Hiking boots with neutral sole or no arch support...

#1
hard to explain... maybe... but I just finished therapy for my feet and the therapist made a discovery. I have always worn shoes boots and sneakers with arch support. He said it causes me to pronate and walk on outside of foot instead of the big toe / ball side as I am supposed to. NOTE: I am retired USMC and an X marthon runner and triathlete so many miles on my feet.

Well I bought a pair of shoes and sneakers with "NEUTRAL" soles no arch support. It may all be in my mind but between the therapy and switching the foot pain has all but subsided :)

Now for the reason of my post... anyone recommend a hiking shoe or boot with "NEUTRAL" sole. Flexible and no arch support? I will use sneakers but really will miss boots for hiking.
 
#4
I just ordered some of these form Vivobarefoot. If anyone is interested Ill try to put together a report on them in a couple if weeks.

birthdayshoes.com/vivobarefoot-shoes-review-off-road-hi-boot

Biggs
 
#5
www.russellmocassins.com

I have a couple pairs of Russells. Might take a few weeks to get them because they are all custom made to your feet. They will make your boots anyway you like them. Not inexpensive, but definitely not cheap either.

My favorite pair is an off-the-shelf pair of Russell PH boots. Most comfortable shoe/boot/anything I've ever worn. Bar none. Very light. Very low arch support and a flat sole.
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#6
There might be some confusion here with the terms "neutral" and "arch support." Shoes are often sold in formats designated as "control, cushion, or neutral." This is basically a designation for how much structure is built into a shoe. This is relative to how your foot stays aligned during your gate. Someone with well developed feet and a lucky stride won't need the shoe to control their gate, so they'll often use a neutral shoe. Someone with a tendancy to pronate (97% off all people by the stats) will often want a shoe to control that gate...a control shoe. Of the 97% of feet that pronate, almost all of those are "late stage" pronators, which means as they roll towards the ball of their feet, they roll outward. A control shoe will try to lessen that effect. A neutral shoe won't help correct that protantion or late-state pronation. Neutral shoes have neutral control which allows your feet to do what they want to do - Good or bad. Cushion shoes simply provide more impact protection.

Arch support is a way over used buzzword. Much of a shoe's arch support is derived from the footbed/insole, not the shoe itself. It always makes me crazy when people put on a boot and comment on the arch support which is provided by the crappy $5 removable footbed.

Now, what we have mentioned above are "minimalist" shoes. These are shoes like Merrell Barefoot, Five Finger or NB Minimist shoes. These are simply shoes with minimal structure. They're little more than sticky rubber for your feet. The minimalist shoe market is only about 5% of the overall run industry shoe market and a trend that is slightly reversing. Well, not exactly reversing, but what we're seeing are minimalist shoes with basic structure starting to come full circle as designers fold that structure back in. It's also worth pointing out that most manufacturers of minimalist footwear will advocate those shoes only be worn occassionally to develop foot strength. They do not afford your feet any protection from injury, which is largely what shoes are designed to do in the first place.
 
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#7
Pronation is a natural movement of the Foot. The Problem is when shoe's make you Over pronate of Under pronate. A better way to ask the question would be for a minimal Rise shoe. The VivoBarefoot Boot has a lot of structure and a stiff sole but only has a 3mm Rise. Its 100% more comfortable to walk, hike, climb, and driver in than my Asolo's Matic 200 are. It nice to feel connected to the ground and not like you teetering over it.
 
#8
I've been wearing NB minimalist trail shoes for about two years now. Going forward, minimalist shoes will be all I will shop for. I figure the great sky dude made my feet for walking, and there was never any need for improvement by mere humans. I see more and more companies getting into this. I'm sure there is a good profit margin with these. I had no problem wearing them constantly from day one. A modicum for calf soreness on day two but nothing to complain about.
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#9
I've been wearing NB minimalist trail shoes for about two years now. Going forward, minimalist shoes will be all I will shop for. I figure the great sky dude made my feet for walking, and there was never any need for improvement by mere humans. I see more and more companies getting into this. I'm sure there is a good profit margin with these. I had no problem wearing them constantly from day one. A modicum for calf soreness on day two but nothing to complain about.
The great foot maker did make your feet for walking sans shoes, however, he did not make our feet for today's surfaces. If you look at the feet of someone who spent a lifetime walkng in sand, they have very strong feet. Because we have spent most of our lives walking on hard, flat, unforgiving surfaces, our feet usually do not age well, which is why our feet "grow" with the passing years. They dont "grow" but rather get all squoooshed out and floppy as those hard surfaces and lack of foot development cause natural elongation.

The minimalist market is already retracting as athletes suffer more injuries and podiatrists start recommending people abandon their minimalist shoes, at least for daily use. The Center for Sports Medicine in Boulder reported massive increases in foot injuries as the minimalist shoe trend caught on. It's not really the shoe's fault. People just put their feet through more stresses than they could handle with that minimal protection and support. Moderation is the key with minimal shoes.

As for drop (or rise), drop is only relative to for and aft drop. Minimalist shoes usually have zero drop. Some now have a small degree of drop like 3-4 mm under the forefoot and 7-8mm under the heal for a total drop of a few MM.
 
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#10
I have been battling Plantar Fascitis for 3 years now.. The only boots I have found that don't kill my feet are the Zero Drop Altura Lone Peak 3.5 These are basically a minimalist boot. I LOVE THEM
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
#12
I tried Russel and they failed. Did not fit, not even close.

In good weather I have a pair of Altra Lone Peaks and NM Minimus 4. I like the NB better ---- the Altras got funky after I washed them.

Around the office I wear LEMS.

In bad weather I use Keen Durand but I like the look of the new high-top Altras. The Keens are too built-up for me and my feet hurt after a 10 mile morning.

Long live the deconstructed minimalist movement!
 
#13
I tried Russel and they failed. Did not fit, not even close.

In good weather I have a pair of Altra Lone Peaks and NM Minimus 4. I like the NB better ---- the Altras got funky after I washed them.

Around the office I wear LEMS.

In bad weather I use Keen Durand but I like the look of the new high-top Altras. The Keens are too built-up for me and my feet hurt after a 10 mile morning.

Long live the deconstructed minimalist movement!
My Russells fit just fine, for me Keens didnt fit. Been wearing Hokas for the last year and a half. I like'm
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
#14
It was weird with the Russells.
I sent in the tracings and ordered the Thula Thulas in all waterproof leather. I got a call from the old man himself and talked about fit.
My left foot is a 13 or 13.5 wide and right is a 14 medium ----- he agreed. I also explained that that I like zero drop & a wide toe box. No problem. I was pretty stoked after talking to him; really believed that I was finally going to get a pair of boots that actually fit.

The boots arrived several months later. Beautiful boots. Perfectly crafted, supple, that new-car leather smell....

But they were about a 16 or 17 extra narrow. And they were huge across the ankle/calf; the eyelets touched when I laced them and there was still a huge volume of emptiness. Like ill-fitting cross country skis.

I figured they mixed my order up with somebody else's so I contacted them and asked them to try again and they got angry about it. Told me that I didn't know what a proper fit was, what comfort was. Sent me a refund for all but the $50 upcharge for the all-leather option.

Not a fan of their methods or their customer service.
 
#15
It was weird with the Russells.
I sent in the tracings and ordered the Thula Thulas in all waterproof leather. I got a call from the old man himself and talked about fit.
My left foot is a 13 or 13.5 wide and right is a 14 medium ----- he agreed. I also explained that that I like zero drop & a wide toe box. No problem. I was pretty stoked after talking to him; really believed that I was finally going to get a pair of boots that actually fit.

The boots arrived several months later. Beautiful boots. Perfectly crafted, supple, that new-car leather smell....

But they were about a 16 or 17 extra narrow. And they were huge across the ankle/calf; the eyelets touched when I laced them and there was still a huge volume of emptiness. Like ill-fitting cross country skis.

I figured they mixed my order up with somebody else's so I contacted them and asked them to try again and they got angry about it. Told me that I didn't know what a proper fit was, what comfort was. Sent me a refund for all but the $50 upcharge for the all-leather option.

Not a fan of their methods or their customer service.
I think they are over rated, they are built well and will last forever, but for comfort they fall short compared to modern hikers. Bought a pair of Meindl Gomera that are super comfy, but for general purpose hiking and knocking around I have a pair of Hoka Tor Summit mids. I like them enough that when they dropped the mid heights from their catalong I bought a second pair and stashed them. They use a 4 mm drop, which is not zero, but it is low.