most breathable / cool running shoe

I'm moving to a tropical climate and looking for a quasi-minimalist shoe with the lightest, most open, breathable mesh upper. It also needs a wide forefoot for my duck feet and decent traction on wet asphalt and concrete. In terms of wet traction I'd just like to avoid slipping on a wet road as has happened with my Merrell hiking shoes with hard Vibram soles. I don't have to be able to climb waterfalls with them or anything. I just don't want to feel like I've stepped onto a skating rink whenever it rains.

Other than my zero drop 12 mm flip flops which I actually wear most of the time at home, I've never worn any sort of minimalist shoe before. I'm looking for a compromise between ground feel and cushion/protection and so I'm thinking in terms of a stack height of at least 8 mm and ideally no more than The One with 18mm. I would prefer zero drop, but could live with a 4mm drop. Ultimately ventilation trumps every other concern except for wet road traction and a good fit for my wide feet.

Some shoes that I'm considering are Altra The One (or possibly Torin), New Balance Minimus MR10v2/MT10v2/MR1, Merrell Bare Access 2 or Vapor/Trail/Road Glove, Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris/Levitas, Skora Base/Phase/Phase-X, Brooks PureDrift, Topo RT, Inov8 TrailRoc 235, Saucony Virrata/Hattori LC, and Skechers GoBionic.

I probably won't actually be doing much running in these shoes. I mostly want something cool and comfortable for a very hot/humid climate that lets me get a bit of that natural barefoot feeling while still protecting my feet from sharp things and hiding them from view. I'll mostly be walking on pavement so as a rule I'm leaning toward road shoes over trail shoes, but I'm not sure the difference really matters for just walking around. I'll probably be wearing a thin pair of socks most of the time.

So can anyone rule out any shoes on my list for not being breathable or cool enough for extreme heat or for being slippery on wet roads? Any suggestions for a minimalist or semi-minimalist running shoe that won't roast your feet on a very hot day?


  • The Bare Access 2 breathes a lot better than Altra's The One.  

    Personally, I'd give either of the Evo shoes a try.  VERY breathable.
  • Thanks. I've been salivating over those Mizuno Evos. I'll push them to the top of my list.

    I'm kind of looking at the Merrell Vapors vs the New Balance MR1/Hi-Rez for a true minimalist or barefoot-like shoe. I particularly love how the Vapors look. Beautiful shoes. And I like how Merrell treats their breathability as one of it's core features.

    I'm now thinking in terms of buying at least two minimalist running shoes. A true barefoot feeling minimal like the Vapor or MR1/Hi-Rez and one with a bit more cushion and protection like most of the other shoes on my list.
  • As phenomenal a shoe as the Vapor Glove may be, I've had issues with the part where the tongue attaches to the upper of the shoe: it creates some friction on the top of the toes which have led me to wear them with light socks. I've read that issue reported by others too.

  • "I've been salivating over those Mizuno Evos. I'll push them to the top of my list."

    Aren't EVOs made by Vivo Barefoot?
  • EVO is also the name of Mizuno's line of minimalist shoes. So far, they've released 3 models: the evo cursoris, the evo levitas and the evo ferus.

  • Thanks Stephane!

    Cool. I used to do a lot of mileage with Wave Universe, even in winters. Are they more roomy in forefoot than Wave Universe?
  • Well I'm mostly planning to wear a thin pair of socks anyway to try to reduce odor issues and I don't want to have to be washing them constantly. How are the Vapors in terms of breathability and coolness?

    I've been reading about durability problems in both the Vapor and the New Balance MR1/Hi-Rez. That has me a bit worried. I also can't decide if walking in a shoe designed for forefoot/midfoot running is going to wear slower or faster when they are only walked in. I'm guessing slower, but the soles on the Mizunos seem very much designed for most of the wear to happen on the forefoot and walking will wear the heel too.

    Besides the Altra, can any of the other shoes on my list be ruled out as less cool/breathable? Saucony has been typically poor when it comes to breathability from my experience, but the Hattoris look quite different from the rest of their shoes. The GoBionics and the Brooks don't look particularly breathable either.
  • IMHO, if you're really worried about breathability, you wouldn't wear any shoes that require you to wear socks.
  • @BF_Luc

    I couldn't really compare the Evo line with the Wave Universe because I've never run in the Universe. But the evo line is very roomy in the forefoot.
  • @lameduck

    I'm not one bit worried about the durability of the Vapor Glove. I can't imagine what would go wrong with them.
    If you're only going to walk in them I would pick something with less cushioning than either of the Evos (especially since there's very little rubber on the heels and you heel strike when walking.) I'd go with either the NB MT10 or a Merrell, be it the BA2, the trail glove or the vapor glove (I haven't tried the road glove yet.).
    But as Bryan as pointed out, if you're going to wear light socks in them, it probably makes very little difference. For real breathability I'd go with Luna sandals or Xerox shoes.
  • Merrell Vapor Glove or New Balance MT00. Both highly breathable, and have good road traction. You can get the mt00 at a great price right now since they're discontinued.
  • edited October 2013
    Or if you can still find Altra Samson those are great as well.
  • Vapor Glove or Inov-8 Bare-X 180 for barefoot style, I prefer the Merrells. Mizuno EVO Cursoris has a super-breathable forefoot mesh, one of the best I have tried. Mizuno Wave Universe 5 is also highly breathable, though a bit gaudy looking!
  • @BF_Luc EVO Cursoris has a bit of squish to it so might not be best choice for you. The new Mizuno Universe is great, wider than previous models and no drain holes in the sole.
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