Need help selecting shoes for running/hiking in while traveling...

Hi Pete

I recently discovered your site while researching shoes for traveling and was wondering if you (or anyone) could help me with a really specific set of needs? In the past, for space/weight/cost reasons I would only take either a pair of moderately heavy hiking boots (a pair of Merrells that I misplaced a while back) or whatever pair of battered old running shoes I had at the time in addition to my flip flops. However I've been getting back into running recently and would like to keep it up while I'm away next year.

In terms of running I go for light 4 to 8k runs just to keep fit (nothing too hardcore). I've never really thought about my form until I recently stumbled across the concept of barefoot running, which I think is part of the reason why I have a history of recurring injuries to both ankles. I've always used shoes with arch support and thick, cushioned soles but now I want to invest in a pair of decent minimalist running shoes so I can work on my form and technique and improve my feet and ankle strength.

The problem is that on my next trip I will be doing light to moderate
treks across a variety of terrain (nothing too hardcore) in South America during their winter
as well as taking a road trip across the USA in your summer. So as well
as a pair of shoes that I can use for short runs on both road and trails, I
need a pair of weather-proof shoes that will give me enough support and protection
while hiking.

For space/weight/cost reasons I would ideally take a single pair of lightweight shoes that I can do both in, so I was wondering if the Merrell Mix Master Waterproof Mids provide enough support/protection for hiking in and if so does the higher ankle impede the wear's ability to run in them? Are they suitable for someone with quite wide and flat feet? Are they suitable for a beginner like me and would I be able to use them at the gym and on the road as my everyday running shoes before I go away? Am I better off with separate shoes for hiking and running in?

On paper they sound perfect but I would appreciate any advice and recommendations and advice that you (or anyone) can give!


  • As I was reading you post the Mix Master was the first hoe that popped into my mind, then you mentioned it :) I personally would not much enjoy running in the Mids, I'd opt for the Gore-Tex version of the regular Mix Master since I don't think I'd enjoy running in a shoe with a big ankle collar. The Mix Masters are great shoes for light hiking, trail running,and they work pretty well on roads as well. Probably one of the closest to meeting all of the criteria you need. One other to consider is the Altra Superior, though if waterproofing is a must then it's out.
  • I was looking at some more reviews and although it is very close to what I need, I think it'll be too ambitious to expect the Mix Masters to handle everything I want it to. I think the ankle support would be distracting for everyday running (especially since I want to work on my technique) and the rubber would be too soft for walking around cities everyday.

    I'm going to get a pair of the Bare Access 2s for running/everyday wear and a pair of inexpensive walking boots with ankle support for the occasional hikes that I'll be doing. Just a question about the fit of the Bare Access 2s - is it worse to have running shoes that are slightly too tight or slightly too long?

    I've been comparing the fit of the Bare Access 2s with my current New Balance shoes (they're an US 8.5) on and it seems like the the US 8s would be slightly tighter but the US 8.5s would be slightly longer. While they'd both be tighter around the heel (not a problem since my current shoes are probably a little too roomy around the heel) and just right around the mid-foot, I'm leaning towards the US 8.5s should be more comfortable around the fore-foot. Are there any problems with having shoes that are a little too long (more than one thumb width longer than my big toe)? Can a toe-box be too roomy (the US 8.5s would be roomier than my current shoes, which already allow me to wiggle my toes)?

    Sorry for all the questions, I'm new to all this and since I'll be ordering from the US I don't want the hassle of having to ship them back if they're wrong. Your blog has been really helpful and I really appreciate the time you take to answer all our questions!
  • Also do the Vibram soles make them more durable?
  • As far as fit, Quentin, I normally wear a 11.5D US.  When I tried on the BA2's for the first time, I thought they were a half size too long but found that the 11.0 not only didn't feel appreciably shorter, they were too tight through the midfoot (whereas the 11.5 is about perfect for my feet).

    Does that help?
  • I prefer too long over too tight personally, but it's a fine balance. I never size up in Merrells though, whereas I do go up a half size in a lot of other shoes. I'd stick with your usual shoe size.
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