Vibram FiveFingers + Sugru

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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 DTXp...

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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    43 Discussions

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    hassancehef

    12 months ago

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

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    LuXziaO

    2 years ago

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

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    darrenhall

    2 years ago

    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.

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    davidbealair

    3 years ago on Step 7

    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.

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    andy.knote

    3 years ago on Step 7

    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!

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    duncanMKZ

    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.)

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    LegoBrickMaster7repguy2020

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 7

    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...

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    mrjpeg

    6 years ago on Introduction

    try plasti-dip
    https://www.google.com/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=plasti+dip&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

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    archersolo

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Oops! Forgot to add the site: http://www.sodhoppers.com/html/goop.html

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    archersolo

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    Rigidman

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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

    1 reply
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    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.

    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.

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    nuketz

    6 years ago on Step 7

    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?

    2 replies
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    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?

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    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.

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    armourkris

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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