Backpacking in Lightweight, Barefoot-Inspired Shoes

backpacking in minimalist shoes


Hi all! This is SOM Team Andrew with my first trip report for backpacking in the San Juan Mountains in my SOM Norwoods. We get the question all the time here at SOM: “What can you do in these shoes?” and the answer is: “What CAN’T you do in them?!”

My dad was a firm believer in buying a Quality Pair of Hiking Boots  (i.e. all leather (hot), thick sole (stiff), heavy duty (emphasis on heavy!) when I was younger, and I adopted that mentality as an adult so I was very curious to see how a very light, barefoot style shoe would perform over rugged terrain while carrying a 40-pound backpack.

Made in America shoes for hiking


We started out above 10,000 feet and progressed through some rocky terrain to get to the hike proper: a thousand-foot vertical slog over 2 miles to get to the cirque where we would spend the night. My wonderful girlfriend Tonya accompanied me and this was our first backpacking trip in several years. We were excited to see how our SOMs would do.

This hike had been recommended to us as a beginner’s hike but the ascent was relentless and we had to take many breaks to catch our breath and take in the beautiful Colorado scenery. One thing that was not bothering us, though, were our feet! Even with my old external frame pack loaded up to the brim my feet were happy!

Comparison of minimalist sole versus hiking boot sole stack height

The difference between my past hiking experiences and hiking in my SOMS was a much more tactile, connected-to-the-Earth hiking experience because of the Norwood’s thin, flexible sole. Being able to actually feel the ground beneath my feet was refreshingly different and made for a more engaging connection with nature. I knew that my brain was actively searching for the best path through the rocks, activating my calf and leg muscles to keep me balanced, and my legs didn’t have the opportunity to get “lazy” and stop paying attention to what I was walking over, something which could easily lead to a sprained ankle or worse.

I found that my body was more relaxed than in my previous hiking boots. This would be reflected in the few days after the hike: no foot pain, no knee pain and best of all, no back pain! My Norwoods helped keep my feet positioned correctly, as they should be: as natural shock absorbers between my pack, the ground and me.

Before we left the next morning, we hiked down a little spur trail to a vantage point where you could really take in the Colorado beauty. The storm the night before had made everything wet and green with life: my Norwoods allowed me to scramble up muddy trails like one of the mountain goats I had watched grazing on the cliffs above us while making coffee. I was impressed that these shoes could get me up a slippery slope without missing a beat! The view above Ouray was something to behold: truly a “wow!” moment!

Backpacking in san juan mountains colorado in barefoot-style shoes

We headed back down to our car and took shelter at the local brewery while recounting the lightning of the night before, and how lucky we are to live in such a picturesque part of the world (Ouray is 40 minutes away from the SOM factory in Montrose). Both my girlfriend and I lamented that despite the steep trail, our heavy packs, and our inexperience in hiking (especially with minimalist shoes!), we felt fantastic and had a really enjoyable time: the typical post-hike aches, pains and blisters just weren’t there!

In my time here at SOM I have had such great customer interactions where our customers report that they can do anything in their SOMs. From skateboarding, to fencing, pickleball (like ping pong on a tennis court), to floor hockey. The only limit for what you can do in your SOMs seems to be your imagination. If you are looking for footwear that you can wear to work, on the trail AND for a night out without having to change shoes three times, SOMs might be just what you’re looking for. If you’re on the fence, all of our shoes have a risk-free 30 day money-back guarantee. What do you have to lose? What can you do in your SOMs? The world is full of friends you haven’t met: go out and PLAY!

 Hiking in colorado in minimalist shoes

--SOM Team Andrew and his girlfriend Tonya at 11,500’!

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