Questions & Answers

A walker with a wide foot

Hi; I try to walk 3 to 4 miles a day and I've decided to find a pair of minimalist shoes because I have such a hard time finding shoes that don't hurt in one way or another. My normal shoe size is 11 with a width of 4E. All the shoes seem to be narrow and there is no selection of widths. What do I need to know to find a good pair?


Answers and Replies


Welcome Patrick, nice to have you here.

For very wide or oddly shaped feet, the best way that you are going to get an optimum fit is:

Go barefoot. Of course this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and also doesn't work so well in winter. Wear sandals. A pair of Invisible Shoes, Luna Sandals, or Unshoes can easily be custom made to the shape and size of your foot. This also doesn't work so well in Winter. You could try a pair of GoLite Amp Lites or Flash Lites. Although not exactly minimal (They have thick soles and arch support built into the insole - it can be removed), they are quite wide. Get a pair of custom made shoes from the Russell Moccasin minimalist line. Although this option isn't cheap, they are made to the specifications of your foot and will last a lifetime. If you can spare the cash, I think this would be your best bet when it comes to shoes.

Hope this helps!


Hi Damien, Patrick, your not alone. 5E'S here. I just joined last night so have not had a chance to fill out the about me section. I tried on VFF and they are not made for tree frogs so each toe sleeve does not fit my toes. I can walk barefoot in dirt but one thing I can't stand is grit in my footwear so I hate sandals myself. One gripe I have in doing research in the last couple days is why the heck are they charging the same or MORE for shoes with less. That one REALLY gets my goat. Damien I thought I read (but can't find it now) that you were waiting on a pair of Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX. I was hoping to see your comments on them as I am thinking of getting a pair before Easter weekend for a night hike with our Scouts. Patrick I have been wearing Merrell shoes for years because they have an ample toe box and just seem to fit my size 11 feet right. They just released a new line of barefoot shoes so this spring I will get a pair of their Trail Gloves. I am not a runner, just not built for it but all day I am walking around the resort I maintain 3 hours north of Toronto. Up and down the hill so lots of roots and small rocks. Hope that helps.


zabala, funny you should mention Merrell. I found their site the other day and was impressed with their line of shoes. I assume you get one of their wide width styles. I like the looks of their Kinetic wide width but I don't know why they might be better. Do you prefer one of their styles over the others?

damien, the Russell Moccasin site and their shoes are just amazing. If you can put more than three times the miles on their minimalists than on someone elses shoes they would be worth the price. I'll bookmark their site for the future. I'm checking out the other sites you mentioned too. Thanks


I did not see a width choice listed on the Merrell site. I have just gone with what they have for width and it has always been generous. Well there was one exception. Years ago they had some funky training shoe that was mostly mesh. I bought it for the gym and thankfully it was made of soft material as it was narrow. They worked alright for 40 minutes on a cross trainer and the rest of the time at the weights <br> I have about 6 pairs of theirs right now. I don't like one over the other except that they are meant for different conditions. Right now my daily wear is their Tundra boot which they don't make anymore but Cabelas still carries. It is so light the first time I tried them on I thought it was a joke they were like slippers. 10 years later and I had to replace them, the insides were just so worn out. The chameleon hiker has always been great. I will say though that in the last 2 years I have been having a major problem with the joint in my big toe on one foot. I noticed the more boot the worse it is after a 5 or 6 hour hike. I have a pair of Danner boots that were so comfortable out of the box but they are now the worse offenders. This is the reason I am going to go minimalist see if that helps. It is a toss up between the NB Minimus and the Merrell. Merrell getting the nod simply because of my good luck with them although I have a few NB as well.



The Russell Moccasins are as you say, amazing. If you keep care of them, they can last 10, 15, or even more years. They are repairable and can be resoled, so over the long term, I think they are definitely worth the money.


Custom made shoes are the way to go.

If your handy and can find some scrap leather at a leather shop or an old jacket/skirt in the thrift shop, you can make your own. The kits in my experience use low quality materials and don't have any customization ability, go for raw materials and a pattern from online or a book.

Professionally made moccasins tend to run in the $300 range, which is a bit pricy for me.

Ghillies tend to be a lot cheaper, although they have a more open pattern that might bring you back to the grit issue. Socks inside them should help with the grit issue.


Hi Patrick,

I have struggled to find shoes that don't hurt my feet all my life. I am a woman, I buy men's shoes several sizes too big, and still my feet are crushed. My feet are also wider in the toes than anywhere else, they get progressively wider.

I got my first pair of VFFs about 6 months ago, the Bikilas and they are the first shoes that don't hurt my feet that I have ever worn. I am able to wear my true size and even the woman's model! This is amazing to me!

I got into the whole minimalist thing due to a running injury in my right knee, and my podiatrist found out that I had pain in my foot, in what would be the knuckle of my third toe. I couldn't consciously feel it while running, but I was altering my stride enough to hurt my knee. Since wearing the VFF my toes have grown a gap between the third and forth toe on the right foot! The pain is gone and I have no pain in my knee! I want to stress with this that it is not just a question of comfort, it is totally damaging to wear too tight shoes.

If your width is in the toes, I recommend VFFs. Good luck!


PS I was the lucky Toesalad winner of a pair of invisible shoes, I haven't gotten them yet but I am so excited to try custom made shoes! I am expecting to wear them a lot this summer, running or just as my summer shoes.



I've had the same issues. It seems like the lighter a shoe, the more narrow the width. I have pretty wide feet (a strong 2EE) and as I have worked over the years to make my feet strong, they have definitely gotten more volume. The shoes that naturally ran a little wider were the Terra Plana Evo and the Newton Isaac Wide (and I agree on the GoLites).

However with a closet full of great shoes I didn't want to start chucking, so I made a few custom modifications. For the shoes that had minimal sewing on the last of the shoe, I would take out the sock liner (this give a surprising amount of volume). For most shoes this actually made them more comfortable. I would undo the laces and then re-lace the leaving the first ( and sometimes the first two) eyelets undone. Most of the time this gave me all the width I needed. Good luck.



I did get a pair of the Roclite 288s, I bought them a size larger than I normally wear so that I would get extra width and so I could wear them with warm socks. My impressions on them are mixed. They are light, flexible, waterproof, and have a low profile sole. The toebox is pointy, but getting a size larger has helped in that regard, although it is far from ideal. Also, they aren't what I would consider a very rugged boot/shoe, but I will probably get at least two years out of them. I would say that when it comes to boots, they are probably the best minimalist option available for hiking/backpacking in wet/cold/snow conditions right now. They certainly have room for improvement though, most notably in the shape of the toebox.


The widest shoes that I have are Vivobarefoot Dylans. The toe box on those actually juts out to the side a bit. I thought this extra width was overkill until my feet widened. Now they're one of the few shoes that are wide enough for me. They're also very "normal" looking. Softstar mocs are quite good and can be custom fit, as can Luna Sandals. Vibram Fivefingers are also quite comfortable on my wide feet.


Zabala & Damien,

I came across a zero drop hiking boot from Inov8 called the Terrafly 343 GTX this morning. My understanding is that their models going forward are going to be designed with a little more width in the toe box to promote a more natural foot shape. As this will be the case with their road line that is due out soon. If I can find more info, I'll be sure to post.

Happy trails!



that is very interesting. From all the reviews I have read these shoes run about half a size larger and have a roomy toe box. Now you have me worried. But as you point out there are not a lot of choices in the minimalist boot area right now. I am lucky in one respect I don;t get cold feet my problem is very much the opposite.


I got them a size larger to handle two pairs of socks, a liner sock and a pair of expedition weight wool socks. If I weren't going to be wearing thick socks in them, I would not have gone that big.


Ah ha the liner sock raises a new issue for me and perhaps other flipper feet folks (love that alliteration.... lol) Width in shoes is one thing but I have trouble finding liner socks that are really wide enough and do not make the foot feel confined. Do you have a fav in such socks Damien.


You may want to have a look at the fastpacker collection from GoLite. The sockliner is actually adjustable to your preference. The have some lighter weight options built on their Bare-Tech platform.

Or if the last of the shoe is void of stitching, you could always remove the liners. That is the option I try when possible.

Good luck.



I haven't found a liner sock that I am in love with yet. Coolmax Injinjis aren't bad, they don't squeeze the toes like some other socks. I just found that because my toes weren't touching, that they tended to get chilly cold weather. Right now I have just been using a pair of thing Darn Tough socks as my liners. I probably will be doing some more experimentation next winter, in the meantime I will make due with what I have.

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