Every alpine athlete has an endless quest. Some seek powder, some seek splitter rock climbs. As for me, I just look for the lightest “real” shoes I can find so I can haul them from hut to hut in the Alps, or pack in my airline luggage with enough weight savings to allow another pair of pants — while still being able to walk a few miles once back in the village (which is where Crocs do not shine). When I published a post about my saga of “the” shoe a while back, some of you suggested Nike Mayfly. Sure enough, they’re beautiful (other than the colour, as they’d spell it up in the north country where I got some interesting comments).
Mayflies are so minimalist they’re only guaranteed for 100 kilometers of running or walking. They’re purposed for elite runners who want an ultra lightweight “sacrificial” shoe for winning races by split seconds. Perfect for the race from your hut bedroom to the beer stube, and if you do 100 K worth of that and a few bus chases I’ll be impressed; indeed, my pair seem to be holding up fine after quite a bit of use, mostly as hut slippers but some outside. Yes, Virginia, way better than Crocs (though the bumble bee yellow is not a winner). Weight of my size 28.5 is 5.1 ounces (144 gr) per shoe! Incredible. Pull the insoles and you’re down to 4.5 ounces (128 grams), no lie — that beats Crocs by an ounce or two!
Only caveat is the Mayfly upper is non-breathable nylon that makes damp socks stay damp and hot feet stay hot. Solution (if you need it) is an easy mod. Hold a small drill bit in locking pliers, heat in a gas stove flame, then punch-melt a bunch of small vent holes in the upper. Keep the holes small in case you’re walking in fresh snow on the way to the hut sauna. For even more weight savings, swap a single small chunk of bungie cord for the laces.
Shopping for Mayflies is tough as they appear to be manufactured in limited quantities. I got mine from Eastbay athletic, but Google gets lots of results.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.