Minimalist/zero drop hiking boots?

fortel

Adventurer
Been looking for a while trying to find a minimalist-style hiking boot and not having much luck.

Back story - after years of hobbling around fighting plantar faciitis I finally got hooked up with a good podiatrist that moved me over to the barefoot/minimalist/zero-drop type of footwear. After a few months of transition time, foot problems went away and have been gone for over two years now. Even was able to start back running after more than 5 years away from it.

I've got daily wear and running covered with Altras but what I'm missing is a good option for hiking boots. When I get back in my Technicas my feet start complaining fairly quickly. Merrell made a Proterra (I think) mid hiker that would have been a contender but it has been discontinued to the best of my knowledge. There are a few ugly, flimsy options that look only to be fit to go get a cup of coffee in, but nothing that looks like you would actually wear for real world hiking or work. I've got my eye on a Belleville military boot, the MiniMil, that has a 2mm heel to toe drop which is great. But its an 8" tactical style boot. I'm OK with the tactical look, but before committing wanted to see if anyone knew of a more traditional hiking boot style with the minimalist footbed that I have not found yet?
 
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fortel

Adventurer
Thanks for the reply. I've seen those on the web but never in person. I'm a little worried they wouldn't hold up. I don't backpack anymore, mainly day hikes, but I'm a board member of my local singletrack trail building crew and have used my backpacking boots during work days for ankle protection while working on uneven terrain when bench cutting trail. I may need to go with something like the Belleville for work days and rougher day hikes and drop back to a pair of my Altra trail runners for light day hikes. Most of the boots out there are anywhere from 11mm up to 17 or 18mm drop from heel to toe and that's just way too much drop for me to tolerate for any long hikes or work days. I'll try to find more info/reviews on the Vivos, they may yet be a contender.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
I had a bad experience with Russell and would only recommend them if you have very easy to fit feet.
The Mini-Mil is okay but they run small in length and really big around the shaft. Try them on first.
Vivos run big most of the time but their offroad shoes run small. Don't fit me.
I'm wearing Proterras right now and they're my go-to mild temperature hikers. And work boots... Merrell makes a new version http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/35266M/0/Mens/Verterra-Mid-Waterproof I think they have a 4 or 5mm drop

Read my headaches.

www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/34842-The-best-adventure-travel-boots
www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/93759-Best-Off-Road-shoe
www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/116491-looking-for-minimalist-hiking-shoes-boots
www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/114660-Help-me-find-some-big-boots!
 

fortel

Adventurer
Thanks for the additional info. I really would like to be able to try on before purchase but may have to gamble on a best-guess choice and then return them if they don't work. For my foot Altras are perfect, zero drop and roomy toe box and the ability to get 3 different thicknesses of cushsioning. I'll keep chasing a solution. Hopefully more manufacturers will start offering minimalist boot options.
 

redneck44

Adventurer
I have the earlier version of the above Vivos, they're not bad, I wear them quite often.
The lugs which are quite small are wearing on the soles, but only in the high contact areas (obviously), which has made the footbed more contoured than I like. They have remained waterproof despite regular dunking in salt and fresh water.
Overall I have been pleased with their performance, but not so keen on the colour, I prefer black shoes/boots. They are a little on the high side for price, but they were the only boot I could find that do what they do.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
I have the earlier version of the above Vivos, they're not bad, I wear them quite often.
The lugs which are quite small are wearing on the soles, but only in the high contact areas (obviously), which has made the footbed more contoured than I like. They have remained waterproof despite regular dunking in salt and fresh water.
Overall I have been pleased with their performance, but not so keen on the colour, I prefer black shoes/boots. They are a little on the high side for price, but they were the only boot I could find that do what they do.
How was the sizing?
I have the Vivo Gobis that I wear for kicking around and in the lab; they run larger than LEMS and the 48 is a little big on me. But let me wear thicker socks when it's cold.
I have Vivo Ra II in a 47 for weddings/funerals --- they fit perfect but only with thin socks.
And the Offroad doesn't come in a 48. Nobody stocks them so I've never tried them on.
 

mrsa111

Observer
Ive been looking for the same thing for a LONG time and still havent found quite what im looking for.
I've been trying to find a minimalist style shoe/boot that has some ankle protection (but not support) has a grippy sole thats good in loose conditions, and is good for running.

First I tried the vivibarefoot gobi. which I actually like alot. the wide toe box is a huge plus. but i found it fit a little too loose around the entire foot. it was fine for most walking/hiking, but anything where you need to be sure footed, or running, and it just moved around on your foot too much. I definitely think i need to try it again but a size down. and sole wasnt very grippy.
I even waterproofed them and used them for winter hiking. with gaters and thick wool socks they were the the warmest shoes ive used in winter, i attribute that to letting your feet actually move around and needing to use your foot muscles. just NO grip on anything remotely icy.

then i tried the evolv cruiser. Which was very good, but not as minimalist as i was lead to believe. the toe box is not very wide, sole is too thick, and has some arch support, which i definitely dont want. but everything else about it was amazing. it has the grippiest sole ive ever seen, very comfortable without socks. its perfect for scrambling up somewhat technical parts of a trail. ive taken it bouldering and its not too far off my dedicated bouldering shoes. its great for under 10 mile hikes and even runs. but after that its just too supportive/tight.

Ive also tried some minimalist running shoes but they dont have the ankle/foot protection i need.

If i were to get another id try that vivobarefoot hiking boot or the gobi in smaller size.
I wonder if you could find a custom shoe maker that could put something together? If I could have somebody make me a mix between the gobi and cruiser i would be set. Im sure it would be expensive but it would be absolutely worth it for me.
 

cdthiker

Meandering Idaho
Check out the inov8 shoes.

I work in the outdoor education field for NOLS and a lot of my buddies rock very light shoes compared to hiking boots.
No problems. These instructors are sometimes logging 30+ days and hundreds of miles in rough terrrian and sear up and down that the light weight trail runners are all they need.

I guess what I am saying is that a boot might not be needed. You can add a heavy duty pair of gaiters for good protections
 

redneck44

Adventurer
How was the sizing?
I have the Vivo Gobis that I wear for kicking around and in the lab; they run larger than LEMS and the 48 is a little big on me. But let me wear thicker socks when it's cold.
I have Vivo Ra II in a 47 for weddings/funerals --- they fit perfect but only with thin socks.
And the Offroad doesn't come in a 48. Nobody stocks them so I've never tried them on.
Sorrry for the slow reply.

I found the sizing to be O.K. they felt a little snug around the toe box (I have wide feet) at first, but they soon bedded in. I think that the snug sizing was due to the insulation, but I haven't tried any other Vivos to compare.
My Vibram Five fingers KSO are still the winners for all day on my feet comfort though.

Just looking at the new range of VFF's they have some really interesting shoes hmmmmmm
 

fortel

Adventurer
Hey folks, thanks for the continued replies...seeing some stuff I haven't run across before. I agree that a minimalist trail runner will work for a lot of the day hiking I do, and Altras work great for me so I'm set from that end. But I'll still need a heavier duty boot with ample ankle support for my trail building work days ... Spending hours hacking out benchcuts across side slopes for new singletrack requires something more robust than trail runners. So the search continues.
 
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