May 29, 2010 at 1:55 am #1259567
I have searched through the forums and there are several posts about barefoot hiking, vibram fivefingers, minimalist footwear etc… but it is very scattered and filled with debate about the barefoot movement.
I have decided that I want to move towards a "more barefoot" lifestyle and am going to purchase a pair of shoes that would be more minimal than my running shoes.
I would appreciate feedback from members that use minimalist/barefoot-ish footwear during their hikes.(I am not really interested in opinions on whether or not barefoot/minimalist is healthy or desirable; just personal experience with and recommendations for minimalist footwear.)
I am considering purchasing a pair of Vibram's new Bikilas or the Flow model.
I hike in western Oregon: lots of rain and cool weather has me leaning towards a pair of Vibram Flows, but I am interested in any similar footwear. Innov-8 and Terra Plana seem to have some interesting models. I have two friends that wear Vibrams (with nothing but good things to say), so that is the brand most familiar to me.
Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences and recommendations!May 29, 2010 at 1:59 am #1615018
One more thought – I wear Tom's shoes quite a bit around town and at work… I've briefly considered hiking in them. Has anyone else hiked in Tom's? They are fairly minimal as far as the sole goes, but I imagine that the canvas would become irritating and cause blisters….May 29, 2010 at 2:07 am #1615020
I hiked 30 miles through Hells Canyon on a 3 night trip in my Vibram Five Treks. So not a whole lot of distance. But, my feet felt good, a little tender (nothing unbearable by any means). Plus this was early this month and they were the only shoes I took with me. I'm definitely going to continue wearing them because they are so versatile, but trust me, you NEED to spend a lot of time in them if you don't have a pair already before you start backpacking in them. Your feet will definitely need some conditioning in these shoes.
Here's a little inspiration :)May 29, 2010 at 2:53 am #1615022
@carazLocale: bay area
The flows are too hot almost always (based on friends personal experience) Unless you are going to always be in cold wet weather your feet will sweat more then you want. I prefer the classic's for most things because they fit me well (you do get small stuff down the sides often). I have had a hard time getting the kso's to fit me well because of my instep but they are what most friends wear always. I will say the the bikilas look like more shoe when examining the sole so you might find you like them more. I personally enjoy having less between my feet and the ground so appreciate the more simple sole of the classics/kso's. If you feel like cold will be an issue with the kso's you can also wear the injini socks.May 29, 2010 at 3:44 am #1615023
I appreciate the feedback on the Flows… my main concern was that they would be too hot in the summer. My feet already sweat copiously and don't need the help…
I've been wanting to get out to Hell's Canyon :)May 29, 2010 at 4:19 am #1615024
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
Have you seen this?May 29, 2010 at 4:59 am #1615026
@betabethLocale: Sonoma County
Maybe they're not minimalist enough for you, but I love my Chacos. I lived in these one summer through rivers, mountains, and heavy packs. They have a little weight in the sturdy sole, but they are comfortable, have excellent traction, dry quickly, and hold feet flexibly but securely. They also have a generous toe bed which protects against stubbed toes.May 29, 2010 at 5:50 am #1615031
Jason – I had seen Damien's minimalist footwear articles, they are excellent! His site was one of the first ones I read through while researching the barefoot movement. I always appreciate a site with well-thought out reasonable ideas. Some barefoot sites out there come off as downright fanatical (fox walking comes to mind…)
Elizabeth – I have considered Chacos… one of my hiking buddies swears by them. I guess I'm just not a fan of dirty feet :) I always seem to have rocks and dirt trapped under my feet, no matter the sandal. It drives me nuts! But I wish I could get past those things, because when I'm not hiking I'm either barefoot or in sandals…May 29, 2010 at 7:27 am #1615036
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
I gotta get some of those Tom's, they are pretty stylish!!May 29, 2010 at 7:32 am #1615037
I have both a pair of KSOs and a pair of New Balance MT100s. I find the MT100s to feel more minimalist than the KSOs, and also be more comfortable. And they're lighter. FWIW.May 29, 2010 at 7:48 am #1615040
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
How is the fit on the Tom's? Are they more or less true to size? I have wide feet and need a large toe box. How do you think these would fit?
I would not be using them for hiking, just around town use.
Thanks!May 29, 2010 at 8:11 am #1615043
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
"I have both a pair of KSOs and a pair of New Balance MT100s. I find the MT100s to feel more minimalist than the KSOs, and also be more comfortable. And they're lighter. FWIW."
Which is an interesting observation, considering the KSO's are meant to mimic and aid the wearer in a natural "barefoot" experience. The MT100's, though not extremely durable for technical and rocky trail conditions, are IMO, one of the better minimalist trail shoe options available right now for the UL hiker, period.May 29, 2010 at 8:54 am #1615050
@dennyinsequimLocale: Olympic Peninsula
I've used my treks for a few day hikes with the longest being 11 miles. I was carrying 20 plus pounds and so far it's been great.
The routes have involved steady climbing and descending and varied terrain. At snowline I pulled a pair of xxl NRS neoprene socks over my vff's and then microspikes with attached gaiters over that. It worked fine and with a piece of foam between the ms's and neo socks my feet stayed warm.
I plan to use them for multiday hikes this season.May 29, 2010 at 9:34 am #1615059
@rcowmanLocale: Canadian Rockies
they're pretty true to size. walking along the river banks in town though I found the soles are not really grippy and they fill up with dirt and debris. the canvas doesn't bother me though. Also toms are badass shoes, everyone always asks about mine.(kinda like ninja shoes)May 29, 2010 at 9:47 am #1615062
@robdevLocale: Pittsburgh, PA
The most thorough roundup of minimalist options that I've seen is at dshack.net
Unfortunately, my feet are difficult to fit into most shoes, so I can't try many of the options. I've tried FiveFingers and they don't work for my feet. I like Inov-8, but they aren't nearly as minimal as the other options. They seem more like transitional shoes, something you use to work your way down from cushioning to minimal shoes.
If normal sizing worked for me, I'd try the Feiyue Wushu Shoes or perhaps water shoes. But with my feet, my plan is to get a sewing machine and trying to make my own.May 29, 2010 at 10:51 am #1615071
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I have tried a variety of "barefoot shoes" including vivobarefoot, five fingers, classic leather mocs, shower slippers, etc. Each has their place, but for most back country trips I stick with a pair of inov-8 310 flyroc. For me, the flexible sole is good. I like as minimal of a sole as possible… to be as close to the ground as possible. BUT… I have found that I also want TRACTION over a wide variety of conditions. Inov-8 310 are the most minimalist shoes I have found that fit me and provide the sort of traction I want.
–MarkMay 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm #1615088
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
no experience w/ them, but have you looked at the END shoes? They are very pliable and minimal. Obv a VFF is more minimal (more minimal… sounds funny) but for a 'whole shoe' they are pretty minimal.
(and light!)May 29, 2010 at 1:38 pm #1615091
I've got a pair of VFF KSO's but I don't wear them very often because on a technical trail I have to constantly be staring at my feet so I don't stub my toes. This decreases my enjoyment of the hike, so now I only use them on quite well developed trails.
So for me, a really light shoe like the New Balance MT100's would probably make more sense.May 29, 2010 at 1:45 pm #1615094
END shoes are pretty light, but the sole, especially in the heel, is still pretty substantial (thick). I've carried their water shoes as camp shoes before. I hiked in their Stumptown, nice shoe. But not really minimalist in the context of this discussion.
As far as I know, they don't even make END shoes anymore. Last I heard they were bought out by LaCrosse footwear last year, and shortly thereafter LaCrosse announced they'd discontinue the brand and meld the concepts (environmentally neutral design, whence the name sprang from) into their own shoes. Might have changed since then.May 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm #1615128
Wow! I'm so glad I posted about this; you have all given me a ton to think about.
Daniel – "How is the fit on the Tom's? Are they more or less true to size? I have wide feet and need a large toe box. How do you think these would fit?"
I would say that the Tom's that I've tried on tend to be a little bit narrow. I have slightly wide feet and the Tom's are right at the limit of what I can handle in terms of width. The canvas stretches somewhat (and I bought a laced pair that allows a little more flexibility as far as roominess goes), so they fit me like a glove. But any narrower and I probably couldn't wear them. You should give them a try, though. If you can find a retailer in your area you might find a model that fits. They are great shoes. (I love the pic!)
Eugene, Dan – I'm taking a good look at the MT100s, looks like I can get a pair at a decent price, which is great! These shoes look very appealing to me.
Robert – thanks for the wushu mention, those look fantastically comfortable and I'd never heard of them. For the price, I might have to try a pair! The dshack post is excellent, thanks for sharing it. I'm looking at Huaraches again after reading through some of the footwear listed there.
Mark – Traction is also one of my big concerns, so your feedback is helpful. Innov-8 seem like a little more than I want in terms of shoe, but I need to try a pair on… there's a retailer in my town, so I'm gonna check them out asap.
(edit)This is what I love about BPL – there are a ton of members willing to share feedback on some oddball stuff like this. At work on my breaks I'll update my gear list, weigh stuff (I work in a medical laboratory), and peruse the forum. My co-workers think I'm crazy when the see the stuff I'm talking about or looking at… vibram shoes, barefoot ted, cuben fiber tarps…May 29, 2010 at 5:15 pm #1615133
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
I bumped the MT100 thread up with some new thoughts on mine. They're a great shoe with two features that could potentially be big drawbacks for some users. In most respects they're also the most comfortable hiking shoe I've ever worn in my life.Jun 1, 2010 at 10:14 am #1615702
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Vibram Five Fingers are heavier than other options, extremely hot, and leave your little toe open to potential injury on roots, rocks, etc. Also, they can beat up the bottom of your feet if hiking for prolonged miles on rocky terrain. To be honest, I do not see where they fit into my gear kit at all. For those who are into barefoot running philosophy, they do have a place in some situations.
Last year I did a 60 mile hike, which included many miles of scree, rocks, lava beds and the like. I wore the lightest racing flats that I could find, Asics Piranah, at about 5 oz each. The bottom of the soles were completed shreded at the end of the hike. The bottom of my feet were a little sore, but not too bad.
This past weekend Craig Wisner and I did a similar hike. Craig wore MT100s, and I wore Sacouny Shay racing flats. Similar in weight, but the Shays have formed spikes in the soles. I think the Shays performed a little better on hard snow pack. We probably did at least 10 miles in snow. We both brough plastic bags to use a water proof socks, just in case. We did not need them, as our wet feet quickly dried, and moving all day, our feet we warm enough, actually sometimes it felt good to be walking in cold snow. I did injur the ball of by left foot, when I land hard on a pointed rock on day 1. We probably did at least 30 miles on very rocky terrain.
I can't speak for Craig, but going more than a couple days on this kind of rocky terrain is probably too much for this kind of minimal shoe.
I thought that the Shay's would do better than the Asics… and they did, as the soles are still in great shape. But on the 3rd day, the right Shay shoe suffered a construction failure, causing that foot to over pronate, more than if I were walking barefoot. This could have been caused by me changing my walking due to the injury, as I was favoring my left foot, and hiking with more impact for 45 miles on my right foot.
So in the future, I am going to stick with my Saomon XA Pro 3D's for hikes of this magnatude.Jun 1, 2010 at 10:45 am #1615710
How would the terrain you went through compare to typical PCT tread? I have been using the XA Pro's and was thinking of picking up some MT100's as an alternative for my thru-hike next year.Jun 1, 2010 at 11:24 am #1615717
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
I wouldnt expect a very long life with the
MT100's, i could see u replacing them or having to do some serious field repair by Idylwild. I recently posted in a thread discussing the 100's some pics showing vulnerable and weak areas Ive found in the 100's. It's difficult and tiring finding an edge on snow packed slopes in the slipper like upper of the MT100's, if you encounter snow in the San Jacintos you may regret using the 100's. On packed and well blazed trails durability becomes less of an issue, this is where the MT100's shine.Jun 1, 2010 at 12:51 pm #1615742
@scribblesLocale: Atlanta, GA
I finished my first 5k run in FiveFinger sprints. Running feels very natural in them. I had a very different experience with hiking. I did a 15mi ish overnight in my VFF's and realized that they were not nearly as comfortable at a walking pace, my feet were very sore and I found myself regretting the decision. YMMV.
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