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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.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
"Natural"? on 08/06/2011 03:30:24 MDT Print View

Where does "natural" fit into the classification scheme?

Yeah, Five Fingers allow toes to splay. You got to splay 'em to get'em in. Don't allow toes to un-splay!! They could probably justify their own category.

Many months to years? To go from where to where? Pretty much going cold turkey (About 5 weeks in) from Performance Neutral (an RRS classification) to "Minimalist"-- tail running, trail walking, road running and even minimalist for hacking about --check out the nerdy NB minimus casual). Close to the earth at all times! Starting to get back in shape after a significant back injury so mileage is low -- Mostly 5 miles runs 2000ft elev change. Bit more distance on the road. Would like to at least double that in a couple weeks:) Posture much better, thoracic spine feel much better in flat light shoe! Balanced and quick to react. Heel strike disappeared -- it hurts to do it :)

Postman came today with a few options...think I'm gonna like these

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/06/2011 17:07:07 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: "Barefoot" vs. "Minimalist" for backpackers on 08/06/2011 04:22:39 MDT Print View

>> It's beautiful.

AMEN! My Brother.

Damien's BPL article last Spring changed my life. Really. I owe you both - big time!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: "Barefoot" vs. "Minimalist" for backpackers on 08/06/2011 08:01:08 MDT Print View

Another thought when transitioning...

You need to spend some time and effort on your gait. I recommend you begin by looking at anatomy drawings and pictures of the human foot. Learn the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, etc. Know what is under your the sweaty skin of your feet. Look at the leg infrastructure, too. You can go to Google Books and find such information in Grey's Anatomy. The versions are decades old, but I believe our feet have not changed - but shoes sure have : )

Next, read about walking and running gait. What works for you? For me, what works is:
1. Upright, head up and eyes looking ahead
2. Forward lean from the ankles (during running it is like I'm falling forward - and I would fall if I weren't running)
3. Legs spinning like the Road Runner cartoon (not that fast yet - beep beep)
4. Feet land under hips - no over striding!
5. Foot strike mid foot - my target is a bit on outside part of foot - right behind the little toe
6. Experiment with going faster
7. Pay very close attention to any warnings your feet, legs, back, etc are giving you
8. Smile and enjoy the walk/run

Believe. You can do it. Some require more time than others to transition. But we can all do it. It's like our feet were designed to do this : )

Minimalist has been a very good thing for me. Thanks to BPL and articles like Damien's. GREAT VALUE!

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Start with "Born to Run" on 08/06/2011 12:23:57 MDT Print View

Or you can start with "Born to Run", an excellent read, and go from there. McDougall sites some great sources. Memorizing anatomical structures from a textbook is futile. Even if you have good skeleton models and cadavers to work with, I doubt such efforts will help your running much.

With a good surgeon and fastidious rehab later, patients have come back from severe crush injuries to the foot and ankle in less than 18 months to run long distances. To suggest that a fit walker can't get a bit closer to the earth and make a few tweaks that should feel natural in a relatively short period of time is absurd.

For those wearing Inov-8 190s, 200s or similar type shoes for "backpacking", are you using the stock liner or some other footbed...or neither? Any other mods?

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/06/2011 12:30:55 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re "Minimalist" vs "Barefoot" for backpackers on 08/06/2011 12:49:57 MDT Print View

Ryan you make a good point but I'm curious about a few things.
First off it seems most of the "barefoot" crowd is forefoot striking when they run and hike, I certainly do when I use my Merrell Trail Gloves. Does this still work in a minimalist shoe like the Innov8 200 thats lighter but tight in the toes. If your toes have less room to spread around how much is that going to affect your stride? If it does change your stride from what a barefoot stride would be are you defeating the whole purpose of a minimalist or barefoot shoe.

I am stuck with really wide toes so its difficult for me to find shoes that aren't somewhat constricting on the toes. I used to use Adidas that were a bit snug there but I was also coming down hard on my heel and occasionally getting sore knees on longer hikes. Now I use Merrell Trail Gloves and New Balances 101s. I land gently on my heal but mostly my weight lands on my forefoot. Both of these shoes have wide toe boxes. I would love to try a pair of Innov8s or La Sportiva X-Countries but when I try them on even sizing up I just feel like my toes won't be able to move as much. Anyone have insight on this?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 08/06/2011 13:44:56 MDT Print View

I am a big fan of classic vans or chucks. More their style though, they are not very durable the days and can cause occasional hot spots. But I have hiked so far and for so long in just classic vans. They are perfect for me.
These are my dream shoes:

Rick Donnelly
(rdonnelly) - MLife

Locale: New Mexico
Nike SFB Mid Boot also a good candidate on 08/06/2011 22:09:55 MDT Print View

I've been running up and down the Sandias and in the Grand Canyon in a pair of Nike SFB Mid Boots. My feet run towards narrow but I've had no problems with them. They're not as durable as I had hoped, and since Nike has discontinued the Mid size I'm in the hunt for another pair rather than moving up to their full size boot. But they were comfy right out of the box, and surprisingly faithful to the barefoot comfort I've grown used to in my KSOs and Merrill Tough Gloves. What sets the SFB's apart for me are how well they handle rocky trails. They've been as protective of my feet as my Salomon Fastpackers but more comfortable and a lot more anatomically correct. I cannot measure the heel lift in them, if they have it, but subjectively the last seems a lot flatter than regular hiking boots I've worn. I really like them, but wish Nike would make them in civilian rather than military khaki color and actually stock them. They're not in the least bit stylish but the comfort more than makes up for it.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Vibram 5 Fingers on 08/07/2011 07:37:55 MDT Print View

I've been 5k training in a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers Bikila's. I decided to go with the KSO Trek for 3 season backpacking. This worked for me because I had done training in the Bikila's. When I first went to this style of shoe, I ran in them for a couple miles. This was a huge mistake. My calves cramped so badly that I couldn't walk up or down a flight of stairs for a week (couldn't run either). Morale of the story is that if you are going to transition, do so slowly so that your body has time to adjust. I chose these shoes because I had problems with my knees, hips, and lower back. By running on the front 1/3 (approx) of my foot, I turned the muscles of my foot, ankle, and calves into another shock absorber "system" in my leg (added to the rest of the leg). I'm beginning 10k training next week, and marathon training 8 to 10 weeks after that.

I'm going to try climbing in these shoes too. I've done some bouldering with outstanding results. I manipulate my toes like I would my fingers to wrap around small grips. I can also transfer most of my weight to my big toe (and the toe next to it) when I need a "point." I know there are lots of climbers that do it barefoot, so I don't imagine this is a terrible idea.

As for pain with these shoes, I've had none (aside from the first two mile experience). No blisters, no foot injuries, no pain in knees, or lower back, etc. In fact, this has strengthened my ankles, and I no longer have problems with rolling them.

What I didn't like about the shoes: I haven't found the answer to that question yet. They're light and comfortable (approx 12 oz size 45 (U.S. 10)). I wish they made an "aqua sock" version for swimming.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking" on 08/07/2011 10:24:45 MDT Print View

New Balance is releasing the new MT110 in the fall, they've improved the traction significantly on the outsole in comparison to its' predecessor the MT101, they're also claiming a "broader" width in the toebox but not ridiculously wide as to compromise performance and protection. The rubber compound on the outsole is supposedly going to be "tackier" and more supple than the 101's for better traction on rock surface. The stack height in heel is 18mm and 14mm in the toebox, so they've reduced the 10mm heel/toe drop found in the older MT101 down to a nice 4mm drop in the upcoming model.

The stiff rock plate found in the forefoot of the MT101 has been toned down some for the new model, and the heel counter on the upper which seemed to give some people blister issues has been eliminated.

Concerning the upper, Anton Krupicka, mountain running god, who has developed the shoe from its infancy years ago alongside NB stated he got over 500+ miles of trail running in the CO mountains without nearly a wink of breakdown in the MT110's upper, many of those miles were in winter with Kahtoola spikes. That's pretty dang good considering the shoe is quite a bit less expensive than most of the other "minimalist" shoes out there which are in the $100+ range.

I'm pretty excited about this shoe.

The Saucony Peregrine is a shoe that should have been included in this article, these are proving to be most excellent in my experience so far.

Edited by Eugeneius on 08/07/2011 10:27:32 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Since someone mentioned Vibram Five Fingers on 08/07/2011 12:29:29 MDT Print View

Rehabbing a back injury, I thought it would be a great time to experiment with more minimalist shoes as I'm not doing much mileage anyway. I really like the flatness of some of these shoes -- I am convinced they enable to me to maintain the normal curves of the spine a bit easier. They are not so kind to heel strikers so I am quickly breaking the habit.

Transitioning from typical "performance neutral" shoes to NB Minimus and Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 and others is not turning out to be much of a transition. A bit less cushioning perhaps. However, I am stumped by the Five Fingers Bikala (Women's 37). Running errands in these and simply walking a few minutes on a treadmill is a chore. Just to get it on, I must manually splay my toes much further than they would naturally splay while weight bearing in any situation. Once in, they are effectively locked in this position (like the toe separator they put between your toes when you get a pedicure). I tried on a couple of the KSO models and they seemed to pull the toes still further apart. What must be my dorsal metatarsal ligaments get quite sore from this pulling. Is this a desired effect?

Allowing the toes to splay sounds reasonable. But shouldn't the toes be allowed to return to their relaxedl un-splayed state during the non weight bearing phases so they can splay again on the next impact? Perhaps not? I am afraid Five Fingers are going back to REI. Am I giving up to easily?

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/07/2011 12:48:59 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: "Barefoot" vs. "Minimalist" for backpackers on 08/07/2011 14:00:32 MDT Print View

George - Great suggestions for people looking to transition to minimalist footwear. My suspicion is that many people who "bruise" their feet in minimalist footwear are actually straining their arches, and not actually "bruising." It seems like an issue with their gait, not the ground or the footwear. So, your suggestions should be very useful.

As I've made the transition, I found that it's all about modifying your gait - body upright, bent knees, feet under hips, and faster cadence steps. Also, a mid-foot strike just as you describe, right behind the little toe. But, don't walk on your toes. Bending your ankles and stepping down lightly is especially important over miles of sharp, loose rock.


Also, I've found that minimalist shoes excel on steep rock. My TrekSports really allow me to get my toes into cracks, while having just enough support in the sole.


I've worn these TrekSprots on snow and ice. The biggest issue in those conditions, really is insulation. I need to play around with it some more this Fall. I've been thinking about combining them with a Forty Below overboot, like the Light Energy.

Edited by vinovampire on 08/07/2011 14:01:22 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: "Barefoot" vs. "Minimalist" for backpackers on 08/07/2011 19:24:51 MDT Print View


Looks like we are figuring this stuff out : ). Agree with you about people straining their arches. Our feet are amazing devices, but just like everything else in life, we need to learn how to use them properly if we minimize our shoes. Gaining an understanding about our anatomy and analysis of our gait is not for everyone. I'm four months into my transition and am quite delighted with my progress. I'm only transitioning because it is making my life better. I can run now 6+ miles and enjoy it. Years ago I'd given up on running because it was like suffering to me and I'd hurt all over afterwards.

I backpacked recently on a lot of hard rock, loose stuff, a little snow, a bit of mud, etc. I did low miles because I was with my wife, but carried some decent weight. I did ankle stretching when I first woke in the morning before I got up - dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. Also, got to put the feet in very, cold water (snow melt) at least once a day. I had enough in my feet/legs to run a couple of miles without my pack after we were done hiking for the day.

Over the next couple of months, I going to hike some 1-3 nighters. Will have a very light pack and try to get up to about 20 or so miles per day. No pressure on myself. I will stop sooner if my feet tell they've had enough.

Don't know about insulation. Have not been able to find much about that. I will look at the Light Energy.

Let's keep learning and doing and sharing!

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Since someone mentioned Vibram Five Fingers on 08/07/2011 21:43:33 MDT Print View

Hartley, I had the same problems. I don't think I have the right shaped toes for VFFs. Could be b/c they're short, so the angles between them are greater when the shoe is on than they would be for someone with longer toes. In any case, I found them really uncomfortable.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Re: Re: "Barefoot" vs. "Minimalist" for backpackers on 08/07/2011 21:51:14 MDT Print View

George - Yup, I agree. We're on our way to figuring it out. ;-)

I've been thinking more and more about the idea that (generally) the human body is not an inherently flawed "design" that needs to be "fixed." Instead, we need to "start from zero" AKA a naked human body and then build from that point as needs present themselves. To ween myself from footwear, I've been hiking barefoot and using minimalist footwear this year. All of my trips have been in northern New England, from nice flat trails to across the ridge of the Presidential Range, through mud and snow melt, across roots and rocks.


Unfortunately, I'm stuck in town until September, while I finish my degree. But, beginning in September, I'll be back to my regular levels of hiking and backpacking and running. As I learn more, I'll be sure to share it here.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
If your feet look like FIve Fingers... on 08/07/2011 22:39:29 MDT Print View

Spelt --

Yeah, that's the scoop -- they're hit or miss. If your feet look like the Five Fingers, that is If your feet are that wide across the ball of the foot and your toes approximate the size and shape of Vibram toes (short and stubby), perhaps they're a hit. I have long thin toes.

That being said, a lot people are modifying them in various ways. There are forums devoted to this. I like the concept and they're cute and fun but I can't be bothered with mods at this point. If a model comes out that appears to better approximate the dimensions of my feet, perhaps I'll give them another go :)

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/07/2011 22:42:20 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking" on 08/07/2011 22:58:46 MDT Print View

For VFF to make a "shoe" that assumes the anatomical makeup of everyones foot is homogenous is a joke IMO, the evolving closet of near barefoot and minimalist shoes that forego the gimmicky toe pockets of the VFF in favor of a broader toebox are proving you don't really need them.... the toe condoms that is.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Other Options on 08/08/2011 01:29:32 MDT Print View

I'm over it :) FFs attract way too much attention anyway. The brief period I tried them, I was like wearing a conversation piece even here in Pasadena. Can you imagine tramping in them abroad! So just as well I'm not of FF dimensions :) In the last couple weeks, I've tried so many "minimalist" offerings. I have a large stack for UPS tomorrow! I like that so many of these are flat -- same height forefoot and heel or just a slight stack height.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/08/2011 01:36:52 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: "Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking" on 08/08/2011 06:55:19 MDT Print View


LOL - toe condoms - still LOL : )


Good luck. You will find your golden shoe! I had trouble when I first got my VFF. Now they slip right on. My little toe took a bit longer than my other little piggies, but now goes wee-wee-wee all the way home when I put them on.


I also like Trail Gloves. But they look like clown shoes if you really look down at them. When you think more about this subject, our feet are pretty funny looking, too. Study your naked feet for a few minutes when you need a good laugh. I don't think anyone ever texts pictures of their feet to their sweethearts.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
"High" mileage with minimalist shoes on 08/08/2011 11:42:24 MDT Print View

Hi all.

I have a -for me- important question about minimalist shoes...... But, let’s explain my situation first: Over the last few years, I’ve been transitioning into lighter packs, although I haven’t been able to get the base weight into the UL-figures -yet :)-. At the moment, for three season use, it’s in between 5 and 6 kgs (11 – 13 lbs.) but I’m confident I’ll be able to get it into the single digits with a few more MYOG alterations I have in mind (I’m hoping to achieve an 8 or 9 lbs. base weight).

At the same time I’ve changed my shoes as well. All my life (I’m nearly sixty now) I’ve been walking in sturdy, heavy, semi-rigid mountain boots, because that’s what you were supposed to do when venturing into the mountains; at the moment (except in mid-winter) I do exactly the same as I did before, but use sandals (Columbia Titanium Torrent) instead of the fore-mentioned boots. I have to admit this has taken quite a while: I started with some mid height trekking boots, then went to lower boots, changed into XC Trainers and my last acquisition (over 1 year ago) was the pair of before mentioned water sandals.

With every change my feet became happier and now, with the sandals, they are delighted. Where before, with the heavy boots they felt miserable and in pain at the end of the day, now they seem to be able to keep on walking and walking and walking. Only once a blister was developed and that, I think, was because I really went too quick (was in a haste to get to the end of a trail at an agreed time). At my age I don’t run anymore -I don’t even walk at a quick pace-, but I do walk from dawn till dusk which means I’m getting about 20 to 30 miles out of each day (depending on elevation gain) and that’s what my question is about:

Since my actual Columbia Torrent' are -nearly- ready for retirement, I was thinking of getting the Tech Amphibian (Salomon); these are still sandals but they have a mesh covering to help keep debrish out (quite an advantage over 'normal' sandals). Now, after reading this very informative article, I wouldn't mind undertaking another change in my walking-habits, but...... What about doing the kind of mileage explained before in minimalist or barefoot shoes? When answering this question it’s important to bear in mind that my “adventures” in the backcountry normally last about 1 to 2 weeks; this means, on a “normal” hike (1 week to 10 days), I carry ALL my food (10 days = around 15 lbs.) for the whole trip in my pack from the beginning (if the trip is 2 weeks, I’d organize same in such a way I’ll have a re-supply point somewhere half way). All this means that my initial starting weight (base weight + consumables + water) -at this moment- for a 10-day trip gets up to a considerable 30 lbs (12 + 15 + water). Even WHEN I get the base weight down to 8 or 9 lbs. (note I didn’t say IF, because I’m sure I’ll be able to), the total initial weight will not be less than 25 lbs (8 + 15 + water). Once again, is this “doable” with minimalist or barefoot shoes?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
small shoes, big miles on 08/08/2011 12:04:00 MDT Print View

"Once again, is this “doable” with minimalist or barefoot shoes?"

Yes, with the sort of mindful transition mentioned above. IMO the speed of that transition depends a lot on individual variation. Listen to your body and you should be fine.

A sort of step down shoe might be a good idea. Something like a Sportiva Crossleather or Fireblade or Salmon Speedcross, light but with some rigidity.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: "High" mileage with minimalist shoes on 08/08/2011 18:30:37 MDT Print View


Another vote for 'doable' if going lighter.

>>30 lbs (12 + 15 + water)

I carried 29 lb on first day of a recent hike using VFF. My feet were fine. However, I did not do 25 mile days. Average was less than six miles per day with pack + a little running without pack.

Soon I will be doing higher mileage but with SUL base pack wt, and not more than 3 days of food (total 5 + 4.5 = about 10 lb)

IMO, as we age, if we want to hike more mileage then we need to really lighten our packs. My gut feel is that 25 mile days with close to 30 lb might be pushing the limits unless you are superman : )

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
small shoes - the science? on 08/08/2011 18:37:47 MDT Print View

I want to ask a more general question about minimalist shoes: is there any science behind using these shoes for hiking?

I'm a runner, and I've read a lot about the benefits of minimal running shoes. There's even some science to back up the claims of barefoot-type runners. But running is very different from hiking. So, can anyone point me to actual scientific studies of minimal hiking shoes?

FWIW, I'm extremely skeptical about minimal hiking shoes. I thru-hiked the PCT in very cushy NB trail runners (with custom orthotics) and had ZERO foot problems except for a few blisters. Why switch?

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: small shoes - the science? on 08/08/2011 19:50:06 MDT Print View

Science? My guess is that there is none.

So, why switch?

A combination of insanity and pure joy.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: small shoes - the science? on 08/08/2011 20:19:50 MDT Print View

No pain, no gain.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Running vs. Walking on 08/08/2011 22:10:54 MDT Print View


My question exactly. There has been a fair bit of analysis of the barefoot runner. A number of conclusions have been drawn regarding the natural running motion. Numerous books have been devoted to the subject, some of which are excellent reads. However, is walking different? And how? Are the footwear needs of walkers different? And how?

I walk and run. The motion is not the same. Does it matter in terms of footwear? I don't know.

Re: the hype about splay. How much do YOUR toes splay? Have a look.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/08/2011 22:28:07 MDT.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
@George - "High" mileage on 08/09/2011 02:40:24 MDT Print View

Hi George,

>> IMO, as we age, if we want to hike more mileage then we need to really lighten our packs <<

Indeed, the older we get, the more complicated it becomes to do high mileage with heavy packs (‘heavy’ meant -in early days- a total weight of over 25 kgs - 55 lbs). Then the time came my body -especially my knees- was telling me I had to either (1) give up walking or (2) get the pack weight down or (3) do very low mileage. I wasn’t willing to do either 1 or 3, so that’s why I started reading about going UL. As I said before, I’ve managed so far to go as low as 11 - 13 lbs, but I’m convinced I’ll get it down to 8 - 9 lbs (hopefully even less). As most of us, I’ve created a spreadsheet with my gear list but, taking it a step further, I also created a spreadsheet with my menu. It isn’t completely finished yet but the idea is being able to alter the ‘ingredients’ of my menu and instantly getting back the changes in calories (this part is ready), as well as the protein, carbs and fat proportions. So far, this has enabled me to get about 3000 cal out of 700 gr (1.5 lbs) of food per day and I’m trying to get the same calories at an even lower weight, with a ‘perfect’ balance of Prot/Carb/Fat proportions.

>> My gut feel is that 25 mile days with close to 30 lb might be pushing the limits unless you are superman :) <<

I’m certainly not superman and have been doing high mileage with the initial 30 lbs on my back [first days: lower miles; towards the end (less food), higher miles] with the mentioned sandals. And I was fine. That’s why I wanted to know whether it would be possible to do the same -eventually, after the required training period- with the minimalist shoes.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
"One pound on the foot equals 5 pounds on the back." on 08/09/2011 03:08:24 MDT Print View

I'm not sure this has been subject to rigorous testing.

Flyingdutchman, if you subscribe to this old adage, one should ultimately be able to go FURTHER in lighter shoes than in heavier shoes. What do you think?

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/09/2011 03:11:38 MDT.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Re: One pound on the foot equals 5 pounds on the back on 08/09/2011 06:34:30 MDT Print View

I have heard about this adage and I’m pretty sure there will be some truth in same. Having said so, I don’t know whether this works for everybody or not. I can only talk for myself, but I must say that I’ve never had any problems with my legs, not even after very long days (up to 40 – 45 miles; the longest distance I’ve walked in a day was 56 miles, but that was without a pack and I was 35 years younger then). I’m convinced that the combination of both training and genetics (probably the latter is more important), has been the reason why my body has developed such strong leg muscles and that’s why they never let me down. Whenever I’ve had to give up, or slow down, it has always been because my lungs couldn’t deliver the oxygen required for the exercise or my feet couldn’t cope with being confined in those heavy boots.

What I’m trying to explain is that I don’t see myself being able to walk a lot more by just bringing down the weight of the shoes from about 13 oz. (each of my actual Columbia Titanium Torrent, size 46EU ≈ 12.5USA) to -how much- 8oz.?? 6oz.?? for some minimalist shoes. Don’t know how much these would weigh, but I can’t see it makes that much of a difference whilst my legs seem to be able to cope, without any problems, with a lot more weight. As a matter of fact, they even do well with my extremely heavy weight, double, winter mountaineering boots [I use a pair of Salomon Prothermic, which at size 47EU ≈ 14USA weigh in at 2640+543(innerboots) = 3183gr ≈ 7lbs].

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: @George - "High" mileage on 08/09/2011 12:14:41 MDT Print View


My gut feel was for minimalist shoes. Not what you've been doing.

Maybe you claim not to be superman with your sandals, but we will call you Clark Kent then. : )

Backpacking with minimalist shoes will have limits, however, I do not believe enough backpackers have hiked enough miles to establish a relevant range. Maybe 25 lb pack and 20 mile days, or maybe 15 lb pack and 25 mile days. Who knows.

I think those like us here, young and old, will be the ones who venture into this fringe to find out. Next August, my bet is that we all will know alot more about our limits.

Starting with strong feet/legs is a big plus during the transition to minimalist shoes. Beginning without carrying a pack seems like a good strategy. Follow with day hikes and 1-3 nighters with a light pack. Then maybe go week+ long where food will increase weight near 30 lb. For example I know I can hike about six miles a day with that weight for a few days. But could I go a week or more?

Soon I will let you know what I can do with about 10 lb pack.

Sorry, rather than answering your question, I asked more questions. : )

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Probably better of with another pair of sandals. on 08/09/2011 14:24:22 MDT Print View

Superman or Clark Kent??? ... Just TFD ... LOL ... Although...... The ‘Flying’ part of this acronym is a reminiscence of earlier, long forgotten years. I think I should find another nick ‘cause I can’t live up to this one anymore. What a pity - getting older. Having said so... NOT getting older is worse, isn’t it?? :)

- Sorry for the OFF TOPIC -

I think I’ll go ahead with the Salomon Tech Amphibian and maybe get some VFF as well. This way I can do some testing and find out for myself. Still interested in finding out what one -you- can do with a 10 lb pack.

Edited by theflyingdutchman on 08/09/2011 14:29:27 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Gore-tex socks and Crampons on 08/11/2011 01:24:15 MDT Print View

Both were mentioned in the article.

Can someone elaborate a bit.

Waterproof socks: I have tried socks by sealskinz (the US licensee, Looks like the UK site as an entire line of more technical socks for various uses) and Serius. Bummers! The are not formfitting. They might work if you sized your shoe up a full size but they would still be baggy and wrinkly.

Crampons? I am at a total loss. In the last few weeks, I have tried several of the lighter trail runners. For example, Inov-8 Bare Grip is one I like -- probably more for running than walking. You put crampos on this shoe? Which ones? Where do you go with this arrangement -- what type of terrain. How do you feel? And how does the shoe hold up after a few days?

BPL has a lot of good articles. But sometime things aren't clarified very well. "I like this shoe because I can put crampons on it." Yeah, and where do you go with this set up and does the shoe survive? Do you feel secure?

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/11/2011 01:41:37 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Re: One pound on the foot equals 5 pounds on the back on 08/11/2011 01:38:53 MDT Print View

Now, taking a pound off your feet so you can add five pounds to your back doesn't really intrigue me! There seem to be a number of posts here about lightening footwear to increase pack weight. I think there is something to be said for this old wisdom but why not just enjoy the weight savings?

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Walking on 08/11/2011 06:35:21 MDT Print View

Thats got me interested too. Flexible/light very much has effects when walking, but I'm far less sure if cushioning does.

Uphill (steep) I certainly don't use my heels at all even in cushioned running shoes, downhill you just want secure really and do you ever heel strike very much when walking?

Cushioning not missed on peat of course, but certainly nice when you run into extensive bits of made vehicle tracks, tarmac etc. Although I'd almost get as worried by how the grippy sole units on some of these would just get worn to dust by that sort of stuff....

I'd guess the peregines might be too cushioned to count?!

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Peregrines not minimalist but... on 08/11/2011 09:03:20 MDT Print View

Just got some. Gonna wait a day for a 1/2 size larger before taking them out on the trail. They are pretty beasty overall --rigid shoes with serious tread. Wouldn't want to run in them -- way too stiff. One thing they have going for them IMO is that they are relatively flat heel-toe! They have some firm cushion. They certainly are not barefoot/minimalist. I think a lot people are going to like them...for walking. I am happy with more minimalist trail running shoes for trail running. I am not convinced that the principles of barefoot running are completely applicable to backpacking.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/11/2011 09:15:08 MDT.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Lightening footwear to increase pack weight??? ----- NO WAY!!! Enjoy weight savings??? YES!!! on 08/11/2011 09:39:11 MDT Print View

Hello Hartley,

>> Now, taking a pound off your feet so you can add five pounds to your back doesn't really intrigue me! There seem to be a number of posts here about lightening footwear to increase pack weight. I think there is something to be said for this old wisdom but why not just enjoy the weight savings? <<

Totally agree. As I said, I know the adage but I never ever thought of using weight reduction of shoes to increase pack weight (and I don’t think anyone in the UL-community will). As a matter of fact, I think it’s just the other way around: If you don’t reduce pack weight you won’t be able to reduce the weight of the shoes and that’s the reason of my question (will I be able to use minimalist shoes if my initial pack weight is around 30 lbs?).

If I can’t do that, the solution is easy: (1) I’ll have to forget about minimalist shoes; or (2) I’ll have to get the pack weight down; or (3) get more re-supply points. (Mind you: I’m not talking about ‘increasing’ pack weight!) To address point (3) first: If I can get away for 10 days in the mountains, I want to be able to walk wherever I want to -- I don’t want to having to walk from one re-supply point to another, so I’ll have to take ALL my food (for 10 days) as from day one. At 1.5 lb per day, that means 15 lbs of food. So, even after shaving off every ounce of my base weight and bringing it down to 8 pounds, I’m still left with an initial pack weight of 25 lbs (I only count 1 liter of water and I haven’t added the rest of the consumables, so it's likely to be more). And that was the reason of my initial question: Is this doable in minimalist shoes?

According to the answers from other posters this seems difficult, so that’s why I’ve decided -more or less:)- to stick with sandals for the time being. I’ll probably buy some VFF too, to try to make an effort to transition -very slowly- into wearing minimalist shoes so I can find out for myself.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Lightening footwear to increase pack weight??? and walk vs run on 08/11/2011 10:56:58 MDT Print View

Increased weight! - that is like kryptonite to TFD. I agree NO WAY.


walk vs run form - it depends...

Consider a continuum. Walking slowing on one end, running fast on the other.


I would agree that walking and running are quite different at the opposite ends. Slowly walking versus sprinting. However, someone like me who walks fast and runs slow, the only difference is cadence.

My gait in both has the same: form, midfoot, lean from ankles, head up, and upright posture. Just faster steps when running. And both feet off the ground between strides when running versus one foot on ground between strides when walking.

Carrying a pack while walking fast all day with minimalist shoes is unknown territory for me.

I've tried low miles (6 mpd) with no problems carrying about 30 lb. No problems.

My theory is that minimalist shoes will work better the lighter your pack is if you want to hike at a good pace all day long (20+ mile days). I believe <20 lb for +20 miles or somewhere +/- few lbs and miles.

Here's what I want to test: minimalist shoes work for lightweight backpackers who hike all day.

I will get back with you later next week with the results of my first test.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Running not just fast walking on 08/11/2011 11:21:55 MDT Print View

I do not subscribe to the idea of a "continuum" with speed being the differentiating factor between walking and running. No. The mechanics are not the same. The first few slides of the powerpoint presentation clearly outline the fundamental differences between walking and running: If you have access to MEDLINE, you will find a large body of literature devoted to the subject.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/11/2011 11:54:17 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Running not just fast walking on 08/11/2011 12:48:25 MDT Print View

Agreed. If running were fast walking, there'd be no reason to hate running as much as I do! Walking good. Running not so much. Although, having adjusted my stride makes it, if not enjoyable, at least no longer painful.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Also not convinced on 08/11/2011 13:14:14 MDT Print View

I'm also not convinced that minimalist shoes are ideal for backpacking. Your bones are a porous solid and they will remodel when exposed to continuous, increased stress levels (where stress is force per unit area). Basically, your bone density increases giving it more material to handle the increased force. The rest of your tissue/muscle does something similar but more complex (it grows in size and remodels). If you give your bones enough time to respond, they can remodel themselves to a point where they can handle the new increased stress that will be applied to them by minimalist shoes. However, the new stress level could be greater than what your bones can physically remodel to. What this limit is depends on your age, your weight, your pack weight, mileage, terrain, stride, etc.

My point is that even with a gradual transition (which is necessary for most people) and a new stride, minimalist shoes may not work for backpacking for every body. I think that a small amount of cushioning could be very beneficial for when heel striking on level, hard ground.

I've been using the Peregrines for about a month now and really like them. I love the grip and the amount of protection I get for their weight. I really wish Saucony made a more minimal version of the Peregrine, but they don't, so I'm going to give the new NB MT 20s a try soon and see how they work out. I'm hoping they will be the perfect combination of protection, comfort, and minimalism that I'm looking for.

(I'm a mechanical engineer developing a new program to simulate growth and remodeling in the body for my master's thesis, so this kind of stuff is constantly on my mind)

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
NB MT Minimus 20 vs. Peregrine -- Different Categories on 08/11/2011 14:03:06 MDT Print View

In the last couple weeks I have tried about 30 shoes. I order them from places that guarantee your purchase -- RRS, REI, Several of the Inov-8 models I had to order from Zappos which isn't one of those places with a liberal return policy although they do have free shipping both ways. Some I try on, take off and and pack up immediately, some make it to the treadmill and then the one's with potential go to the trail. I am shopping for trail running shoes and backpacking shoes -- separate categories as far as I'm concerned.

I think Peregrine is going to be a popular backpacking shoe for a lot of people!

I took a couple runs on on the trail in the MT Trail Minimus, a little slipper that will stop heel striking immediately -- negative feedback. The Minimus 20 is less snug than the first Trail Minimus with a wide forefoot and the same sole material as the Trail Minimus -- a seemingly decorative pattern that is slightly sticky. It appears quite delicate overall. It did not make it as far as the treadmill. I would not consider Minumus 20 and Peregrine in the same category. Peregrine is somewhat Salomon-like without the high "ramp angle".

BTW, running in minimal shoes wasn't much of a transition for me. For road runners I am using NB Road Minimus (I have the NB Minimus Life too -- oh so nerdy!) -- highly recommend. Nothing radical just flat and light. If anything, I think such shoes are a good way to improve your running. Walking on the other hand...

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/11/2011 15:35:16 MDT.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Walking and running on 08/11/2011 16:01:12 MDT Print View

Pretty cool, Hartley, I'd love to see a list of all the shoes you've tried and your opinions on them! I definitely agree that running in minimalist shoes is different than walking in them, mainly because running uses the forefoot strike and walking uses a midfoot or heel strike. I just wanted to provide a different viewpoint to people for why a transition period might be necessary.

I started off my journey into the world of minimal footwear with a pair of Merell Trail Gloves. I did not find the transition to running in them very difficult, but walking in them took a little more effort. I returned those to REI after only having them a month because the desert in my backyard was tearing up the non-vibram sections of the sole (I walk my dog a lot in a local desert park, a good place to test shoes). Since most of the damage was under my arch, I think it may have had something to do with the shoe being a little narrow in the midfoot.

I then tried the Montrail Rogue Racers, the MT 101s, and the Peregrines and only the Peregrines were wide enough for my feet. The Rogue Racers and MT 101s also felt way too cushiony for my tastes. After several day hikes and 1 overnighter, they are hands down my favorite shoes yet. My longest stretch in them was a day hike of 14 miles, 3500 ft elevation change and they performed great. Like I said earlier, I just wish Saucony made a more minimal version, and with better color choices.

That's interesting/slightly unfortunate to hear about the MT 20s - I have never seen a pair of Minimus Trails in person. I'd still like to try a pair, if for no other reason than to use them as my daily work/walking shoes, but maybe not if they are that delicate. It seems the only minimalist shoes which have good reviews for walkers are the Saucony Hatori and the NB Minimus Life, neither of which could stand up to hiking. Any others good for walking? Inov-8's are too narrow for me; the VFF might be good overall if they fit, but I'd never wear those to work...

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
MT 20s on 08/11/2011 17:45:01 MDT Print View

John, they are well made. A thoughtful design. Delicate looking mesh. Clearly, manufacturers are saving weight in the mesh dep't! IMO, they are well within "minimalist". You might like them.

Since you brought it up...the Hattori is junk:

For work, check out the Minimus Life. I hear some race walkers train in it.

VFFs didn't work for me -- they stretch my toes too wide apart -- I have to yank my toes apart to get them on. My feet don't splay much. My friend in DC informs me that VFFs worn with suits are the norm on the subway.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/11/2011 17:58:15 MDT.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: MT 20s on 08/11/2011 20:38:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info. I'll probably be trying both the MT 20s and the NB Life soon. I might look into the VFF too. I've been wearing some water shoes from Target on my dog walks lately, so I'm ready to move up to some real shoes.

Here are two semi-new and durable-looking VFF shoes that might be good for colder weather hiking:

Trek LS


George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Walking and running on 08/11/2011 20:40:30 MDT Print View

LOL - regarding my reality not fitting your theory

Throughout history there are always those who when observing something working in practice will ask, yes, but does it work in theory.

5 pound pack base weights? hahahahha

Backpacking with minimalist shoes? hahhahhaha

While you theorists keep playing with shoes, some of us will go backpack with ours.

Reflect a moment and see the humor.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Running is NOT fast walking. on 08/12/2011 02:09:06 MDT Print View

NOT in theory. NOT in practice!

Fast walking:
Start of 20 km Race Walk Event, Beijing Olympics, 2008

(Leading Pack, 2008 Olympics, Marathon)

You can readily find frame by frame, side by side comparisons of these very different activities on you tube and elsewhere (Google it) and analyses of the biomechanics.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/12/2011 02:46:19 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: MT 20s on 08/12/2011 02:11:31 MDT Print View

Gee, I wonder if you could strap real crampons onto those things.



Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Running is NOT fast walking. on 08/12/2011 07:55:07 MDT Print View

I used to racewalk competitively and can confirm that it is very different from both running and walking. I was around 12 at the time and could walk a mile in 6 minutes. I could also run one in 4:45 then. With racewalking, you are required to have a least one foot on the ground at all times, where with a run usually both are off the ground during some point of each stride. The form for racewalking looks really funny, but the speed that can be attained is undeniable. For reference, with a normal walk 12 minute miles would be pretty fast.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Inov-8 X-Talon 240's on 08/13/2011 17:28:04 MDT Print View

Have recently been trying these. They're higher, and a bit heavier than the 190's (roughly 4 oz per pair, I think), but I'm pretty sure they're made on a less restrictive last than the 190's. I have a broad fore-foot and a narrowish heel, and they fit just fine. The lugs underfoot give a "lively" feel at footstrike, and the body/sole combination flex well together to give a glove-like feel which is both unrestrictive and sensitive.

Previous experience has been with various types of Inov-8 290's, 310's, and 315's (all quite a bit heavier)-- the X-Talon 240's are my favorite, which is surprising, as I never would have thought I would like a high-sided shoe.

Edited by swimjay on 08/13/2011 18:02:24 MDT.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Sorry on 08/15/2011 04:11:31 MDT Print View

Whoa, sorry everyone for my long delay in getting involved in this conversation! This article published while I was on vacation and somehow I missed it in my RSS! Wish I could have been involved a lot sooner!

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Goretex Socks? on 08/15/2011 04:12:36 MDT Print View

Hartley F,

I am using the Rocky Gore-Tex socks. One of these days I would like to try the ones from Gore to see if they are any different/better.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: no soft stars? on 08/15/2011 04:15:53 MDT Print View

I basically struck Soft Star off the list because of the all-leather upper. I am not a huge fan of a leather upper for multi-day trips.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Re: LaSportiva on 08/15/2011 04:22:24 MDT Print View

Whoops, you guys are correct, that is the Skylite, not the Crosslite.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Luna Sandles on 08/15/2011 04:28:05 MDT Print View


I would love to try a pair of Lunas some day, but they weren't appropriate in my mind for this article (i.e. Fall/Spring).

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: "Natural"? on 08/15/2011 04:37:22 MDT Print View


Going for minimalist runs and doing multi-day trips in minimalist footwear are quite different stories. One is a short duration activity with a long recovery period in between. The other is a long duration activity with a short recovery period in between. I have found that running in minimalist footwear is good training for backpacking, but that to be able to handle all the various terrain types and to be able to do it for hours on end, day-after-day, definitely takes some time to work up to.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: "Minimalist" vs "Barefoot" for backpackers on 08/15/2011 04:44:38 MDT Print View


I am with you with fat/wide toes. I have found that with the narrow toeboxes, by then end of the day my toes are actually quite sore. This probably also has a lot to do with the fact that I spend a lot of time on my forefeet as I get much better stability that way.

Although they weren't available at the time when I wrote this article, you may want to try the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes, they have a nice wide toebox a pretty aggressive sole (although nothing like an X-Talon), and just a little bit of cushioning.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: "High" mileage with minimalist shoes on 08/15/2011 04:52:54 MDT Print View


Since you already are a sandal user, maybe you could continue in the vein, but with trail sandals instead? You could experiment with Huaraches (Luna makes some out of varying thicknesses and cushioning), and you may also want to try out the Teva Zilch as well.

I would just start out with day hikes and maybe an overnight to get a sense for how quickly you body can make the transition. Everyone is different, the important thing is to figure out how fast/slow your body will respond and work within those boundaries.

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
La Sportiva Error on 08/15/2011 11:56:07 MDT Print View

The La Sportiva identification error has been corrected and noted in the text.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Re: Luna Sandles on 08/15/2011 12:30:13 MDT Print View

its hard to pinpoint what is considered "fall/spring" weather and appropriate footwear in a world with such varying weather. while minnesota is just defrosting in march, arizona can be 90 degrees in some areas.

that being said, i do think sandals should have been included in your study - and i can tell you something i learned about sandals like LUNA brand.. the toe strap is miserably placed and you'll quickly notice why on downhill hikes.. there is an answer to this, either make home-made sandals without the toe strap, (which the luna brand does not offer) or try these:
i'd like to hear what others think on the Unshoes/strapless model. they look 'doable'.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Re: Re: Luna Sandles on 08/15/2011 13:09:05 MDT Print View

Sandals were included in the study, they were in the Summer article.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Re: Re: Re: Luna Sandles on 08/15/2011 15:08:47 MDT Print View


I would love to try a pair of Lunas some day, but they weren't appropriate in my mind for this article (i.e. Fall/Spring)".

sorry, i should have specified "luna" (or similar) sandals. my bad.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 08/15/2011 15:10:52 MDT.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Which soles for DIY minimalist sandals? on 08/19/2011 07:43:19 MDT Print View

Hi Damien,

Sorry for not coming back to you earlier.

>> Since you already are a sandal user, maybe you could continue in the vein, but with trail sandals instead? You could experiment with Huaraches (Luna makes some out of varying thicknesses and cushioning) and you may also want to try out the Teva Zilch as well. <<

Since I really like my Columbia sandals (except for the debris coming in), I had decided to either have a more open sandal (where the debris could escape from as fast as it comes in), in which case something like the Teva Zilch could be appropriate or, as I said before, have something like the Tech Amphibians (which would completely avoid any debris coming in), but these wouldn't be minimalst.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been working on some home-made (open) sandals. I call these my TFD-sandals (TheFlyingDutchman). When I first started (a few month’ ago) I wanted these to be really sturdy (bullet-proof) and I also wanted to the sole to be thick (and rigid) enough so that me feet wouldn’t feel anything protruding from the ground. That’s why I decided to make the sandals out of heavy genuine leather (upper sole and straps) and I wanted to use a car tire to make a rubber outer sole (the one in contact with the ground). I would be using acetal side release buckles to secure the straps. This is what I had made so far (stopped when I read your first article about minimalist shoes):

My TFD sandals (not finished yet):
TFD sandals 1

TFD sandals 2

TFD sandals 3 (car-tire sole)

For “qualifying” my TFD sandals (MYOG) as a minimalist shoe, I would think it has many things in favor: 0mm heel lift, no arch support at all, no toe-box (therefore unrestricted spread/splay), no cushioning but...... even though there is no cushioning, as you can see, the outer sole (last picture) is quite thick (and it’s VERY rigid too), so...... no ground feel AT ALL. This, I think, would make my sandals NOT appropriate as a minimalist sandal. Because of this sole these sandalas are also quite heavy.

OK. To the point: To make my “creature” into a minimalist sandal, I’ve been thinking of forgetting about my “car tire”-sole and buy a ready-made (maybe Vibram) sole. This one should, of course, be very thin and very flexible, so this is my question: Which sole would you recommend?

Just one more clarification: As you’ve seen in my previous interventions, my goal is long-distance, multi-day (non supported & no-resupply) hikes (25-30 miles/day for 1-2 weeks) with an initial load of 25-30lbs (including ALL the consumables for the whole trip). Do I go for the thin, flexible sole or might I be better off with the (better?) protection of my “car-tire”-sole?

Sorry for being a nuisance, but I don’t know how to proceed. Many thanks in advance.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Which soles for DIY minimalist sandals? on 08/19/2011 08:41:51 MDT Print View

Henk, that is a very cool project you are working on. I think that a sole you would be very interested in trying is the new one made by Invisible Shoes. They just released a special purpose-built rubber sandal sole for their huarache kits, they are available in 4mm (Connect kit) and 6mm (Contact kit) thicknesses. I think these would be an idea candidate. You can buy them here:

You might also be interested in this thread on my Toe Salad site where one of the forum members is considering using that sole for her custom sandal project. That thread can be found here:

Keep me in the loop on your project, I would love to see where this goes.

Steven Sashen
( - F
Re: Re: Which soles for DIY minimalist sandals? on 08/19/2011 10:56:42 MDT Print View

One of the misconceptions I see in the minimalist footwear world at the moment is when people think the technology (or lack thereof) is, inherently, the answer. It's not.

It's a combination of YOU, and your style of walking/hiking/running AND the technology.

For example, some people LOVE wearing our 4mm Connects when they hike, because the sensation is just like being barefoot... if they covered your trail in 4mm of flexible, comfortable rubber (4mm is not a lot, mind you, but it takes the edge off).

Others like the 6mm Contact because they have slightly less ground-feel.

And other people want a big, thick, inflexible sole, because feeling the ground is the LAST thing they want when they're on a trail (a sentiment echoed by a few ultra-trail runners I know).

The opportunity that minimalist/barefoot products provide is to use the feelings/sensations you have (that is, pain), to help you learn to change your gait to one that doesn't cause pain... and in doing so, move in a more what might be a more efficient, healthier manner.

Plus, feeling the world is a lot of fun for some of us. ;-)

So, sadly, there's no way to say "Oh, you want to walk the across the country in a week with a 200-lb pack balanced on your head? Here's the shoe for that!" The answer depends on your STYLE and preferences rather than your goal.

I hope that's helpful in some way.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Invisible soles (Contact) on 08/19/2011 12:55:10 MDT Print View

Hi Damien,

After a few e-mails between Steven (Invisible Shoes) and me, I decided to go for the Contact Soles DIY Kit. This gives me the opportunity to start making the Huaraches and use these as they are. I'll take my time to, little by little, transition into the minimalist style.

If it won't work out because I don't like to "feel the world" or the total load on my feet gets too much (220 -myself- + 30 -initial packweight-), especially for the type of hikes I do, I can always take the Huaraches apart and use the sole to glue this to my leather inner soles.

I'll tackle the matter with a positive attitude and I'm convinced it'll work out.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 09/17/2011 16:33:58 MDT Print View

Shoe reviews at Natural Running Center

Edited by jshann on 09/17/2011 16:34:30 MDT.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Re: Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 09/17/2011 18:38:59 MDT Print View

Yes, and on my website as well:

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: "Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking" on 09/29/2011 00:25:06 MDT Print View

Study your naked feet for a few minutes when you need a good laugh. I don't think anyone ever texts pictures of their feet to their sweethearts.

Okay, George... I couldn't resist




Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Minimalist Footwear for Fall/Spring Backpacking on 09/29/2011 01:40:39 MDT Print View

@Ken, about the Chuck Taylors.
Those kind of shoes work fine. My absolute favorite shoes to hike in are the regular canvas van classics. I have been wearing them for years and have probably worn out close to a dozen of them. They are everything I need in a shoe, just stupid simple. Chucks work very well too, the low rise ones are very similar in cocept. Not the most durable but they break in very easily. I can't say I have done any long expedition trips with them, but I have put in some long days, a few days a trip at most, and I had no complaints. I wear them sockless.
I know there are probably "better" light shoes out there, but I just can't deviate from classic vans or converse.
I have been desperately looking for a shoe just like classic vans, but possibly in leather for more durabilty and water resistance. I end up with actual holes in the canvas, only ditching them when the insoles wear out.
Anyways, if we are talking about minimal shoes, less tech is not a bad thing. I wouldn't think twice about attempting some extended treks with them. I am actually going to try out the converse "coast" sneaker, an even more minimal version of converse. Hopefully these don't fall apart on me though... Another option are the old school pro keds. Similar to converse, probably much better quality.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/29/2011 01:53:31 MDT.