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Thread: hiking barefoot

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    Default hiking barefoot

    ok, i expect some of you will warn against this, but has anyone ever heard of someone trying to do a thru-hike barefoot. if so, did they succeed? if not, why? something I've been considering doing myself. any particularly hazardous sections of trail for this?

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    Around 08 there was guy named mountain. Man that was barefoot and had very little gear. He was hiking with his dog. Not sure if he ever made it.

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    Look up the book: The Barefoot Sisters Southbound, (Adventures on the Appalachian Trail)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bfayer View Post
    Look up the book: The Barefoot Sisters Southbound, (Adventures on the Appalachian Trail)
    And their equally entertaining sequel, Walking Home.
    The more miles, the merrier!

    NH4K: 21/48; N.E.4K: 25/67; NEHH: 28/100; Northeast 4K: 27/115; AT: 124/2191

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    Yes it's been done. Your feet will likely never be the same afterwards. Not only do you risk breaking toes, any cuts could get infected and you could pick up parasites like ring worms. You'd best make sure you have thick calluses on the bottom of your feet before you start.

    There is a reason footwear was one of the first things humans invented.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Yes it's been done. Your feet will likely never be the same afterwards. Not only do you risk breaking toes, any cuts could get infected and you could pick up parasites like ring worms. You'd best make sure you have thick calluses on the bottom of your feet before you start.

    There is a reason footwear was one of the first things humans invented.
    Ringworm is not a parasite but a fungus type skin infection

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    Read the barefoot sisters stuff. Best I can tell it all becomes about walking without shoes, not about hiking. Like an entirely different, almost completely unrelated experience. No value judgement here, to the best of my limited ability...
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    The Barefoot Sisters went to boots for the dead of winter. I doubt anyone would do otherwise. It's a good read.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    I met a young man named Alex attempting a thru-hike in '13 who was unshod, but he'd end up injured because of it (plantar fasciitis on both feet, due to progressively more pronounced collapsed arches). Although I hiked slowly, he fell far behind and I'm not sure if he ever completed his journey. At the time he said the walking was not the issue so much as the weight on his back. Although he carried a light load (24lbs at most he said, with food and water), it was still too much weight and stress to enable his feet to adapt and grow stronger.

    I wear Vibram Five Fingers around home and town, to help strengthen my feet (at least in theory), but I do the long hikes in more supportive running shoes, despite a super light load on the back. Bare-footing the whole AT can be done, but I'd hedge my bets on a high, high failure rate. The backpack along for the ride changes everything.

  10. #10

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    thanks 4 the tips. will have to check out that book. mostly hike in sandals, even with like 3 feet of snow on the ground, any one have any clue if that would help me w/ this?

  11. #11

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    joe valesko from zpacks thru hiked the pct and cdt entirely in sandals. had some serious snow in colorado. used vapor barrier socks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brother brzo View Post
    ok, i expect some of you will warn against this, but has anyone ever heard of someone trying to do a thru-hike barefoot. if so, did they succeed? if not, why? something I've been considering doing myself. any particularly hazardous sections of trail for this?
    No judgement here, but I just can't imagine hiking barefoot from a foot/toe protection and sometimes traction standpoint in most parts of PA, NH, and ME.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    No judgement here, but I just can't imagine hiking barefoot from a foot/toe protection and sometimes traction standpoint in most parts of PA, NH, and ME.
    thats kind of funny considering that i live in pa and do most of my hiking here
    have done once or twice w/o shoes

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    I'm curious about what's your motivation for hiking bare foot. You will have to bring shoes for grocery stores etc. though.

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    I have every intention of hiking in Vibrams, but I've also been working up towards the feat (ha!) over the course of the past few years. I've been running in Vibrams for the past four years, I walk in them frequently, and do all of my weightlifting in them as well.

    As others, I would caution anyone from 'jumping right in' and going full bore on the trail with your pack and bare feet. But if you're truly interested in doing it up while on the trail, and I was you, I'd take a set of Vibrams (or go barefoot), and I would *very slowly* up the mileage.

    I'm talking a quarter of a mile with the pack for a week, then the rest of the day with shoes. Next week you could go for a half mile, but again, *listen to your body - by the time you're hurting it's probably too late*.

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    And again, as others have said, ask yourself "why am I doing this".

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    Quote Originally Posted by brother brzo View Post
    ok, i expect some of you will warn against this, but has anyone ever heard of someone trying to do a thru-hike barefoot. if so, did they succeed? if not, why? something I've been considering doing myself. any particularly hazardous sections of trail for this?
    If going old school, why not try a pair of knee high moccasins. Foot coverage plus gaiters all built into one, be sure and incorporate fringes. (fringes swinging keeps the flys away)

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    Quote Originally Posted by brother brzo View Post
    ok, i expect some of you will warn against this, but has anyone ever heard of someone trying to do a thru-hike barefoot. if so, did they succeed? if not, why? something I've been considering doing myself. any particularly hazardous sections of trail for this?
    I have been hiking in Vibrams over 3 years. Eventhough my feet are totally accustomed to them, I still stub my toes from time to time. I can't imagine how one could keep feet healthy with no protection at all.
    Shutterbug

  18. #18

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    I would imagine there are people who want to be around scalding hot water without gloves, use stone chisels without eye protection, and play the goalie position in hockey without a face mask. All have their reasons I suppose, so with that desire you can certainly do what you want but for the life of me I cannot fathom it (with apologies to Gump Woresley).

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    The Barefoot sisters paid attention to where they were placing every step. They grew up in Mount Desert Island and spent their entire lives walking barefoot on the rocky coast woods of Maine. It can be done if you want, but you need to watch where you place every step. Most modern people are walking on pavement and we quit paying attention to where we put our feet once we put on shoes. Our feet evolved to be walked on, without shoes. Shoes make your feet weaker, Not stronger. If you want to not wear shoes, go for it.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by July View Post
    If going old school, why not try a pair of knee high moccasins. Foot coverage plus gaiters all built into one, be sure and incorporate fringes. (fringes swinging keeps the flys away)
    that might not be a bad idea. i will admit, part of my reason is to make a bit of a statement/do it old school, i like seeing he looks on peoples faces. the few times i have hiked barefoot, my main problem was pricker bushes and, during the colder months, the ice sucking the warmth out of my feet (yes, i've tried going barefoot in the winter, the ice/snow is the only new problem winter seems to present 4 me). thanks for the idea

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