Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Minimal hiking shoes
Display Avatars Sort By:
Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Minimal hiking shoes on 03/02/2010 19:41:47 MST Print View

I hiked the PCT in two large sections and ended up with foot injuries both times.

The first time I had stress fractures in my metatarsals. I bought really stiff shoes (probably motion control) and they totally crippled me. When I got home I healed my feet by walking barefoot around town.

The second time I ended up with a sore sesamoid in my left foot. The sesamoid problem was caused by the curve of the shoe where it goes into the arch causing pressure there and whenever my foot rolled out, the shoe would twist and tear at me there.

Again I'm healing my feet walking around town barefoot.

Recently I've been wearing flat, minimal shoes, too. The healing is great. It feels great.

I'm starting to wonder if, like the whole barefoot running thing, maybe hiking deserves minimalism as well. I want minimalistic hiking shoes.

I want:
- protection from sticks jabbing the top of my foot and my arches,
- protection from poison oak,
- protection from sharp pebbles underfoot,
- huge toebox so my toes can freely do their job,
- good traction

I don't want
- tons of padding,
- raised heels,
- arch support,
- shoes that are narrow and not foot-shaped,
- tons of support that weakens my ankles and foot muscles

When I first read Ray Jardine and went from high-top boots to low-top running shoes and experienced the amazing power of using the full range of motion of my feet and legs to power me uphills, that was the beginning. I think I want to take it even further.

If according to all this research I keep reading that running shoes are causing more injury than they prevent, wouldn't the same be true for wearing trail running shoes for hiking? Can hiking benefit from minimalism like running?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Minimal hiking shoes on 03/02/2010 20:47:41 MST Print View


Yes you are correct to a degree. Unfortunately the really minimal shoes are racing flats. But they aren't going to last to many miles. Next up (in weight and longevity) are Five-fingers, and then trail runners. I have and use all 3. Trail runners give you the most versatility, and among all the manufacturers there are many options, features, and benefits.

>> Bender <<
(Bender) - MLife

Locale: NEO
Re: Minimal hiking shoes on 03/02/2010 21:51:31 MST Print View

I just got a pair Merrell Waterpro Maipo shoes and I love them. They are essentially trail runners with a slightly beefier sole & built for fast drying. They have minimal padding and a wide toebox. Ventilation is superb because much of the shoe is mesh. I can even see my socks a little bit. What really sold me was the adjustable heal area! With a little fiddling I now have absolutely perfect fit. Without the laces tied my heal doesn't lift out of the shoe or slide around. These appear narrower than most of my shoes however I believe this is due to the thin padding. Weight is 26oz for size 10.5 us. This breaks my Adidas buying streak lol. These are more stable than my Adidas Kanadia trail & Trail Response shoes.

Merrell Maipo

Edited by Bender on 03/02/2010 22:18:09 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Minimal hiking shoes on 03/02/2010 22:05:37 MST Print View


YES to everything you are thinking! Absolutely seriously.

> I don't want
> - tons of padding,
Absorbs lots of water ...

> - raised heels,
Leave them for the catwalk ...

> - arch support,
A criminal creation by Nike which has caused an unbelievable amount of grief in America.

> - shoes that are narrow and not foot-shaped,
Obviously !!! But some vendors still do not quote shoe widths.

> - tons of support that weakens my ankles and foot muscles
Again, obviously.

> research I keep reading that running shoes are causing more injury than they prevent,
Whoever said they prevented ANY injury????

Hard walkers in Australia wear KT-26s and Volleys.KT-26sVolleys

Oh yes, I should add that these have a shorter life than heavy boots or even heavy joggers, but the KTs are ~US$30 a pair and the Volleys can be under US$20/pair on special.


Edited by rcaffin on 03/03/2010 02:12:07 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Minimal hiking shoes on 03/02/2010 22:20:22 MST Print View

I think you're on the right track as well Diane, I've found the same thing from similar experiences.

I started running distance in minimal shoes (New Balance MT100s, basically a trail racing flat) and I'm doing great.

For some reason I was thinking they wouldn't make good backpacking shoes.

But wait! Isn't trail running 20 miles on rocky singletrack higher impact than hiking the same mileage on the same trail?

Now that I'm used to running in them, anything else feels huge, clunky, and annoying; whether walking or running.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
New Balance MT 100 on 03/02/2010 22:34:22 MST Print View

I was just going to suggest the NB 100's.
They fit all the parameters listed except for a large toe box.

I'm interested in them but haven't tried them out yet.
Craig, do you think they (and my feet) would survive a 100 miler ?
I'm sure the designers would cruise a 100 in them, but how would the average person do.

Weiyi Wang
(wwyjedi) - M

Locale: mid
Racing flats for fat feet? on 03/02/2010 22:42:51 MST Print View

About racing flats. I have tried a pair of SAUCONY SHAY XC. They are simply too narrow for my fat feet. I normally wear 2E. Are there are wider racing flats out there? thanks.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Minimal hiking shoes on 03/02/2010 22:43:21 MST Print View


If you do the May trip with me, the Jo Pond Trail is going to eat up your flats, volcanic rocks on the middle section will be hard on the soles... but the trip is best done in flats.

And that is their limitation, about 1/2 or less the life span of most trail runners. Even with that, I have been a big racing flat advocate.

Most racing flats are designed for cross country racing, which is flat rolling terrain, not what we put them through.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
T 100s on 03/03/2010 07:33:10 MST Print View

I've had a pair of the New Balance T 100s for a week. They seem very nice. Essentially no padding, a low sole with no rocker, and a nice quite stiff plastic plate in the sole. The heel is very snug, the toebox generous.

It'll be a while until I get to put them properly to dirt, but I think they'll do very well.

I did coat a lot of the wear areas proactively with Aquaseal.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: T 100s on 03/03/2010 08:28:57 MST Print View

Do you mean a 100 mile hike?
I don't see why not.
They were originally designed by Tony Krupicka and the Skaggs brothers (from what I understand) for ultrarunning. They're doing 100 a pop. If you're walking talus you'll just have to watch the sharp I'd be doing in any shoe.

I have ~200 miles on mine right now, 95% from trailrunning, much of it on fairly rough terrain (not just fire roads/well groomed areas).
They're holding up great- I'm surprised, there's actually very little sign of tread wear so far. Keep in mind, I'm also 200 pounds, so I abuse my shoes more than a lightweight.

The tougher material (kevlar?) on the toe and arch is also indestructible- I originally thought it would wear fast but it's still perfect.

There's a plastic sheet in the forefoot (between tread and cushioning) to prevent sharp rocks from gouging you; I've noticed they've lost a little bit of their stiffness in the forefoot, but not enough to bug me. I just feel rocks slightly more.

I REALLY love these shoes, they're so comfortable. I recently ran 20 miles of trail with roughly +4000/-4000 feet SOCKLESS and was fine. The inside is like a sock- no seams to rub, very well designed.

I did a recent backpacking trip in J-Tree and wore some other traditional trailrunners (Adidas Supernova Riot). They used to be my favorites but now I hate them- everything feels big, hot, and bulky after wearing the MT100s.

If I'm out with you, I'll be wearing the MT100's with Injinji socks and Dirty Girl gaiters. I know what you're saying about the lava/sharp stuff. I'll just have to float like a (200 lb.) butterfly...

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: T 100s on 03/03/2010 08:43:03 MST Print View

actually I meant a 100 mile trail race, but your input was helpful.
just curious how happy the feet would be after 100 miles of minimalism.
good feet can withstand 20 miles in most shoes, but longer distance ??

One issue I see with these and other minimal shoes for long distance "hiking" is the foot strike. I'm pretty sure these shoes are designed for a midfoot strike, but isn't most hiking done with a heal strike.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: T 100s on 03/03/2010 09:04:39 MST Print View

Yeah, I don't know.
It probably depends entirely on how you're training. I know Krupicka didn't just start running 100s in racing flats overnight.

I do know it's a VERY BAD idea to make drastic footwear changes right before a big event or hike though...

I have no idea how much I could personally tolerate in them; longest to date has been ~26. But I recovered really well, so I'm sure I could go much further (I'm working towards it). I've run up to ~35 miles in traditional trailrunners but have kinda started over in the minimal shoes and am working my way back up.

As for hiking, I notice that I also switch to more of a midfoot strike when wearing these. But I don't feel weird doing it- it's just natural in these shoes. I'm barefoot or wearing shoes with no support all the time anyway- you kinda have to mid/forefoot strike like that anyway.

I'm interested in how folks are doing with the minimal footwear; keep me posted.

Pieter Kaufman
(Pieter) - F
100s in JT on 03/03/2010 12:00:24 MST Print View

Nick, Craig, and anyone else who's used these in JT, how did they do bouldering in class 3 terrain, both in terms of traction and resistance to wear?

Most of my hiking time is off trail, and I'm careful with my foot placement; my current NB 910s are holding up remarkably well.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: 100s in JT on 03/03/2010 12:34:49 MST Print View

I think anything does well on class 3 in JT...hard to slip when you're climbing on a cheese grater.

It helps that the soles are thin- I hate climbing in mushy shoes. I think a day of serious scrambling would eat up the soles pretty quick. But again, JT eats up all soles pretty quick.

Pieter Kaufman
(Pieter) - F
Re: Re: 100s in JT on 03/03/2010 13:48:31 MST Print View


Although the gully we climbed this past weekend actually had quite an abundance of relatively smooth rock, and some of it was wet.

My bigger problem with trail runners on solid rock in JT isn't the stickiness of the rubber per se, it's the deflection of the large, somewhat wedge-shaped sole edges and lugs/knobs. They're certainly not very sensitive in that regard. Edging is not as secure as I imagine it might be with something a little more tuned for that purpose. "Mushy shoes" precisely.

Another shoe that's caught my attention is the Acopa Scrambler. Although heavier at 11 oz, it is a relatively flat, unsupporting shoe, designed as an approach shoe that is supposed to really perform on rock.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: New Balance MT 100 on 03/03/2010 14:18:06 MST Print View

Only a D width. I'm a 4E. Sigh.


Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: New Balance MT 100 on 03/03/2010 16:14:05 MST Print View

I've heard that Innov8 will be coming out with something minimal sometime in the future.

I don't know that there is any shoe that will feel good after a marathon's worth of miles. When I hiked the PCT my feet hurt every night. But I felt fine the next morning. I stuffed layers of extra padded insoles in my shoes to try to help, but no matter what, at the end of the day they'd hurt. I wonder if less padding would have been worse, better or no different at all.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: New Balance MT 100 on 03/03/2010 19:51:43 MST Print View

I have done several 50 - 60 mile hikes in flats. They hold up well unless you are hiking on sharp rocks that could tear the soles, sides, etc. At the end of a hard, strenuous trip, it is my legs that I can feel... don't even think about my feet.

Keep in mind that with Five Fingers, flats, & similar, you can "feel" the trail, road, rocks, boulders. My feel I mean that you are more aware of the surface, you react quicker, and can adjust for different kinds of surfaces. This becomes unconscious after a very short time.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
big days, little shoes on 03/03/2010 22:42:50 MST Print View

Last year I did quite a few 30-50 mile days in Fireblades, much of it on alpine rocky terrain. After a short adaptation period, my feet where happier in the softer shoes than in prior years in Continental Divides, Hardrocks, and so forth. I see no reason why the MT 100s won't do the same for me. Counting on it, in fact.

On another note, the heel cup on the 100s rock. Totally solid, no slip.

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
MT100 on 03/04/2010 15:32:33 MST Print View

Hey Guys,

I think I might try a pair of the MT100's. How do they fit? I love the Innov8's but they just seem a little too wide in the forefoot for me. Are thw NB's a little narrower?