Introduction: Vibram FiveFingers + Sugru

About: 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 practice hockey, watch some movies, modify my Nerf blasters, play with my Yamaha DTXpre…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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