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Barefoot shoes for hiking: from Nike Free to New Balance Minimus v3

Small warning. Beware of injury, not everyone can go barefoot right away, I am quite lightweight (65kg) and I have been using some kind of barefoot shoes for past 6 years. 

I grew up believing that when you go to forest you need proper heavy boots. Best these tractors :-) 

Well, meanwhile I have always struggled some kind of heel blisters (that really sucks!).

The dream shoe?

I happen to start using Nike Free for almost anything by pure coincidence. It was the shoe I bought before leaving for a year in Asia. I did not expect to do any hiking in these shoes but my desire to do something out of the city and quite limited budget won as always.

And the shoe held really well in most of the circumstances - it coped with the heat of Cambodia, rain of Indonesia, snow of South Korea, high altitude of Tibet, the desert of Australia, ... Sometimes I was carrying heavy backpack (15kg+). Quite amazing. 

Nike free - shoes for everything

Well, it's true they were unusable after the year but considering what I put them through they were amazing multipurpose shoe.

On that trip I didn't do too much wild nature things, it was only later this year I took them on my 3 week adventure back in the land of snows - in Tibet. I bought Salomon XA Pro 3d 3 months ahead of the trip but in the preparation hike they gave me so huge blisters that I gave up on them immediately and decided to stick with my Nike Free.

It was my third pair of Nike Free 5.0. We backpacked, hitchhiked, and walked through the region almost at 5000 meters above sea level. We crossed glaciers, climbed through rivers, spent couple days completely wet, jumped on rocks. All that with heavy backpacks (4 days worth of food, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, day of water) and the result was amazing! In the wet days I was much better of than my mate with his GORETEX Salomons which could weigh twice more and there was no way to dry them for half of the trip!

Nike Free have decent adhesion on rocks but of course there are some downsides to them as the outsole is not prepared for the terrain. My main and basically only problem was when the ground was wet, it got quite slippy and with backpack even quite dangerous particularly when descending. But people are even tuning the shoes to get more traction!

New country, new shoes

Because of this and since I moved to Madrid in Spain with amazing rocky mountains, I was looking into barefoot shoes with a bit more protection and traction. Something to keep away the sharp rocks from below and to protect against painful kicking of the rocks. I bought New Balance Minimus and I love it! No breaking in, they work out of the package. I took them for a two day hike in Picos de Europa with semiheavy backpack and climbed up to Torre de Cerredo. I did already two orienteering races in them.

The only thing I am afraid of is that the lifetime of the shoes will not be very long considering that the Vibram outsole is beeing scuffed quickly.

The bottom line is: think twice whether the heavy boots are actually worth it for you!

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