Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea...
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Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/20/2011 11:51:36 MST Print View

That's a whole different ball game. Frankly you may be SOL.

While you can do anything you want, some activities may not be prudent to pursue given a certain level of experience. Fact is there are no crampon products designed for shoes that soft. The issue isn't the toe-heel flex (plenty of products work with that like KTS's and such). The problem is the side to side flex such soft soles have.

Even trail runners have soles stiff enough that you can strap crampons on tightly enough that they won't come off. To get the same secure fit though with any minimalist shoes (including mukluks) will cause the sole to buckle. Even then the shoe will probably work it's way out of the crampon and be more of a pain than it is worth.

While Light is Right works, there are diminishing returns. Remember we're genetically designed for savannah running, not icy mountains. If we were, we'd all be climbing Everest naked. You're going to have to beef up your footwear for icy snow...the good news is not very much. Many of the 300ish weight Inov-8s should work well.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
An idea for MYOG crampons for those lightweight shoes on 12/20/2011 12:41:21 MST Print View

Justin: Wow!, you're talking some lightweight shoes. As an aside, how so you find them on summer trails (roots, rocks, etc)? I'll hike in anything for 20 miles, but over 25-30 miles in day and I found, long ago, that I (personally) needed a little stiffness in the sole or my feet felt beat up by the roots, rocks, etc. Hence I stepped up to Nike Lava Domes when they first came out and left the running shoes behind. Happily. But if those Vivobarefoot Neo Trails work on the trail, 9.2 oz would be fabulous! (per shoe or per pair?)

Dustin: If those Vivobarefoot Trails are as light as they look in the photo, I concur that it may be an uphill battle to make them work on snowfields. But I had an idea:

This isn't high-angle mountaineering, right? No front-pointing. Just something that provides some grip. Maybe a little floatation*?

*4 of us did a snow camping trip. All the same weight, similar pack weights. The two of us in size 11 shoes almost never plunged through. Both guys in 9 shoes plunged through frequently. Very easy going for us, very hard going for them because of slightly too little floatation for the conditions that day.

So here's the idea: 12" x 5" plywood under each foot. With wide straps to secure the light shoes onto the plywood. Maybe a heel and toe cup cut from a tin can. Some combo of lugs (made from plywood bits and gorilla-glued in place) and/or 3/16" bolts with their bottom ends sharpened into spikes. It would double the floatation of a size 9 shoe. <$10 of parts. So, after the snowy passes, you just throw them away, hand them to someone else, or burn them and pack out the bolts.

I'd see two design approaches:

Quick, dirty and cheap: 3/4" plywood, router out the space between the lugs, use velcro straps designed to secure garden hose and extension cord bundles.

Light and fully featured (maybe you mail them to and from yourself for the snow sections): 1/8" door skins on a foam core. Lugs and spikes on the perimeter of the bottom. Multitask the bolts by using threaded rod such that they project below to be spikes but project above to be heel and toe cups. And (I think this is a potentially cool idea): also make some foam-core wedges for side stepping on hills. 25 degrees or so would take so much of the ankle work out of traversing a hillside.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/20/2011 13:28:17 MST Print View

Honestly, weight is not my worry with going with minimal shoes. I just hate wearing stiff soles or anything with arch support. It makes my legs hurt. My whole life I have hiked hard in just regular vans shoes. I usually ripped out the insole. Once they are worn a little, they have about 4mm soles. Very floppy and definitley feel like I am walking barefoot. I have also done lots of hiking in just water shoes. Also, I walk barefoot around town.
Anyways, I smashed the hell out of my ankles and legs, and I kinda adapted to a certain way of hiking. I have been in situations where I was "required" to hike in boots and it wasn't fun. Kinda like how big boot wearing backpackings complain about their feet and legs killing them if they hike with tennis shoes, I am the opposite.

With the vivobarefoots I plan on leaving the insoles in which add a lot more thickness and support. The shoes might be a little too barefoot for me, but it's just something I need to see for myself. As for rocks and roots, I have encountered some ouchies along the way, however I have never done anything over 15 miles in a day so I couldn't say for sure on that.

I guess I am SOL with the crampons. That was the point of my original post, I wondered about inserting as stiff plate for the times I needed to use them. I am starting to think that wouldn't work though.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: minimal shoes and crampons on 12/20/2011 13:45:10 MST Print View

I used Camp Magix 10s with LaSportiva Crossleathers this past winter/spring. Great crampons, but I wouldn't want any less beef in the shoe for snow and ice use.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Minimal shoes and crampons on 12/20/2011 13:52:39 MST Print View

I've used CAMP XLC 490s paired with New Balance MT101s. I wouldn't want to go past 45/50 degrees with this combo (brutal on the ankles), but it has worked fine for general snow travel so far.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/21/2011 22:29:22 MST Print View

I'm almost wondering if I should just carry around an extra pair of stiff shoes just for ascending. That's how much I hate stiff shoes.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: stiff shoes on 12/22/2011 08:17:36 MST Print View

Justin, I don't hate stiffer shoes quite as much as you, but finding a pair with a good fit and no arch support might be worth it for this trip. Even when you don't need crampons, kicking steps is a lot easier with a bit of beef in the sole and around the toebox. Some of the lighter but not superlight Inov8 or Sportiva shoes could suit you.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: re: stiff shoes on 12/22/2011 23:28:58 MST Print View

To clarify, I don't plan on doing anything that would be fatal if I made a mistake. I just want to ascend late spring/early summer snowfields in the sierras. Obviously they are a slipping slide, pretty steep, but not that dangerous unless you hit an exposed rock or didn't have a way to self arrest.
I'm not kick steeping up a near cliff with ropes or ascending frozen mountains.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Insoles on 12/23/2011 00:12:02 MST Print View

How about carrying a pair of stiff insoles (carbon maybe) that you can insert when needed?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Insoles on 12/23/2011 02:49:53 MST Print View

lol mike, that was actually the point of my first post. That could work, but would need some experimenting. If I used them hard, I might want something high top so my heel wouldn't slip out.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
I'm confused on 12/23/2011 06:15:52 MST Print View

Are you talking about hiking or mountaineering? You talk snowfields which could mean either. I suspect given your level of experience that you are talking about an early season hiking trip on snow. With early season hiking you may find vastly different conditions as the day wears on. You can use this to your advantage to have optimium conditions for a given area. For example; in the morning the snow may be rock hard and full crampons the best gear for steep terrain. Wait two hours and you can walk without any crampons or spikes. Wait another two and you could be postholing up to your knees.

As far as five fingers. I followed the tracks of someone wearing them coming off Forester Pass on the PCT. It was unbroken snow for miles. Frankly he seemed to do fine in them, no sign of slipping or falling and given his stride he was moving at quite a fast pace. I would never do it but to each their own.

I used to really enjoy early (April/May/June) Sierra trips until I got more than my fill of snowshoeing without snowshoes on the PCT this year. But step into this carefully, the margin for error is much less than a typical summer trip. If you could have seen the devastation in the Sierra this year due to avalanches you would have a whole new respect. There were avalanche trails in areas that I would have never expected to see them and the destruction was incredible. I would reco taking a couple of trips out of Hetch Hetchy up to Vernon or even Tilden Lake, depending on your desired length. That area is a great place to learn snow hiking or snowshoeing in the Sierra prior to more aggressive trips down into the SEKI area.

Finally, use those early trips to test out gear combinations that work for you. It took me three attempts to do the 45 mile Tilden Lake loop out of Hetch Hetchy a few years back. Each time I honed my gear and skills until I was able to succeed.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
minimal on 12/23/2011 12:14:54 MST Print View

i think the hardest thing wouldnt be the stiffness ... as i noted you can use the french technique if needed ... and some crampons and micros are desgined to work with more flexible foot wear

the problem may be the attachement points ... those are generally made for a normal shaped shoe or boot ... the straps may not hold the crampon properly to yr footwear, or it may cause tightness, bad fit ... etc ... which can also be a safety issue should they come off mid way

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/23/2011 13:36:13 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Soft shoes, stiff board. on 12/23/2011 14:00:08 MST Print View

Okay, so I tried out my idea. I'll post a pic here and write it up over under MYOG. Needs two tweeks, but a 5" x 15" piece of plywood gave me nice floatation and was comfortable in my softest, most slipper-like shoes (a pair of Merrill's slip-on low-cuts in mesh fabric).Floatation versus postholing

I tried undisturbed snow, shoveled-refrozen snow banks and the icy driveway.

In undisturbed, I got much less postholing (2-3") with the plywood than with the plain shoes (4 to 16"). In refrozen shoveled snow, neither sunk in but like on ice, I got much better grip because of the 8 screw tips pointing out.

400 grams for one. So not SUL, but it only took me 32 minutes to make and test. With tweeks and varnishing, maybe 1.5-2 hours and $8 of materials. So I'd be fine mailing them to myself just before the snowy passes and tossing them when not needed.

Details in MYOG

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Cramps on 12/23/2011 14:52:02 MST Print View

Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh, cabin fever doesn't sit well with me. I still think finding a crampon will be difficult for the vivo class shoes.

Now picking up a light pair of trail runners with some body stiffness and using them only when necessary with light crampons may be a way to go. This is essentially the technique mountaineers use (lighter boots for approach hike, then switch to heavier boots/double plastic for the more difficult terrain).

I understand hating heavy boots, I do myself (I too grew up wearing skate shoes that turn into basically moccasins as they wear out). I do love my Inov-8 Roclite 315s for hiking though. Very light, lots of heel to toe flexibility but stiff width that strapping crampons for light duty should work out well. You can also usually find them for under $100 (sometimes much less). The 295s and a few others should work as well, under 250gm though they may become too soft.

Yaktrax may still work for your purposes and are cheap enough that you could test them out before hand, but durability is still a concern.

I like David's thinking of simple floatation device (maybe a pair of used tennis racquets...old school snow shoes!). However if you're looking at angled terrain then you'll still want crampon capability unfortunately.

Again I'd recommend giving inov-8s a shot if they fit you, they may be comfortable enough for full time winter use if not at least for snow field travel.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: I'm confused on 12/23/2011 16:01:28 MST Print View

Sorry for the confusion greg. I don't want to climb mountains, I just want to hike places. And that might mean some steep, slippery approaches.
You know, when you want to go somewhere and the rangers tell you there are still snowfields in the mountain passes that require cramps.

Edited by justin_baker on 12/23/2011 16:04:09 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Got it! on 12/23/2011 16:55:00 MST Print View

If you like the VFF it we be worth taking those out on a trial run. I would also take backup. Since you are talking snow hiking then there are many options. There were folks on the PCT that went without trekking poles, ice axe or any type of crampons. Most of the PCT passes are very straight-forward. The exceptions are the south side of Forester and Mather. Many of the others are basically a walk up or slide down a moderate to easy incline.

Have fun, early season trips are cool. If you want I can give you a few routes that I've done.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/24/2011 00:19:38 MST Print View

finger shoes might work differently, but I thought I would post this here:
http://www.barefootjake.com/2011/04/microspike-test.html

Jane Howe
(janeclimber) - MLife
no traction device on 01/05/2012 13:40:31 MST Print View

Well, if you are good at snow and ice terrain, then you do not need any traction device. I hiked on Mt. Baldy a year ago, when others wearing crampons and microspikes over their boots, I was fine with just a pair of La Sportiva approach shoes.

Richard Fischel
(RICKO) - F
Re: no traction device on 01/05/2012 15:01:50 MST Print View

so jane, how did you get so good?

Jane Howe
(janeclimber) - MLife
Re: Re: no traction device on 01/05/2012 21:56:18 MST Print View

Well, I learned ice climbing and mountaineering from the best ice climbers and alpinists. They taught me to be light and fast. It is my experience that trail running with minimal footwear or just barefoot is very beneficial. It is amazing that it trains all the muscles that can give me sure footing. However, I still think proper footwear is necessary on snowy and icy routes for safety and protection. The first time I climbed Mt. Rainier with heavy plastic boots. The fifth time I climbed with very light leather boots on Kautz Glacier route (up to WI2). I did not wear approach shoes because I had to prepare for the worst. There are many crevasses on Kautz Glacier route. It is not a heavily traveled trade route. If I fall in, I need the stiff sole and crampons for getting out of the crevass. But when I soloed the Dream Weaver Route on Mt. Meeker, I only wore approach shoes and crampons (about AI2, easy 5th class rock) because that route does not have crevasses. Just my two cents.