Anyone interested can attend barefoot hikes. if you are new, expect to wear your shoes for most of the hike, going barefoot for short periods where you feel most comfortable. Start slow and give your body time to adapt!
Consult your physician if you have any conditions that may add risk to barefoot hiking, such as diabetes or a compromised immune system.
Walking barefoot in the woods comes with potential risks. You can reduce your risks by walking slowly and mindfully, cleaning your feet well after the hike and when you get home, pacing your time barefoot to allow the body time to adjust, and putting your shoes on when you are uncomfortable.
We each hike at our own risk!
If you wear “normal” shoes (as opposed to barefoot/minimalist shows), your feet and calves will need time to adjust, so go barefoot for short bursts, like 10-15 minutes, and then put shoes on. Never push this – give yourself time to adapt.
Even if you wear minimalist shoes, going barefoot will still need an adjustment period to allow the feet to toughen up a bit.
No one will force you or shame you into taking your shoes off. Just keep in mind we will be walking at a slower pace to accommodate barefoot hiking and you may have to put up with chatter about minimalist shoes, and what people are experiencing while barefoot. If you are new to hiking barefoot shoes for most of the hike are encouraged since it is best to start out slowly and give yourself time to adjust.
- Bug Spray
- Sunscreen (feet can get sunburned!)
- Towel to wipe off feet
- Shoes or sandals for when your feet need a break.
- Lunch (usually, unless we plan to go into town afterward as a group) and snacks, water/drink
- Extra water to wash off feet (often we can find a stream)
- Bandaids/small first aid kit – just in case!
- Optional: wet wipes to clean feet
Feet will toughen a bit and may get some scratches if you are hiking a lot in rough terrain, but if you are keeping your feet clean they probably won’t look so bad. Some of this comes down to how hardcore you are with going barefoot.
Glass is a potential hazard, although less so on trails and more on the roadside.
Barefoot hikes are essentially slower, more mindful hikes. I aim for relatively easy trails. Hikers can wear and remove shoes as comfortable, with beginners encouraged to pace themselves carefully while their feet adapt. The one big difference you may notice is that, unlike with a “normal” hike, people are more likely to look forward to walking through puddles and mud!
We usually have lunch as a group while on the trail unless plans were made to dine in town (check event description).
The below videos will be of great help, but ultimately the trick is to pace yourself. Start slowly by taking 5-10 mins to walk barefoot in your yard or in a park. As you adjust, you can move on to dirt trails and gravel. Increase time each week.
Keep in mind there is more adjustment to barefoot hiking than just toughening up the bottom of one’s foot!
If you wear traditional shoes, the muscles in your feet and calves will need time to develop. Using minimalist/barefoot/zero-drop shoes can help with that transition. It took me (someone who grew up in boots) about 3-4 weeks to adjust to minimalist shoes to the point I could wear them for over an hour and a little longer before I could do long hikes comfortably.
So please do not rush!
If you want to try barefoot shoes Xero Shoes are affordable and very good (albeit perhaps not the most fashionable). Most of my shoes are from Vevo Barefoot, and they look much nicer but are also much more expensive. Both brands are of excellent quality and highly recommended,
The below video has some great tips for beginners.
The below video on transitioning safely to barefoot shoes is presented from the context of running but applies to walking and hiking as well. He covers the details very well!