Vibram Five Fingers aren’t your Daddy’s athletic shoes … and Vibram discs aren’t your Daddy’s Frisbees. With Vibram Speed XC Lites and a set of rubber discs, you’re squarely on the cutting edge of innovation.
Vibram Speed XC Lite Features:
- Weight: 6.72oz
- Upper: polyurethane mesh
- 2mm EVA insole
- Drilex antimicrobial insole
- TC-1 Dura rubber outsole
- Total stack height 6.5mm
- MSRP $110
Vibram Golf Disc Features:
- All discs are rubber based compression molded
- X-Link rubber with three levels of firmness
- Multiple distance options
- One distance driver
- Two fairway drivers
- Two midrange discs
- Four approach and putt discs
- MSRP $18 per disc
Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes completely revolutionized the running industry a few years ago, and the company now has its sight set on overhauling another major recreational activity. Their Speed XC shoe series is targeted at traditional golfers (the ones with the clubs and little white balls) who want a more natural ground feel, and their innovative rubber discs are designed to be the weapons of choice for world-class disc golfers. It’s an ambitious undertaking … but that’s something Vibram has always been famous for.
The Speed XC shoes made their first appearance at the PGA Show last January to offer golf enthusiasts a durable shoe with superior ground feedback, which helps some golfers feel connected and anchored to the ground during their swing. Apparently the company had some intel that many golf pros practice barefoot on occasion, and they were also aware that current FiveFingers fans were already hitting the links in their toe shoes. They put together a testing team to try out some prototypes, which led to the creation of two golf-specific models.
I tested the Speed XC Lite, which differs from the Speed XC in its upper construction: the regular XC has a multi-layer water-resistant laminate membrane, and the Lite is a more breathable mesh with less water resistance. Each model has a 2mm EVA midsole for comfort above a 3.5mm outsole for ground protection.
Both models are grounded on a cleated Vibram® performance rubber outsole that provides traction on a variety of terrain. A couple of years ago, this outsole design was Vibram’s top of the line for trail running, and it’s a good multi-use pattern for general athletic activity as well (see next paragraph). Predictably, the Vibram outsole is spikeless, so if you’re on long turf or wet grass, you may compromise some traction compared to traditional golf shoes.
As I do with pretty much every Vibram model I receive, I logged a bunch of running miles in my Speed XCs. They proved to be remarkably comfortable and effective on both road and trail, and the mesh upper provides a nice combination of insulation and ventilation. I also wore them for tennis and as a general outdoor sneaker, and didn’t have any problems in these areas either.
Along with their golf footwear, Vibram also launched an entire product line and website dedicated to the growing sport of disc golf. One thing is clear from browsing the site: the company takes this disc golf stuff pretty seriously. It seems as if they’ve unleashed their entire arsenal of scientists and engineers to create not only a full range of products, but a Vibram Flight Guide for each.
Every disc in the lineup is described by its ideal launch speed, the distance in feet the disc will fly when optimally thrown, the projected fade (flight angle of the disc when flying at 20% less than the ideal speed), and the turn curvature when flying at a speed of 20% more than the ideal speed. These specs are included on each disc; honestly, I didn’t understand them all, but fortunately I have a friend who studied aeronautics to help me sort it out.
Of course, Vibram’s strong suit is its knowledge and experience with different formulations of rubber, which they’ve leveraged to create the X-link compound used in their golf discs. All of their composite rubber discs withstand a wider range of temperatures than traditional plastic discs, so they are less prone to shattering in cold weather or becoming floppy in sever heat. Vibram claims that their discs hold their shape and flight over five times longer than plastic discs; I have no way to test this, but it seems like a reasonable claim based on the sturdy feel of the Obex midrange disc I tried.
The X-Link rubber compound comes in three different levels of firmness, which allows for more predictable deflections or “stickiness” upon landing. It’s also highly resistant to scuffing, denting and warping, which results in truer, more reliable throws. Their grip also feels much more secure than any disc I’ve thrown. Finally, the X-Link has a stronger memory than injection molded plastic discs, so they recover their shape quite well if they happen to get bent or torqued.
It remains to be seen if Vibram’s footwear will take the traditional golf world by storm in the same way it did with the running community, but if you take your disc golf as seriously as Vibram does, you definitely have to check out the company’s product offerings.
- Very comfortable upper and insole
- Good outsole for multi-use activity
- Highly durable
- True, predictable flight mechanics
- Traction is compromised on long or wet turf
- At $18 per disc, it could get expensive to acquire the full complement of “clubs”.
The Bottom Line
The Speed XC Lite is a highly comfortable, very durable shoe that is ideal for barefoot-inclined traditional golfers, and Vibram’s wide range of golf discs are a must-have for dedicated disc golfers.
Buy Now: Available at Zappos.com