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Barefoot Hiking:
Is That Really A Thing?

By Diane Spicer

Barefoot hiking seems counter intuitive to me.

When I walk around with bare tootsies, I'm in the safety of my own back yard.

I'm not worried about trail hazards such as:

  • dodging slippery mud puddles
  • scrambling over rough rocky terrain
  • stubbing toes on jagged rocks
Spotted banana slug oozing along a hiking trailI'd rather not have this banana slug squish between my toes

Yet there are people who wax poetic about barefoot hiking.

So I've done a bit of sleuthing about hiking without footwear.

And I'm ready to share it, if you're ready to discover why folks do this type of hiking.

Ready, set... let's go barefootin'!

Nostalgic memories of being
foot loose kids

First off, there is the nostalgia angle.

Remember running around barefooted as a kid?

I sure do!

My feet always toughened up during the first few weeks of summer, and I didn't think twice about walking on rocky lake bottoms, squishing through mud, picking things up with my dexterous toes, or running down the driveway chasing a ball - all without shoes!

So it makes sense to me to "get back to basics" on some level.

Except for one thing:

I'm still very risk averse as a hiker.

I don't take chances with my feet during hikes, because there's no way I'm going to get out of the back country unless I pay for a very expensive helicopter ride in the event of a foot injury.

helicopter in mountainous backcountryYour feet are a much cheaper way out of the backcountry.

Love your mother (Earth)

Next reason for hiking boot avoidance?

Sensory deprivation and its consequences.

By that I mean that we encase our feet in socks and shoes for most of our waking adult life.

And we expect the same for our children.

But hiking barefoot literally connects you with the Earth.

  • Why pay for a foot massage when Mother Earth can give you a free one?

And if a banana slug can navigate trail hazards without footwear, so can you.

Defy authority!

And what about defiance?

I use that word in a good way, as in "test the limits".

  • Throw all rules to the winds and get out on that trail barefooted!
  • Who says I can't hike in bare feet?? Watch me!

And don't you just love the sideways glances you get from other hikers when they see your toes?

This motivation could also be wrapped up in re-living your "foot loose and fancy free" days (see above), which might have included a bit of defiance.

More info about barefoot hiking

To get a more well rounded picture of typical barefoot hiking motivations, try these links:

What about you,
are you up for barefoot hiking?

If you're a barefoot hiker yourself, please drop me a line and share your thoughts about what motivates you to get on the trail with nothing on your feet.

And I'll try not to stare when I meet you on the trail.

Ready to give up your barefoot ways and consider the best hiking boots for your feet?

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Barefoot Hiking