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  1. #1
    Registered User evansprater's Avatar
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    Default Hiking in Vibrams

    So my buddy and I decided to do the entire Art Loeb Trail in a day a few months back, and since 310 miles last fall on the AT gave me a pair of collapsed arches (resulting in wearing orthotics), I thought I'd try hiking in my vibram shoes, especially since they're supposed actually strengthen the arch muscles and eventually "cure" my fallen arches problem. It was rough with all the roots/rocks but I could see how, eventually, one could potentially get used to it enough to potentially hike long distances, every day, for an extended period of time. I did complete all 30.1 miles that day, albeit incredibly sore in certain spots which I assumed were muscles used in barefoot walking that aren't engaged in "shoe'd" walking. What do you guys think? I'm effing tired of feeling the little bump from orthotics and think that itself would be enough to get someone off the trail after 800 or so miles. Any thoughts/opinions are greatly appreciated!
    The funniest thing, I think, about the trail, is that I was almost always so inexplicably happy. Every night I had the most bizarrely cheerful dreams.
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  2. #2
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    My guess is that you may have a naturally high arch, which "collapsed" after backpacking a long distance in sneakers or lightweight trail runners. Just hiking with stiff-soled boots won't address that problem -- you will likely benefit from replacing the boot's standard insole with orthotics (see Superfeet or heat-moldable insoles).

    I have naturally high arches and would get very sore feet at about the 12-mile mark, regardless of the terrain. A pair of Spenco Backpacker Insoles let's me go 20+ miles with minimal soreness (or at least until my knees give out, but that's a different issue).

    If your orthotics fit properly then you shouldn't be feeling the bump, at least once your feet get used to them.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  3. #3

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    I hiked the Mount Mitchell trail in a fairly new (no worn treads) pair of Vibrams. The trail was wet, so of course my feet got wet and muddy. I also found that they had much poorer traction on wet rocks and logs than my trail runners. So I won't wear them if I anticipate wet conditions, but I have worn them on plenty of dry hikes. Anyway, that wasn't something I considered before it happened, but you may not experience the same problem.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by evansprater View Post
    So my buddy and I decided to do the entire Art Loeb Trail in a day a few months back, and since 310 miles last fall on the AT gave me a pair of collapsed arches (resulting in wearing orthotics), I thought I'd try hiking in my vibram shoes, especially since they're supposed actually strengthen the arch muscles and eventually "cure" my fallen arches problem. It was rough with all the roots/rocks but I could see how, eventually, one could potentially get used to it enough to potentially hike long distances, every day, for an extended period of time. I did complete all 30.1 miles that day, albeit incredibly sore in certain spots which I assumed were muscles used in barefoot walking that aren't engaged in "shoe'd" walking. What do you guys think? I'm effing tired of feeling the little bump from orthotics and think that itself would be enough to get someone off the trail after 800 or so miles. Any thoughts/opinions are greatly appreciated!
    I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. I was doing the Clear Creek hike in the Grand Canyon wearing a very expensive pair of hiking boots with Superfeet Orthodics. My feet were killing me. I had a pair of VFFs in my pack for camp shoes. My feet were hurting so much that I took the boots off and put the VFFs on. I haven't worn boots since. I have done a rim to rim to rim in the Grand Canyon and hiked the Inca Trail in Peru with VFFS. These would be my observations: 1)Wear toe socks. When I don't wear socks the grit from the trail makes the VFFs uncomfortable. 2)As someone else mentioned, they don't have good traction on wet rocks, but once you get accustomed to them you learn where to be careful. 3) VFFs are a warm weather shoe. When there is snow and ice on the trail, the cold comes right through the sole. 4)Depending on which version of VFFs you wear, it doesn't take a very deep puddle to get your feet wet. 5)I have talked to a lot of people who have tried VFFs. Some like them and some don't. You won't know if they will work for you until you try them yourself.
    Shutterbug

  5. #5
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    I started my Rim to Rim in vibrams. Ditched em for my trail runners before getting to the river. No one csn answer a foot question well enough for another. Just like a pack. Keep trying till you find what works. Now, for Tough Mudder they were awesome cause they would squeeze all the mud out through top mesh with each step as opposed to the bricks everyone else was wearing.

  6. #6
    Registered User Ktaadn's Avatar
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    My uncle wears his five fingers all year long and he loves them. I'm not a fan of the five fingers but I do love my merrell barefoot shoes. I don't wear them hiking though because I don't think my feet are strong enough to stand up to that beating yet. I might consider it in the future.

    Can the AT be thru hiked while wearing minimalist shoes? Of course. It's already been done and it's also been done barefoot and in just about any type of shoe that you can think of. So, wear whatever works for you.

  7. #7
    Registered User evansprater's Avatar
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    Awesome! I will, of course, be practicing all Fall and Winter in the Vibrams to strengthen my feet and get (more) used to them. I cannot effing wait to be alone and peaceful in the woods.
    The funniest thing, I think, about the trail, is that I was almost always so inexplicably happy. Every night I had the most bizarrely cheerful dreams.
    Late Bloomer

  8. #8

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    I hiked in vibrams but we're not talking about the same thing.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerosene View Post
    My guess is that you may have a naturally high arch, which "collapsed" after backpacking a long distance in sneakers or lightweight trail runners. Just hiking with stiff-soled boots won't address that problem -- you will likely benefit from replacing the boot's standard insole with orthotics (see Superfeet or heat-moldable insoles).

    I have naturally high arches and would get very sore feet at about the 12-mile mark, regardless of the terrain. A pair of Spenco Backpacker Insoles let's me go 20+ miles with minimal soreness (or at least until my knees give out, but that's a different issue).

    If your orthotics fit properly then you shouldn't be feeling the bump, at least once your feet get used to them.
    I think he's talking about Vibram 5-Fingers "shoes" not hiking boots with Vibram soles.

    http://nerdfitness.s3.amazonaws.com/...ve-Fingers.jpg
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  10. #10
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    As a long time owner of "foot gloves", I can't help alot with your technical question. But I can assure that you might get some quality alone-time with your thoughts as my wife/ daughter/ buddies refuse to be seen with me when I wear them in public!!

  11. #11
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    I have not tried backpacking in them yet, but I love my pair of KMDs. I workout in them (P90X, etc.) and run in them. I find them more comfortable than any shoe I own. Figure I will get out on the trial with them in September some time.

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