12 April 2010

Vibram Five Fingers in Army Uniforms

Update: This changed a while ago but I never updated this post to reflect it. ALARACT 239/2011 changed AR 670-1 to state that only shoes with a single toe pocket are allowed for wear in IPFUs. This is a decision based on the look of the shoe not the fact that they are minimalist shoes. If you are looking for alternatives there are thankfully a host of them out there. Altra Zero Drop Footwear, New Balance Minimus, Merrill Trail Glove, et all. To be honest, just about every major shoe company is now on board and has or is working on deploying a minimalist shoe.

-----Original Post------
As a member of the U.S. Army I love my Vibram Five Fingers but am frequently challenged about their legality in Uniform. Below is a list of resources to help defend your position when wearing your Vibram Five Fingers in your Improved Physical Fitness Uniform (IPFU).

AR 670-1


AR 670-1 Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia is the Army's only regulation regarding wear and appearance of military uniform. The regulation states:


14–3. Accessories

a. Commanders may authorize the wear of commercial running shoes, calf-length or ankle-length, plain white socks with no logos, gloves, reflective belts or vests, long underwear, and other items appropriate to the weather conditions and type of activity.


Therefore it is ultimately up to your commander (at any level company and up) if you can or cannot wear Vibrams in Uniform. You should speak with your chain of command to ensure they will authorize your footwear choice. Be sure to talk to talk about the scientific research that promotes the health benefits of barefoot running. Be prepared to show them that they are in fact marketed as running shoes not aqua socks, house shoes, climbing shoes (although these are all things you can also do in your VFFs). Your biggest sticking point will probably be the toes, and the lack of foam under your heel.

I would highly recommend taking time to transition into to running in VFFs before you show up to organizational PT wearing them so that you can complete PT without having to slow down because your not used to running barefoot yet.

USF-I Uniform Policy


For those of you currently serving in Iraq USF-I has specific uniform policy that applies to all armed forces in Iraq. Thankfully the policy says nothing about running shoes at all.

Afghanistan


I've never served in Afghanistan so anyone who can point out or send me a copy of their uniform policy, I'll add it to this list. Update: This changed a while ago but I never updated this post to reflect it. ALARACT 239/2011 changed AR 670-1 to state that only shoes with a single toe pocket are allowed for wear in IPFUs. This is a decision based on the look of the shoe not the fact that they are minimalist shoes. If you are looking for alternatives there are thankfully a host of them out there. Altra Zero Drop Footwear, New Balance Minimus, Merrill Trail Glove, et all. To be honest, just about every major shoe company is now on board and has or is working on deploying a minimalist shoe.

5 comments:

Trevor said...

We are going through the same debate in our National Guard unit and have come to the conclusion that it is up to the commander.

Cultural norms should not outweigh health and performance benefits when it comes to authorizing uniform items in the military. Unfortunately the military doesn't always hire commanders who value results over appearances.

Daniel said...

Although USF-I regs do not mention running shoes, USF-I still falls under the authority of AR 670-1, so all policies contained therein are applicable, so it would still be up to the commander

Benjamin said...

The ISAF directive para. 7 section (c), states that "VIBRAM Five Fingers shoes may be worn in accordance with service regulations."

Andy said...

Thanks Benjamin for the additional information.

Gamer said...
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