But the reality didn’t measure up in the long haul. I don’t know if barefoot hiking is compatible with hiking 10-12 hours a day, month after month. When I get tired, I want to take nice long strides and slap those feet down anywhere and make some miles. I also get clumsy at the end of the day and that doesn’t mix well with bare-feet. It takes a mental adjustment to hike in barefeet that I sometimes found hard to make when I got tired. It was slow and sometimes painful.
I then switched to Vibram Five Fingers. Though they offer some protection, if you step on a rock or a stick with your arch, the pain reverberates through your body. Another thing is your toes are all separated which offers the opportunity for each toe to individually snag on something and get wrenched.
I put them away for good when I caught my little toe, which I think I may have broken a few days earlier, and it caused me so much pain I thought I was going to pass out.
You can hit miles of fist size rocks that would be nothing to hike across in shoes and those sections become tedious and exhausting in Vibram Five Fingers.
While wearing my Vibram Five Fingers and hiking south I met many northbound thru-hikers who had started the hike with them but quickly abandoned them.
The one thing I learned from going barefoot is a gratitude for shoes. If you like hiking day after day for months, taking long carefree strides; I highly recommend shoes or hiking sandals.
My trail tested compo is Chaco Z-1 woman’s size 9 wide and New Balance 817’s mens size 9.5 EEEE with NB IPR3010 Pressure Relief insoles with the metatarsal rise. Switching shoes all day long I can hike 30 mile days. The only problem I have with this set up is the shoes are like ballet slippers when they hit snow and it’s a lot of money to shell out on shoes for every thru-hike. I also don’t like having to carry two pairs of shoes…. but with my feet I know it’s what I need to do.
I was really optimistic about going barefoot and gave it my best shot but it didn’t work.