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Kigo Drive Shoes

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - October 8, 2011

Field Report - January 3, 2012

Long-Term Report - February 28, 2012

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 235 lbs (107 kg)
Email address: kwpapke (at) gmail (dot) com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking background is a combination of the Minnesota area, where I have lived most of my adult life, and Southern Arizona where I moved about two years ago to Tucson for a new job.  I have been transitioning to barefoot-style running shoes over the last 5 months, and I am looking forward to trying my hand at hiking in minimalist footwear.

Caveat: my transition to barefoot-style forefoot-strike running has been fraught with calf cramps, Achilles tendon problems and lately a flare-up of my Plantar Fasciitis.  This has greatly strengthened and toughened my lower legs and feet.  Readers of this review should not infer that all the results of this test would be typical of someone who has not been through similar conditioning.

Initial Report

Product Facts

Product Information
Manufacturer
Kigo Footwear

Photo courtesy Kigo Footwear
Manufacturer website
http://www.kigofootwear.com/
Year manufactured
2011
Model
Drive
Color tested
Grey - Yellow Stitch
(Black - Grey Stitch also available)
Size tested
US Men 12.5 (EU 44 )

Available in:
US Women 6-14
US Men 4.5-12.5
(EU 36-44)
MSRP
$91 USD
Weight
From manufacturer: 4 oz/shoe (113 g)
6.95 oz (197 g) Right
7.58 oz (215 g) Left
Total:  14.53 oz (412 g)
Material - upper
Post-consumer and recycled construction via CYCLEPET
Material - soles
HD PLUS insoles and outsoles

Note that the shoes weighed nearly double the nominal weight from the manufacturer's website.  Certainly I am measuring the largest size made by the manufacturer, and the nominal weight is perhaps derived from a shoe in the middle of the size range.  I cannot account for the substantial difference in weight between the left and right shoe.  I repeated my measurements several times to make sure I was not making an error, and the results were very consistent.

Key features as stated by the manufacturer include:
  • Zero drop outsole
  • 2mm flexible outsole
  • Anatomical footprint
  • Zero toe spring
  • Adjustability via speed lacing
  • ‘Low carbon output production via PLUS Compound Technologies
  • Post-consumer and recycled construction via CYCLEPET uppers and HD PLUS insoles and outsoles
  • Certified non-toxic dyes, glues and water/stain resistance

Initial Inspection

On removal from the packing I inspected the shoes for any obvious defects or workmanship problems.  The stitching looked perfect, but I did see a bit of glue oozing from the edge of the soles.  This can be seen in the following photo as a thin bead along the soles in the toe area.



The Kigo Drive shoes (hereafter referred to as "the Drives") felt incredibly light when held in the hand.  They are also extremely flexible.  They remind me a bit of bedroom slippers.  I was a bit surprised, but not disappointed, that the insole is removable.  During the test I may try them out with a few other insoles I have.

The fabric on the uppers appears to be a canvas-type material, both outside and inside.  The cording for the "speed lacing" system is stretchy elastic.  The soles are a fairly soft rubbery compound.  The tread pattern is visible in the above photo, with very shallow tread depth.

First Impressions

Size: my foot is a US 12, midway between the 11.5 and 12.5 sizes (EU 43 and 44) available so of course I went with the larger size.  When I put them on with no socks (which is how I prefer to wear minimalist shoes), they seemed a bit large.  With a pair of midweight wool socks they fit absolutely perfect, so it looks like I will be wearing socks with them.  It gets a little chilly here in the Sonoran Desert during the Winter, so nothing wrong with wearing socks.

Ease of on/off: these shoes go on in seconds with no effort, and come off the same way.  I like that.

Lacing: accomplished with the "speed lacing" system.  By pressing the button in the middle of the clasp the laces can be easily tightened, though with the elastic cords I couldn't get too much tension on them.

Trying them out: after lacing them up I walked around the house on our concrete floors.  These shoes feel very light.  Though I know they are not going to come off, they feel like they are going to slip off my feet.  I think I just need to get used to that.

Looks: I felt at first like I was walking around in slippers, but once I had a pair of hiking pants on and peered down at them they looked remarkably like a hiking shoe.

The next morning I skipped my usual run and went for about a 4 mile (6 km) walk on concrete/blacktop paths with the shoes.  By the end of the walk I was used to the feel -- no they are not going to fall off my feet!  They do have a little bit of cushion to them, likely from the insole that has a little bit of foam structure.  I could not feel the tiny pebbles that I can detect when running barefoot-style.

Summary

I am excited to get these shoes out onto the trail.  I am particularly interested to see how well they cope with the sharp rock fields I often have to hike through, and how well the soles grip the large granite boulders I frequently traverse.

Kudos:

  • Excellent out-of-the-box stitching quality.
  • Reasonably attractive.  I won't be ashamed to wear these shoes for casual use in-town, though I can't see wearing them to work (at least where I work).
  • Some amount of cushion and protection in the soles.  I'll definitely feel the rocks, but not the tiniest pebbles.
  • Very lightweight, I hardly know I have them on.

Concerns:

  • I'm a little concerned with traction given the shallow tread.  We'll see how grippy the soles are on rocks.
  • The elastic laces and shape of the uppers initially gives the feeling the shoes are going to come off my feet while walking.

Field Report

Field Use

I refer in this report multiple times to minimalist/barefoot-style shoes.  By this I mean footwear that is designed to be as lightweight as possible, and to interfere as little as possible between my feet and the earth.  Specifically, this means no heel, no arch support, and no cushioning in the soles.  Throughout this report I have attempted to focus specifically on the attributes of the Kigo Drive shoes, and not to opine on the merits nor the problems with the use of minimalist shoes in general.

In the following table I have differentiated the total distance hiked versus the distance hiked with the Drives.  One thing I have learned during my transition to minimalist/barefoot-style running shoes is to start small and gradually increase the distance.  I rarely run more than 4 miles (6 km) in my minimalist running shoes.  I plan to carry a backup pair of hiking shoes or sandals when I use the Drives and transition to the backup when my feet begin to tire to minimize injuries and pain the next morning.  Column four in the table lists both the Drive distance and total distance hiked.

It is also worthwhile noting that all my hiking is done with trekking poles.  This takes a lot of stress off my knees and feet, especially on descents.  During my testing of the Drives I certainly appreciated the relief the arches of my feet received from using the poles.

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Drives/Total
Terrain/ trail type
Weather
Altitude range
Socks
Insoles
October 9, 2011
Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain unit, just West of Tucson, Arizona
Sweetwater
4.5/9.0 mi
(7.25/15.5 km)
Mix of rocks, gravel and some sand
Sunny, 65-75 F (18-24 C), 20-35% RH
2800-4600 ft (850-1400 m)
Midweight wool
stock
October 15-16, 2011
Galiuro Mountains, Coronado National Forest, North of Wilcox, Arizona
Ash Creek
10/12 mi
(16/19 km)
Extremely varied: soft pine forest floor to rocky ravines
Sunny, 50-80 F (10-27 C), dry
4900-7300 ft
(1490-2225 m)
Midweight wool stock
October 22, 2011
Pinal Peak, Tonto National Forest, South of Globe, Arizona
Pinal Peak
6/12 mi
(10/19 km)
Mostly forest, but stretches of rocks
Sunny, 70-85 F
(21-29 C), dry
4500-7500 ft
(1370-2290 m)
Midweight wool with Injinji liner socks
stock
November 6, 2011
Santa Catalina Mountains, Coronado National Forest, Northwest of Tucson, Arizona
Samaniego Ridge
4/4 mi
(6.4/6.4 km)
Mountain ridgeline, trail is steep, rocky, snow-covered
Part Cloudy, 45 F (7 C)
5000-6500 ft
(1520-1980 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner socks
stock
November 10, 2011
Tortolita Mountains, Northwest of Tucson, Arizona Alamo Springs
6.6/6.6 mi
(10.6/10.6 km)
Rock, gravel and sand in canyon
Sunny, 60F (16 C), dry
2700-3900 ft
(820-1190 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner socks stock
November 11, 2011
Dragoon Mountains, Coronado National Forest, near Tombstone, Arizona
Cochise Stronghold
4/4 mi
(6.4/6.4 km)
Rock, gravel and sand in canyon, smooth granite boulders
Partly sunny, 65 F (18 C), dry
5100-6000 ft
(1550-1830 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner socks stock
November 12, 2011
Silverbell Mountains, Ironwood National Monument, West of Tucson, Arizona
Ragged Top
3/3 mi
(4.8/4.8 km)
Very rocky, little perceptible trail, strewn with cactus
Partly cloudy, 60 F (16 C), dry
2400-3300 ft
(730-1010 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner socks stock
November 13, 2011
Santa Catalina Mountains, Coronado National Forest, Northwest of Tucson, Arizona Linda Vista to Pusch Ridge
4/4 mi
(6.4/6.4 km)
Rocky, steps, steep scramble on wet & muddy trail
Rain, 55F (13 C)
2700-4000 ft
(820-1220 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner socks stock
November 23, 2011
Superstition Mountains, East of Phoenix, Arizona
Lost Dutchman State Park
3/3 mi
(4.8/4.8 km)
Very rocky
Sunny, 65 F (18 C)
2100-2700 ft
(640-820 m)
Midweight wool with polyester liner socks
stock
November 24, 2011
Sedona, Arizona
Red Rock State Park and Cathedral Rock
5/5 mi
(8/8 km)
Rolling hills in the state park and steep slickrock at Cathedral Rock
Partly cloudy, 65 F
(18 C)
3800-4750 ft
(1160-1450 m)
Midweight wool with polyester liner socks stock
November 25, 2011
Tucson Mountains, Saguaro National Park West of Tucson, Arizona
King Canyon
7/7 mi
(11.3/11.3 km)
Sandy wash then steep rocky ridgeline
Sunny, 70 F
(21 C)
2900-4700 ft
(880-1430 m)
Midweight wool with polyester liner socks stock
December 3, 2011 and January 1, 2012
Tortolita Mountains Northwest of Tucson, Arizona
Alamo Springs
4/4 mi
(6.4 km)
Rocky canyon
Partly Cloudy, 55 F
2800-3600 ft
(850-1100 m)
Midweight wool Stock
December 11, 2011
Santa Rita Mountains, Coronado National Forest, South of Tucson, Arizona Agua Caliente
5/5 mi
(8/8 km)
Very steep canyon trail, snow on the upper half Sunny, 32-55 F
(0-13 C)
5000-7300 ft
(1520-2220 m)
Midweight wool with polyester liner socks Stock

Field Usage Observations

Sweetwater Trail

For my inaugural hike with the Drives I chose a trail that I remembered to be not too rocky.  I packed my trail running shoes with my orthotics in my pack as a Plan B in case my feet gave me any problems.

My memory was too kind.  There were long stretches of the trail that abounded with fist-sized rocks, too big to not cause pain when stepped on, too small to provide a flat surface for my foot.  I was able to navigate these stretches without any major issues, but I had a couple of instances where I really had to bear down on my trekking poles to avoid the sharp pain that I was beginning to sense when I stepped in the wrong place.

Very early on I picked up a small pebble in my right shoe.  Too small to bother stopping and shaking it out, but too big to not be a bit irksome.  It seems ironic when wearing shoes that allow me to feel every rock beneath me that I would be bothered by one small pebble inside the shoe, but I think it's due to the fact that I feel it every step in the same place.

The Sweetwater Trail leads to the top of Wasson Peak, the highest spot in the Tucson Mountains.  I was able to hike all the way up to the summit in the Drives, but I could really feel my feet tire the last mile (1.6 km) or so.  When I sat down to have my rest and snack at the summit I changed to my trail running shoes.  I felt like I was walking on pillows all the way down the mountain, but I did end up forming a blister towards the end.  The blister was not from the Drives, I didn't even have a hot spot when I took them off.  I noticed how small a space the Drives packed into compared to my trail runners.

When I checked my GPS log after the hike was over I was surprised at the pace I was able to maintain in the Drives on the ascent.  I was a little concerned before the test began that they would slow me down, but it looks like that was unfounded.  During the descent I was amused to see the distinctive swirl of the Drive's tread pattern in the dust and sand that I left on the way up.  I naturally stepped in any flat areas and avoided rocks when wearing the Drives.

Ash Creek Trail

This was my first-ever trip to the Galiuro Mountains & Wilderness, so I really didn't know what to expect, particularly in the way of water, so I loaded my backpack with 6L (6.3 qts) of water.  My pack felt really heavy at the start of the hike, but when I returned to my vehicle the next day I had consumed every drop.  As I set off down the trail I was a little concerned for my feet wearing the Drives with such a heavy pack.

What a great trail.  This baby threw everything at me: pine forest with soft needles beneath my feet, rocky ravine crossings with boulder fields where the dirt is washed away, and fine gravel along mountain ridgelines.  Here's a photo of the shoes on one of the not-so-pleasant-on-the-feet areas:



My destination on this hike was to head up Bassett Peak to see the crash site of a B-24 bomber.  I was able to see the crashed airplane from a distance, but I'm not much of a rock climber so I wasn't able to get up close.  I turned around just short of the peak, as I wanted to get back down to the creek to camp by nightfall and my feet were getting very tired.  At about the 7 mile point (11 km) I changed into my alternate shoes, as I didn't want to descend the canyon in the Drives.  I've learned that the transition to minimalist hiking shoes is mental as well as physical: not only did my feet hurt, but I was just plain tired of dodging rocks.

Several times during the ascent the shoes "rolled" on my feet laterally when my foot pushed down a sharply angled surface, i.e. stepping on a large flat rock that slanted steeply to the left with my left foot, or angled to the right with my right foot.  My ankle naturally bends to accommodate the angle, but unexpectedly the shoes slid laterally on my foot almost to the point where they came off.  I attribute this to a combination of their somewhat loose fit and the inability to really tighten down the laces due to the elastic in them.

That night I used the Drives for camp shoes.  They fit great into the shelf of my hammock (see my review of the Blackbird Warbonnet).  I've always been concerned since I started backpacking in Arizona that I was going to step into my camp shoes that had been sitting outside my hammock all night, and find a scorpion the painful way.  It was so nice to slip on my shoes in my hammock before getting up with the full assurance that they had been stored up off the ground and inside bug netting.

The next morning I had only about an hour-and-a-half hike out to my vehicle. It was a gentle descent along the creek so I wore the Drives the rest of the way.  I was pleasantly surprised that morning how little foot pain I had, though by the time the hike ended my feet were quite fatigued again.  On the way out I noticed the distinctive tread pattern of my hike up the day before in the dirt:

Kigo Drive footprint in the sand

Clearly if I was to commit a crime, I would not wear the Kigo Drive shoes because the CSI would figure out who the perpetrator was just by looking for footprints!

Pinal Peak

This was an unusual hike for me, as I intended to do an overnight on the mountain, so I carried a full pack, but I ended up completing my hike by day's end.  This was in essence a day hike, but with overnight backpacking gear and load.  The trails leading up the North face of Pinal Peak are noted for their Fall color, and I was not disappointed:

Fall color on Pinal Peak

The photo also shows a foot-friendly section of the path I trod that day.  This type of soft dirt trail is ideal for minimalist shoes such as the Kigo Drives.  By about lunchtime my feet were getting very fatigued, and a recent flair-up of my Plantar Fasciitis caused me to switch over to my Ecco Tahoe shoes (see my review of those shoes on the BGT website).  As can be seen from the statistics in my Field Use table above, this is a very steep climb, as the trail has few switchbacks.  This is hard on my arches and Achilles tendons.

Not all of this hike was on the soft dirt pictured above.  The trails crossed dry stream beds many times which consisted mostly of rocks and boulders.  I was impressed when boulder-hopping how well the Drives gripped the rock -- I had no slips.

I ascended the mountain on the Six Shooter trail, and descended on the Icehouse/Telephone Line trail.  This was my first visit to this mountain, and I learned that I should have done it the other way around as all the great campsites were on the former, and late in the day I didn't come across any spots with a view and a breeze on the Icehouse trail.  Also, my feet were killing me, and I wanted to ice them up, and despite the name of the trail the only ice to be found was back home in my freezer so I pushed on and drove home instead of camping.

Samaniego Ridge

I've hiked the Southern section of Samaniego Ridge before, but the Northern section had remained beyond my grasp as it can only be reached by a difficult Jeep trail.  The Forest Service graded the Jeep trail last year, so thought I'd give it a try.  It had rained in Tucson two nights before, but it looked like most of the snow in the mountains had melted.

After a bone-jarring one-hour Jeep ride up Charouleau Gap I arrived at the trail head and noticed patches of snow.  Once I got on the trail the snow covered the ground, with the depth increasing to about 3 inches (7.6 cm) by the time I turned around.  Here's the Drive shoes in the snow:

Drives in the snow

The snow was quite crusty, so my feet didn't really get very wet.  There was a little snow melt around the soles that eventually seeped through the shoes, but not enough to give me wet or cold toes.

I was surprised how well the shoes did in the snow.  The flexible soles allowed me to dig into the snow with my toes for traction on the ascent.  The shoe soles did not feel slippery on the snow, though with the crust it had a grainy texture that added to the traction.

I did slip and fall once on the descent.  I was overly aggressive in stepping on a large granite boulder that sloped down too steeply, and my feet went out from under me, fortunately no damage other than my pride.  I wouldn't have expected any shoes to stick to that rock in these conditions.  Overall, I was quite pleased with the Drives on my first snow hike with them.  In fact, the snow cushioned the bottoms of my feet, so I had little fatigue from walking on rocks and stones.

Alamo Springs Trail

Just a little leg-stretcher in the Tortolita Mountains.  I feel like my feet are starting to adapt to walking on rocky trails with the Drives.

Cochise Stronghold and Council Rocks

This was a Jeep trip to the Western Dragoon Mountains.  We explored the Council Rocks historic area, then did a hike up the canyon on the Stronghold trail.  The Drives did a nice job of gripping on the large granite boulders strewn through the region.

Ragged Top

I knew this was going to be tough terrain for the Drives before I left.  There is really no trail on this mountain, just some sheep paths.  The Jumping Cholla cactus litter the ground, and I managed to get a few of them to stick into my shoes, pants and hands.  When I got back after the hike I inspected the soles:

Cholla cactus spikes

I had to pull the spines out with a pliers.  I was surprised none of the spines penetrated to my feet.  On careful inspection, several of them were sticking through the inside of the shoe, but none far enough to really penetrate my thick socks and cause a problem.  Conclusion: the Kigo Drives are not impervious to cactus spines.

Linda Vista

Cold and wetThe lower part of this trail is fairly gentle, but midway there is a spur that took me on a scramble to the top of Pusch Ridge.  Not exactly a good idea on a cold, wet and rainy day, but I am not always sensible.  There I am in the picture at left, no rain pants, legs soaked to the bone, as were my feet in the Drives.  There is nothing waterproof about these shoes, but then again I would not expect minimalist shoes to protect me from much of anything, that is the whole point.

The picture was taken at a nice flat spot at the summit, but that is not indicative of the hike.  The scramble on the latter part of the ascent was pretty interesting with the Drive shoes on sandy mud and rocks, on a slope steep enough that I left my trekking poles behind so I could use my hands.  The shoes actually did quite well all things considered: I never slipped, did not fall once, never felt like I had unreliable footing.

By the time I got back to the Jeep I was ready to turn the heat on and warm up my feet.  The Drives were fine for a couple-hour day hike on a wet cold day, but I don't think I would recommend them for anything more than a few hours in these conditions.


Lost Dutchman State Park

On a car trip to Jerome and Sedona Arizona we stopped along the way to do a little hiking up the Flatiron in the Superstitions.  The trails were in good shape, but lots of rocks.  The Drives did just fine on this hike.

Sedona

On Thanksgiving Day we knocked around Red Rock State Park in the morning, and Cathedral Rock in the afternoon.  The morning hike was along Oak Creek.  It felt great to actually walk in the Drives along a soft path with loamy soil cushioning my feet.  We also did a nice loop hike into the surrounding hills where the Drives got a tinge of red from the rocks and sandy soil:

Kigo Drive shoes in Sedona

The afternoon climb of Cathedral Rock saw the Drives clinging to the Sedona slickrock on the way up and down this iconic climb.  They did a great job with traction, but at times I wished my feet did not slip around inside them so much on the steep slopes.

King Canyon

After consuming too many calories on Thanksgiving we decided to do a calorie burning hike up Wasson Peak in Saguaro National Park.  This was the first hike where I can genuinely say that my feet were becoming truly adapting to hiking in minimalist shoes.  I was able to make the entire ascent and descent in the Drives, including some very rocky sections.  In fact at several points I loped along in a slow trot, feeling like I was really in the "zone".

Agua Caliente

Kigo Drives from the end of my trekking poleI didn't expect as much snow on this trail as I encountered.  The top half of the trail had spotty snow at first, then totally covered.  This was not much of an issue on the way up, but it was a little dicey on the way down with the Drives - the upper part of the trail averages about a 20 degree slope.  I was lucky and never lost my footing thanks to my trusty trekking poles.

I used a new piece of gear I had purchased a month ago for the first time on this trek: a camera mini-tripod that also attaches to my trekking poles, so of course I had to take a picture of the Kigo Drives as seen from the end of my trekking pole.  That picture at right shows the shoes on the trail about 1/2 down the mountain and illustrates the typical surface where there was no snow.

Summary

I've really enjoyed hiking with the Kigo Drive shoes the last two months, though I've had to resort to backup hiking shoes to finish some of my hikes due to my feet getting tired.

One of the issues I've had with the shoes that I seem to notice more during indoor use on carpet surfaces is the extra-long sole at the heel:

Long heel

In the above photo my thumb is pushing in the back of the shoe to where my heel is, and the extended sole can be seen to the left of my thumb.  This is an odd fit for a shoe -- the heel seems to extend too far back.  The downside of this for me is my heel catches on a carpet surface if I don't pick up my feet enough, and I've even tripped a few times as a result.  It has not a problem while hiking, only on indoor carpeted surfaces.

Kudos

  1. Extremely light weight.  This not only minimizes the effort when walking, but makes the Drives great for camp shoes.
  2. Pack down very small.
  3. Soles gripped rocks and boulders very well.
  4. True minimalist design; I really feel the trail details beneath my feet.
  5. Very attractive shoes; I've had several people make positive comments on their appearance.  They do not attract undue attention as my "finger" shoes often do, so I feel comfortable wearing them to work on "casual Fridays".
  6. They are very comfortable, and I have had zero blisters from them when hiking, despite the fact that I blister very easily.

Concerns

  1. Inability to tighten the laces for a snug fit.  Caused the shoes to "roll" dangerously on some lateral slopes.
  2. The "Keep Stuff Out (KSO)" factor of these shoes could be improved.  It was not unusual for me to get small pebbles in them when walking in gravel or sand.
  3. The heel of the shoe is shaped too long for me, and I don't think I have an unusually shaped foot.  This can lead to inadvertent "catching" on carpet surfaces.


Long Term Report

Field Use

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Drives/Total
Terrain/ trail type
Weather
Altitude range
Socks
Insoles
January 15, 2012 Santa Catalina Mountains, Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona
Esperero 7/7 mi
(11.3/11.3 km)
Desert canyons & wash
Partly cloudy, 60 F (16 C), dry 2700-4400 ft
(820-1340 m)
Midweight wool
Stock
January 21-22, 2012
Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park East Unit, East of Tucson, Arizona
Quilter
8.5/20 mi
(13.7/32.2 km)
Desert ridgelines
Mostly sunny, 29-65 F
(-1.7-18.3 C)
2700-5500 ft
(820-1680 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner Stock
January 29, 2012
Tortolita Mountains, Northwest of Tucson, Arizona
Upper Javalina
6/6 mi
(9.7/9.7 km)
Desert ridgelines
Sunny, 50-55 F (10-13 C)
2700-3900 ft
(820-1190 m)
Midweight wool with Coolmax liner
Stock
Feb 5, 2012
Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park East Unit, East of Tucson, Arizona Wildhorse Canyon
5/5 mi
(8/8 km)
Sandy
Partly cloudy, 60 F (15 C)
2800-3200 ft
(850-975 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner Stock
Feb 24-26, 2012
Organ Pipe National Monument, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Ajo, AZ
Charlie Bell
2.5/11.5 mi
(4/18.5 km)
Basalt and granite rock fragments on a Jeep trail
Sunny, 50-80 F
(10-27 C)
825-1500 ft
(250-460 m)
Midweight wool with silk liner Stock

Field Usage Observations

Quilter Trail

This was a 2-day weekend backpacking trip to a brand-new section of the Arizona National Scenic Trail on the south side of the Rincon Mountains in Saguaro National Park.  It was an in/out hike, so the distance was spread equally over two days.  I did about half the distance of the ascent on day one in the Drives, and about 1/3 of the descent on day two.  My Achilles Tendon in my right foot was killing me, and I just couldn't keep the pace with minimalist shoes as I was backpacking with some folks from the Tucson Backpackers Meetup group who are pretty fit and keep a rapid hiking rate.

The trail has a lot of moderately sized rocks, too big to just step on, too small and numerous to easily avoid so I had to step carefully in the rocky areas, then break into a slow trot to catch up with the group.  Not an easy task with a 44 lb  (20 kg) pack that was loaded down with water.  All the other hikers had very sturdy hiking boots, and were quite shocked I was using such unforgiving shoes.

Once again the Drives were great in camp -- really nice to step into them when getting up to water the trees in the middle of the night.  After this hike the shoes were very dusty, so I threw them in the laundry for the second time.  They really clean up nicely and came out looking brand new.

Wildhorse Canyon

Sandy trail

This was a nice stroll in the bajada of the Rincons along a trail much-used by horses, so the desert had been packed down very well.  As the above picture shows, this is the kind of trail one hopes for with minimalist shoes!

Charlie Bell

This was a two-night weekend backpacking trip.  On Friday night I camped at Organ Pipe National monument in the park campground and used the Drives as camp shoes.  They were great.

Saturday we drove as far as we were allowed up Charlie Bell pass into the Cabeza Prieta wilderness, parked our vehicles and backpacked into our campsite across the pass.  This was the worst trail for minimalist shoes I could imagine.  We hiked on a Jeep trail which had many decades to erode, leaving only bare rocks behind.  Backpacking on this was very painful on my feet, and after the walk in I bailed on any more hiking on this trip in the Drives and used my backup shoes.  I did use them Saturday evening and Sunday morning as camp shoes, and once again they were perfect.

Summary

The end of the trail

After the Charlie Bell trip the Drives were saturated with dust, so I threw them in the washing machine and let them dry overnight.  The result is shown in the above photograph.  They cleaned up beautifully, and looked none the worse for the distance I've hiked in them.  In fact, the soles had pretty much no wear at all, which is pretty remarkable.  I'd add the following summary to the list I prepared after 2 months:

  1. The Kigo Drive shoes are very easy to clean, just treat them like laundry
  2. They are quite durable considering how lightweight they are

I intend to keep using the shoes for the foreseeable future, primarily as camp/backup shoes.  I have tried many shoes for this purpose, sandals, flip flops, Crocs, etc.  I do want my camp shoes to double as backup hikers in case I get blisters or just want to treat my feet to some variety.  It is nice to know I can use the Drives in camp, and hike quite a distance in them if I need or want to.  If I can eventually condition my feet to use minimalist shoes as my primary hikers, I would not hesitate to use the Drives for non-technical trails.


Many thanks to Kigo and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > kigo footwear drive shoes > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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