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lightweight backpacking shoes
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Aubrey Biscoe

Locale: Upper Midwest
lightweight backpacking shoes on 09/03/2012 17:21:49 MDT Print View

anyone have experience in backpacking (not running) with an ultra-light or minimalist shoe? im looking to purchase a pair and am having problems finding reviews on shoes that have been used for backpacking (or hiking even), rather, all the reviews i can find are pretty much talking about how they perform while running/jogging. not interested in any type of 5 finger shoe. thanks for any input!

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

NB MT101 on 09/03/2012 17:57:02 MDT Print View

I've used last year's model from New Balance - the Minimalist Trail (MT) 101 shoes. I use the black minimalist Superfeet insoles with them to provide a bit more arch support. I find that with a 20lb pack plus me (6'1" and 170 lbs) that I'm sore after around 13 miles of mostly packed dirt and rock/ root scramble hiking. I have done a 25 miler hiking in them in one day, but wouldn't do it again as I find my feet bruise on the forefoot. Just my take on them.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: lightweight backpacking shoes on 09/03/2012 17:58:20 MDT Print View


Edited by kthompson on 09/04/2012 00:43:08 MDT.

gregory tomlinson

Locale: New York City
Merrell trail gloves on 09/03/2012 20:21:06 MDT Print View

I have been hiking a fair amount this summer in the Merrell barefoot line, the Merrell barefoot Trail Glove. One shoe is 199g. I really like them. I find the idea of five finger shoes uncomfortable and like a single enclosed toe box. I don't wear them with socks. They have proven amazingly comfortable for me. I've carried a 20-25 pack with no problem in them.

Kimberly Wersal
(kwersal) - MLife

Locale: Western Colorado
Re: Merrell trail gloves on 09/03/2012 20:43:25 MDT Print View

I have backpacked with my Merrell Pace Gloves and Lithe gloves and was very happy with them--no blisters and I wear them without socks. I have not, however, used them for big mileage-- just for 10 mile days on fairly rough terrain with a lot of vertical change (in the Maroon Bells. I have also successfuly backpacked with NB MT20's in pretty rough terrain. Or, option 3-- BP'd one day (8 miles) barefoot in Utah and really enjoyed that, but got a big blood blister on the ball of one foot.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: lightweight backpacking shoes on 09/03/2012 22:13:36 MDT Print View

Are you sure you want "ultralight" or "minimalist"? Regular trail running shoes generally run 11oz to 12oz per shoe. This is very light by backpacking standards, but these are _not_ ultralight. Ultralight or "minimalist" running shoes weigh less than that.

Also, be aware that besides weighing less "minimalist" shoes generally have much much less "heel to toe drop" than regular running shoes. Regular running shoes have a heel that is 10mm to 12mm higher than the toe of shoe while in minimalist shoes this difference is probably more like 4mm. The lower heel to toe drop is a religious issue for many. Low heel to toe drop may have some beneficial effects, but one detrimental effect is possible aggravation of your Achilles tendon, since the lessened drop stretches the calf more than it gets stretched in regular drop shoes. Given that I have Achilles issues even with regular drop shoes, I don't see minimalist shoes in my future.

Bruce LaBelle
(blabelle) - F - MLife

Locale: Davis, CA or on an adventure
Re: Lightweight Backpacking Shoes on 09/03/2012 23:10:37 MDT Print View

A couple of friends and I just finished a three-day loop from Florence Lake to Evolution Valley, across from Wanda to Davis Lake, and down Goddard Canyon where we all wore lightweight trail running shoes. The route had plenty of rocky trails, and off-trail travel with tallus, scree, and rock slabs - including 21 and 25+ mile days. Two of us (one male/one female) wore La Sportiva Vertical Ks (4 mm drop) and one (male) wore Altra Lone Peaks (0 mm drop). Both shoes are lightweight trail running shoes with sticky soles. The Altra has a rock plate and a stiffer feel; the Vertical K has a very sticky climbing sole, and a softer feel with cushioning rather than a rock plate. Both shoes have a very wide toe box which is good or bad depending on personal preference. We had base weights of 10-15 lbs according to the scale at Muir Trail Ranch. As others have mentioned, there are several brands of lightweight trail running shoes that will work for backpacking light, but a lot will depend on how much cushioning you are accustomed to, your hiking form, the shape of the shoe last, and how much weight you're carrying. There are lots of good shoes out there, and each company seems to have a different shape last, drop, toe-box height, etc. If you'll be backpacking on dirt trails, fit will be most important to avoid blisters. If you'll be hiking on sharp rocks, protection and feel will also matter. Grab a few pieces of large, sharp gravel and a fist-sized rock with sharp edges and bring them to the store with you when you try on shoes (or test them at home this way if ordering on-line).

John Zahorian
(johnzahorian) - F
NB MT110 on 09/03/2012 23:23:14 MDT Print View

I used New Balance MT110 on my PCT thru hike. Although I usually prefer as little shoe between me and the ground as possible, I thought the MT110's were good for being pretty light and basically keeping me in good form while still providing enough to limit discomfort on really rocky trail surfaces and deal with my high mileage days. A good balance and compromise for a first-timer's minimalist thru-hiking shoe. I plan on going for a thinner sole in the future and with 0 drop (MT110 has 11mm/7mm sole heights [4mm drop]).

The main thing you should be taking into account is your experience with barefoot or minimalist footware and whether or not you are willing to build the footstrength and form required to truly benefit from having less shoe.