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Cold Weather Barefooting and Other Winter Kicks

Posted by scott on February 4, 2009

While most normal runners are spiking their shoes for winter, I’ve been experimenting.  I actually haven’t been running much, just some short runs here and there to test out the injury.  But I have wanted to get outside to test out some barefooting options for cold weather.

When things get into the high 20s and above, I stay in the FiveFingers.  I added a cutoff sock as an ankle warmer between my tights and shoes, and this has worked out pretty well:

FiveFingers Ankle Warmer

As the temperature heads towards zero, I turn to my Body Glove Cold Weather Distance Flats:

Wearing Body Glove Shoes

These are actually just 2mm water shoes from the marina near our cabin.  I wear Injinjis with them and they are fantastic in the colder weather.  They have tons of flex in them and a very soft thin sole, so you really feel the ground.  They are really warm and repel water a bit to keep feet dry.  They are definitely not waterproof, but they are definitely closer to it than typical running shoes.

For any notable distances or when things get really cold, I use my New Balance 790 trail shoes.  I got these last fall and haven’t put serious miles on them yet, but love them.  As far as full shoes go they are very minimal and lightweight.  They have a bit of tread on them, but not too aggressive, so you can actually run comfortably with them on pavement.  These will likely be my main shoe for any races in 2009.


6 Responses to “Cold Weather Barefooting and Other Winter Kicks”

  1. I have also been looking for minimal cold-weather footwear. How cold do you think the neoprene shoes will let you go? They would probably be pretty good with a pair of warm socks and Gore-tex over-socks. I don’t run, but am looking for something for hiking.

  2. Scott Mark said

    Damien – hard to say how cold, I think that is very experiential. You are right that warmer socks would help. I’m guessing -10 or so? The neoprene is not very breathable – that is good for the cold wind, but probably wouldn’t be comfortable when you are out for a long while.

    For hiking have you thought of Steger Mukluks? I think those would be warmer and more comfortable for hiking.

  3. I had a pair of New Balance 790 shoes with the tread un-bonding and the cushioning deteriorating, so I decided to try an experiment. I cut off the tread and the cushioning and glued-on some elephant bark using shoe goo. My goal was to get rid of the heel, add some flexibility, and see if I could get more life out of them because the uppers were still in good condition.

    Overall, I would say that the experiment was a tremendous success! They are very comfortable, very flat, and quite flexible. The only downside I see so far is that they almost seem slightly smaller now, if I were to do it again, I would perhaps try it with a half-size bigger.

    I have always liked the upper of the 790, but didn’t care much for the cushioning or the raised heel. I think that another sole material could work even better if it was thinner and had a better tread pattern.

  4. scott said

    Yeah, I have seen your post about the modded 790s on the huaraches list – very cool! I’ll be interested to hear how the elephant bark sole wears. A sheet of Vibram cherry would be another good option, but a bit more expensive.

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