After recently suggesting footwear to my niece, who's interested in backpacking, it got me to thinking about trail runners again. In the past, I switched from big heavy leather boots to a pair of Merrell trail runners that were very stiff in the sole like my big boots (I couldn't bend them in half very easily). They were great, except that after a using them on a 50 mile backpacking trip, I wore a quarter size hole in the interior side-wall fabric. I promptly returned them to REI for a full refund, and went back to my heavy boots. Granted, I'm a big guy... at 6'5" and 280 lbs, I put some pressure on footwear. Boots have always taken care of my pups. But as I lighten my backpacking load, and my stature, I want to consider trying trail runners again,, and also feel like they're a better option for my 19 yo niece.
When we were at REI a few weeks ago, I couldn't find a single pair of trail runners for my niece that had a "stiff" sole,, one that wouldn't bend in half, which I felt was needed to protect against sharp rocks/roots while backpacking. So... here's the question... does a good pair of trail runners for backpacking need to have such a stiff sole that you can't bend it in half. I'm thinking not, since many here who use trail runners use types that can bend in half,,, example.. Brooks Cascadia. So what gives? If it bends in half so easy, how can it protect your feet? Please educate this clueless trail runner wannabe.