Since last spring I’ve been transitioning into less structured and supportive sorts of shoes, first for hiking and secondly, for everything else. It’s been a hugely beneficial process, but I’ve found that once you make the switch, you can’t go back.
This year especially, I’ve noticed that my feet have been shortening, my arch growing more pronounced. This has resulted in stronger feet which are much more capable of putting in long miles in comfort, as well as feet who can no longer tolerate arch support. In most of my shoes I’ve removed the stock insoles, either leaving them out entirely or more often replacing them with insoles cut from closed cell foam or yoga mat. (I need these flat insoles both for insulation and because top to bottom my feet are very low volume, and absent insoles of some kind most shoes don’t fit me.)
Doing this in my ski boots has been a little more complicated. The volume issue is in my old T2s especially acute, so I have yoga mat glued to the bottom of the boots, and running shoe insoles inside the liners, with the inside of the arch/instep cut out. The arch built into the plastic boot, when combined with a stock insole, was comfy last winter, but thus far this year the changes in my foot have made that arch pressure intolerable. I could likely get the insole ground down by a shop, but my simpler solution has thus far worked well.
I do think that to a certain extent, minimal footwear, usually marked by flexible soles, comes into conflict with more technical boots. Skiing is one obvious case, where the boot must provide rigid structure, and fit the foot very closely. Climbing, off trail hiking, and snow travel are more ambiguous cases, where flexible shoes may have their limits. At least one BPL poster has reported nerve/connective tissue inflamation from especially rough off trail travel in flexible shoes.
I think that a minimal level of sole rigidity for the given activity, combined with well fitting shoes/boots and little or no arch “support” may prove an effective approach.
For myself, given the improvements in comfort and performance I’ve seen over the last 18 months transitioning from a Montrail Hardrock to a LaSportiva Crossleather (review to come soon), I wonder how much further I can push the trend. As it is, I see upper durability and traction as being limiting factors, as most minimalist shoes shave weight with tiny tread and very light uppers.
Anyone with Innov8 experience care to comment on the uppers found on their lighter offerings?
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