Minimalist Shoe Trifecta

Trail, Train and everything else minimalist shoesTrifecta: the situation wherein one has attained three achievements, qualities, etc., especially when these are of great importance.

After more than two years of training with barefoot style techniques, I finally hit upon a combo that works even for the trail. In the past I have used Merrell Trail Gloves but found that they did not provide enough cushion for long days on the trail. There was the protection there for the occasional rock and root toe stubbing or pointy sticks that find there way between your feet, but the lack of cush made my feet sore after a number of hours on the trail. I also did a fair amount of training in Luna sandals, including soft trail and gym runs for more than a year. However, the 10mm sole and open foot made me extremely cautious on any hikes, always afraid of that toe stub that would send me reeling in pain. I also found that sticks and branches would find their way under my open foot or between my toes, so these too proved inadequate for long hikes over varied terrain....I just needed more protection.

This year proved fortuitous in that I discovered the Inov 8 Trail Roc 245s. Just the right amount of drop (3mm), just the right amount of cushion (including a rock plate), just the right amount of toe protection for me to confidently tackle any trail, including off trail sections. I used them on trail for all the hiking I did this past summer with my daughter, and they've seen talus, scree and some snow, along with varying trail conditions from mild to very steep, both ascending and descending, and some longish days of 15 hours on my feet. In short, this is about the best trail shoe I've used, and they are very light....the 245 is their weight in grams. Now, this is not a shoe I would want to take constantly off trail, their very lightness makes them susceptible to damage from rocks and such. But for trail use they shine redly and brilliantly and my feet have been happy campers this summer with nary a hot spot or blister. I lace these up in the morning and don't have to touch them all day long. I did take them off a few times to soak my feet in an icy creek or wring out my socks to help in drying, but never because my feet needed a break from the shoes themselves.

Once I cracked the problem of barefoot shoes for trail use, my remaining shoes fill in all the gaps. I use the Merrell Trail Run Ascends for all my training in the gym on treadmills or the occasional road run, and my well worn Luna sandals fit the bill for shorts wearing on Hawaii layovers, running when other shoes aren't available or if I want complete ventilation, and spare shoes for creek crossings and around camp during hikes. For the first time since embracing a midfoot strike, I can use minimalist shoes for all my training and outdoor (summer) endeavors.