Barefoot running has collected quite the following of late—but have you considered going on a barefoot hike anytime soon? While barefoot hiking certainly isn’t for everyone, it can be an experience better than hiking with footwear. Nature lovers will adore the feeling of freedom and closeness to the earth. Fitness lovers will benefit from the added agility, reflex and movement.
If you’re on the proverbial fence, here are some things you can consider before taking off those shoes and hopping down to the ground.
More: Why People Run Barefoot
It’s More Eco-Friendly
When you hike with no shoes, you (literally) barely leave a footprint, especially if the ground is soft. Compare a group of hikers in big, sturdy boots or even lighter trail runners. The damage to the trail is far greater in this case than if a group of lightly treading barefooters were traipsing through.
More: Practice Green Running
Better Traction and Cling
Contrary to beliefs that have been around since the inventions of shoes, you’re actually better off barefoot when the trail is slippery, a little muddy or when you’re negotiating uneven terrain like rocks and boulders. Your feet are simply more flexible, clingier and more tactile than your shoes.
More: Barefoot Tips
It May Be Better for Your Joints
Without shoes, you’re naturally producing a gentler gait and movement than you are with cumbersome hiking boots or even trail shoes.
Anyone Can Try It
Because you can choose the pace and difficulty of the hike you want to do, unless you have some serious injury or condition preventing you from hiking at all, there’s no reason you can’t at least give hiking barefoot a try.
It’s a Sensory Experience
Barefoot hiking is truly a way to feel the earth below you. The sensations from every part of the earth’s surface—leaves, rocks, soil—will leave you with a more full and dynamic hiking experience.
More: The Barefoot Running Story