Barefoot shoes have been one of the biggest stories in running over the past few years. Their somewhat controversial benefits include encouraging better dynamics and preventing certain types of leg stresses and injuries. It's not clear if those benefits will transfer over to hiking, but at least one manufacturer is giving it a shot. The new Lizard Kross Scramble is a minimalist hiking shoe designed for trails and rock approaches.
Lizard calls the Kross Scramble the "first minimalist lightweight hiking and rock scrambling or approach shoe on the market." While we're sure that some manufacturer somewhere would dispute that claim, we have noticed that minimalist footwear has been focused almost exclusively on running, walking and post-sport relaxing.
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The Kross Scramble doesn't give you five toes or a lobster claw, but it does feature a lightweight design with a thin sole that puts your foot millimeters over the ground below. Its fabric upper appears light and low profile, but gives you tear-proof durability with a mix of Schoeller- Keprotec fabric and Kevlar yarns. That upper is planted on Lizard's Kyodo sole, which uses flexible, lightweight Vibram rubber. Lizard claims the sole provides plenty of traction on rocky and wet terrain. The shoe is secured with a QuickFit closure system.
We're not that sure how much benefit a barefoot design will deliver in a hiking shoe, and the idea of a minimalist hiking shoe just smells like a marketing ploy. One of the main benefits of the minimalist running shoe is that it encourages a forefoot strike and better body posture. A forefoot strike seems like it would be irrelevant and possibly even uncomfortable in a hiking or approach capacity.
Considering that hiking boots designed for long hikes and backpacking trips have long used a thick, heavy duty sole construction and full, ankle-wrapping uppers, the Kross Scramble looks downright underdressed for anything more than a walk around the local nature path. But maybe they know something we don't – we'll have to wait for some hard reviews.
The Kross Scramble is part of Lizard's northern spring/summer 2013 line. It will retail for US$130.