Ultralight Shoe Life
Apr 20, 2021 at 12:07 am #3709585AK GranolaBPL Member
I think most Americans generate more trash at home, by far, than backpackers do on a long or short trail. We are addicted to consumption. I do what I can to minimize my impact, mostly by trying not to get caught up in fad purchases. I have been using the same two Smartwater bottles for at least two years now. But I cannot imagine trying to hike in waffle stompers again to avoid wasting shoes. I remember those nasty heel blisters!
The thing i hate most is producing electronic waste. How many printers, computers, phones, game consoles, have been tossed into the dump! But I am guilty. And they’re deliberately designed to be obsolete quickly. Grr.
I was thinking about the Chilkoot Trail; one of the common artifacts along the trail in various places are shoes. Talk about lasting a long time! All leather of course, and decaying, but still – 122 years later! There were a lot of shoes left behind by the stampeders. Maybe they all got blisters!
I was recently walking in an old mining district. Lots of stuff left behind, after a small city of 10,000 or so disappeared when the gold ran out. What will be left when your town becomes a ghost town?Apr 20, 2021 at 1:03 pm #3709646
Karen, while I agree with you on those points you made, it sidesteps the original topic of my discussion. It is not an engineering trade off for me to be more wasteful with my shoe usage because I am able to be less wasteful in other areas of my life. That is the very discontinuity in mindset that I aimed to point out.Apr 20, 2021 at 7:15 pm #3709689
Update – I gave up on the idea of the Joe Nimble Trail Addicts when I discovered they have “arch support” – not something I want in a shoe.
So after a bit of research I’ve sprung for a pair of Inov8 TerraUltras and so far I’m well impressed.
Inov8 had the laudable goal of building a shoe that would last 1000 miles, which would surely be a match for many conventional boots. And multiple reviewers are claiming that they are still like-new after hundreds of miles of fell running.
The innovative graphene sole really does seem to be a breakthrough in durability as claimed. It was developed by the Graphene Institute at Manchester University, where graphene was originally discovered, so there’s proper materials science behind it. OutdoorGearLab have reviewed a number of Inov8 shoes with this sole compound and say they are consistently the most durable they have tested. The grip is also as impressive as advertised, and it’s an adaptable all-terrain design that should be fine in anything short of deep mud.
To match this, the upper seems high quality, with overlay rands at the flex-points where my other shoes tend to blow out. Hopefully it will last as long as the outsoles.
As for general features, there is a wide toe-box, zero drop, a low-stack protective midsole that still allows for some ground feel, excellent stability and a firm fit that compares well to the sloppy fit on my old Lone Peaks – they are much better on side-slopes and steep descents.
There has been a blizzard of 5 star reviews for this shoe, and my initial impression is it’s worth checking out for any serious backpacker. I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t get much more wear than I’ve averaged with the Altras. In terms of the current market, this is the most durable trail-shoe I can find without going for something much heavier and more traditional, which for me personally would be a step too far, whatever the eco issues.
It doesn’t hurt that the company is 10 minutes from my front door – I wonder if they are looking for testers :-)
Here’s a pair with 600k of tough fell-running on the clock – most trail shoes would be on their last legs by this point, while these seem to be in good shape:
A good long-term review here: https://iancorless.org/2020/12/16/inov-8-terraultra-g270-long-term-review/Apr 21, 2021 at 1:39 am #3709716John S.BPL Member
Thanks Geoff.Apr 21, 2021 at 10:25 am #3709758
Thanks Geoff! I’ve not tried Inov8 shoes yet, their styling is a little loud for me, at least the ones I’ve seen. I am glad to see some companies are going to the effort to make durable shoes which are attractive to people looking for light trail runners rather than boots. I hope other companies join in, and hope we as consumers will help drive company’s values with our purchasing habits.Apr 21, 2021 at 3:16 pm #3709836
The TerraUltra also comes in a discreet black colourway if that’s what you prefer. It seems to be a runaway success, with quite a few reviewers calling it the best low-drop trail shoe on the market, so they have been expanding the colours available:Apr 21, 2021 at 5:22 pm #3709856
Yeah, I just went through the website after you posted, and saw that. Thanks again!Apr 22, 2021 at 4:05 pm #3710054Jon SolomonBPL Member
Unfortunately, the Michelin sole on the new WanderToes 2.0 model doesn’t work for me like the original WanderToes model did. Like Geoff, I’m really not thrilled with the new design. It has arch support where I don’t need any, ending up being a little too constricting for my wide, flat feet. I’ve had such trouble find shoes I really like, I bought up several pairs of the old model once I discovered they were out of production.
Most people will probably love the new version of the WanderToes, except perhaps for that large wedge of gray EVA associated with the new Michelin outsole (same as on the Trail Addict model pictured above). The new Michelin midsole is 10mm, providing cushion that the old model never had and which I don’t really want. The old version had no fluff at all. The Vibram outsole was thin, flexible and fairly durable and that was it. Pure contact with the ground. It was really minimalist, like walking in slippers or ballet shoes or something. I love ’em. They do need a bit of extra shock absorption padding for multiweek trips, however. I just cut some 6mm EVA to size and put it under the insoles. That does the trick for me. The new WanderToes are still flexible and zero drop, but totally lack the ground contact feel that the original version has.
Hopefully, they’ll bring the old model back.Apr 22, 2021 at 4:10 pm #3710056Jon SolomonBPL Member
WanderToes 2.0Apr 23, 2021 at 9:10 am #3710159J-LBPL Member
The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 shoes seem nice, but I found the toebox not quite wide enough. Inov-8 shoes are notoriously narrow, so for the Inov-8 brand they are wide. But they were still narrower than my Topo shoes at the widest point and then the toebox felt more pointed and less foot-shaped to me. My toes need their space – it took way too long for me to learn this lesson :)Apr 25, 2021 at 4:43 am #3710288
John – I have the same issue with wide toe-boxes.
With the Inov8 TerraUltra I’ve simply sized up a 1/2 size and find that gives me enough room, provided I only wear a thin sock. I’ve found that sticking with thin liner socks helps solve my width issues without having to size up so much that I feel I’m wearing clown shoes with the attendant trip-hazard.
I took my old Joe Nimble Trails (true to size) and my Lone Peak 4.5s (sized up) into the store and compared the toe boxes. Although the TerraUltra does look distinctly narrower than the others to the eye, when I compared them sole-to-sole they were all pretty much the same width. It seems to be some kind of optical illusion due to the overall shape of the TerraUltra.
I’ve had the TerraUltras out on the fell a few times now and am very happy with them. There is enough enough toe space. They hug the foot on side slopes and steep descents. The midsole seems just right – good protection while preserving a little ground feel without the squishiness of the Lone Peaks. And the quality seems far higher than the Lone Peaks – I’m hoping they will last significantly longer.
Jon – you might want to try the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II. They have soft and firm ground variations of the outsole. There is also a boot form – the Tracker II – which I’ve never used. They are pure minimalist shoes like the old Nimble Toes, but with more aggressive outsoles. Not quite as well made, but I still get acceptable life. I do love my Nimble Toes, but find the outsoles far too lacking in traction for typical UK conditions – with all the bog, steep wet grass and slick mossy rock. The Primus is safer unless the weather is unusually dry.
I like your idea of a modular system where you take a minimal shoe and simply add whatever you need in terms of padding and rock-plates using inserts. You say you have flat feet which I suspect is why it’s been working for you. I have unusually high volume feet, so I find I simply don’t have enough space in the shoe for the inserts – even with the Joe Nimble. I have to size up 1.5 or even 2 European sizes to get the space which I don’t find safe or practical. So I’ve reluctantly accepted that for longer projects where I need padding I have to settle for shoes with a built-in midsole. And the TerraUltra is the best I’ve found so far, by quite a margin.
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