Hut Shu Shootout — Lizards, Sportivas — Crocs?

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Shoes for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering huts.

The old and the new, ideas for hut shoes. Clear winners for the no-Crocs presuasion are the Lizard Kross W and La Sportiva Vertical K (all weights without insoles, New Balance have some material removed.)

Yeah, Crocs are some of the lightest footwear you can get. But. On a man, Crocs look like something specifically designed for the enhancement of impotence. Indeed, who knows what goes into the things as they’re molded by robots from some weird mix of foaming chemicals (don’t wear without socks).

Forewith, a few ideas for hut shoes a bit heavier than the footwear foamies, but just might get you more than a laugh from that attractive single Sweedish girl you just happened to end up sitting across from during strudel and coffee. Perhaps, after she glances at your footwear and realizes you are the real deal, cinch the knot by quoting some WildSnow official haiku:

warm, noisy hut in bloom
a hummingbird joy-stained shoe
in the halls wanders

And then describe how you picked your shoes by some astute data mining, mainly, at the ever lovin’ WildSnow.com.

We’re considering shoes you’d haul to or between huts during backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. If you’re using full-service huts such as most in Europe, you can get your pack down to phenomenally low weights by ruthless gear selection. About all you need beyond normal day-trip kit is a sleeping bag liner, minimal self-care stuff, hut lounging clothing and a pair of shoes you can wear while your boots dry (some huts provide shoes, but do you really want to spend 20 hours in ski boots during an unplanned train trip because of a trip route change?) Beyond weight, comfort and walkability are factors that play in hut shoe selection. You want something you can jog to a bus or train in, and use for wandering around outdoors in the snow for photographs and fresh air.

Sad to say that Crocs are the clear winner in terms of weight, as they’ll save you a half pound (226 grams) or more in mass over any of the more “shoe like” choices out there. But try jogging in Crocs, or yes, impressing the ladies.

The reward for carrying that eight more ounces is great. Our favorites for such are the Lizard Kross M (summer version) and La Sportiva Vertical K.

Kross M summer shoe for hut and travel while skiing.

Kross M summer makes an excellent hut shoe.

We reviewed the Kross M winter version last season. It’s a good shoe, quite snow and water resistant, but was too hot for us during indoor use. The Kross M summer model is much nicer at the dinner table after a day of backcountry skiing. It’s made from an air permeable mesh that still has some snow penetration resistance, but ventilates perfectly even when you slip them on over a pair of damp socks. The Kross sole is a grippy Vibram brand compound that helps avoid accidents on slippery stairs or icy patios, and they wear comfortably without lacing. My pair of size 42 mass at exactly one pound (452 grams). Kross W makes an excellent hut shoe, very comfortable and packable. Not much can be trimmed for weight reduction. The sole is the heaviest part; perhaps the small lugs could bet trimmed down a bit with a disk grinder.

Kross Agile 501 is nearly a Croc, but perhaps would fly?

Kross Agile 501 is nearly a Croc, but perhaps would fly? We're not sure what weight these come in at, update coming.


I should also mention that Kross makes a “croc-like” shoe called their Agile. These have various configurations of instep and heel straps, sort of a hybrid croc/sandal. The model pictured here isn’t snow and dirt resistant, but they sell another model with a mesh liner. I prefer a more “shoe like” unit than these, so I didn’t test. Weights forthcoming.

La Sportiva Vertical K is a superb choice for a hut shoe.

La Sportiva Vertical K is a superb choice for a hut shoe.


Our other fave is the La Sportiva Vertical K. Actually a trail running shoe, with their springy sole and feather weight these zapos make you feel like sprinting — and will indeed help you catch that bus back to Cham with seconds to spare. At 15 ounces (424 grams) the Vertical is my lightest choice, and actually feels the most like a “shoe.” The sole is a sticky climbing rubber that’s said to possibly mark floors, but my pair do not have that problem. Test before purchasing; perhaps my pair have a different rubber compound than other production runs. Vertical K can be modified to drop a few grams. Cut off the lace protector, and grind some rubber of the soles. An impressive shoe — I even used them for a day of chain sawing at WildSnow FHQ, though I’m not recommending that!

For comparo I included an old pair of folding “traveler” Reeboks and New Balance runners I still have kicking around. As far as I can tell the Reeboks are discontinued, and I was never that impressed with them. They’re made out of a non-breathable synthetic and quite bulky, though fairly light in weight. As for running shoes, some folks do opt for those as a hut shoe for backcountry skiing travels; heavy and bulky.

We can’t find any etailers for Kross footwear other than their own website. Shop for the La Sportiva Vertical K here.

Comments

31 Responses to “Hut Shu Shootout — Lizards, Sportivas — Crocs?”

  1. Scott Allen September 11th, 2012 9:54 am

    Also consider the Patagonia Advocate Weave or Stitch for a light weight, packable travel and hut shoe. Used mine in Japan where frequent shoe changes were mandatory in homes, shrines and schools

    http://www.backcountry.com/Store/catalog/search.jsp?q=advocate

  2. Lou Dawson September 11th, 2012 10:02 am

    To paraphrase Garrett Morris on Saturday Night Live, speaking to Mick Jagger’s song lyrics, “you got any weights, baby?”

  3. Scott Allen September 11th, 2012 10:23 am

    Patagonia Advocate Weave, Mens = 139 grams

  4. Lou Dawson September 11th, 2012 11:26 am

    Perhaps Garrett Morris would have added, “is that phone number for one or, two?”

  5. Scott Allen September 11th, 2012 12:25 pm

    Excellent detailed questions Lou!

    I suspect 139 grams is for each shoe (pata site doesn’t detail) but your backcountry.com link says 4.23 oz each for the Advocate Stitch.

    In any event, they are extremely light, pack totally flat, removable insole, decent traction, comfy….only downside is price!

  6. Dave Field September 11th, 2012 1:36 pm

    Merrell barefoot run shoes and similar are another option at about 350 grams a pair and available for a good price if you shop around.

  7. Lou Dawson September 11th, 2012 3:01 pm

    Scott, they do look ok, but obviously nothing like a “real” shoe such as the La Sportiva.

  8. Chris September 11th, 2012 4:09 pm

    This is the best hut/ basecamp shoe I’ve found. Light, cozy, and warm.
    It’s the Sole Exhale.
    http://www.backcountry.com/sole-exhale-bootie-mens

  9. Lou Dawson September 11th, 2012 5:07 pm

    Chris, we have some of those kicking around at WildSnow Field HQ, they do work well when temperatures are cool, but I found them to be a bit hot otherwise.

  10. George September 11th, 2012 9:40 pm

    The Nike Mayfly at 5 oz. ($50) or Nike Zoom Waffle at 6 oz. ($29) would be my choice. Both are available at http://www.eastbay.com. Racing flats are light, tight and right for huts. I used a pair of 1986 vintage Nike waffles for years.

  11. Steven September 11th, 2012 10:15 pm

    Lets not forget Sanuks. Lightweight and can pack down.

  12. Ross M September 11th, 2012 11:21 pm

    Why not down booties or flip flops? Been my go too for years..

  13. christian September 12th, 2012 12:51 am

    Ross – down booties is what I wear too. I bought them for winter camping. I do not see a problem wearing crocs form a fashion point of view – but I have only used loaned them at huts. I do however feel that they are a bit too cold when drinking my radler in the sun with the feet in the shade, and my socks become wet when crossing snow….and they cannot be very packable, can they?

  14. Alastair Brunton September 12th, 2012 2:49 am

    Used these shoes in hut to hut mtb trip this summer.

    http://www.inov-8.com/New/Global/Product-View-XTalon-190.html

    Also can be used for running and 380g per pair.

  15. Lou Dawson September 12th, 2012 5:19 am

    George, thanks for suggesting the Mayfly and Zoom, they might be the final solution… Lou

  16. Phil September 12th, 2012 7:10 am

    I own and run in Vertical Ks and X-Talon 190s. On my scale, X-Talons are heavier, 210grams vs 200 per shoe.

    But, for weight savings, I carry New Balance MT00 (not MT10) trail runners. 129g per shoe – Half the weight of almost anything else, and they pack down like a pair of socks. But, they actually offer some protection and grip, and dry extremely fast. I’ve done plenty of 10-12 mile trail runs in them.

  17. Mark September 12th, 2012 7:50 am

    I wear Hut shoes, great product !!

  18. Jesse September 12th, 2012 8:06 am

    Merrell trail gloves are lighter than most of these as well. The only problem is that mine are also my main running shoe, and since I run in them without socks, they’re a but rancid. Most huts I’ve been to in Europe seem to provide crocs. I’ve mostly been to places in France though – is that less common elsewhere? Lou, you spend a lot of time in the Tyrol and that’s somewhere I hope to check out this winter – should I be bringing hut shoes?

    Also, inspired by the sometimes zany but always interesting ultralight backpacking community, may I suggest clean room shoe covers: 7 g per foot and even less attractive than crocs!

  19. Maciej September 12th, 2012 8:10 am

    Already saw one vote for Merrell Trail Gloves, and I’d second it. They’re my favorite running, gym workout, hiking, scrambling, AND apres ski shoes. They pack small enough and they’re light enough I even put them in a BD Bandit pack for resort days.

  20. Phil September 12th, 2012 8:24 am

    Trail gloves are actually heavy for their size (200g per shoe size 9 on my scale). They weigh as much as real racing shoes like the X-Talon or Vertical K, or over 50% more than the MT00.

    They are much more durable, but don’t dry as fast.

  21. See September 12th, 2012 8:26 am

    I also like racing flats, but I’ve gone with just a spare pair of socks for short trips to clean huts. For those trips I would probably now bring a pair of Solematessocks. I’ve been using these this summer for when I don’t want to wear my cleated carbon road bike shoes into a store to get a bag of chips. Wear right over regular socks. Under 3 ounces per pair (cut off the cuffs). Like nitrile work gloves for your feet. (Availability of larger sizes may be an issue. Haven’t tried them for their intended purpose.)

  22. Lou Dawson September 12th, 2012 8:28 am

    Super suggestions! The ultralight “real” running shoes appear to be the best solution.

    Idea being something you could jog between bus and taxi in, and even wear on the trail for a mile or two.

    Yes, many if not most huts have some Crocs and things laying around for guests, but you can’t take them with you. Thus, you can end up doing a day of train travel in your ski boots. Yuck.

    Also, how many ways do I have to describe what you guys look like wearing Crocs (grin)?

  23. Phil September 12th, 2012 8:35 am

    Oh, Vivobarefoot Ultra Pure. Like Crocs for cool kids, and you really can run or hike in them. They don’t squish down like the MT00, though.

  24. Matt September 12th, 2012 8:27 pm

    Does anyone make waterproof hut booties? Down or synthetic?

  25. See September 12th, 2012 8:38 pm

    Mukluks?

  26. Shredgar September 12th, 2012 9:29 pm

    Funny thread.

    My fashion barbie girlfriend (I’m her Ken doll, yes she dresses me :) ) likes crocs.

    Go figure.

  27. Mark Worley September 13th, 2012 8:50 am

    Haiku, Crocs, and sweet-talking girls at the hut? Hilarious!

  28. Ben September 13th, 2012 12:37 pm

    How about a lightweight pair of water shoes? Salomon techamphibians and similar are rather heavy, but I think there are some pairs that come in about a pound. I have some Ahnu sandals like this. The current equivalent may be the Ahnu Delta.

  29. Lou Dawson September 13th, 2012 12:57 pm

    Ben, I evaluated a lot of water shoes, never found any that gave any significant weight savings. Lou

  30. jeff brown September 14th, 2012 5:42 pm

    Hey! Spend around 3 to 5 weeks a year skiing through European huts in the spring. I use flip flops with a pair of fleece socks that have a slot between the big toe and the rest of the toes. By far the most comfortable, light and packable things I can find; however, not the best for walking through towns when snowy, sloppy or rainy. Then I skip the socks and condition my feet for lightly insulated TLT5 ski boots. I have also used five fingers yoga shoes with the injini toed socks. These rock for packing; however, not the easiest things to get into in the middle of the night for those multiple trips to the “facilities”. I can roll these with the socks into the small stuff bag the the BD coulior harness comes in.

    Am intrigued by the Cross M’s. Do they roll up?

  31. Anthony Ross September 23rd, 2012 4:06 pm

    I apreciate the battle to save weight but not all alpine huts have an indoor toilet – and most other countries these are invariably some distance from the hut.

    The last thing I want to do is have to put on damp ski boots (which should be drying by the stove) to obey the call of nature. In 20 years of ski touring in Norway the best solution for me is the MEC hut bootee with waterproof cover (covers sadly no longer made but the Expedition Bootee is similar -405g per pair). This has a knee high waterproof outer with drawstring top so postholing along a snowed in path to the outhouse is no problem.

    Also consider Forty Below who make some good booties (283g per pair ).

    Crossing hard snow in a screaming blizzard is more of a challenge as there is no sole grip. Those of you who have skied the Haute Route will know that grip is especially important if visiting the toilet at the Vignettes hut (Switzerland) – its 10 metres along a icy path which runs along a cliff edge – one slip and its 1000 ft vertical down to the glacier.

    Either way its better than a shoe with lots of holes when its well below zero outside.

    So you all dont think I have a preoccupation with trips outside the hut – they also keep ypur feet warm when relaxing inside – cold air sits at floor level however much wood you throw in the stove Also for people like me who dont get away often enough and so get blisters from AT or tele boots – soft shoes definitely score points in the evening.

    On the question of appearance – Hut Bootees may not be cool looking but you will always have warm feet and they give kudos by suggesting that you only occasionally take the soft option of using a hut and camp / snowhole at other times.

    Booties definitely fail as town wear – but that the only downside I can see.

    Everytime I have left mine behind (usually on weight grounds) I have regretted it.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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