November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Minimalist Footwear for Summer Backpacking
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mike Hinsley

Locale: England, UK
Trail Gloves on 03/31/2011 04:40:41 MDT Print View

I've been playing with a pair of Merrel Trail Gloves for a month or so.

I've tried both Vibram KSO (1st Gen) and the Vibram Bilka and don't think they are any good for wet muddy terrain although I like them for lots of other things - especially gym work where shoes would otherwise be required and of course general walking around; just not not trails.

I've used the Merrels now for several 10-12 mile day walks that I've worked up to. I really like them and they feel natural. There is some feedback from the ground but not too much. There is some protection from jagged stuff.

Adaptation is required but less so than Vibrams.

My current feeling is that the Merrels will be just fine for hiking with my normal U/L pack on multi-day walks and will not suffer from the footbed collapse issues that seems to plague trail shoes on multi-week hikes.

mark sullivan
(yahoosier) - F
Walmart Aqua Socks...... on 03/31/2011 09:40:19 MDT Print View

I had to laugh when I saw these make it to this thread.

I bought two pair of Walmart's Aqua Socks a few years ago and glued Vibram material on the bottoms of them. I've clocked alot of miles on them --> almost all runnning.

They stretch quite a bit and get very loose on your feet. Too loose for hiking I think. You can't beat the price though ($7). the original soles wear out after 100 miles or so.


Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Another use on 03/31/2011 11:23:22 MDT Print View

I have been looking for a great camp shoe. Although I am content to keep my trail running New Balance or TrekSta shoes on all the time, there are many momments when I would be nice to have a nice light pair of comfy and non restricting camp shoes to slip into. Wallah! We have these extremely lightweight, foot conforming and relatively inexpensive Sockwa's. So, although I am not a devotee of barefoot style hiking, the industry has delivered my dream camp shoe. Thank you very much!

Thomas Trebisky

Locale: Southern Arizona
Ever lighter and lighter on 03/31/2011 12:42:26 MDT Print View

I remember back in 1970 or so when I got introduced to backpacking. The "party line" then was that you needed boots, for "support", and big heavy boots that required "breaking in" and produced blisters. We wore 2 layers of socks (an inner smooth layer, and a bulky padding layer).

At some point years later, I realized that I had been sold a bill of goods (or a bill of boots), and I began doing cross country approaches to backcountry rock climbs in really worn out running shoes and wondered what all that BS about boots was all about.

More recently I have been doing week long backpacks just wearing what any serious runner would call a completely worn out set of running shoes. And I am doing my "urban" running in my vibram five finger KSO's (and some hiking and trail running with them too). Less is more, no question about it.

But running (and hiking) with the KSO's does require some adapting. There have been a lot of changes in my ankles and leg musculature over the last 1.5 years! My running (and walking) stride has changed (no more heel striking). A new stride uses the calf muscle as a shock absorber, as designed. My problems with Plantar Fasciitis have gone away (which raised its ugly head when I began doing more and more trail running with mainstream high end running shoes). These kind of shoes will teach you better ways to walk and run (heel striking = pain = education!)

I am content to use well worn running shoes for hiking and backpacking. The KSO's don't provide enough protection on rocky trails or off trail. I may try the Treks or some more minimalist running shoes, especially now that my muscles and walking muscles have had over a year to adapt.

Glad to see this kind of footwear getting some attention here.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: George - Try the Treks on 03/31/2011 13:06:32 MDT Print View

Damien et al.,

Bought the Treks today. Will give them a good test on Saturday.

Thanks for you advice.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Inov-8 shoes on 03/31/2011 13:13:22 MDT Print View

I've really enjoyed these shoes, after years of having heavy rigid shoes. For someone who commented that the Inov-8 are too narrow, I wanted to point out that they have 3 lasts, and 2 insole options. I have wide fore feet, and my right is thicker through the instep than the left. I find that their Endurance last or their Comfort last (as opposed to the Performance last, which is rather narrow) is wider in the forefoot and comfortable, at least for me. Also, having the ability to put a 6mm insole in my left foot and a 3 mm insole in my right foot has solved a lot of shoe fit problems for me. I find in these I don't worry about toe bang as much, even though they are narrow in the front, because the fit is over-all more glove-like than what I had before, and the ability of my front foot to roll and flex means I can grip with my toes. They don't seem to get banged as much.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Inov-8 shoes on 03/31/2011 15:32:33 MDT Print View


I wish Inov-8 would make their more minimalist shoes with one of their wider lasts. All of the light-weight, low-profile trail shoes they make are with the performance last. The models that feature the wider lasts are too much shoe for my liking.

(odarcy) - F - M

Locale: SW
what's with the nail polish ? on 03/31/2011 18:17:35 MDT Print View

What is with the nail polish in the intro picture to this article ? Is it some further protection for the feet ?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: what's with the nail polish ? on 03/31/2011 19:27:42 MDT Print View


Edited by jshann on 03/31/2011 20:23:25 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: George - Try the Treks on 03/31/2011 19:34:58 MDT Print View


Go easy on the Treks at first. They are not shoes!

Mark Cucuzzella
(markcucu) - F

Locale: West Virginia
Damien is Correct...everything starts with the foot on 03/31/2011 19:41:09 MDT Print View

As a doc, runner, hiker, researcher in gait mechanics, and now store owner of a running/outdoor store selling only flat and minimal shoes....the research and human experience support less in more. out website is a portal of information, a library, videos, and evidence based education on the subject. Any of th minimal running shoes now such as Vivo Barefoot, NB Minimus, Merrell Trail Glove, Kigo, Inov 8, Altra, and more to come will support your foots rehab. Bracing the foot inhibits movement. take the 2 week challenge and walk as much as possible barefoot and when you need shoes get as thin and flat as possible for max proprioception.

Mark Cucuzzella MD

Edited by markcucu on 03/31/2011 19:46:51 MDT.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Re: what's with the nail polish ? on 03/31/2011 20:09:30 MDT Print View

Those are my wife's toes, and don't worry... it's UL nail polish ;-)

Lisa Nichols
(lnichols) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Inov-8 shoes on 04/03/2011 13:16:22 MDT Print View

I think those Inov-8, as well as some others, only come in a gender-neutral version - ie male only. I have the X-Talon 220s and have tried the MudRoc 290s - which are also a performance last. I do have slightly narrow feet (between normal and narrow for a woman), and actually find I have plenty of room in the forefoot and toe box of those shoes. My toes can surely spread out, a little too much for me. I can't even wear any of the other Inov-8 lasts due to the shoe feeling like boxes on my feet instead of shoes.
I buy shoes that people have said are "narrow", in the hopes they will work for me. I often find that doesn't work out because the reviewer had bear feet and anything but a DDD would feel tight (an exaggeration). But my point is you should probably let everyone know upfront what type of feet you have and that your review is based on your feet. Although I haven't tried the Inov-8 shoes you reviewed, I would likely rate the fit much higher than you did based on my feet.
Why can't we just get molds of our feet and have our runners/hikers custom made to fit - at an affordable price that is?

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Minimalist boots- has anyone tried Nike SFB? on 04/05/2011 09:35:49 MDT Print View

I'm not quite going for complete minimalism, rather fairly light, fairly neutral heel, good drainage, but high enough to keep rocks out. Normally I use Dirty Girl Gaiters but was looking for something a bit tougher.

The Nike SFB boots look pretty good. They are basically the same weight as my Montrail Hardrocks (older version). 16 oz. each boot for size 9.

If any of you have tried them, please report.


Daniel Fluri
(dani) - F
Merrell Trail/Barefoot Pace-Gloves on 04/11/2011 03:05:36 MDT Print View

My girlfriend's Merrell Barefoot Pace-Gloves after only two days hiking in the Swiss Jura-hills:


She returned them to the supplier, who will send them to the manufacturer. I shall keep you posted once we get a reply.

Edited by dani on 04/11/2011 03:07:07 MDT.

David Wood
(RedYeti) - MLife

Locale: South Eastern UK
Re: Gravel on 04/25/2011 07:24:16 MDT Print View

For what it's worth, my wife and I both wear FiveFingers (mainly KSOs) a lot and have done for a couple of years.

When we first wore them for a walk that took in a stretch of very stony beach we both found it painful after about 500 metres. That was a few months after we started using them.

We walked that same stretch about a month back and we both were struck by how we could walk the terrain without any pain. Nothing.

So, yes, after a while, your feet adapt. And we do need time to adapt - the idea mooted above that we shouldn't use minimalist footwear because we didn't grow up using it seems to give our bodys' ability to adapt way too little credit.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Gravel - adapting on 04/25/2011 10:38:10 MDT Print View

Had the FiveFinger Treks for four weekends of taking 1.5-1.75 hour walks both wkend days and then between taking 1-3 week day walks after work of .75-1.0 hours.

There is gravel section that I descend and then later ascend. Over a month's time I've experience a significant improvement. In the beginning my feet would react immediately when I'd feel any rock or point on my heel. Now I just walk right on over. I feel the points but relax and walk on.

I wonder if this is as much psychological as physical.

I am confident enough to take them on my next lightweight backpacking trip. Don't know how many miles I will do yet.

One change I've become aware of: I'm much more in tune with the surface of my immediately upcoming steps. With trailrunners and boots I sometimes tend inadvertently to kick rocks and roots - lack of concentration. Have not banged my feet yet or caught a toe with the fivefingers.

I've been enjoying them so far.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
VB's and rocky ground/ gravel on 05/02/2011 04:25:24 MDT Print View

Ditto on the last two comments. The previous iterations of the KSO's were a bit thin on the footpad and were a tad uncomfortable on gravel. The latest iterations -- the KSO Treks, Sport, Bikikias (sp?), etc.) have slightly thicker bottoms that solve the gravel issue.

I have given up on my other walking shoes. I'd wear my KSO Treks around my university if my students wouldn't say, Geesh, another wierd professor. ;-D

VBFF forever!


Eric Palumbo
(palumbo) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: VB's and rocky ground/ gravel on 05/02/2011 08:10:07 MDT Print View

"I have given up on my other walking shoes. I'd wear my KSO Treks around my university if my students wouldn't say, Geesh, another wierd professor. ;-D"

This is a great application for the Merrell Trail/True/Tough Glove shoes. Zero drop and a little bit of padding, but they look like "shoes" to the rest of the world.

I've walked up to 18 miles with a full pack and found them quite comfortable. I don't know if I'll walk the entire CT in them yet though....

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
nm on 05/02/2011 08:49:44 MDT Print View


Edited by brendans on 05/02/2011 08:54:47 MDT.