Barefoot hiking may be the next minimalist/barefoot trend.
While barefoot running is the thing that became popular (thanks in large part to Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run), I’ve noticed in the last few months that:
- Many new barefoot runners haven’t read, or even heard of, Chris’s book
- A significant percentage of our customers are not runners, but hikers, walkers, gym-goers, yoga practitioners, and CrossFit-ers
And, more and more, I get emails and photos from people showing them at the top of some mountain, either barefoot or in their Xero Shoes. A lot of times their emails will say, “I brought my running sandals with me to use around the campsite or if I was going through water and didn’t want my shoes to get wet. But it was so much more fun to feel the ground as I hiked, that I just put my hiking boots in my pack and wore my huaraches instead.”
I know the feeling. I haven’t worn real shoes for anything like a hike since the Summer of 2009, and the idea of balancing on my stiff hiking boot soles instead of gripping the rocks and roots isn’t at all appealing. And it’s definitely one of my favorite moments when I come upon a small stream to cross, and see a handful of hikers trying to figure out how to make it without getting their feet wet… and then I just plod through the water without breaking stride 😉
Frankly, I love the idea that minimalism and barefoot and natural movement make it beyond the world of running, beyond the question of performance (e.g. “do you run faster barefoot?” or “is barefoot running better than shod running?”). After you’ve been barefoot for a while, you simply love the way it feels in every circumstance.
Granted, I also think that being barefoot or truly minimalist has other advantages — all those nerves in the bottom of your feet are there for a reason; use ’em or lose ’em. But if the only reason people take off their motion-controlled shoes is for fun, that’s good enough for me! And if they decide to wear Xero Shoes for those times where a little bit of protection or style are needed, I won’t complain 😉
Oh, backing up to the reason I wrote this post: There’s a great story today about a woman who climbed Kilimanjaro barefoot.