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VFF backpacking transition thoughts
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ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
VFF backpacking transition thoughts on 03/11/2011 20:51:27 MST Print View

ok here's the deal
I run in VFF regularly and find them to be super-duper and I would like to use them for backpacking also. However, I'm a little hesitant cause there is a big difference between an hour of running and all day walking.
I know I could take both and switch to shoes if I have problems, but alas, TWO pairs of shoes?! Oh the terror of going against all UL philosophy!
Any thoughts from those of you that backpack in VFF would be appreciated.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: VFF backpacking transition thoughts on 03/11/2011 21:01:44 MST Print View

Skurka and Lichter used to carry 2 pairs of shoes. not much differnt than carring crampons. other option would be to move to other minimalist shoes like New balance minimus, Merrel trail gloves, golite tara-lite among a few.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: VFF backpacking transition thoughts on 03/12/2011 10:13:29 MST Print View

I used to wear the VFF Treks backpacking and was hitting around 25 miles/ day or so on a 2-3 day trip and my feet were always pretty sore and tired at the end of the day but in the morning they were pretty much ready to go another day. I'm switching from those to the new Merrell Trail Gloves because whenever I'd go x-country I'd get a lot of weeds in between my toes. Also, the fabric inbetween the toes wore out after about 200 miles or so. So they don't last too long.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
two pairs on 03/13/2011 07:39:25 MDT Print View

I'd like to make the same transition. I say if you are already UL then don't worry about bringing an extra pair on a couple trips to experiment with and rotate out if you are having issues.
I'm also thinking about getting some minimalist hurache sandals. These could help you transition, can double as camp shoes and weigh very little. Check out

Neal Anderson

Locale: North Georgia
Merrell TrueGloves on 03/13/2011 17:54:15 MDT Print View

I recently started training with a pair of Merrell TrueGloves. I was hoping to begin to transition to using these for backpacking, as well. I've gotten a couple of blisters caused by using socks that were sliding at the ball, but I have switched to sockless with good result. I'm a fairly novice walker, so your results may vary.

The only thing I'm concerned about is moisture. If you go through even wet ground, the water makes its way through the mesh on the side. I soaked the shoes one afternoon to see how they would dry out and the next morning they were very wet and cold despite being stored indoors. The usual method of sticking them in front of the refrigerator dried them out in good time, but, alas, there is no electricity in the back country so I won't be able to use the refrigerator drying method on the trail ;)

Merrell TrueGlove

The soles of these are made by Vibram and are similar to the VFF's methinks:

Merrell Sole

You might notice that I've changed out the laces for spectra. This was a huge improvement as the new laces are about 5' in length and I found it beneficial to have a cord that would slide and somewhat auto-adjust the tension between the eyelets. The original laces had to be individually adjusted at each eyelet which made getting the shoes comfortable a lengthy process every time.

What do you folks who use water-permeable shoes do when it's wet or when you do creek crossings? There are a lot of water crossings in my backyard training trail and I wonder about how this works in an extended trip with one pair of shoes. By further way of anecdote, I will mention that the tops of your feet stay pretty dry, but the bottom of your feet, even just wearing them around stay tacky if you're sockless.

Please help a noob with any feedback. Thanks and sorry for the sub-par camera-phone pics.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Merrell TrueGloves on 03/13/2011 21:42:15 MDT Print View

Neal I can't comment on that exact shoe but I have been using mesh shoes on most of my backpacking trips for a while now. The TrueGloves may not be the fastest drying shoes out there but they don't look too bad to me. Sometimes no matter what you do your feet are just going to be a bit wet (sounds like your situation). Good smartwool socks seem to help.

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: VFF backpacking transition thoughts on 03/14/2011 08:30:34 MDT Print View

thanks for the insight everyone

Robert - I'm not willing to carry 2 pair of shoes on my next upcoming trip as I am trying to stay light and compact, maybe on another trip.

Brian - thanks for that. I have noticed picking up stuff between my toes running on occasion and it generally doesn't bother me as long as its not a pebble, but I could see that being a problem. I am intrigued by the trail glove as well, it only has a 4mm insole, and uses the same rubber compound as most VFF, so I'm thinking those would be a good compromise. especially with a little plating protection.

Serge - I actually tried a pair of homemade huaraches from barefoot ted, but they were the same sole as the invisible shoe and I found the sole to be too floppy and would catch on all kinds of stuff, once I even caught it on a step and tripped and pulled off a toenail. BOO! so I'm thinking maybe one of the thicker soled models now available from barefoot ted would be better, but I doubt I'll be spending more money on that anytime soon. But I will say that they are the closest to barefoot feeling you could probably get.

Neal - Thanks for the pics. I always prefer to see real photos rather than the ones from the marketing dept. I'd guess the trail glove would dry much faster because of all the mesh. I have pretty sweaty feet as well and find that wool socks are the best for that. My sleep socks are thick smartwool that really allow my feet to stay warm at night and dry off well at the same time. I always wear socks when backpacking and would also wear some injinjis with VFF. I've found that a little gold bond in the socks goes a long way to manage that moisture. I generally put a little in my socks before a trip that way i don't have to carry a container on a trip. A mesh shoe is a necessity in my mind, as I once took a 4 day trip to the grand canyon with goretex boots and the inside filled with water on day 1 from a stream crossing and I had wet feet for 4 days solid and did not like it. since then I have always worn mesh shoes and they have been dry enough in the morning to not be uncomfortable.

If anyone has owned both VFFs and Merrell trailgloves, I'd love to hear about a side by side comparison.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Re: VFF backpacking transition thoughts on 03/14/2011 13:26:39 MDT Print View

Ben, I forgot to mention that I do own a pair of Trail Gloves and have only ran in them a few times, a couple of 6 milers and one 13 miler and they feel awesome! They do provide a little more foot protection with the plastic plate in the forefoot sole area which is nice. When I was hiking in the VFF treks, there were times when i wished for the extra protection (walking on scree, etc). Also, on steep declines sometimes inbetween my toes would be rubbed raw and that was another downside to the VFFs, it wasn't necessarily a huge issue but it did arise a couple times. All in all I think the Merrells provide enough barefoot feel to satisfy what I'm looking for in a shoe and also be a lot more durable than the VFFs.