A few questions and answers about barefoot hiking
- Why would anyone want to hike without wearing any shoes or boots?
Lots of reasons. Because it’s a good way to exercise the over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in each foot and ankle that otherwise would lie partially dormant in a hot, constrictive hiking boot or shoe. Because it gives the feet a chance to get fresh air and sunlight, both of which are needed to be healthy and free of infections. Because it provides a way to actually feel the earth on which we live and which sustains us. Because direct contact with the ground is the most respectful to the land on which we are walking, compared to the erosive environmental impact of slogging along in heavy boots or shoes. But mainly because barefoot hiking is FUN and feels great!
- Are children welcome on the barefoot hikes?
Of course. We are family oriented and welcome people of all ages — singles, families, experienced hikers and novices.
- What should I bring with me when barefoot hiking?
A couple of essentials would include a hiking/walking stick and water to drink. Other items might depend on how long the hike is and other factors; but remember, a hike is not much fun if you’re burdened down with a lot of equipment. You may want to bring food or a snack, sun block, bug spray, a light rain poncho, a camera, and a small first aid kit. And, you need something to carry these items in, such as a small backpack. You should have nothing in your hands except the hiking/walking stick.
- Is it OK to bring shoes with me in case my feet get too sore?
Yes. But we recommend something very minimal and that are easy to carry and slip on and off, such as flip-flops, not regular shoes and certainly not heavy boots. And we ask that everyone at least start the hike barefoot. Hiking barefoot is supposed to be fun, not painful. So if you’re new to this, “backup footwear” carried with you is probably a good idea.
- What if I stub my toe?
This seems to be one of the biggest concerns that shoe-wearers have when contemplating going barefoot outside for the first time. But for people who go barefoot regularly — or who follow the barefoot walking tips in our Tips section — it almost never happens. The reasons are, you learn to walk differently when barefoot and you are much more aware of where you are stepping when barefoot.
- What if I step on some broken glass somewhere while hiking?
First, on the hiking trails and other places we’ll be hiking, there’s very little chance of any broken glass lying around. So you’re not likely to be stepping on anything like that. But even if you accidentally stepped barefoot on broken glass, unless it’s a sharp shard sticking straight up, like a broken bottle bottom — which you’d probably see anyway and be able to avoid — pieces of broken glass lying around on the ground or in the street have very little chance of actually cutting your bare foot as long as you don’t shuffle or slide your feet as you walk.
Aren’t ticks much more likely to get on you if you’re barefoot?
Actually, being barefoot makes you less likely to have problems with ticks. The reason is that any ticks that may be around when hiking in the woods tend to hide in higher branches of bushes and trees and will drop down on a warm body as you walk by or brush against the branches. The most likely place a tick will land is on your arm or shoulder or in your hair. Bare feet, or even bare legs, are not likely targets of ticks, but even if one were to land there, it would be very easy to notice and brush off, much more so than if you were wearing shoes and socks. People are quite often advised to wear long pants and boots and tuck the pant legs into the socks so that no skin is visible for the ticks. Not good advice, in our opinion, since ticks, if they get there, would be difficult to notice, and they would quickly crawl under all that clothing and nest in the moist (from sweat) skin.
We are not saying, of course, that bare feet or legs are immune to all insect bites. It’s just a fact of life, bugs are out there. A good bug spray may be the best prevention, such as Off! Skintastic insect repellent, which can be sprayed directly on the skin.
I’ve heard that you can catch all kinds of stuff like hookworms if walking barefoot on the ground; is that true?
Not really. The fact is that there a much greater chance of catching or spreading some kind of infection or disease through bare hands than bare feet. Yet there seems to be little or no concern that hands need to be covered and protected. It’s really all a matter of perspective. Bare feet were designed to walk on the ground, and anyone with a normal immune system should have no concern about “catching” anything.
As to hookworms, if you live in the United States or any other developed country that has a modern sewage system, your chances of getting a hookworm infection from walking barefoot are practically zero. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), hookworm infection can be prevented by “not walk[ing] barefoot in areas where hookworm is common and where there may be fecal contamination of the soil...Fecal contamination occurs when people defecate outdoors or use human feces as fertilizer.” Not only that, EVEN IF you encountered some area that had been used by some person or persons as their outdoor toilet, unless they themselves had been infected with hookworms, and unless they had left the infected feces there less than 3 or 4 weeks ago, there is no way you could get infected.
- If I’m hiking barefoot, won’t other hikers who see me think I’m nuts?
In our experience, other hikers you meet on trails are very friendly and tolerant. Let’s face it, barefoot hiking is kind of unusual. But other hikers’ reactions will likely range from friendly surprise to admiration. We have never encountered a negative reaction from a fellow hiker.
- I have a question not covered above; how can I get the answer?
Just contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer any other question and get back to you as soon as possible.