Barefoot or shoes/boots?

Do you go barefoot?


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John McDouall Stuart
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strange ideas like what Cody Lundin pushes
Fairly sure I've heard him say many times that he doesn't recommend others go barefoot, because most people aren't used to it.
He's not "pushing" it. He's just doing what he wants to do.

I'm reasonably used to it. I still cut my feet, burn my feet, get stings, thistles, bindies, all kinds of stuff.
I'm yet to be crippled because of a foot injury going barefoot.

One of the reasons I actually find it better to go barefoot is because I have "joint hypermobility" (aka lax ligaments, or what some people call double joints).
All my ligaments are stretchy and are easy to damage.
I'd rather get a cut foot in the bush than a sprained ankle.

When I wore shoes often, including during sport, I would often twist an ankle, etc.
Now I go barefoot I don't recall the last time I twisted my ankle.

Another reason is that I used to find tinea agonising, from playing sports with shoes on a lot. Now I don't wear shoes much I never get tinea.
The cuts I get on my foot are nowhere near as annoying as tinea IMO.

There are pros and cons to both decisions. Also, times and places where each choice becomes more appropriate.


Tonight, while sitting by the fire in the back yard, I put my feet up next to the fire, and could feel the warmth through the soles of my feet.
Times like that I remember why I like being barefoot.
But, that was my backyard....
 
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Lifecraft

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To everyone who finds my going barefoot strange.... can you please answer me some questions to address my curiosity?

1) How much do your shoes/boots cost?
2) What would you do if you were stuck in the bush and your shoes fell apart, got lost, or for whatever reason weren't available?

To me, the thought of being 100% reliant on modern day shoes, in order to simply move around, scares the hell out of me.
I couldn't imagine being out in the bush thinking "if these shoes fall apart, I'm screwed"

I see bushcraft as a way of being more independent, and being able to make what I need.
I can't make my own shoes, so the thought of needing to rely on them makes me nervous.

I'm not advocating people never wear shoes. I am advocating people train their feet, when they feel it's safe, to be able to go barefoot, in case they might need to one day.


Have you seen the doco about the soldier in vietnam who had his shoes taken, to prevent him from escaping? He spent days fleeing, barefoot, with cut feet.
I like knowing I don't need shoes (even though I'm not likely to become a POW any time soon).
 

Dan m

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Fairly sure I've heard him say many times that he doesn't recommend others go barefoot, because most people aren't used to it.
He's not "pushing" it. He's just doing what he wants to do.

I'm reasonably used to it. I still cut my feet, burn my feet, get stings, thistles, bindies, all kinds of stuff.
I'm yet to be crippled because of a foot injury going barefoot.

One of the reasons I actually find it better to go barefoot is because I have "joint hypermobility" (aka lax ligaments, or what some people call double joints).
All my ligaments are stretchy and are easy to damage.
I'd rather get a cut foot in the bush than a sprained ankle.

When I wore shoes often, including during sport, I would often twist an ankle, etc.
Now I go barefoot I don't recall the last time I twisted my ankle.

Another reason is that I used to find tinea agonising, from playing sports with shoes on a lot. Now I don't wear shoes much I never get tinea.
The cuts I get on my foot are nowhere near as annoying as tinea IMO.

There are pros and cons to both decisions. Also, times and places where each choice becomes more appropriate.


Tonight, while sitting by the fire in the back yard, I put my feet up next to the fire, and could feel the warmth through the soles of my feet.
Times like that I remember why I like being barefoot.
But, that was my backyard....
me going barefoot is from a similar standing, i have bad bunions for my age and shoes make it really quite sore to walk around past a few km. i've tossed away a lot of my shoes and wear loose fitting ones these days if any at all. i know the risks around wearing no shoes but matter of fact is i can't walk further then 4km in a pair without almost crippling pain in my feet, i have to stop quite regularly and take my boots/shoes off and massage my toes.

It's not 'cool' to go barefoot in the bush, it's just plain dumb. Save it for the backyard barby, and the beach.
id never suggest that its better to go barefoot, but unless i get boots custom made its a long stretch for me to find a pair i can wear comfortably. its not cool by any means, but without shoes i can do those long walk ins and treks much easier without fear of further hurting my feet.
 
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Lifecraft

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not forgetting the fact that we have 9 out of 10 most venomous snakes in the worlds top 10.
When I got struck by a snake it didn't hit my feet. Went for my legs. The back of my calf is where it hit.
Luckily I was moving, so it didn't sink it's fangs in. I just felt the thud on my leg and turned around to see a snake there with its head in the air, under the log I just jumped over.
Not sure what type of snake it was, but it was a brown color.

I've also read only 1 in 20 snake bites require hospitalisation or anti venom.
They should be treated with respect, but we're more likely to die in the car on the way to our campsite or hiking start point than we are from snakes IMO.
 

Enigma1

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So did you treat your snake strike, and get someone else to take you to hospital?

A typical brown snake bite is either painless or almost painless. The tiny fangs often leave only faint puncture or scratch marks, without local redness, bruising or swelling. Indeed, the bite can be hard to see without a magnifying glass. Do not be fooled; even such an apparently trivial looking bite can result in lethal envenoming, particularly in young children.

According to your theory that snake bite isn't common, so we shouldn't worry too much, do you drive your car, and let your kids sit in it, without wearing seatbelts?

It is the exact same analogy for the non 'barefooters', to suggest we start taking our boots off, 'to get used to it'?? WTF for?. I think you need to understand that for most normal people risk of injury far outweighs some weird lifestyle choice

What's with the 'if your caught out bush with no boots' thing? Why the hell would that happen? Thats a weird thing to think, if you ask me, sort of like saying you might be caught our bush with no clothes on??

Oh, and another thing, I've only noticed this weird 'barefooting' craze, since the likes of Cody, has ben spouting off about it. Now, you see all these 'disciples' extolling the virtues of going barefoot out in the scrub. The reality is, they all must hang around nice grassy meadows, because most of the places I go out bush, even Cody's feet would be torn to shreds.

I'll take some photo's of what litters the ground where I go bowhunting, and you can tell me how great it would be, to go barefoot there.
 
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Ok Enigma1, you made your point. We try to keep this forum from resembling other forums in the UK and the US, where members posts get shot down in flames by others on the forum, one of its many great assets. While your point is a worthy and important one it's all in the tone don't you think.
 

Walker

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I think Enigma1 raises some reasonable points. Some people are quick to adopt the most wackiest ideas from TV programs. These self-proclaimed bushcraft messiahs who get their mugs plastered on a TV program only do so because the TV corporation needs shows and/or the particular channel is geared to that genre. Really, should we all go out in a canoe, jump into the water and wrestle with a croc (alligator) like the 'Swamp People' show extols? If a balance is to be maintained on this Forum (unlike some of the US and UK Forums) then unrealistic, hazardous or dangerous notions should be put right by Forum members who have the credentials to do so. Phrayzar, I totally agree with you that TONE is an important element on Forums, comments not thought though properly can be easily misconstrued as flames.
 
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I agree, that the points in that post are important, as I said in my post. I agree with all the points you raise also. TV shows with pseudo outdoor experts are a problem for sure. Like I said, it's a question of tone. Not always easy to convey I know.
 

Lifecraft

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So did you treat your snake strike, and get someone else to take you to hospital?
I should have been clearer.
It struck, I felt it hit the back of my leg, but it must have been because I was moving fast (jogging through the bush) that its fangs missed me.

I don't know how that happened. I wouldn't have thought I could feel a thud yet not have its fangs sink in.

All I know is I felt something hit the back of my leg, and it took me a few more metres to stop running (I was running downhill), and when I turned around I saw a snake.

Could have been a coincidence and something else hit my leg at that exact time. I'm not sure.

Anyway, no blood, no pain, no death, so I'm guessing it didn't sink its fangs in.

A typical brown snake bite is either painless or almost painless. The tiny fangs often leave only faint puncture or scratch marks, without local redness, bruising or swelling. Indeed, the bite can be hard to see without a magnifying glass. Do not be fooled; even such an apparently trivial looking bite can result in lethal envenoming, particularly in young children.
I wasn't aware of that back then. I didn't die, luckily.

According to your theory that snake bite isn't common, so we shouldn't worry too much, do you drive your car, and let your kids sit in it, without wearing seatbelts?
The risk of dying in a car accident is quite high, so seatbelts should be worn.
It's my current view that it's far higher than the risk of dying from snake bite (including the probability of being bitten in the first place).

It is the exact same analogy for the non 'barefooters', to suggest we start taking our boots off, 'to get used to it'??
I did say I suggest people do it where it's safe. In your backyard, when you walk down the street to go to the shops, anywhere you have the ability to ring 000, or a friend, if you need help.

I've done that for many years now, so I'm prepared to take the risk of going barefoot in the bush.

I'm not recommending anyone go bush barefoot unless they've spent years (maybe even a decade or more) conditioning their feet to it.

WTF for?. I think you need to understand that for most normal people risk of injury far outweighs some weird lifestyle choice
I'm not suggesting people take unnecessary risk. As I've said over and over again, I think people should go barefoot only when they feel it is safe for them.
If that's only in their backyard then that's fine.

What I feel is safe is different to what others will, because my feet might be conditioned differently.

It's up to you to decide what is safe, not me.

I do think though that if you never condition your feet to cope without shoes the risk of injury is far greater.

I believe this partly because I went to wearing shoes regularly, and my feet ended up less able to cope with going barefoot.
I got blisters, sprains, cramps, fungal issues, etc. all while wearing shoes regularly.
When I stopped wearing shoes full time my feet went back to being able to cope with walking barefoot, even on rough ground, and all those issues went away.

Every cell adapts to its conditions. If you start walking barefoot when its safe, the cells in your feet adapt to strengthen your feet, so you can cope with it.

What's with the 'if your caught out bush with no boots' thing? Why the hell would that happen?
Have you never experienced gear failure? Or loss of gear?
First day of a 4/5 day hike one of the people in the group had their shoes start to fall apart. Admittedly they bought cheap shoes, but it can happen with good ones too.

I think they just held up for the trip, but it was a bit sketchy. I can't remember if they taped them up or what, I was too busy dealing with being completely knackered from hiking.

To not consider it as a possibility I think it dangerous (ie. your shoes falling apart).

Me losing all my gear is unlikely, but I consider that possibility to try mentally prepare for it.

Thats a weird thing to think, if you ask me, sort of like saying you might be caught our bush with no clothes on??
Last trek I went on, when I got home I realised my shorts were all ripped up. I don't know how (the end of the trek was at night) but I ended up throwing those shorts out.
Doesn't matter how skilled you are, your clothes can always fall apart.

We need to consider these issues and come up with backup plans IMO.

Oh, and another thing, I've only noticed this weird 'barefooting' craze, since the likes of Cody, has ben spouting off about it. Now, you see all these 'disciples' extolling the virtues of going barefoot out in the scrub.
I didn't know who Cody was a few years ago. But I've been going barefoot most of my life.
I don't think Cody deserves either the credit or the blame for my "hippy" upbringing.

It's funny how people assume association denotes causation.

I did watch his videos thinking "ah so I'm not the only barefooter" and then later on thought "dude, you're crazy to go barefoot in the snow, or in the swamp, I'd be wearing shoes in those situations".
I'm not one to advocate always being barefoot. I'll put shoes on whenever I feel I need to.

Just seems in the past few years I've rarely felt the need to wear shoes.

The reality is, they all must hang around nice grassy meadows, because most of the places I go out bush, even Cody's feet would be torn to shreds.
Last place I went bush barefoot I ended up with legs tingling from stinging nettles (I used to find them painful, these days I don't, it's just a funny tingling sensation, though I've never encountered the stinging tree and hope I never do), multiple thistle spikes in my foot, and I spotted and stepped over at least 5 bull ants. (I've been bitten by bull ants and I know it's painful.)
When I got back to the car I pulled I think 5 leeches off my feet.
This is while walking through knee to shoulder high scrub (at least half the time), and through rocky creeks (which always tend to result in your toes getting jammed between rocks in my experience) but despite all of this, I still preferred being barefoot.

Call me crazy, but none of what happened was life threatening. It was all minor.

But I figured I'd mention that to show it's not all grassy meadows.

I'll take some photo's of what litters the ground where I go bowhunting, and you can tell me how great it would be, to go barefoot there.
Please do. Though I can't judge unless I walk there.

And as I said before.... I base my actions on the conditions I function in.
When the conditions get really bad I'll put shoes on.

The conditions I encounter around here don't seem all that bad though. Maybe that's the difference. Maybe I'm just lucky to have pretty tame terrain to deal with.
 
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Lifecraft

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Some people are quick to adopt the most wackiest ideas from TV programs.
Does everyone presume that I don't wear shoes often because of stuff I saw on TV?

What makes you think Cody Lundin was the first guy on the planet to ever go barefoot?

I find this quite hilarious. So many people are so convinced you MUST wear shoes, that when anyone doesn't follow that "rule" they must be following some TV celebrity.

Is it possible that maybe I'm just thinking for myself, and decided for myself that I much rather being barefoot most of the time?
Could it be that my joint hyper mobility, and the fact I easily get sprains while wearing shoes, might push me to finding it more comfortable and safer to go barefoot?

I've already said I've been barefoot most of my life (except during school, work, going out to bars and stuff, and playing sport, as well as times I felt it wise to protect my feet such as while mowing the lawn).


To be totally honest I'm kinda surprised that this is such a controversial topic. I'm not sure why people are so bothered with it.
 
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Keep it civil. None of the mods want to have to delete antagonistic posts.
This is a friendly forum and we want to keep it that way.
 

Dan m

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So did you treat your snake strike, and get someone else to take you to hospital?

A typical brown snake bite is either painless or almost painless. The tiny fangs often leave only faint puncture or scratch marks, without local redness, bruising or swelling. Indeed, the bite can be hard to see without a magnifying glass. Do not be fooled; even such an apparently trivial looking bite can result in lethal envenoming, particularly in young children.

According to your theory that snake bite isn't common, so we shouldn't worry too much, do you drive your car, and let your kids sit in it, without wearing seatbelts?

It is the exact same analogy for the non 'barefooters', to suggest we start taking our boots off, 'to get used to it'?? WTF for?. I think you need to understand that for most normal people risk of injury far outweighs some weird lifestyle choice

What's with the 'if your caught out bush with no boots' thing? Why the hell would that happen? Thats a weird thing to think, if you ask me, sort of like saying you might be caught our bush with no clothes on??

Oh, and another thing, I've only noticed this weird 'barefooting' craze, since the likes of Cody, has ben spouting off about it. Now, you see all these 'disciples' extolling the virtues of going barefoot out in the scrub. The reality is, they all must hang around nice grassy meadows, because most of the places I go out bush, even Cody's feet would be torn to shreds.

I'll take some photo's of what litters the ground where I go bowhunting, and you can tell me how great it would be, to go barefoot there.
i think your missing the point of being barefoot in the bush or out of it, Me myself i don't wear shoes unless i absolutely have to because of a physical condition, that being bunions. its not because i'm a "hippy" as you seem to put it. but its because i find wearing shoes injures me more then the next person, unless i have shoes custom made or wear thongs i get really sore feet to the point where i cannot walk.

i'm trying to be civil here, but with the attitude in the response its hard not be argue back in the same tone so if i'm coming across bluntly mods feel free to edit this post.

the matter of fact is not everyone lives where you do, not all of us trek the same landscape you do and because of that not all of us need the same protection that you do. so before you chew out others on the forum please think twice about whats being said. gear is accommodating to the environment, i wouldn't carry a hammock in a desert and i wouldn't take a swag into the jungle.
 

Enigma1

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Dan, it's not about me, it's about trying to stop young people imitating blokes like Cody, thinking it's cool to traipse around the bush with no boots on. This whole 'barefoot' thing is bandied around all over buashcraft and survival forums, as if it's a legitimate, safe thing to do.

I am quite wiling to apologise to you personally, if you have felt offended by what I have written. I get paid to show and tell people new to the bush, how to stay safe, and stay alive. To me, suggesting anyone go's out bush barefoot, is akin, to telling them to go out naked as well.

We all wear clothing and sturdy boots for a reason. Fine if you blokes are willing to suffer the consequences of your actions, freewill is something I respect, however, I cannot sit here, and see and read discussions about 'going barefoot' in dangerous conditions, as a subject that should be seen as being valid. The fact is 99.9%of the general public would NOT be out in the wilderness (and I mean wilderness not the burbs or rural areas) without proper footwear.

And another thing, this is a bushcrafting forum, not a survivalist one, so imaginary 'post shtf' scenarios like 'what if I lose my boots' shouldnt even be discussed here.

Apologies to anyone here who are offended by my strong words, I do not wish to make anyone feel bad.

My boots (Australian Combat "Terra" Boots) have dealt with every conceivable terrain we have, and on more than one occasion supported my ankles from twisting badly, and also stoped all sorts of sharp objects ripping the crap out of my feet. The actual reality of those type of terrains, is even Cody's leathery feet would be up s$%t creek without boots.
 
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JM9422

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1) How much do your shoes/boots cost?
2) What would you do if you were stuck in the bush and your shoes fell apart, got lost, or for whatever reason weren't available?
1. $100 - $150
2. It goes back to your gear testing thread. Just as it would be pretty silly for someone to wander the bush barefoot if it's new to them, it would be pretty silly to pound the dirt in fresh from the store boots. They need to be worn in so that you know you will be comfortable going bush with them. Catastrophic blow outs in shoes are probably less likely than a car tyre shredding on the highway. More than likely a shoe will have gradual degradation (I've never had to walk bare foot to go and by a new pair of shoes)
Losing shoes is a possibility, stream or river crossing where you can see the bottom and don't want wet footwear on the other side.

I don't think Enigma1's tone was near as bad to how Dave Canterbury talked about Cody on the first episode (and second and third, so on) of dual survival. If it stops a kid or an international visitor to Australia from thinking it's a good idea, it needed to be said.

There's probably a good challenge to come from this discussion from a bushcraft perspective. How would you make improvised footwear from natural materials and gear from your pack?
Bark and cordage for some improvised sandals, tying up the shoe blowout with cordage, resin glue?
 
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Dan m

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yeah mate, no need for an apology, i mean what Cody does some of the time, like in the show "dual survival" wearing no shoes into a swamp or into deep snow i would never do, since i wouldn't put myself there without some good boots, i go barefoot sometimes but i'm not a complete idiot. i'm not promoting the idea that wearing no boots is better then wearing them, fact is, boots vs no boots your going to get more injury without.

i think facts got twisted in the discussion, i for one would stay on track or relatively quite close to one if i was barefoot and not really be burning in new trails. anyone that thinks they are walking barefoot off track is going to be walking very, very slow and even then your going to get a few sticks in your foot, its not going to be a pleasant experience. even a good pair of moccasins are going to do you good, i much prefer a soft shoe then as hard as leather on my feet.

off track and though rough spots, especially when out hunting i'm wearing a pair of all leather danner east ridges, and they do me great. as long as i'm walking slower and not pushing it my feet hold up fine, but walking 12+km in a short time i'm going to have some problems.
 

Walker

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1) How much do your shoes/boots cost?
2) What would you do if you were stuck in the bush and your shoes fell apart, got lost, or for whatever reason weren't available?
1. I have THREE pairs for different terrain & weather: volleys if the walk takes us predominantly along or through creeks (very slippery surfaces), Dunlop KT26 for general ridge and light scrub, Leather boots for heavy scrub or carrying heavy weights. I also carry a light pair in the rucksack for around camp at night or in case of a blow-out.

2. Only had that problem on a few occasions, I used a tent guy rope to tie the sole on - wrapped around my foot! It worked okay. My Uncle was a POW in Changi and on the Burma Railway during WW2 (Fall of Singapore to the Japs), he made several pairs of scuffs for himself and mates out of available jungle/camp materials, so it's not impossible, just need the time and creativity. For example: I suppose if the tread on my shoes separated from the tops, I'd fashion a pair of thongs out of them by drilling three holes and using tent rope or field-made rope out of strips of green bark. But, like I said, I have gear redundancy by carrying a spare pair anyway. Weight is negligible.
 
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T.C.

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One thing with going minimal into the bush is a lot more notice is taken, every step is scrutinized so a greater connection to your surroundings is found (in my opinion) and this is why I wear boots when hunting (when speed is needed and attention focused). When bare footed or thonged up in my case, snakes are most always noticed beforehand.... along with a lot of other things.

In my 35 years of living and playing in the canefields and scrub I've only had two scrapes with snakes where they caught me by surprise, once when a brown crawled up my leg while watering the garden, the second was a nip from a tree snake while on horse back.
 

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I don't want to get into the whether barefoot is right or wrong discussion but I just wanted to put forward my experiences with barefoot in the bush.

About 15 years ago I had a big motorcycle accident and had twelve months where I didn't work. I spent a lot of my time fishing during my recovery and I probably spent most of that time barefoot in the boat and I'd often get out and walk along beaches, sandflats, mudflats, etc and only if there was lots of oyster shells around would I slip on some wet suit booties.

After I started back at work I got right into hard core 4wding and I spent a lot of time with the 4wd club leading trips. I'd quite often be barefoot and I'd quite be the one "spotting" all the others through. Mud, rocks, whatever it didn't bother me. My feet were tough from constantly being barefoot but now working all the time I wear steel caps everyday so my feet are soft and I wouldn't dream of going barefoot now. As I am now used to wearing boots all the time when I hike I use proper hiking boots. I have just started trail running and have been thinking of getting some minimal running shoes but I feel naked if I don't have boots on in the bush these days. Just wearing normal running shoes freaks me out.
 

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I went for a walk Saturday, and I was stung on the thumb by a bull ant ( 1 inch long) that had somehow crawled onto my walking stick. The pain was unbearable. Two days later and I'm still feeling it. All I can say is just as well I wasn't bitten on the toe/foot.

Which reminds me of another time when at home, I accidentally disturbed wasps under some outdoor furniture and was bitten on my big toe. I had the pain in my toe for days, and couldn't walk properly.

When I'm in the scrub, most of my skin is usually covered, only hands and face is exposed.

How do bare foot enthusiasts prevent these problems? Bull ants, wasps etc. Or do you have a favourite cure for bites?
 

Dan m

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I went for a walk Saturday, and I was stung on the thumb by a bull ant ( 1 inch long) that had somehow crawled onto my walking stick. The pain was unbearable. Two days later and I'm still feeling it. All I can say is just as well I wasn't bitten on the toe/foot.

Which reminds me of another time when at home, I accidentally disturbed wasps under some outdoor furniture and was bitten on my big toe. I had the pain in my toe for days, and couldn't walk properly.

When I'm in the scrub, most of my skin is usually covered, only hands and face is exposed.

How do bare foot enthusiasts prevent these problems? Bull ants, wasps etc. Or do you have a favourite cure for bites?
for bull ant stings bracken fern when broken off at ground level then rubbing the sap or crushed up leaves from the fern on the bite/sting location will take MUCH of the edge of the sting, my grandfather taught me that one and i have to say it works, no idea why or how but it works. after it almost just feels like a bee sting or something like that, no where near as bad as it is normally.

edit:
with a quick google search i found that in bob coopers book "Outdoor survival" has this same remedy in it, he also suggests pigface juice.
 
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