Jun 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm #1237126
Companion forum thread to:Jun 17, 2009 at 11:33 am #1508828
Thanks for this review. My feet are more in the E-EE range, so I end up making due with D-width INOV-8s, just a bit longer than my foot length merits.
One of the reasons for this is the dearth of review on New Balance shoes by people who UL backpack. I need information from people who will be evaluating the shoes on the same terms I will, and that's been hard to find.
That, and the NB shoes I've been able to try on at local retailers are just have too much between my feet and the ground. I like being able to feel the trail and it's nice to know these don't suffer from that issue.
These look like the kind of shoe I'm looking for; luggy, light, and wide.Jun 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm #1508875
I had a look at these the other day and was a bit put off by the lack of flex in the sole fore foot – they seemed very stiff to me.Jun 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm #1508881
The 875s are available in D, 2E and 4E.
CheersJun 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm #1508883
I haven't noticed that myself in the field. It often happens that new shoes feel a bit stiff for the first 5 – 10 minutes.
If you want really flexible shoes, try the Dunlop KT-26s!
CheersJun 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm #1508918
Interesting you should mention the KT-26's, as I am going to be visiting Australia in August and (based on your recommendations) am keen to pick some up. Are they widely available in stores? Where would be a good place to look?
I am definitely considering New Balance shoes in the future, as they are available her in New Zealand and because of the range of widths. Currently I have some Salomon XA comps that are comfortable, but don't have a great sole for wetter conditions. I have also just picked up some Flyroc 310's on a visit to the UK, but haven't tried them yet.
JJun 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm #1508922
The best place to find them is in the big "walmart" type stores we have in Australia… K-mart, Big-W, Target. You won't find them in running shoe shops because they fall into the category of unfashionable joggers. They are cheap. Last time I looked about A$30, but maybe closer to A$50 now. They are really comfy. They don't last a long time, but never fall apart. Instead, the sole gets compacted so that they lose their cushion over time. The other nice thing about them is that they never change the style… it's the same year in year out. They don't look "cool" like a new pair of Inov8's, and because they have been around for decades in Australia they are actually considered a bit "daggy". But not many hikers are going to care about that, especially ULers.
But they are easy to find. Go into a big shopping centre and head to K-mart or Target. You'll find a bunch of them in the shoe section.Jun 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm #1508924
Well, I had better explain that the KT-26s and Volleys are very much Australian icons. Normally you find a shoe model lasts for about 1 year before marketing changes it. Well, both the Volleys and the KTs have been unaltered for the last 20, 30 or 40 years. The company dares not change them!
The Volleys are very light and soft. They are superb in wet greasy canyons, to the point that many Clubs here won't let you go on a Club Canyon trip without them. Also, they are the defacto standard footwear for roofing tilers. OSHA gets shirty about the lack of steel toe caps … but don't have a chance of persuading the tilers to not wear them. However, the very soft sole is too soft for many walkers. And the sole does wear fairly quickly in comparison.
So, we also have the KT-26s. These have an EVA (foam) footbed with a thin carbon rubber sole. There is an extremely distinctive sole pattern. The 'lugs' or pattern in the centre of the sole does wear out after a while, but the carbon rubber soles then last a long time. A bit of a pattern remains around the edge. The carbon rubber itself has a better grip than most moulded soles on joggers.
You can find a lot more about both shoes on the Bushwalking FAQ web site I maintain, at
I had better add that I am 'rather well-known' in Oz for favouring KTs. Me, biased? Never! But I don't own any boots, and I only wear joggers in the snow and in Europe (snow and mud).
You should be able to buy them in places like most Big-W and Kmart stores, for about AU$39 a pair.
CheersJun 18, 2009 at 6:23 pm #1509169
@markmclauchlinLocale: Western Australia
Great review. Did you get these in from the US or were they locally available? I did a quick call around this morning and none of the stores know what I am talking about.
MarkJun 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm #1509206
I get most of my gear these days over the web. It works out cheaper every time.
CheersJun 23, 2009 at 11:05 am #1509993
Thanks for your great review Roger.
I just wanted to mention for the Australians having trouble getting particular models of shoes, that there is an internet shoe company in the States called Zappos.com. They have a very wide selection, a good reputation, and they ship to Australia (Oz?), for $60 American, which seems a little high to me, but on the other hand, you are a long way from the States. I have ordered from them and been very satisfied. (I live in Sacramento California)
Even if you don't order from them, I have found their shoe reviews to be fairly accurate, particularly if over twenty or so people have reviewed them. This could be useful in determining which shoe to buy, even if you don't buy from them.
I wear trail running shoes exclusively for hiking and backpacking in the Sierra Mountains near where I live. I have had good luck with the New Balance MT908(discontinued, but 909 is similar), the Brooks Cascadia 4, and The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR (water resistant Gore-Tex)Jun 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm #1510043
I haven't tried Zappos, although I have heard of them.
We have had good responses from SierraTrading on end-of-run models at very good prices.
(no connection with them whatsoever)Jun 27, 2009 at 4:10 am #1510723
Thanks Roger. I have been to your FAQ section a number of times and found it very helpful. I look forward to my first pair of KTs. In my younger days at school in England everyone wore a shoe very similar to the Volley for PE.Jul 6, 2009 at 8:23 am #1512268
@bertcoursonLocale: lake michigan
I have worn successfully the 872, 873, and 874. The 875s do not work for me because they have a piece of constricting rubber on the outside and down below my big toe that cause my feet to hurt. Had to send them back, darn it! I hope the 876 model goes back to the older design that lets my feet splay out like a size 11.5 4E needs to!Jul 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm #1512965
@rlukeLocale: Atlanta (missing CA)
Great review Roger! I have been struggling with finding a lightweight, lightly cushioned shoe that will fit my wide forefoot. I just received a pair of the 875s from Zappos and after wearing them in the lab today, I am impressed! Hopefully they will work well on the trail!Jul 27, 2009 at 11:32 am #1516811
I got a pair of these 3 weeks ago. I took them out for the 1st time in a 9-mile hike to Mount Baldy in SoCal. The traction and stability were excellent, ventilation was very nice and the they fit my feet well.
Last Friday I did the same hike but once I got to the summit and took the right shoe off to let me feet breathe, I noticed that one of the lugs on the sole was missing.
I'm starting the JMT in 3 weeks and these were the shoes I was planning to use. I contacted the vendor (champsports.com) and they said that I could return them for them to "review" and decide whether the problem is "due to a defective item or an error on our part.", in which case they will send a new pair to me. And all of this is through standard shipping. I'm not sure this can be taken care of in 3 weeks.
Anybody here has anything experience dealing directly with New Balance for exchanges? What are my options given the fact that I only have 3 weeks left? I can't really feel the missing lug while hiking but it does suck to spend about $100 on a pair of shoes and have them break within 15 miles.Sep 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm #1529736
Roger added further commentary to this review in this week's publishing.Sep 23, 2009 at 2:21 am #1529899
@balrogLocale: New England
New Balance supplied me with a pair of 908's for part of my AT Thru hike. While they are not 875's, I'm making a point here. The actual foot path is a huge factor on how certain shoes hold up. The 875's are still marketed as tools for serious trail running. Conditions in New England ( rocks) had the shoes unwearable after just two weeks on a 200 mile section. Lugs were falling off and the two different colored materials were delaminating. Even though NB were willing to let me try another pair, I declined and went back to Inov-8 TerRoc 330's which were consistently decent for 500-600 miles. 99 % of the people who buy these types of shoes never put them into conditions like backpackers do, and the rocks and roots up in this corner of the country can shred 'em, where they might do just fine in a more forgiving foot path.Sep 24, 2009 at 6:30 am #1530206
Hello Mr Caffin
"OSHA gets shirty about the lack of steel toe caps … but don't have a chance of persuading the tilers to not wear them. "
Just to mention, Dunlop have been making a steel toe cap volley for this very reason for about twoish years now (maybe longer) due to demand from industry.
About KT-26's, I LOVE THEM
But that being said they come with some niggles (you get what you pay for). The odd seam comes apart some times, the laces are worthless, the tongue always falls to the side and I've had trouble with the cardboard staying wet. Kanangra to Katoomba,4 days of rain, trench foot, pain pills
So when I buy a new pair I go through a little ritual…
I take out the foam sole, remove the "arch support"(thank you for the recommendation Roger) and cover the cardboard with a product similar to Selly's Kwik grip to water proof it, I brush the goo up the inside wall a little to reinforce the join to the sole. I then proceed to cut the tongue out and replace the laces with small, 1-2mm bungee cord and run a line of Mc nett seam grip around the outside join of the wall to the sole.
And that just about does it.
Now if only I could get that yummy rubbery sole just to last a few more Km's……..
Is there anyone else out there modifying there KT's? Any more suggestions tips or secrets are most welcome.Sep 24, 2009 at 10:11 am #1530287
@mitchellkeilLocale: Deep in the OC
great review. I just went out and purchased a pair and I really like the way the interior fabric "hammock" snugs and cinches up around my instep and most of the forefoot. But I have a question for you, and it is one I have been wondering about with every shoe review on the site. Do you use the OEM insole provided with each pair of shoes or do you replace them with your own insoles? In particular this would seem to be important with this shoe. I have noticed a distinct difference in the fit of the shoe when I replace the OEM insole with my VIESTURS SOLES insoles. Specifically, the hammock can't cinch tight around my foot as well because of the stiff nature of the Viesturs Soles. With the OEM insoles this is obviously not the case. I know many backpackers replace the OEM insoles with Superfeet or Soles or some other orthotic. I'd be interested in your take on the issue and what you do with your lightweight shoes.
ThanksSep 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm #1530455
Yes, I have seen the steel toecap versions of both KTs and Volleys. Personally I think they were introduced to pacify OSHA, not because of demand, because people I have spoken too just laugh about them. And I haven't seen them in the shops very often either. But maybe some industries buy the KT versions directly.
> the laces are worthless
?? I like them myself. They work very well for me.
> the tongue always falls to the side
True, but there is a fabric loop on the tongue part way down. If you thread the laces through this the problem is much reduced.
> and I've had trouble with the cardboard staying wet.
My experience has been that the 'cardboard' is quite waterproof. I've never had any problems with that. There is some foam in the sides which takes a little while to dry.
Here's to KTs!
CheersSep 24, 2009 at 9:30 pm #1530457
I have never replaced the insoles on any of my joggers.
I have a theory which says that if the OTC replacement insoles (Superfeet etc) were that much better than the OEM ones, the shoe manufacturers would switch to using them. Why would companies like NB and Salomon sell you shoes with crappy insoles? Doesn't make any sense to me.
This does not cover prescribed orthotics – they are a totally different matter.
CheersMar 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm #1592050
@dubendorfLocale: CO, UT, MA, ME, NH, VT
The MT876OR is, I believe, the new version of the MT875OR.
Based largely on Roger's review, I recently purchased a pair of the 876s (10.5, 2E) for a trip to the Escalante area of UT with the hope that I was finally zeroing in on a shoe that would work for me. A positive experience with Golite Sun Dragons had me searching for ample widths, but their durability was disappointing and their tread left me feeling disconnected with the ground.
To my eye, there are a few prominent differences between the 875 and 876. The free-floating top edge of the padded layer appears to now be sewn closed, and the tread has moved away from the lugged design. Other than some alterations to the trim, and a change in color, seems to be a very similar shoe.
Suffice to say I am very pleased. The 876s handled consecutive days of wading through sandy, silty water very nicely- they drain quickly, as the mesh reaches all the way to the bottom of the upper on both sides of the forefoot. Some fine sand and dust did get through the forefoot mesh, but not to an annoying degree. They also handled slickrock quite well, and seem to have held up nicely against rocky terrain- the forefoot has some stiffness and protection to it without excessive cushioning. I experimented with a pair of thicker Darn Tough merino socks, synthetic injinji toe socks, and DeFeet Air-E-Ators, and all worked fine (I tended to use the thicker socks in the morning).
After five consecutive days of hiking, I managed to entirely avoid blisters between the toes, which has been an issue for me in the past. In fact, no blisters whatsoever (even after a brutal late afternoon slog up a sand dune with a water-laden pack) save for a silly, ridiculous, small one on my left foot second toe which had no business being there, caused no pain, and required no treatment.
For the time being, I believe I have finally found my "perfect" shoe. Time will tell more about its durability.
JamesApr 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm #1598176
I'm curious to buy a pair of KT-26s lured by your references both on BPL and your Bushwacking site (which I've appreciated for many years). I haven't found a source of KT-26s in the States so I'd need to mail order them from Australia without benefit of a trial fitting.
Any advice on sizing KT-26s viz a viz conventional running shoes? If you'd like to take a jab at practicing shoe fitting without a license, here's my need: I have a fairly wide foot like you (EE). I also have a deformity somewhat like hammertoe so I need a wide loose toebox. I'd normally wear a size 11-11.5 US but size up to a 12 US even in an otherwise proper shoe to give the toes and foot plenty of room.
Thanks for all your great comments and articles. I really must get down to the land of Oz someday though I suspect it'd be to the west. California kids love Mediterranean climates and the coast of west-southwest Australia has one of the world's few.
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