Barefoot hiking and walking are fun, too!

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.


3 thoughts on “Barefoot hiking and walking are fun, too!

  1. I haven’t done any barefoot hiking yet, but will see whether I will be ready to try by summer! Last summer I did switch from hiking in trail running shoes (which had been the kind of footwear I switched to from heavier hiking boots a decade ago) to hiking in Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek shoes, with great success. One step at a time (pun intended)! I haven’t tried huaraches yet, but am very curious, and may investigate for spring.

  2. First and foremost, I’m a walker, hiker, trailer … then runner (just to get up hills quickly) and finally, fell runner.

    Huaraches are the perfect walking sole! You keep to the speed you can cope with, which ensures you savour the land you’re walking through in a total experience – all senses, including touch.

    I bought the Cherry kit from you guys a good while ago and they do get a lot of use, but the Connect sole I got more recently gets a lot of use! I live in some rough country.

    I do truly hope that barefoot catches on with walkers, hikers and trekkers. There has been some noise about how exactly you “walk barefoot” … erm … easy … watch a child. It is as easy as childs’ play! We spend a lot of our lives learning how NOT to walk barefoot.

    Time to free the feet and just get out there.

  3. The barefoot hiking movement in the US predates the barefoot/minimalist walking and running movement. There were barefoot hiking orgs even back in the 80s and 90s.

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