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Minimalist Footwear Recommendations for Hiking
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Landon Schrock
(lschrock) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Actually... on 02/04/2011 15:44:22 MST Print View

According to a recent post, we are no longer allowed to hike in lightweight shoes, trailhikers, or anything of the like. They are ruining the trail, because we move too fast. The thing to do is to buy boots so that we won't walk so fast on the trail. Just FYI.

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
Experience hiking with [cheap!] minimal footwear on 04/30/2011 13:46:53 MDT Print View

I've recently gotten a bit into the barefoot running/walking thing, and decided to give it a try on a 4-day hike. I went to the outdoor market near where I live looking for shoes with the following characteristics:

1. uniformly flexible sole with no stiff areas
2. no arch support
3. no heel rise
4. a wide toebox
5. no midsole padding
6. removable insoles
7. quick drying

The pair I found that fit this list ideally weighed < 400 g (together, size 13M) and cost $12.

By day 2 of the hike I found myself rethinking my allegiance to Inov-8 shoes. I really liked the way my stride felt and how I felt on the trail, including lots of elevation gain and rocky sections as well as soft forest dirt. On day 3 I felt like trying some trail running, which I'd never done before. It felt great.

After the hike, my calves and ankle stabilizing muscles were sore for a couple days.

Gabe Miller
(gabespartan) - F
....and on 04/30/2011 14:44:47 MDT Print View

What shoes did you find and where did you find them? $12 is a steal! Can you post a pic?

Michael Bachman
(rivrfox) - F

Locale: Western Slope, Colorado
cool weather minimal shoe option? on 05/01/2011 16:41:43 MDT Print View

Thoughts, opinions. Tread doesn't look great for trail running...price looks nice.

I currently am integrating an old pair of speedo water shoes. Will update with photo later. Seems to be working out ok, not the holy grail but is improving my form, working my calves fo sho...

Gabe Miller
(gabespartan) - F
Re: cool weather minimal shoe option? on 05/01/2011 16:55:25 MDT Print View

The shape from the side angle looks kind of funky and makes me wonder how much of a drop there is from heel to toe, but I like the pull closure. Hard to go wrong at $10 ($16 w/shipping). If you get them, let me know how it goes.

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
pictures of the shoes on 05/03/2011 02:07:55 MDT Print View

Sorry it took so long to reply to requests for more information about these shoes. I am currently living in Ukraine, where there are a lot of street markets selling cheap goods from China, Turkey and who knows where else. These goods are geared for poor to average people who don't have money to shop for real brands. I'm not sure where one would find shoes like these in the U.S. Perhaps in the cheapest of the cheapest stores, maybe those geared towards the poorest immigrants? Maybe in second hand shops?

Anyways, the "brand" of these shoes is "Sport" :))) Try to find those online!:)) Here are some pictures. I would guess they are similar in qualities to these inexpensive martial arts shoes from China:



On the basis of my experience with these and some online research I just ordered some Unshoes Wokova Feathers at that I think will have similar characteristics, but will be even lighter. I'll be taking these on a very long summer trek as a second shoe (pair weighs ~180g) and will spend as much time in them on the trail as possible.

I think the main thing when looking for this class of shoe is the list of characteristics in my previous post. There's no reason shoes with these qualities have to cost $80 or $150 dollars. Practically all the items I listed contribute to making a cheaper shoe, not a more expensive one. So be prepared to find shoes in unlikely places with noname brands.

Edited by Legkohod on 05/03/2011 03:07:48 MDT.

Michael Bachman
(rivrfox) - F

Locale: Western Slope, Colorado
currently using these on 05/12/2011 11:15:21 MDT Print View


There speedo water shoes from costco and really old. Not ideal but work...
pros: light, decent tread, fit good
cons: don't fit like a "glove", can stub toe if not careful, lots of groundfeel but not a barefoot feel.

Edited by rivrfox on 05/12/2011 11:17:05 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
NB Minimus Trail on 05/12/2011 11:33:38 MDT Print View

While running a lot in them already, I just did my first backpacking trip in these two weeks ago and loved them. It was an overnight, ~18 miles one way (36 RT). Loved them.
Totally comfortable even without socks; nice to be able to jump into swimming holes without taking shoes on and off.

I think that's the greatest benefit of minimal shoes- fast standing around like a bozo, taking shoes on and off for every swim or stream crossing.

But as is always said, if you're not already into walking/running minimal, shoes like this might not be the most comfortable with extra weight on.

Anthony Rosen
(xpress411) - F

Locale: Washington, DC
Rocks? on 06/06/2011 16:54:44 MDT Print View

I currently hike in Inov-8 X-Talon 212 and am looking for a more rugged minimalist option. The 212's have great traction, even on wet rock, but I find them to be too narrow and uncomfortable when doing high mileage on rocky trails.

Maybe I should just use superfeet? I'm thinking the Saucony ProGrid Peregrine might be my next choice. I like the minimbus and amp lite's look interesting.

Matti West
(Onslow) - F
shoes on 06/06/2011 19:18:31 MDT Print View

Dunlop Volleys are awesome, get them for less than $20 sometimes on special for $12. Grew up in these as a kid and they are used a fair bit down under.

Dunlop Volleys

David Wilder
FiveFingers / Merrel on 05/20/2013 12:21:19 MDT Print View

I wear FiveFingers as my day-to-day shoes for a little over 2 years now. I have not done a ton of hiking, but here are my thoughts:

1. FiveFingers don't protect your toes well. It is very feasible to break toes or cause other injuries when hiking off trail or in rough terrain.

2. FiveFingers are not water proof. If you step in even a small puddle, your feet will be wet. This can lead to blisters and other wear related issues.

3. Getting plants between your toes is annoying!

4. I prefer a minimalist shoe with a toe-box for rougher terrain. Merrel Trail Gloves are my footwear of choice here.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: FiveFingers / Merrel on 05/21/2013 08:38:09 MDT Print View

Digg'n up the oldies

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Vivobarefoot on 05/21/2013 10:18:59 MDT Print View

I've been using the Breathos. Have used them on several overnighters and lots of day hiking in all types of terrain...minus much mud. Been packing in them with the insoles and day hiking without. This year, I'm thinking the insoles will be out for all. I should note that I some times day hike barefoot and I go without shoes the bulk of days most days (work from home).

The traction is great in any direction, up or down, in every condition....except perhaps wet rocks. I love everything about these shoes......except the sole durability. The lugs wear too quickly for my liking....though I have put some concrete and pavement miles on them....and some rocky off-trail terrain.

Had a pair of Trail Gloves. Ordered them. 5 mins in the house and my feet couldn't wait to get rid of them. Some love'em though.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Vivobarefoot on 05/21/2013 16:32:33 MDT Print View

I am also big Vivobarefoot fan. I done all my trips in them for the last year and been running in them longer. I use the Breathos for backpacking. I can walk in them forever. Agree on the durability is not ideal, but that can be said about pretty much all barefoot type shoes really. The toe box is nice and wide. Unlike the Merrells, they aren't as glove like. A snug fitting shoe for running is one thing, but for multi-day hiking, it is another.

I also wear the Inov-8 BareGrip 200 for running when it is muddy on the trail. They have amazing traction, but I would not want to hike in them long distance. Too tight toe box for racing.

I've started wearing the new Inov8 Trailroc 150, which I like for running (use them instead of my Breathos now), but for me the crinkliness and lack of softness to the upper makes them uncomfortable for long distance hiking.

I have no experience with the New Balance line.

Ultimately, the thing vastly more important than shoes you pick will be conditioning your feet, ankles, achilles, and especially calf muscles. Take it easy. And look online for exercises you can do in conjunction with your transition. Unless you have super fit feet and legs from other activities, think of it like a new sport that you are required to use muscles you don't normally use. You have to train and built up to it. Approach it like you are learning to walk again with a new set of legs that are out of shape. Or risk injury as you would in any sport you are not conditioned for.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Inov-8 TrailRoc 150 on 05/21/2013 17:36:12 MDT Print View

A few years ago I posted that I was using a somewhat minimal Inov-8 Flyroc 310. In the last year I have tried several pairs of the TrailRoc line, finally settling in one the most minimalist, the TrailRoc 150. Good is great fit -- for me, excellent traction, uppers that keeps stuff out of the shoes (Flyroc mesh collected vegetation), zero drop, zero cushion. Downside is that the uppers aren't very air permeable so my feet run hot.

I have also experimented with hiking in a pair of Luna Sandals. Actually, not just hiking but also around town and trail running. I decided that I love them around town, but I am just not a sandal person on the trail... I want uppers that keeps the rocks and stones out and gives me some protection when going through vegetation.


J Michael Orszag
(mikeorszag) - MLife
Alternatives to discontinued Vibram hiking shoes on 07/28/2013 14:17:52 MDT Print View

I hike a lot with Five Fingers (mainly KSO Trek and Bormio) and have worn out a few pairs. I love them. But neither the KSO Trek nor the Bormio are currently in production and I would like to try something new. I've used the Vibram Spyridon and it's ok but nothing like the KSO Trek. Is there something close to the Bormio on the market as that seems to work the best?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Mizuno Wave Universe 4 on 07/28/2013 14:36:52 MDT Print View

I have been using these almost exclusively for the past 3 years. I am on my 4th pair. The only big downside is they don't perform well in Cholla gardens.

Size 12 weigh 4.9 ounces each.

Mizuno Wave Universe Wave 4