5-mile test: Merrell Pace Glove, Pure Glove, and Bassoon

Lovely Rock Creek Park, site of two of my walks.

It has been quite hot here in the Washington DC region, so I've mostly been on hiatus with distance walking. I had done a couple of five-mile tests awhile back, though, that I still haven't blogged about.

Bassoons (with my toenails blurred because they look terrible)

I wear the Bassoons to work all the time, and they feel fantastic. The footbed has a great, arch-supporting shape, and the thick leather straps were comfy from day one — no break-in required.

I had high hopes for it, then, when I set out on the first five-mile test I've done with a pair of sandals, with one of my usual walks around the Tidal Basin. And they felt great through about four miles. Somewhere around that mark, though, my foot started to chafe as it moved against the leather footbed, so that the bottom of my foot felt a bit sore.

I survived the five miles (actually, 5 1/2), but by the time I got to my end point of Union Station, it felt like the bottoms of my feet were on fire, and they eventually ended up developing a blister under there, then finally peeling, many days later. It was pretty disgusting.

So, the Bassoons are great for a reasonable amount of walking, but if you do get the warning signal of chafing underfoot, don't ignore it.

Pure Gloves

I've blogged about the Pure Gloves before, as I took them on my last trip to Europe. I decided they needed an actual, measured test, though, and set out for a walk through Rock Creek Park, which I'm lucky enough to live near.

I'm pretty torn on hiking shoes. So many people hike in hiking boots, and usually I walk in RCP in trail runners. But I can't help but wonder if a good pair of barefoot shoes are better for hiking, in the same way they're better for running, as being more natural and allowing your foot to support itself.

After walking just shy of 6 miles in the Pure Gloves, I'm leaning much more towards barefoot shoes for hiking. With their Vibram soles, traction was never an issue, but they felt much more natural than the bulky trail runners with their huge tread. I wore them sockless, which makes them the first (and only) pair of shoes I've worn sockless and gotten through five miles without any blistering.

The only problem I had with them is that my second toes are actually longer than my big toe, but with its bulk, the big toe had pushed out the fabric in that area, so that it was rubbing on my second toe, and the second toe on my right foot was feeling pretty numb by the time I got home.

I've since washed them and put them on a shoe tree while still wet, in an attempt to stretch out the fabric just a bit more across the whole toe area, and that seems to have done the trick. There'll have to be another distance test for these, I suppose. I also bought them in a newer all-leather version that Merrell put out more recently, which I have high hopes for, especially as a travel shoe.

Walking in the Pace Glove.

The Pace Gloves were my first pair of barefoot shoes, and the ones I usually run in, if I'm running. But in the interest of further proving out this hiking in minimalist shoes theory, I decided to also take them on a distance test in RCP. And I was going for serious distance with these — I wanted to try to hit double digit miles for the first time since my foot problem.

They did not start out so well. Like the Pace Glove, I wore them barefoot, but for some reason these rub my achilles far more than the Pace Gloves, and they started rubbing raw just a couple of miles in. I already knew this could be an issue, so I brought some band-aids, and put them on, but in the heat they quickly started slipping on my sweaty ankles. I'd also brought some very thin athletic socks, and had to put them on. This let me finish the walk without much further damage, but I had blisters over my achilles on both feet.

Everything else did quite well, though. I did 10.18 miles, and although my feet definitely felt it by the end, they weren't overly sore. I think the next time I go for double digits, though, it will be in my stretched-out Pure Gloves.

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