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Breathable Shoes - suggestions?

2:18 p.m. on April 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey everyone, I'm new to this site (and trail running) but it seems like a great place. I'm looking for a pair of trail running shoes that are really breathable, since I live in southern California. They also need to be accommodating to packed-down, dry, rocky surfaces, which most of the trails are around here.

I've looked around but the word 'Breathable' seems to be more of a marketing buzzword nowadays ("waterproof and breathable" - huh?) than an actual specification, and I can't really go off weight since one pair that's heavier might actually have more ventilation than a lighter pair, with the added weight purely going to better sole protection for instance.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks folks.

Lee

p.s. how do you search the forums?

2:57 p.m. on April 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi leeuk321 and welcome to Trailspace,

I have found that for myself that "breathable" foot where is totally useless in regards to hiking and backpacking and has no application in those parts of my life my life. I believe that for the most part breathable foot where up to this point in time is a marketing scam. The thought was that since you can use it on tents, coats, gaiters, pants, fishing waders, etc. that it could be used in shoes/boots. With the amount of vapor that a persons foot puts out, I do not believe that they can handle the vapor transfer. Since people sweat and there is much more contained in sweat than just water vapor (such as salt) it quickly over comes the ability of the breathable material in the boot to clear the sweat out of the boot. Once the Gore-Tex or other breathable materiel becomes saturated with the sweat I believe that it destroys the ability of the Gore-Tex to function as designed. Since the Gore-Tex cannot be cleaned properly it does not work after the first few saturations of sweat. I have heard of only a few people that breathable footwear works for. It will be many a moon before I would consider any "breathable" footwear as I believe it is an industry scam to make more money out of less product and less labor thru marketing and brainwashing. In the beginning it sounded like it coulda,shoulda worked, but I found them to be a waste of money. That's not including the discussion of how hot they can be if the weather is not cold. The only use I have found for Gore-Tex foot wear is in the cold rain while riding my motorcycle as the cold keeps my feet from sweating. Once the weather becomes warm/hot they then become usless, just as usless as they are when used for hiking/backpacking. This is of course my experience and you will find many experiences here on Trailspace. Since you are looking for “running shoes” it could be that since they are much smaller, lighter and thinner than the boots/shoes we use for hiking/backpacking that they make a product that works. Though I’d still be very dubious, as the feet when under heavy exertion, produce copious amounts of sweat.

You can search the trailspace fourm by going to the top of page. On the left hand side you will find a small search box. You will find that much has been written on the subject of Gore-Tex or breathable footwear/boots.

11:17 p.m. on April 12, 2012 (EDT)
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don't get waterproof breathable for SoCal

7:14 a.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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8:16 a.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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If you're willing to try "barefoot" then I can recommend Merrell Trail Gloves. I put in a couple hundred miles in those on Box Springs Mountain in Riverside -- steep, dry, rocky trails. Watch your toes!

There is a little search box on the upper right...

9:47 a.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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I have the Moab ventilators non goretex (which I have worn year round) and i have the Merrell trail glove for trail runs.  I've found the Moabs to be grippy when scrambling on boulders.  I did replace the stock insole with Superfeet Green insoles.

I recently bought the Salewa Alp Trainer Low non goretex but it would be a little too burly for your situation.  They do make another version called the Firetail.  The thing about the Salewa is the lacing goes all the way to the toe like a climbing shoe.  They are super comfortable and the stock insoles don't need replacing.  I like the fact I can tighten the area around the toes and I get a snug fit without any uncomfortable areas.  It feels like my entire foot is perfectly immobile in the shoe.  Whereas the Moabs, although comfortable, always feel a little sloppy because the lacing options are limited.  

12:19 p.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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if you place 'breathability' (ability for moisture to escape) at a premium, avoid any shoe with a waterproof/breathable membrane like gore tex or eVent.  though they do allow moisture to escape, the waterproof/breathable membranes don't allow it to escape AS WELL AS the same shoe with no membrane.  in a hot, dry climate, your trail runner doesn't need to be waterproof. 

1:52 p.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for everyone's replies. I understand what people are saying about waterproof lining such as gore-tex, for running shoes it seems like a bad idea. I definitely want to keep away from that. Thanks for the Merrell Moab suggestion, I might try a pair of them on. They seem a little bulky though, and a couple of reviewers have said that their ventilation capability isn't amazing. Then again, can't suit everyone I suppose. 

Rob5073 - I also wear the superfeet green insoles (really flat feet!), and think they're absolutely amazing. I got plantar fasciitis and the insoles got rid of the pain (permanently) within a few weeks. The only problem is though, I've got a sneaking feeling that because of the materials, it can add to my feet getting hot. I know you can't have something for nothing, but have you found a superfeet insole that tackles this? I'm considering drilling tiny holes (1-2mm) into the insole to get some air flow going though. Good idea? Awful idea?

On the topic of holes in insoles, I looked at a pair of Adidas Climacool Trail Shoes last night, which had them in. They were as light as a feather and had 360 airflow. I'm not sure how adequate the sole/heel support would be though. Not talking about arch support, I've got a sole insert for that. But more, if I land on a sharp rock, if it will stop me screaming like a little girl. Or mumbling like a tough guy, but albeit being in a mighty amount of pain. 

Other ones I've looked into are the:

New Balance MT310

New Balance 10

Asics Fujiracer

Inov8 Roclite 295

Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2

La Sportiva Quantum Trail

Has anyone tried one of these ones above, or heard anything about them? I want to stay away from 'bare' shoes, because I've never took to - or had the urge to - run barefoot. Probably because of my flat feet. 

Thanks for everyone's help, I really appreciate it!

Lee

2:44 p.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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leeuk31 was asking about breathable, not waterproof/breathable. Most running shoes are breathable, since they're meant to release heat and sweat.

I've worn both Asics and New Balance for running and cross training, and I've found both to be fairly cool. Depends on how hot your feet get, though.

Gore-Tex or eVent or Pertex, or any other water/proof breathable fabric, isn't good in  shoes for running, anyway. Unlike the slower pace of a hiker, the sweat output of a trained runner can overwhelm even a plain mesh fabric.

3:03 p.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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leeuk321 said:

Rob5073 - I also wear the superfeet green insoles (really flat feet!), and think they're absolutely amazing. I got plantar fasciitis and the insoles got rid of the pain (permanently) within a few weeks. The only problem is though, I've got a sneaking feeling that because of the materials, it can add to my feet getting hot. I know you can't have something for nothing, but have you found a superfeet insole that tackles this? I'm considering drilling tiny holes (1-2mm) into the insole to get some air flow going though. Good idea? Awful idea

 

My feet are normal and the only reason I bought the Superfeet was due to the fact I didn't think the Moabs had enough cushion under the forefoot area.  I was able to feel some small rocks, especially sharp rocks, through the bottom of the shoe.  The Superfoot insole adds enough protection but, you are right, there is no breathability through the bottom of the insoles.  I can't see why your idea of drilling holes would hurt.  You probably won't get that much relief though.

11:00 p.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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A thin wool felt insole on top of a more robust insole might prevent the sole of your foot from getting so hot. It wouldn't cost much to try.

3:20 p.m. on April 16, 2012 (EDT)
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What is your size, do you need more pronation support or less, your running shape and so on? More info will help us give you better counsel. Of the models you mentioned I have tried only the salomon and la sportiva. Both were good especially the salomon for hard terrain.

11:13 p.m. on May 26, 2012 (EDT)
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One of my group's sponsors, Baffin, has a new line of totally breathable shoes, which includes channels to drain water right out if you cross a stream. There is also a metal grip on the sole under the foot to stop rocks from punching through.

Very light and comfortable - might be just what you need.

Check the Trail to Rapids line at:

http://www.baffin.com/category-s/1323.htm

1:39 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I do more daily trail hiking than trail running, but I average around 4-5 miles a day over pretty steep rocky trails.  As said above, avoid anything with Goretex which will simply ROAST your feet.

I've just gotten a pair of Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 which I like pretty well.  Unfortunately, I don't know how long they will last, but the lacing system stays tight (unlike many laces), and they are extremely comfortable, seem to breathe quite well.  They seem to have a lot of mesh, and lots of pieces to fail, but they are quite well protected in the toe and heel, unlike many plain running shoes.  They also have an extended under-sole platform of some sort, so you don't have the issue of sharp rocks driving into your soles.

Hope this helps!

April 19, 2014
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