Minimalist Hiking Shoes, a Must Have for Serious Hikers

hunter trapperOne of the best part of being in the great outdoors is the connection with nature.  In a previous post we discussed the health benefits associated with spending time in nature as well as some of the essential gear to carry.

Today we’re going to talk about some other must have gear.  A great set of minimalist hiking shoes.  Hiking shoes have been around forever.  The trappers devised their own shoes for their journey deep in to the wilderness in search of beaver and other pelts.  These were often simple moccasins with little protection from the elements.

However, they did provide these pioneers with a very accurate connection to the ground.  What do we mean by this?

Most of today’s shoes offer a great deal of cushion.  This is done to make the shoes as comfortable as possible.  However it also disconnects us from the ground.  It also has the adverse effect of raising our entire foot higher off the ground, making injuries such as a sprained ankle more likely.

Moccasins on the other hand provided a small layer of protection, and a great connection to the ground.  This makes walking in more treacherous terrains much easier.  Of course, in moccasins you have to watch out for sharp rocks and other objects since they didn’t offer a great deal of impact protection.

Now days however, that is not the case.  There are several manufacturers of shoes that are considered minimalist shoes.  This means there is as little as possible between your foot and the ground.  Most of the shoes in this category have a thin layer of cushion or none at all.  They do incorporate a sole that is made of very tough and durable material that is designed to protect the foot from sharp objects.

One company that has been making minimalist shoes for years now is Inov-8.  They have a whole line of lightweight hiking shoes that are perfect for your next outdoor excursion.

So how does this help you when you’re on the trail?  Simple.  When you walk in a minimalist shoe, you can feel everything that’s going on between you and the ground.  If one part of your shoe starts to slip, you can immediately feel it and correct for it.  In addition, your heel is closer to the ground.  This means that even if you did roll your ankle, you have no distance to travel.  It is actually pretty difficult to roll your ankle in a good pair of minimalist hiking shoes.

Another great benefit is that they are extremely lightweight.  Some minimalist shoes weigh in at under 8oz per shoe.  This means you won’t wear yourself out trudging in a heavy pair of hiking boots.  You will feel the impact in your thighs and your hip flexors.

The only drawback to minimalist shoes is that they’re not really made for cold weather conditions.  If you’re going to be hiking in areas with snow and ice, you’ll want a warmer option.  But they’re so small and light, that you can easily pack them on any trip.

For more information on minimalist shoes, shoes for CrossFit, and other specialty shoes check out this webesite.  At Efficient Gains you’ll find lots of great information on exercise gear and outdoor equipment.