No shoes - Barefoot hiking

konect

Russell Coight
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
I've been getting into some barefoot hiking over the last 6 months and was wondering if anyone else is doing it in Aus?

I know its quite popular in the US but can't seem to find many people that do it over here.

At present I can do about 5ks on really rocky ground (the sort you get in the Vic Goldfields region) before I have to whip out the thongs for some foot relief. I'm planning on walking the length of the Murray River for charity in 2013 barefoot so working hard on getting my feet ready!
 

Aussie123

Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 16, 2011
Messages
5,120
Reaction score
93
Location
Melbourne, Victoria
Wow, thats quite an undertaking.

Other than Cody Lundine I haven't really heard much about barefoot walking. Obviously its is/was the norm for many indigenous people.
 

Wentworth

Bear Mears
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
2,644
Reaction score
83
Location
Blue Mtns
Hi Konect, I'm sure you're already familiar with Dot Butler, the famous Barefoot Bushwalker who was a member of the Tiger Walkers, crazy bushwalkers from the 1940's who used to cover insane distances offtrack over a weekend.

It's something I've been wanting to experiment with. Have you done any walks barefoot with lots of water? Wondering if the prune-foot effect would make things difficult.
 

Blake

Nest In the Hills
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
May 2, 2011
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
245
Location
Central West, NSW
I often walk around camp with bare feet but in terms of walking through the bush, I need to be realistic. My feet just arent adapted to this. There is no doubt that humans can walk through the bush bare foot. I think its something you need to kind of commit to to a certain degree and do all the time otherwise you just dont develop the hard skin required.

There a a few technique you can use that ive seen to help, like cody lundin does. Landing on the front of your foot first to minimise injury to your leg. Also scrunching your toes over sharp or dangerous ground to protect the soft skin inbetween your toes. I have tried walking like this but its not easy. Can definatley be done and I admire people who can pull it off.

Shoes off around camp is good enough for me, or a pair of moccisans, but im saving up for some of those. :p
 

Wave Man

Pyromaniac
Joined
Jun 22, 2011
Messages
1,734
Reaction score
132
Location
Brisbane, QLD
I personally would never try this, as it would take years to harden your feet up and it isn't practical for me to do this.Also galvanised bur is well established around my hunting haunts, and I don't care how hard the pads of your feet are that stuff will still penetrate and cripple you.

I have to admire any one who can do this successfully tho.
 

Blake

Nest In the Hills
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
May 2, 2011
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
245
Location
Central West, NSW
Also galvanised bur is well established around my hunting haunts, and I don't care how hard the pads of your feet are that stuff will still penetrate and cripple you.
Yeah, ouch.

I spent 4 years in Wagga Wagga. tribulus Terrestris was all over the place there, the dreaded goats horn thorn. I steped on a few of those with bare feet and trust me you know about it. I rode my pushy around with the tubes perminanly filled with tyre slime to fix punctures otherwise you had a flat every 5 metres. Even had a few get me through the sole of my shoe!
 

kobold

Lofty Wiseman
Joined
Oct 13, 2011
Messages
138
Reaction score
0
Location
melb
dude that's freaking awesome. even if you do it without a rucksack filled with gear. do you use walking poles?
 

Corin

Jiffy
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
3,438
Reaction score
195
Location
Picton NSW
Not for me, I am too soft! Having said that, as Aussie said above, it was the norm pre-Europeans Regarding thorns and other hazards, part of it is having tough feet the other part is paying attention to every footstep. Not such a bad skill.

Good luck with your fundraising goal, I take my hat off to you.
 

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
Joined
May 23, 2011
Messages
4,596
Reaction score
334
Location
jjj
Up to 8years ago I use to never wear shoes anywhere except formal or work occassions. I would say i had rock hard feet, That changed after having a hooked thorn from a boganvillia lodged in my arch of foot.
it occured late arvo I tried and partner tried to remove and pain was huge so I left in and decided to have go in morning. Did not sleep the poisoning from thorn was terrible and as result just after midnight went to hospital and had it removed by knife the foot was in shocking state and unable to work for a week as job require boots a walking.
This was when I learnt my feet were so valuable to me at all times some sought of footwear is essential no matter how they felt. I have taken the stance there today is absoulutely no reason what so ever not to wear footwear anywhere if walking , running, driving or what ever reason other bathing and sleeping.
I wish you luck in fund raising idea but the idea of no footwear has no appeal to me any longer.
 

megan

Russell Coight
Joined
Aug 18, 2011
Messages
21
Reaction score
0
Location
Australia - but no fixed abode
I've been sandal wearing for years, and lately have been going barefoot. Feet were very soft at first, but are toughening up. Bindies are still a problem though. Have thought about thin soled sandals as an alternative, but will keep trying barefoot for a while yet..
 

Dusty Miller

Alexander Pearce
Archivist
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
1,818
Reaction score
235
I spent most of my pre-adult time barefoot in the bush. Although my feet were tough (and a somewhat different shape to my peers at school) I do remeber being pulled up by noogoora and bathurst burrs, bullhead (gaot heads to some) and bindii. And prickly pear sometimes. Oddly enough, I have run across rusted barbed wire and this didn't seem to cause issues. Walking in water greatly softens the skin too, even before prune feet shows up. You can walk across rocks easy enough, but there are problems when the weight is borne through a small area (pointy rock), the resulting injury is of course, a stone bruise, common enough to warrant a common name.

Walking barefoot is not something to do if you may need to go fast and at night, asince you need to pick the spot to place your feet. On interesting effect of tough feet is that you can stand on a hot coal for some time before noticing it, then, since it has been in contact for a quite a while, produces a more serious burn than you get on a tender foot. Although you can go barefoot, there is no toughening effect on the upper surface of the foot, so injuries to tops of toes are common.

In some areas the tussock grasses can produce penetrating injuries (that can become infected) for humans this occurs in the arch and is quite painful. I noticed a burned area that regrew lush grass recently had cows on a few weeks before the kangaroos moved in, as the short tussock grass was very pointy and hard, enough to prevent the entry of permanantly barefoot animals any further than the periphery.

You can do it in pine forests, deciduous forests with litter easy enough, but there are also some things such as hookworm (necator) and schistosomes that can burrow through the sole of your foot, even if they are toughhened. These parasites are common in barefoot communities in NQ and NT. Did I tell you about losing a big toe nail on a rock while moving barefoot on rocks quickly...
 
Last edited:

Hairyman

Ludwig Leichhardt
Archivist
Joined
Sep 13, 2011
Messages
4,032
Reaction score
225
Location
Ironbark, SEQ
Have worn sandals for a while once but repeated injuries from sticks being forced into them made me give them up.
As Dusty M says there is no toughning of the upper foot with toughened bare feet and this is where snakes bite and sticks poke.
There may be some types of walking where tough bare feet would be fine such as beach walking, but for me the
risk of injury spoiling my walking makes wearing boots/shoes automatic.
 

Blake

Nest In the Hills
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
May 2, 2011
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
245
Location
Central West, NSW
Up to 8years ago I use to never wear shoes anywhere except formal or work occassions. I would say i had rock hard feet, That changed after having a hooked thorn from a boganvillia lodged in my arch of foot.
it occured late arvo I tried and partner tried to remove and pain was huge so I left in and decided to have go in morning. Did not sleep the poisoning from thorn was terrible and as result just after midnight went to hospital and had it removed by knife the foot was in shocking state and unable to work for a week as job require boots a walking.
This was when I learnt my feet were so valuable to me at all times some sought of footwear is essential no matter how they felt. I have taken the stance there today is absoulutely no reason what so ever not to wear footwear anywhere if walking , running, driving or what ever reason other bathing and sleeping.
I wish you luck in fund raising idea but the idea of no footwear has no appeal to me any longer.
wow, Ouch, mate. Sounded like that changed your mind quick smart. I'm rethinking my barefoot around camp routine now :_o:

 

chutes

Mors Kochanski
Joined
Sep 7, 2011
Messages
350
Reaction score
28
Location
NSW
Three reasons why I don't walk barefoot...





All could be avoided by alertness, route selection and proper foot placement, but if you're out walking and get any sort of foot injury, it's a negative - minor injury will slow you down and make life uncomfortable and a less minor injury like auscraft described can screw you up for a period of weeks. I'll stick with boots, but I'm still liking those Vibram Five Fingers. I wonder how they'd go on goat's head thorns?
 

Walker

John McDouall Stuart
Joined
Jun 13, 2011
Messages
577
Reaction score
5
Location
NSW
Good luck with the charity walk.

My feet are soft - can barely walk on buffalo grass! (Pathetic I know)

Having said that, I wouldn't want to carry a 40lb rucksack through the Oz bush with bare feet after seeing the cuts, scratches and holes left in my footware after trips. (My arms and legs cop a hammering anyway)

Hakea, Lawyer Vine and Lomandra (blade sharp) is bad enough, Bougainvillea is just a complete bastard - best thing for that weed is Roundup.
 

wameron36

Les Stroud
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
74
Reaction score
4
Boots for work, but other than that no shoes. I go bush walking quite regularly, a lot of full day walks or overnighters and never wear them. Though my feet are pretty tough from not wearing shoes as a kid either.
As much as I love it, it can have it's drawbacks. I think the worst was the leaches when doing an overnight hike in the rainforest a few months back. There would be literally 20+ leaches on each foot, between the toes and all over! My feet looked like a mess after that, mainly just bloody, but it has taken a while for all their damage to heal.
As long as I pay that little more attention to what I'm doing, my feet generally stay pretty safe, beside a few odd scratches or cuts.
 

Bartnmax

Richard Proenneke
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Messages
1,139
Reaction score
0
I personally see no advantage to going barefoot, but maybe that's just me.
Yes there's issues such as quietness when hunting, etc but hunting quietly in boots is only a learned skill like everything else.
Given the quality of good boots & education regardign foot care & health these days I would far rather have boots on anyday.
Far too much potential for serious disability with far too few benefits I think.

Bill.
 

Bunyipbait

Lofty Wiseman
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
137
Reaction score
0
Location
Perth, WA
i walk around the suburbs barefoot all the time and do notice that it improves the condition of my feet for when I'm out bush, but after getting stung on my toe by a big scorpion whilst walking around camp at night near Walpole, WA, I have never gone barefoot again. Way to many poisonous things out there! So I say go barefoot in the suburbs but not in the bush.
 

chutes

Mors Kochanski
Joined
Sep 7, 2011
Messages
350
Reaction score
28
Location
NSW
Barefoot hiking is an extension of barefoot running, which is being popularised by die-hard runners bored with... um... running. Fair enough. Shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers range and the Fila Skeletoes range simulate barefoot in the sense that they allow you to use the same muscles, stretch the same tendons, etc. as if you were going barefoot, but without the greater risk of injury. I think they are a good compromise and as soon as I try out the concept I'll report back.
 
Top