Barefoot Bushcraft? Interesting Book

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tomtom

Full Member
Dec 9, 2003
4,282
5
34
Sunny South Devon
i have always thought that bare foot hiking my be good but have always been told that it was dangerous, i go bare foot as often as i can and really disslike shoes and boots even more!! Thanks for the link!! :biggthump
 

Carcajou Garou

On a new journey
Jun 7, 2004
551
5
Canada
Your feet do have to hardened, fron daily barefoot excusion on all sorts of terain as well as knowledge that a barefoot is more likely to slip than a hiking boot's sole, got to keep that in mind as well as parasiticle infestation entry route.
just a thought
 

Wildpacker

Member
Feb 25, 2005
44
0
UK
Walking barefoot is certainly pleasant but I'd personally not recommend it. Maybe if you are just taking a stroll across the fields you might want to risk the infestation/infection risks, but you need to try hopping a mile or the same distance on hands and knees. A great reminder of how useful feet can be. In the good old days before shoes were invented there wasn't so much broken glass about either.
 

bambodoggy

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 10, 2004
3,062
50
45
Surrey
www.stumpandgrind.co.uk
The early pain before your feet toughen up and the possibility of a parasitic infection aside.... the human foot is not mean to walk on solid ground...i.e. tarmac and concrete....soft woods or grass or shall I say "natural ground" is fine as our foot is designed for it but NOT for solid surfaces....you'll mess your feet up walking on them barefoot, there's no support for your arches and they could collapse.....then there's the bruising!

Not my cuppa tea anyway guys...I'd rather make an improvided foot covering...even an old sock stuffed with grass would be better than barefoot.
 

Tvividr

Forager
Jan 13, 2004
232
0
Norway
www.gjknives.com
As a kid I used to go barefoot a lot in the bush. Some of my mates were african herdboys, and they certainly did not use anything on their feet when running about in the bush (as a kid and some of them as adults). As I grew older I started to use and wear lightweight tackies and veldskoen without socks, and when in Africa these days I always change to something like that.
Here in the cold north I prefer light trekking shoes in summer, and in winter some good sturdy leather boots.

During the mfecane (litteraly "the crushing" - the expansion of the Zulu empire) when the Zulu King Shaka came into power he changed the Zulu way of fighting, and his impi's (fighting regiments) became the most feared and effective warmachine on the African continent. Apart from tactics he also changed their main weapon from long throwing spears to the short stabbing spear with a long broad blade, and in addition ordered the warriors to throw away their leather sandals to be able to move swiftly and silently when attacking.
To harden their feet the regiments were ordered to stand in the cattle kraal (enclosure) and stomping thorned acacia brances deep down into the soil (or actually dung / soil mixture). Those who couldn't do this and collapsed were executed :shock:
 

greg2935

Nomad
Oct 27, 2004
257
0
51
Exeter
I do not think it is very wise to go barefoot in the UK: too cold and damp. Africa is different, it is very dry and warm: therefore less blisters, less fungal infections, less discomfort. I remember an acadcia thorn going right my brothers vellie sole, they really are painful.
 

RovingArcher

Need to contact Admin...
Jun 27, 2004
1,069
1
Monterey Peninsula, Ca., USA
I am definitely an advocate of barefoot walking and hiking. The foot will toughen up in short order and in spite of concerns for infection and parasites, the only time I've gotten any kind of infection, was when I climbed into a public shower and got a foot fungus.

Not to say that I don't recognize the other side of the debate, because what concerns me most about walking barefoot in the bush, was the invention of glass. Seems everybody loves to see glass explode on a rock and there's lots of glass everywhere. Cuts can be serious and even a small cut can become septic very quickly.

All that aside, our primitive ancestors invented foot coverings for a reason and even though I love my bare feet coming in contact with the Earth, I am careful about where and when I walk in bare feet and will take full advantage of soft soled mocs when the terrain allows and heavy boots when needed.
 

KIMBOKO

Nomad
Nov 26, 2003
379
1
Suffolk
I have just returned from a holiday in Lancashire where I was walking 3-4 hours a day. I usually wear sandals but as they are falling apart without the prospect of getting anymore until summer so I took my walking boots. On the first day I found a lot of mud and I subsequently changed to my boots.
Where with sandals/light shoes I would carefully pick my way and gently place my foot. In the course of a week I dramatically changed the way I walked. I placed my feet where they wanted to go or perhaps where the weight of the boot dictated they should go. I had a great feeling of power that my boots could go anywhere, my boots could crunch my way along any trails and and up any hill, and I started to care less about the the way I walked and noticed less about the trail I walked. The rhythm of the boot became very important and not the rhythm of the world around. Scary really!

My boots needed a good wash every day. If I had worn sandals and picked my path they would only have needed a wipe.
Incidently the dog who covered far more ground than I had seemed to be self cleaning with only a small amount of mud on the feet but was generally very clean. I think I must try barefoot!.
 

KIMBOKO

Nomad
Nov 26, 2003
379
1
Suffolk
THe mud between toes I like. Its the smelly dog mud that I don't like. (The U.K. is overcrowded with humans and animals).
 

Moine

Forager
I spent most of my life barefeet. Then I moved to France and got an office job, and started wearing shoes. This is where I got a fungus infection...

The mountain people around here have told me to wear big shoes. I thought "they're locals, I'll listen to them". Now my back hurts, my knees hurt, and my feet are soft.

Hard soled shoes should be forbidden.

Cheers,

David
 
H

Hugo Van Schandevijl

Guest
I was trained as a physiotherapist and an orthopedic shoemaker, and I worked for years in Afrika, where lots of people can't afford shoes. I made a startling observation: a lot of de foot-deformities common in Europe, are virtually unknown over there, with the notable exeption of purely hereditary ones like club foot. But collapsed arches, spread foot, hammer toes, hallux valgus, stink feet and so on were simply not there.
Exept among the wealthy .... who wear shoes. I am convinced that badly chosen footgear is much, MUCH worse than none at all. The main argument against bare feet is infestation by certain parasites (sand fleas,bilharzia,...) but these do not exist in Europe!
And it is simply a delight to walk bare foot.
I recommend it to everybody.
 

Wildpacker

Member
Feb 25, 2005
44
0
UK
Walking barefoot in wet or waterlogged areas carries the significant risk of Weils disease, but granted it's not common.
 
B

Bob Hurley

Guest
Most of the time I either go barefoot or wear Woodlands Indian style mocassins (one layer of deerskin). I'm more surefooted, quieter, and feel more a part of the woods that way. I take special care in areas where a lot of small pines have died and where there's river cane, as you can get a good stab from the broken stubs of either. Strangely, they seem to get me in the ankle instead of the foot, I guess it's because I walk toe-heel with my weight back so I rarely put my weight on anything sharp. I really dislike any shoe or boot with a heel or nonflexible soles in the woods, I'm clumsy and my back hurts when I do.

The comments on broken glass and other dangerous trash apply here in the USA, too. There are a few places that I have to use regular trails to get to the "wilder" woods, and I take more substantial footwear for that. I often hang them up in a tree a short distance after leaving the trail, and retrieve them on the way back out. People don't tend to steal things like that, as they never know if someone is watching them through a rifle scope. :wink: