Barefoot/Minimalist Shoes – The Search Continues

9 March, 2012 at 12:36 pm

The primal movement and the barefoot/minimalist shoe movement go hand in hand. Mark Sisson, who is the author of the Primal Blueprint, also promotes the use of shoes like Vibram Five Fingers, but makes mention of other good minimalist shoes. It’s all about going back to a more natural way of eating, living, and exercising.

I try to walk every day of the work week for at least 30 minutes on the trails around my office. The problem is, I haven’t had a pair of decent shoes for walking in years. If you believe the barefooters, I’ve never had a decent pair. So I wind up walking in my dress shoes, or in a pair of beat up old Sketchers that give me blisters. They’re also about 3 years old.

So I’ve been looking for good barefoot shoes. I figured it’s worth a try. Jamie ordered me a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves, and they arrived two weeks later. I opened the box, excited about how light they were. I put them on…and they were way too tight. They were a regular pair, and I have wide feet. I don’t always need to buy wide shoes, because some are just made that way. The Trail Gloves were not. They felt good, I loved the way they hugged the floor, but they just wouldn’t be comfortable. So we packed them up, brought them into Dick’s brick-and-mortar store, and were told that they didn’t have the Trail Gloves in 2E. Instead, we exchanged my pair for a pair of womens’ Trail Gloves for Jamie. That was a couple weeks ago, and I’m not sure she’s taken them off since. (OK, I exaggerate…but not by much.)

She can’t stop talking about them. She loves, loves, loves them. They’re comfortable, quiet, and understated. She can wear them all day without her feet getting sore. They look and act like ninja shoes – she got the black ones.

So I’ve been trying to find out how to get a pair that fit. I’ve heard rumors that Merrell is releasing wide width versions of the shoes this month. The website has a page for a “wide” version, but it doesn’t say if it’s a single E or a 2E shoe. I want to try them on in the flesh and make sure they fit before I have to go through another multi-week process of ordering, waiting for shipping, receiving, trying on, and having to send them back if it’s not right.

In the mean time, I continue to walk without decent shoes. Which is bad for both my feet AND my shoes.

Today, I decided to take another look around the Internet, and I found some shoes by a company called Altra. Altra makes the Adam – which looks like a slipper/aquasock hybrid but gets rave reviews from everyone who buys them, as well as the Samson, which is basically the Adam with a different upper and laces. I found this review of the Adam (and later the Samson) at Birthday Shoes in particular to be helpful, and in addition, it comes with a chance to win a pair from the manufacturer. Since I have a feeling I’m going to want to own several different pairs of minimalist shoes from different manufacturers, I’d love to win these so I can try them out while spending my limited shoe budget on something else. I like the look of the Trail Gloves a lot, but the reviews of the Adam sound like it’s probably going to be the best fit for me.

At the end of the day, I really prefer to try a shoe on before I buy it to make sure it will fit. It’s lovely that some of the online stores have easy return policies and free shipping, but it still takes time. I’d rather not spend the next month walking around in work shoes, work boots, or clunky Crocs. I need to settle on one of these and get moving.