So this past Friday morning I am getting ready to do a trip in Nevada. Putting on my fairly new Saucony Peregrines, I notice the front rubber bumpers on the shoes are falling off. One worse than the other. Bought them online from REI, so I run down to the REI in Vegas on Rampart Blvd, as I don't want them falling apart on the trip. They don't stock the shoes. So I ask the sales guy what they carry in minimalist shoes with a rock plate. He says he never heard of the term rock plate. So we ask the other sales guy, and he has no idea what I am talking about either. So they get the manager. The manager explains to the sales guys what a rock plate is. Then tells me that no one manufacturers a minimalist shoe with a rock plate. That is the definition of minimalist, I am told.
So I head over to Sports Chalet to buy either some Shoe Goo or a pair of shoes. I ask the shoe guy there if they sell minimalist shoes with a rock plate. He looks at the shoes I am wearing and asks, "what's wrong with your Peregrines?" So I tell him. He says, "well if you want new shoes, tell me what you like about the Peregrines, and what you don't like about them."
I tell him I love the traction. Also I would like to try something lighter with a rock plate and with not such a pointed toe. I explain that the shoe will be for backpacking. So he shows me a couple NB shoes. He holds up a MT101 and says it will be under 10 oz in my size, the other pair similar in weight to what I have. Says the traction of the MT101 will not be as good as my present shoe, but should be fine for backpacking.
Then he pulls out a Bannock device and asks if we can measure my feet. I didn't even see one at REI, the sales people just ask the customers what size they wear.
So, he says I am between a 10.5 and 11 D. But with the NB, we should start with a size 12. So the 12 is perfect, according to conventional wisdom, but he suggests we go with a 12.5 or 13. So we try on some different shoes in different sizes. I end up with a MT101 in size 13. He then shows me different lacing techniques in case the shoes feel too tight on the top or too loose in heel once I am on the trail.
As it turns out, the shoes were great. I did end up running the laces through the back hole that no one ever uses, making a loop and then running them across the front to make the fit a little more snug around the heel.
Not the same REI experience I used to get. And I always had a perception that Sports Chalet was more like a department store.