Army bans minimalist running shoes

This week the United States Army prohibited the use of Vibram FiveFingers minimalist shoes during training. Here is a excerpt from the U.S. Army’s announcement:

“There are a variety of minimalist running shoes available for purchase and wear. Effective immediately, only those shoes that accommodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized for wear. Those shoes that feature five separate, individual compartments for the toes, detract from a professional military image and are prohibited for wear with the IPFU or when conducting physical training in military formation.”

The reasoning for banning Vibram FiveFingers was because it was distracting to other soldiers during training. The Army did not mention any evidence that minimalist shoes cause harm to the human body, which might have something to do with them not banning minimalist shoes altogether. During combat, soldiers are still required to wear boots (pictured above).

So what are your thoughts on all of this?

One of our customers shared that when his father in the Royal Dutch Marines 40 years ago he was supplied thin minimalist shoes and "Were used in combat and training to enhance silent combat and agility."

We received mixed reactions from our Facebook users. Some understood the reasoning behind the ban, while others disagreed with the Army's decision.

If you would like to join this discussion, check out our Facebook page here, or leave a comment.


  1. Brandon Mulnix
    Brandon Mulnix
    Its about being Uniform. Having gone through boot camp and spent time in the Coast Guard I understand the need and the background behind being uniform. I was issued a pair of New Balance Crap Shoes when I arrived at Cape May New Jersey. I was expected to run and work out in them. Every coasty recieved the same pair and wore them everyday unless they were injured. After spending days in the physical therapy unit each week icing my shin splints I was able to wear the shoes they asked me to bring "Running shoes". At that time I wore Brooks or Asics, but they were shoes I trained in before joining. Amazing the injuries went away. It wasn't till I had a reason, did they change their policy. In regards to "Non Traditional" running shoes like VFF's, they distract people walking down the street. Its the same for the first weeks of wearing them to workout in. People that don't recognize them will be distracted by them. That distraction causes issues in directing the masses. I understand the ban on them for everyday military folks in regards to uniform. If a cop showed up to your door, wearing them wouldn't you ask questions or quesiton why he isn't wearing shinny steel toed shoes.
    In regards to the ban when it comes to the healthy feet of the soldiers. It will take generations of soldiers to change the "traditional running shoe". A shoe like Merrell Trail or Tough glove would have a better sell at beign uniform. Heck the RunAmoc Dash looks more like a tradional shoe than VFF's. There are healthy alternatives hitting the market everyday that will make their home on the feet of our soldiers. Just give it time. Uncle Sam needs to air out his feet and feel the pavement of where the runners are heading before they will change.

    Next item on the agenda for the military: Crew Cuts!
  2. Susanna
    I've been buying soft star shoes for the kids for years...gosh almost 8 years now! All of a sudden my dear husband comes home and announces he wants to go Nearly bare foot too (I'll be placing an order soon). He's in the army. And despite the ban, these vibram toe shoes have only increased in popularity. We're stationed in the D.C. metro area...and most military folks around here do PT on their own...and so they can get break from the comformity. From my vantage point, it seems to me that if folks want to change the rules, they'll need to send a pair of shoes to the top brass and get one of them hooked on the craze too. Like Shinseki with his barret...if someone high up enough loves it, it will happen.
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