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Barefoot Hiking

The jury is in. For the longest time I debated the merit of the barefoot movement and this week I finally bought a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves and put some miles on them. I started slow to break myself in. I definitely gave myself enough time to get used to them. After about 80 miles on the AT with a 30 pound pack, I was done. The definitive moment came when I was happily hiking down the trail and was passed by a fat middle-aged day hiker....experiment terminated....I can hike in them, they're just too slow.


  • Strengthen feet and ankles
  • Dry quickly
  • Stability and traction
  • Good for playful frolicking in the woods


  • Slow
  • Difficult over medium (golf ball to baseball sized) rocks
  • Tired and sore feet
  • Bad for moving fast over rough terrain


The barefoot thing is great for training your legs and feet. It gets them super-strong. However, they aren't made for long mile days. You just can't plow down the trail with reckless speed. So, I went to the outfitter and got a familiar pair of low-cut hiking shoes. I felt like this:

George of the Jungle gets a pair of Nike Airs

Sorry barefoot hippies, shoes make George go fast in jungle...oooohhhh.

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