There are many times, when a more traditional pair of hiking shoes will just not cut it anymore and have to upgrade to a lighter weight minimalist hiking shoe. Lightweight, minimalist, or ultralight hiking shoes…can at first sound like strange choices. But once you hear about all the great benefits that these kinds of shoes provide, they really aren’t that strange after all. Many ultralight hikers, ultralight backpacking, and even casual hikers love the lightweight comfort of minimalist hiking shoes. In this article, I’ll tell you what to look for in your next pair of minimalist hiking shoes. I’ll also tell you what to avoid, and what you should be looking for in the perfect minimalist hiking shoe.
A lightweight pair of hiking shoes is great for everyday use. For example, if you are going to run around the lake, mountains, or desert for a week or so, and you only wear shoes, a heavier pair of shoes will really be needed. This way you’ll be prepared for any eventualities. Lighter shoes, with less material, will allow you to move more freely.
A pair of minimalist hiking shoes, with a full sole, is designed to make walking on uneven surfaces a lot easier. They have less material on the outside of the shoe, so you can weigh your steps down much more and still go faster. As a result, they are great for running shoes, too.
There are a couple of different types of minimalist hiking shoes, and each one serves a specific purpose. The trail-running type will fit into almost any occasion where you want to go hiking. These shoes are lighter than many other types, and so you’ll be able to get around with them on a trail runner’s feet, for example. They’re also good for cross country, because you can wear them with just about any footwear and still be comfortable.
The next type is the gait analysis lightweight hiking boot. This style of shoe, which is called a gaiter, has no footer at all. Instead, there are seams along the bottom, which collect the weight of your feet and transfer it to a mesh structure that supports your arch and heel. Because there’s no rooted in this style of boot, your feet will stay completely dry and cool.
A downside to these is that you’ll need to keep your feet off of the ground. For hiking, this isn’t always an issue, but when you’re in a pair of hiking boots, you can’t do that. This is why the flat trail running shoes are better. The flat, or flat toe hiking boot allows you to hike just like you would in a trail-running situation. Your feet are flat against the sole of the shoe, and your heels stay down. This helps you get a much more comfortable and natural walking motion, which keep your feet feeling relaxed throughout your trek.
A third option on the market is the vivobarefoot footwear. These are made by a company that makes trail running shoes, not casual or work shoes. They use a foam-based cushioning system that reduces stress on the joints of your feet. Because there’s no shoe insert or crampon, you don’t have to worry about these damaging your feet. However, you can only wear vivobarefoot in extremely cold weather, which limits its use to the high end of the trail.
Finally, there are the sandals, which offer the benefits of the flat sole and gaiter styles. You still get a nice cushion, but you also get extra protection for your feet. You can find these in a variety of colors, although black is the most popular. They fit tighter, keep your feet from slipping, and allow for a snug fit around your ankles. The sandal also offers you some protection against the rain, helping to keep water out of your feet.