If you enjoy hiking shod, barefoot hiking can add a whole new element. Not only do you get to see the the outdoors, but you’ll get to feel the outdoors, adding new levels of connectivity, appreciation, and relaxation.
Barefoot hiking first became popular through Richard Frazine, with his book The Barefoot Hiker, published in 1993. Since then, barefoot groups and meetups have popped up all over the United States.
Benefits of Barefoot Hiking
- Experience the feel of nature – Elements such as moss, pine needles, stone, logs, leaves, mud, and dirt are a pleasure for the feet.
- Increased range of motion – greater agility for technical terrain.
- No hiking boots – Forget about the blisters and wet socks, and save some money in the process.
- Healthy bacteria – Bacteria such as Mycobacterium vaccae are known to increase happiness and lower levels of anxiety.
Tips for Barefoot Hiking
- Start easy – Like all things barefoot, be sure to start slow and easy. Your muscles will take time to adjust. Choose non technical trails that aren’t too rocky if you’re first starting out.
- Be prepared – Consider carrying footwear and socks in your pack if needed. Trekking poles or a walking stick will help with balance on more technical trails. Consider carrying a first aid kit. Alcohol swabs, tweezers, and superglue will take care of small cuts and splinters.
- Watch your step – Always be aware of where you are stepping and be sure to have good grounding. Always step straight down, and do not drag or shuffle the feet. This will prevent cuts.
- Trim those toenails – Trimmed nails will prevent nails from getting stubbed or cracked. Be sure to leave some extra room around the sides to prevent the nail from growing inward.
- Don’t go alone – Hike with a friend or join a barefoot hiking group.
Organize a Barefoot Hike
If you are an experienced hiker, consider hosting a beginner-level barefoot hike. This is a great way to introduce people to the benefits of going barefoot and to make going barefoot more socially acceptable.
Read tips on how to How to Organize a Barefoot Hike.