Monday, February 14, 2011

Confessions of an UltraLight Backpacker - Foot Pillows

I must confess two things...the first is that I wear hideous shoes, and second I named them foot pillows!

So here is how a came to be the owner of these most unattractive shoes. I had never been truly happy with my backpacking footwear, and going to the big box outfitters left me wanting. It finally occurred to me that I needed some professional help (no not that kind!), so I headed to my local running store. They were knowledgeable, patient, and had a huge selection. I probably tried on more than 10 different styles! After the sales girl laced up each pair, she then had me go outside and run around the parking lot a bit, which was very helpful. By process of elimination, I ended up with these Mizuno Wave® Cabrakan™ trail runners, the most comfortable and least attractive shoes they had to offer.

Go ahead, make fun of me, but us backpackers spend way too much time on our feet to care about looks alone. I think everyone who backpacks needs to find their own "foot pillows".

I have about 250 miles on these shoes now, and they are holding up very well. In fact, even with all the torture I put them through, there is still nothing at all wrong with separating, tearing, etc. I fully expect them to last 500+ miles. Oh yeah, and for you ounce counters out there (like me), my size 13's weigh 29.85 ounces for the pair.

Since I bought mine, Mizuno has come out with the Wave Cabrakan 2, a much more aesthetically pleasing color combination in my opinion. Golden Boy bought a pair of these and absolutely loves them. I'll be buying a pair for my son and another for me prior to our JMT thru-hike this summer. I highly recommend you go to your local running store to find which shoe fits you best, but if you want to take my word for it, you can follow one of the links below to purchase your own Foot Pillows through the Mountain UltraLight Store.



  1. I've recently switched over to a pair of Inov-8 Roclite™ 320s and have to confess that I love them! Like your, they're not the most attractive shoes in the world but they are superb at what I need them for. Light, robust, strong, and fantastic at repelling water. I like the sound of the Mizuno's too, so I'll have to check them out. So many people are switching to trail runners now...

  2. I haven't tried Inov-8 yet, and I'm so happy with my Mizunos, I don't think I will be any time soon. I'm sure it's different for to find what fits your feet just right. The point is don't settle, which is what I had done in the past.

  3. IF you like trail runners for packing you should try Vibram Fivefingers Treksports. They are thick enough to make rocks and rough terrain travelable, but are tight fitting and never give blisters. Very breathable too. Check them out! Like the post.


  4. I also forgot to mention that they are around 12 oz in weight. ;-)

  5. Andy, I haven't tried the five fingers yet but have been curious. I like that they are so light...really makes a difference when you take thousands of steps a day!