-23

You can get your Vibram's resoled through Vibram. I don't know the cost, but it is an option that will last longer.
Innovative repair job.

obax17 (author)2012-09-23

I've used Shoe Goo before, though only on regular running shoes and not over such an extensive area. But I can tell you it's very effective and long lasting. The stuff I used was not nearly so easy to work with as Sugru is, the 'goo' in its name is completely accurate. They might have different kinds now, though, it's been years since I've used the stuff...

ElectroFrank (author)obax172012-09-23

I also highly recommend Shoe Goo, it added much life to a very favourite pair of very soft and flexible shoes.  

Whatever you use, I strongly advise getting the area extremely clean for good adhesion.   Methylated spirit is also good for this.  Just a little dust under it can result in the patch peeling away in a short time.

handyhippie65 (author)2012-09-23

shoe goo works very well. i have used it on my work boots to get another few months of wear. if you use it on the sole, mix clean sand to the repair to add a non-slip surface. if you get good adhesion, it is even waterproof. good luck.

BrittLiv (author)2012-09-21

Any updates? I tried using Sugru to fix a shoe sole, but it turned out to be too soft and not resistant enough against abrasion.
By the way your ibles are great and BarginsTech is right ;-)

Yeah, I'll have one up later this afternoon. It's not looking too good. :(

BarginsTech (author)2012-09-19

You look adorable in that hat! just sayiinnn :P

and great idble :]

audreyobscura (author)2012-09-17

I hope this goes well, I know a lot of folk that would love to see this work. Have you ever used shoe goo?

About This Instructable




Bio: The name's Alex. I'm currently majoring in Graphic Design at Cal Poly Pomona. When I'm not busy with schoolwork I like to ... More »
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