Q: Climbing and hiking in toe shoes?

Hey all, new to the forum but been running barefoot (naked feet) for years.
So my friend recently brought in some toe shoes to school and convinced me that they are great. Seriously considering getting some in the next couple of weeks or so (assuming all the trying-out and fitting works for me) and parents are pretty cool to fund because I haven't had new shoes in ages (still at home, I'm 17).

I wouldn't be using them for running (I can do that naked), but I am a fairly keen hiker and regular enough at the rock gym. The general plan for these is to replace my filthy old do-everything sneakers while also satisfying my need for proper climbing shoes (been hiring shoes from the gym for months now).

My question is whether toe shoes - on a general level - are suitable, and will they hold up to such abuse? Asking mostly about rock climbing as I do that more often, but are they good for hiking too?

If anyone has any advice to share or recommendations as to what to (or not to) buy, that would also be great.


  • If you can find the old leather vibrams, they are really tough.

    I do hike and backpack in my toe shoes and it's fine. If I'm walking on broken rocks and roots all day (15+ miles) it can get a little uncomfortable. For regular dirt trails and flat rock surfaces my feet feel great at the end of a day. My merrel trail gloves are good if I want just a little more protection (slightly thicker soles and a flexible rock plate) Of course that's all relative to how tough and conditioned your feet are. Surprisingly I've never stubbed my toe badly.

    5 fingers are great for scrambling around on rocks. You can really use your entire foot to grip with.

    For hiking choose a pair with good off road traction. Some of them have on road traction that can get real slippery.
  • I love VFFs and other minimalist shoes for hiking. When I first started wearing them my feet would get a little sore on rocky trails but now I can wear them on any terrain for any length hike.

    Sorry, can't attest to climbing though. It probably depends on the durability of the upper material (a lot of them are very thin fabric that would snag and rip pretty easily, at least on real rock...not sure about the gym holds). There's a style called the Trek that is now now discontinued, but would be a good option if you can find them on sale or used somewhere. Also, since the toes are separate, if you're standing on a really small hold I imagine most or all of your weight would be on your big toe, rather than distributed across the entire foot. Since you've been running barefoot for a long time maybe your feet are strong enough that this isn't an issue, but it sounds uncomfortable to me!

    But yes, minimalist shoes in general are awesome and you should get a pair! :)
  • I've done up to 25 mile rough terrain hikes in mine...  I hike in nothing else (well sometimes bare)...  I have clambered over many rocks, I personally like being able to jam my big toe into a crack that my normal closed toe shoes wouldn't fit into...  I wouldn't use them for "serious" climbing, but they are fine for stupid acts like I partake in on occasion....
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