Army Bans Toe-Shoes

The United States Army has officially banned the use of Vibram Five Fingers, and any other “toe-shoes.” Soldiers aren’t allowed to wear shoes with separate compartments for their toes while in uniform or conducting physical training in military formation because they “detract from a professional military image,” according to the recent modification in policy for the Improved Physical Fitness Uniform (IPFU).

Vibram Sues Fila Over Toe-Shoe

In other toe-shoes news, Vibram USA is suing Fila USA for patent infringement after Fila released the Skele-Toes, a minimalist running shoe that looks similar to Vibram’s Five Fingers. Fila’s version has individual compartments for four toes, sandwiching the two smallest toes into the same pocket. According to a press release from Vibram USA’s president, Tony Post, “Vibram innovated the technology and earned the patents. With our success, copyists and counterfeiters have come out of the woodwork. We will continue to take aggressive action against all who infringe upon our intellectual property.”

Adidas has also announced their foray into the niche market with the Adipure Trainer, which is a toe-shoe designed for the gym. No word yet if Adidas will also be the target of a Vibram patent-infringement suit.

Coolest Shirts Ever

Wicking shirts are so last year. Your next hiking shirt will likely have Xylitol, a corn-based sugar substitute (it’s the stuff in gum that makes your mouth cool) that turns your sweat into a coolant, lowering the body temperature it comes into contact with by three degrees. And yes, it actually works…up to a point. Here’s what we found with two different cooling shirts.

Ex Officio Sol Cool Tee
How many bells and whistles can you put into a t-shirt? This is a wicking shirt with UPF 50+ sun protection, and it’s treated with Xylitol. You can feel the shirt begin to cool as soon as you start to sweat, and it gets downright chilly if there’s a breeze. It’s a welcome sensation on a hot day, but the Xylitol stopped working after the shirt got soaked with sweat, so consider this a nifty option for low-output activities like hiking or fishing, but trail running on a hot day proved too much for the technology.
$34; exofficio.com 

Columbia Omni-Freeze ICE Solar Polar Half-Zip
Columbia has also released a series of cooling garments using an undisclosed corn-based agent. We tested the Solar Polar Half-Zip in a variety of conditions, and found, like the Ex Officio version, the shirt began cooling immediately after getting moist, but stops once it gets overloaded with sweat. The technology shines on a hike. Take a break in the shade after climbing some elevation, and you’ll feel the ice, ice baby.
$70; columbia.com