Barefoot or shoes/boots?

Do you go barefoot?


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Lifecraft

John McDouall Stuart
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I'm curious to know. Do you prefer to be barefoot in the bush? Or wear shoes/boots?
And why?

There's a lot of controversy about guys like Cody Lundin going barefoot everywhere.
IMO it's good to do it where it's safe, but have shoes in your pack if you need them.

I prefer to go barefoot where I can (I haven't worn shoes for probably a month, but I did wear boots when I was doing the lawns).
If I'm not too far from home or the car (especially if I have phone reception for emergencies) I'll tend to go barefoot, and sometimes I'll just take thongs for emergencies (leaving shoes at home or in car).
That has recently included going rock fishing (needed to watch my step when I'm near the oysters, or sharp shells or rocks), and walking through knee to head height scrub (full of stinging nettles, bull ants, thistles, etc.)
The downside is I quite regularly get stung by stinging nettles, and get thorns and stuff stuck in my feet. But I still won't hesitate to go barefoot most of the time.

If I'm going into the bush I'll likely still go barefoot, but have shoes in my pack in case I need them.
There are exceptions. If I want to travel quickly I'll wear shoes (so I don't need to be so careful when I put each step), or if there's too many thorns, bindies, etc. for me to avoid.

Last time I went on a hike I was barefoot, with a heavy pack on my back (I actually had too much gear so I had to do 2 trips). The only reason I put shoes on was because I needed to climb down a steep hill with lots of rocks.


Part of the reason I like going barefoot is because:
- It's cooler in hot weather

- It's quicker (I don't need to put shoes on to go for a walk)

- I can walk into the water without worrying about getting waterlogged feet

- I just find it more comfortable

- If I ever don't have shoes, or my shoes fall apart, it doesn't bother me (because my feet are fairly used to rough ground)

- It toughens up my feet (I had a bindi get stuck in my foot the other day, and when I went to pull it out, I realised I have about 7 other bindies stuck in my foot, but they hadn't managed to pierce through the leathery skin so I didn't notice until I look at the bottom of my foot)

- I kinda like being able to feel the ground under my feet. If I put shoes on they feel clunky, and like someone has just wrapped up my hands, leaving me without the ability to "feel" the environment around me.

- I used to run long distance barefoot, and barefoot running is better for your body (because you hit the ground toes first when barefoot, and get better shock absorption, but with shoes you hit heel first, which increases the shock to your entire leg and can cause injury)


So what's your preference? And why?
 
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peter.robinson

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My preference is to be barefoot and I do go barefoot as much as possible, mostly around home. I'm gradually working toward barefoot trail running, currently wearing minimalist shoes (merrell trail gloves) for running.
For hiking I have always worn what my daughter called my big stompy boots. I don't like them, they're heavy and have thick soles that elevate my heels which is in-natural, but I guess I wear them because that's what I have always done :)
 

Lifecraft

John McDouall Stuart
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I'm gradually working toward barefoot trail running
I'm wanting to get back into running too, and see if I can do it with a minimal kit, so I can travel longer distances than walking, a lot faster.

currently wearing minimalist shoes (merrell trail gloves) for running.
Are those the soft rubber type ones which allow your toes and the ball of your foot to touch the ground first?
I've seen people using them but I've never tried them.

I can't remember what I watched a while ago where the guy (a runner) was explaining how he moved to barefoot running and found he could run better, and further, and with less injuries (due to impact/shock).
He said those rubber shoes/gloves are a good alternative if they let your feet move the way they do when barefoot.
 

Dan m

Les Stroud
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i will go barefoot quite a lot, depending where i am walking that is. around south sydeny/Royal National Park/Heathcote National Park ill usually wear a pair of boots off track since the rocks around here are quite painful after a days walk, futher down the coast were it gets a little more dirt and a little less rock i'm happy as can be. this stemmed from a story i posted in "what got you into bushcraft" or something like that started by blake in The common ground section. i had to walk out of a situation with only wool socks, after that when i started getting into bushcrafting and bushwalking i decided after a few months to start seeing if i could go barefoot. furthest i have walked total in a day bare foot was the first half of the coast track from otford to garie beach in the Royal National Park.
 

Aussie123

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I always wear boots (or shoes) in the bush, desert, tropics etc. They support my feet, add to traction and protect them and from rough ground, insects, stubbed toes and parasites like hookworm.

(Hookworm can be an issue especially in the tropical parts of the world, including Australia and can be quite prevalent in some outback communities.
They can enter your body via unprotected feet and can present a range of nasty symptoms.)

Shoes on !
 

auscraft

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Proper footwear .. I use to go bare footed everywhere other than working but after two injuries one being from standing on broken glass just hidden below the surface and another being blood poisoning from a river after cutting the sole of foot. there is no question footwear even just around camp in a pair of crocs
 

peter.robinson

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Are those the soft rubber type ones which allow your toes and the ball of your foot to touch the ground first?
Yes there is room for toe movement and have a very thin sole but still not the same as barefoot. There are many brands and styles now but none of them look bushcrafty so maybe they are best discussed elsewhere?
 
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swampy99

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Boots all the time. Our feet are not conditioned to going barefoot anymore unless you have been brought up that way. I cant see why you would want to risk damaging your feet while out in the field. That could leave you in a life or death situation. Ive done a an E&E exercise in just socks and my feet were in rag order by the end of the 7 days. Nope always wear boots dont take the risk.
 

Lifecraft

John McDouall Stuart
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Our feet are not conditioned to going barefoot anymore unless you have been brought up that way
I kinda did grow up barefoot in the bush a lot of the time.
I don't recommend people do it if they haven't conditioned their feet to it.

However I do think it's possible to condition your feet for it if you go barefoot for long enough, including walking on rough surfaces.

I've been barefoot pretty much the entire past decade or more, except times when I have to dress up, or put boots on for certain tasks, etc.

I cant see why you would want to risk damaging your feet while out in the field.
It depends on what I'm doing and how risky it is.

Everything is a calculated risk, and depends on what I'm doing.
I'm not saying I'll never put shoes on, just that I tend to avoid doing so if I think I can handle the terrain.

If I feel it necessary I will put them on. Especially if I'm alone in a remote location.
But any chance I get I'll take them off again, if I feel it's safe.



I guess it could be different in tropics, etc. because of the higher risk of infection.
I might also change my mind if I have a really bad accident.

But for now I'll default to barefoot, and put boots on if my feet get sore, or if I don't like the terrain I'm on, or if I want to travel long distance and move a lot more quickly and don't want to worry about where I'm placing my feet.


It's partly personal preference, and partly down to the type of terrain and the level of risk that a foot injury could cause (due to remoteness, etc).
I'm far more likely to go barefoot near home, and more likely to put shoes on if I'm walking on rough terrain a day or more walk from help.


Another issue is.... when I was on a 4 day hike, the first day in one of the other hikers shoes started to fall apart.
I think they just managed to hold up for the trip (barely), but what would one do if they lose their shoes?

What would you do if you lose your shoes, or they fall apart, or whatever?

If you never, ever go barefoot, chances are you'll struggle without shoes. If you at least go barefoot sometimes (even just non-risky situations) you're less dependent on shoes.
I guess I like being less dependent on gear.
 
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It's never occurred to me to do anything in the bush barefooted. It's very interesting to hear that people do. I've never found shoes to be so uncomfortable that i needed to take them off.
 

JM9422

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I'll wear thongs around camp after walking around all day. I won't walk without footwear.

Do you go barefoot in winter? How do you handle the cold?
 

Thrud

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Shoes every time. I vary between ankle high scarpas and the trainer type. I notice a difference in how my knees feel as the shows have a different biomechanic. I understand that the Tarahumara, after whom the HPG pack is named, are able to run either bare footed or with simple thongs for amazing distances. As suggested above this is apparently due to bare foot running being more mechanically advantageous and less knackering. I don't run anywhere, just an Alpine plod to conserve what little reserves of energy I have!
 

Lifecraft

John McDouall Stuart
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Do you go barefoot in winter? How do you handle the cold?
Usually when it gets really cold I resort to shoes. I'm not as determined to go barefoot as Cody Lundin.
But often I'll still go barefoot if I can handle it, and if I'm moving around enough to keep warm.

Quite often I find so long as I have otherwise warm clothes on, and long pants, my feet can cope with some cold.
Although I'm not talking about snow weather, as I'm not used to that kind of cold.

In winter things feel sharper on my feet, so sharp stones I can walk on during warm weather I can't during winter, so that can make me put on thongs or shoes (usually thongs unless I need the shoes for warmth as well as protection).
 

T.C.

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Thongs mostly in the bush, barefoot near the coast, work boots when hunting. I have wide feet so dont find shoes very comfortable.
 

Walker

John McDouall Stuart
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Would never go BF in the bush - too many nasties and likelihood of injury. Also, add a rucksack with 15kg of gear and BF becomes impractical. I always carry a lightweight pair of spare shoes in the rucksack for around camp, and just in case the others blow a gasket.
 

barefoot dave

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Give you 3 guesses ;-)
For day to day and light hiking, i am as nature intended.
When I am not barefoot, I am wear Barefoot. Merrel barefoot that is. For work and medium loads.
For a full pack or crafting/4WD I dig out my Zamberlans.

I am no rabid Hippie about bare feet.
I am more in touch with my surroundings when I take more care about foot placement.
Barefeet, rain or shine, winter or summer. I am realistic about injuries and infection. And adjust accordingly.
Cheers
 

kiwibro

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Barefoot or volleys. Yew!!! Mate I love the barefoot. I grew up in a country with very few nasties though. My footwear is just cheap volley style shoes. I've bought expensive ones. And they last as long as cheap ones so it doesn't take a genius to work that math out. I rub salt in any cut I get. Keeps germs at bay.
 

GTVi

John McDouall Stuart
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Decades of playing sports on a daily basis, the natural padding under my feel has diminished to the point that it is too painful for me to walk bare foot. Even indoors around the house is painful. Therefore I am required to wear shoes with additional padding to cushion my feet. Wearing shoes I can walk forever without any pain. The only time I don't wear shoes is in the shower or in bed ;)

I envy those who can go bare foot anywhere, but I imagine the need to condition feet from a young age.
 

Enigma1

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My personal thoughts on strange ideas like what Cody Lundin pushes (The hippy, barefoot thing) is, it is an extremely unsafe and impractical thing to suggest to AUSTRALIANS to do, with our various rugged and unsafe wilderness areas, not forgetting the fact that we have 9 out of 10 most venomous snakes in the worlds top 10.

It's noot 'cool' to go barefoot in the bush, it's just plain dumb. Save it for the backyard barby, and the beach.
 
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