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Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 08/02/2011 13:13:33 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
LaSportiva on 08/02/2011 13:58:32 MDT Print View

The sole pictured is not the Crosslite tread, but the Skylite.

FWIW, I put holes in the outside toe of my Crosslites in ~50 miles. The mesh on the new X Country looks much better.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Goretex Socks? on 08/02/2011 15:14:00 MDT Print View

What Goretex Socks are you using?

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/02/2011 15:22:32 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 08/02/2011 16:13:49 MDT Print View

Has anyone tried those cheap Chuck Taylors for minimalist footwear? No footbed/ structure. Sure seemed to work fine when we were kids.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 08/02/2011 17:56:12 MDT Print View

Excellent report! Great detail. Nice pics.

I understand what you are saying about compromise, but based on your report I will wait and see before I buy Fall/Spring minimalist shoes. The narrow toe boxes would be hard for me to experience again after having splay room months now.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 08/02/2011 17:58:58 MDT Print View


Edited by gmatthews on 08/03/2011 10:20:33 MDT.

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
no soft stars? on 08/02/2011 18:47:27 MDT Print View

No soft star shoes in the review?
has anyone used them for longer distance hikes ? i know people run long distances in them.

i just bought the moc3 and Dash runamoc, light they are in the mail currently and i used the runamoc originals for walks with my dog, jogs and day hikes.

they seem to be the only true minimal shoes i can find that are not made to a "last"

i bought some minimus shoes they sit in my closet, my left knee hurts bad after a few kms in them, and i dont like the small toe box on my mt101s,

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 08/02/2011 19:04:01 MDT Print View

Great review - thanks for spending the huge amount of trail hours testing these and writing up the review!

The migration I took from boots to shoes was:

Boots -> Brooks Cascadia 5 -> Inov-8 X-Talon 212 -> Inov-8 X-Talon 190

I think you really nailed it with just how wonderful the Inov-8 X-Talon 190 shoes are for those in the lower base pack weight ranges.

Only once have I had my feet seriously damaged while wearing the X-Talon shoes, and that was on the Lost Coast Trail, which involved miles and miles of sharp shale, boulders, beach rock, and other unpleasant type of sharp terrain that loves to do damage to feet.

The X-Talon do seem to have narrow toes and I too have to buy one full size larger than is standard.

Again, great review!

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
New Balance MT 101 on 08/02/2011 19:12:10 MDT Print View

I have been hiking in the NB 101's for a couple of months now & have a few observations. They are great for folks with a narrow foot, ventilate very well, & dry out very quickly when wet. They seem to be a good intermediate step from traditional trail runners to 5 fingers or barefoot hiking. They have replaced my GoLite Comps the soles of which were destroyed after 200 trail miles. I have come to appreciate the plastic rock plate protecting the forefoot on the rocky trails in my area. For me, this shoe seems to be the perfect lightweight trail runner for someone who wants a lighter shoe that is inexpensive. I'll have to wait for colder weather to test them with my Kahtoola microspikes & Sealskin socks.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Great report on 08/02/2011 21:08:29 MDT Print View

Damien, great read. Thanks for trying so many shoes and sharing the results with us. For me, fit is number one too. I have two pair of trail runners. One has a great toe box where my toes can not only splay, but swell and just generally move enough that I'm not getting hot spots. The other has a semi pointy toe box, and while good for the gym, I'm doubting they'd be all that great on the trail. I just started wearing trail runners this year, but I've done seven day hikes in them and I'll be heading to the Sierra's next week where I'll use my preferred Salomons to put on a few miles. I'm pretty sure I'll never need to step into boots again. Damien, its a great feeling and you were one of those who helped and encouraged me to give them a try. I'm sure glad I did.

This article is one of the reasons why I'm a member of BPL. Informative articles, excellent forums, helping community. BPL rocks.

Bruce Grant
(smartass) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: LaSportiva on 08/03/2011 11:38:21 MDT Print View

Dave is correct, those are Skylites and not Crosslites. The fit and construction are the same on each model, but the Crosslites have a far more aggressively knobbed outsole.

The newer Crosslite 2.0 & Skylite 2.0 have a slightly wider fit in the mid- and fore-foot, so may be more appropriate for some people's feet.

Dave also mentions the X Country model, which, at 8.9 oz on my scale, is one of LaSportiva's lightest shoes. It has the same aggressive outsole as the Crosslite models. Though it has a similar upper construction as the Crosslite 2.0's, I find the fit even slightly bigger. The midsole is quite thin, and there is no protection plate, so it fits the "minimalist" model quite closely.

I too have had issues with both the original Crosslites as well as the 2.0 model where the upper fabric tears at the toe flexion points after ~100-150 miles. The X Country's are holding up better.


disclosure: I'm a member of the LaSportiva Mountain Running Team, but my intention is solely (ha) to contribute my experiences to the discussion.

Muffi Hannemann
(HikeHI) - F

Locale: Hawaii
Re: New Balance MT 101 on 08/03/2011 15:03:16 MDT Print View

'They are great for folks with a narrow foot..."

Funny you say that, because as someone with narrow feet, I was pretty disappointed with the fit when I received these. Maybe it has to do with how my feet are narrow at the toe area and have high arches, but with the 101's I felt like anytime I had to descend a slope my feet would slide around in the toe box, putting a lot of stress on the outer edges of my feet. This wasn't noticeable when standing on level ground but very prominent once on a slope. I assumed that they were designed for more of a wide flatter foot.

Anyway, after two light test hikes I knew they would not work for me while carrying a pack over longer distances. I hung them up and went back to my old addidas trail shoes which fit me like a glove even though they are rather bulky. Very disappointing since I have heard so much good about the MT101.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Re: Re: New Balance MT 101 on 08/03/2011 15:21:09 MDT Print View

HikiHI: 'Nother thumbs down here. On their way back to RRS. Large toe box. Not narrow! Hard plastic insert in the sole of the forefoot. Perhaps, this inhibits natural pronation thereby putting "stress" on the lateral edge of the foot? Have you tried the NB Trail Minimus? Really snug! Radically different (somewhat novel) than 101 and an oz lighter!

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/03/2011 15:27:13 MDT.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Walshes on 08/03/2011 16:30:23 MDT Print View

One nice thing about the walshes (the fell shoes that is) is that they can be resoled using the original sole units by a couple of UK based people. So the sole units wearing out fast isn't a major problem.

Of course thats really not a lot of use for people in the USA!

Edited by MartinCarpenter on 08/04/2011 02:16:20 MDT.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
MT 101 Clarification on 08/03/2011 16:42:03 MDT Print View

Interesting observations. More clarification may be in order. I also have very narrow feet but find that the MT 101's fit me very well. My heel, ankle, & hindfoot are more narrow, relatively speaking, than my forefoot & my arches are "average". I tried to lace the MT 101's loosely as suggested by many here & also found that on descents my feet would slide forward & bang my toes. When laced more snugly, but not tightly, I found that the hindfoot was "locked" into place & the toe issue disappeared. I have also noted that I cannot wear the MT 101's without socks or I get hotspots on both little toes, but don't notice this at all with any type of sock. Also, I have found that the MT 101's have to be sized a full size larger than other NB shoes I've worn to feel comfortable in the toe area, at least for me.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
MT110 coming soon on 08/03/2011 17:34:34 MDT Print View

Just came across these. Looks like a pretty awesome mix of the MT101s and Minimus:
-4mm drop
-Same last as the Minumus
-Stickier rubber and deeper lugs than the 101s
-upper that should be more durable (and more ugly heh)

These look like they address all of the complaints I have about the 101s, plus I find the Minimus last far more comfortable on my feet.

edit: looks like there will be wide sizes available as well

Edited by brendans on 08/03/2011 17:53:38 MDT.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: MT110 coming soon on 08/03/2011 23:19:09 MDT Print View

also another mininmus has been added, its the MT20. thicker sole than the Mt10

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
NB MT20 Minimus on 08/04/2011 11:57:20 MDT Print View

Thanks for the scoop. Just ordered some from Women's (WT) sizes/colors already picked over. White it is ;)

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/04/2011 12:02:21 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
"Barefoot" vs. "Minimalist" for backpackers on 08/05/2011 23:48:27 MDT Print View

I love Damien's articles, and I love talking minimalist footwear with him. The amount of trail time we've had together talking about this topic now numbers into the "hours" and I treasure our time together to bounce ideas of of him, and hear his thoughts.

I suspect that we disagree on one point that I believe to be a very important distinction when considering minimalist footwear.

That point is related to the shape of the toebox, and its applicability to off trail trekking.



A minimalist shoe may have a pointy toebox (think: performance last from Inov-8) or a wide toebox that allows the toes to splay (think Vibram Five Fingers at the extreme end of this).

A barefoot shoe should have a wide toebox to be considered a barefoot style shoe.

Ergo, a barefoot shoe is a subtype of a minimalist shoe.


The Argument

I don't think barefoot shoes are entirely appropriate for all Class 2 or higher travel because they do not allow you to concentrate weight onto a small surface, which may be useful in some situations for maximum traction/security on a steep slope. This is why rock climbing shoes have tiny toes (for smearing and edging) - this is obviously the extreme case, but I think, an important one.

I find that narrow toeboxes give more surer footing on steep terrain, especially tundra, and talus. I find barefoot shoes (wide toeboxes) to be fine on fine scree. The ability to precisely place a toe on a particular irregularity in the terrain is a distinct advantage for off trail hiking.

To that end, I've moved from the Inov-8 212's and 190's (2010) to the Baregrip 200's (2011) and find them to be an excellent all-conditions shoe. I still prefer the cushioning of the 212's for long distance days on hardpack trails, but now having done a number of 15+ mile days in the Baregrips, I may reverse that position soon.


What We Agree On

This transition from normal footwear to minimalist footwear is and should be a slow one: many months to several years are required to change your foot strength. Once the investment is made, though, you may never go back. The benefits come every morning after a big day -- i.e., you're ready to do it all over again because your joints don't hurt. It's beautiful.


One Last Thing I Think Is Stupid

This one goes to manufacturers: stop making flat soles that offer no traction. It's useless off the pavement, which includes steep terrain, less than ideal conditions (mud, duff, dirt, snow, muck). Put some real lugs on your shoes, for God's sake, so our weight can concentrate stress into a tiny gripper lug that keeps us from sliding around. C'mon already.


Damien, sincere thanks for spending so much energy on this topic. It's a good one.

Paul Doran
(PaulDoran) - F

Locale: Guernsey
Luna Sandles on 08/06/2011 00:37:11 MDT Print View

I don't understand why Luna Sandles are not receiving more press.

They're beautiful and brilliant.