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Review of Merrell Pipidae Minimalist/Barefoot Sandals

February 12, 2012

It’s been two years since I began barefoot hiking and trail running, but I still wear shoes in civilization—that’s where all the gross stuff is that I want to keep my feet out of. The question, however, has been where to find non-smothering foot coverings.

My shoe wardrobe shows the answer: Merrell.

Decades ago, before I’d ever thought about barefooting, I had turned to Merrell clogs for their open-heel comfort. They were a perfect fit in size 9.5, and although pricey, these beasts seemed to last forever–with a life cycle running from everyday work-wear to retirement as garden clogs.

Now I’m excited to find Merrell’s new “Barefoot” line includes sandals. Minimalist sandals that do NOT put any straps between my toes have been tough to find, but Merrell’s Barefoot Pipidae Wrap fulfills all my comfort requirements. (At at price, unfortunately–$85. Since I own few pairs of shoes, I try to justify the cost by how long Merrells last.)

My new Pipidae’s came in the mail a few days ago; so far I’ve only worn them on a few errands around town over the weekend, but I’m looking forward to working in them and giving my closed-toed Merrells a break. Advertised as water footwear, the Pipidaes (named after a family of tongue-less Southern Hemisphere aquatic frogs—go figure) feel light and comfortable—the 4 mm sole is a little thicker than necessary, but there’s zero drop (elevation change from heel to toe—most shoes have a raised heel) and they come in inconspicuous black. Unfortunately, no half sizes are offered at this time, so I went “up” to size 10; they’re a tiny bit longer than I’d like, but still OK.

I hope to never hike or run in them (or my Merrell Pace Barefoot Gloves)–my ideal is to put nothing between my feet and the trail. Reality sometimes interferes with my dreams, though, which is why I occasionally strap my Pace Barefoot Gloves to my Nathan hydration backpack as an insurance policy for the following conditions: trail is too hot; trail is too cold; trail is too rocky; trail is too many miles; liability requirements of the land conservancy that I do volunteer work for.

FUN is why I barefoot; when an overdose of gravel or blazing sun removes the fun factor, I’ve been glad to have the Pace Barefoot Gloves as an option; now I’m looking forward to the Pipidae’s to keep my toes happy when city life keeps me away from the trails.

Ready to retire: my old Merrells

Friday’s hike “bonus photos” :

Darklinlg beetle meet 'n' greet

The “bold jumping spider”–Phidippus audax— is a little fuzzy in the photo below, but this is the only shot that showed his iridescent chelicerae (mouth parts).

Jumping spider high five

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 10:33 am

    Merrells are my favorite too. I’m so glad they came up with the Serene glove so that I have a shoe that looks business casual but still makes me happy. Pricey? Yes, but I’ll wear them for years. Nearly 365 days of wear in my pacers.

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