I've been using my KSO Treks for really rocky terrain on day trips to hike in Government Canyon. Lots of rocks, many sharp, some difficult spots to chose footing through. (I may have some photos... I'll see if I can figure out how to post them.)
My own experience so far has been:
- This is hands down the most secure I have ever felt about my footing when hiking on any terrain (much less rocky uphills and downhills with moving rocks). I'm doing ankle injury rehab with these (so no really high mileage yet), and I would not be comfortable hiking in a regular shoe or boot - I only trust my footing with these right now. I feel a little like a mountain goat with these... (Well, ok, a lumbering mountain goat, but still...)
- I needed to get my feet used to walking using all my toes somewhat independently and moving my foot as if it were barefoot. My feet were sore at times, but, although I could feel rocks through the soles, it wasn't much more than I'd feel with trail runners. Rather, my feet were sore because there would be twinging and cramping little tiny muscles in my toes and feet that had forgotten what it was like to be used. You use different muscles with these. It takes adjusting. (I got these same cramps walking around the house with them when acclimating. I did this for quite some time - days to weeks - before I tried hiking in them.)
- I haven't put more than 7-8 miles in a day on these (yet), but I am pretty heavy right now and have been carrying about 5-6 L water in a heavy old daypack, so it's not like an unburdened stroll. I have never had bruised foot bottoms (or bruised anything). (Of course, maybe I have tough feet - they are pretty calloused, but honestly, they aren't THAT tough...)
- I only banged a toe a few times when I was hot and stopped paying attention to my feet and sort of "kicked a rock" (bad idea!). "Kicking" straight on was pretty cushioned by the sole that wraps up across the front of each toe. Side "bumping" of the little toe hurt, but it honestly would have hurt just as much in trail shoes (especially thin lightweight ones that are compared to these toe shoes). It passed quickly, no lasting pain/damage/bruising. I can't imagine not being careful about foot placement and kicking rocks and roots all day in any shoe. Maybe other people hike differently. Of course, I'm not running in these, only hiking, so maybe that's the difference with more banging. (Won't be running any time soon.)
- I always wear a thin "liner" Injinji toe sock. More comfortable that way. I think that helps with the banging and cushioning (just conjecture - haven't hiked without socks to compare).
- I have bad plantar fasciitis with a heel spur on the right. Pain is completely gone when I hike in these. Interesting.
I have ordered a second pair, because I like them so much. I have been holding off on a review until I have more miles (after building up more ankle-wise). Maybe it's just me and my feet (I could certainly see these being specifically great for some, bad for others), but I love them so far.
One note though - I have to agree with the reader review that says they are horrible on flat asphalt/sidewalks. To the point of being pretty painful. If I had a hike with mixed surfaces including road, etc., I'd use different shoes or bring a pair of Crocs flip flops.
Edit to add: The KSO Treks have more protection for the bottom of the foot than the other models, as I understand. SO, the others would have more chance of foot bruising or soreness, I'd think.