Questions & Answers

A question to all the barefoot veterans out there!

Hello everyone! I'm here to seek some answers! I was just recently introduced to the concept of barefooting not too long ago and found it intensely intriguing. But my question lies with what exactly is possible, and how soon can I achieve that?

I'm on a time frame because of a trip I'm making within the next year and a half. I'm walking 820km (510miles) across some of the most gorgeous, yet brutal land in canada to try and raise Nature and Wildlife Conservation Awareness.

Since I've noticed Barefooting, I've wanted to introduce a new factor to this trek. That being to do the entire trip barefoot!

I am a little skeptical on just how quickly my body will be able to acclimatize to such grueling conditions without much time to prepare.

Is there anyone out there that knows if - considering my time period - it is possible to do this trip barefoot?


Answers and Replies


Hi Alex,

Even though I've never done any trip like that, I'll chime in with my initial thoughts.

My barefoot experiences started in late 2008 as winter approached, and really started off in the Spring of 2009 after all the snow here in New England began to melt. Since then, I've been completely barefoot as often as possible. From some time in December until March/April, I'll be shod, but the rest of the year I'm barefoot almost 24/7. Last spring/summer/fall, I probably wore shoes/socks 2 or 3 times - only for special events.

So, what I'm trying to convey is that my daily life is barefoot. On top of normal daily activities, I regularly run and day hike barefoot, too, but nothing extreme or extended.

All that said, I've noticed a VERY slow progression in my abilities. Even today, at the end of a day hike, my feet are quite tender after a hiking over rough terrain, and that is only with a light day pack. It's not a matter of toughness, just fatigue from all the exertion.

I imagine that you'll be carrying quite a load if you're taking such an extended trip, which will greatly increase the challenge beyond what I've experienced.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but I couldn't foresee myself taking an extended trip like that unless I was willing to pace myself on the VERY conservative side. Even then, I've never worn a pack heavier than 20 lbs while hiking barefoot. Today, I imagine my feet wouldn't be strong enough to manage a 1-2 week trek.

One more thing, I have a friend of a friend who is currently running across the USA barefoot - wants to be the first person to do it. His name is Tellman Knudson. He spent almost a year training to prepare, and it wasn't nearly enough time. He got some bone spurs, and had to take some extended time off to recover. I'm not sure if he got surgery or not, but I would say it's likely.

So, here's what I would do if I were in your shoes...

1) see your barefoot development as a long-term strategy and progress as incrementally as possible - it's the safest route.

2) gradually work up to barefoot hiking with a full day pack, then again with a full trek pack (gradually being the key word - it's too easy to get injured otherwise).

3) don't set your sights too high. Plan on bringing adequate footwear for your expedition, but also be open to doing as much of it barefoot as possible. Don't see it as an absolute goal that must be accomplished barefoot, but rather look at going barefoot for what it is - something to be enjoyed when it can be.

Try to get in touch with a man named Mick Dodge, known online as the Barefoot Sensei. He may be able to offer you some more specific and helpful advice. Look for him at

Best regards,


Thanks! That information is really going to help me a lot :) I was planning on bringing additional footwear just in case I would need it because I do realize that this is something that needs to be regulated before doing a trip such as this.

I will definitely contact Mick and see what he has too add. Thank you for your help! I'll keep you updated as time goes on!


I know Mick a bit, we have communicated in the past on various barefooting/minimalist things. I emailed him and pointed him to your introduction as well as this thread here. Hopefully he will sign-in and answer your questions in the forum as I think there would be a lot of people who would be interested in hearing what he has to say.


I began my barefoot lifestyle this past June so as of today, I'm about 7 months in.....What i've found is my feet have adapted rather quickly.....And I was a guy that at 53 yrs old never went barefoot at all, so I was a major "Tenderfoot"....but not now...just 7 months later my feet have gotten alot tougher and i'm able to walk down the gravel road behind my home without much trouble at all. I don't know how your body will react within your given timeline, but I can say that my feet have changed alot in just a relatively short period of time.....If I were you I'd start living barefoot now, and see how far you can go when the time comes....Good luck by the way.


A year and a half is ample time to fully transition, especially if just walking barefoot. Can you give details of the trip, such as planned daily mileage? The most difficult part will be training for the variables you'll encounter- rough terrain, hot temps, cold temps, wet weather, etc. I run ultras barefoot and in minimalist shoes... the experiences will be very similar.

There are a wealth of great resources out there, including many of the barefoot running communities. I'd start with the Barefoot Runners Society ( and Barefoot Ted's Huarache Google group ( The Runner's World Barefoot Forum can be a good resource, too. Don't miss Ken Bob Saxton's site ( I guess I'll shamelessly plug my own site, too (


Don't discount the extra training that will be required if doing this walking barefoot with a pack. The addition of 20 - 30 lbs on your back will be a significant factor for a journey of this length, even with shoes on. As with John, I have done barefoot hiking wearing a day pack and it is definitely not the same as walking or running without anything on your back.


I do a lot of training runs with 10-15 lbs. of gear, and it definitely does make a difference. I find the biggest issue is posture... there's a tendency to lean slightly at the waist. I think training specificity should take care of this. It would be important to slowly add weight to a pack as part of the transition period.


Actually, i'm looking at 40-60lbs (I have a ton of gear and a lot of camera gear too)

As for posture, i'm not too worried about that, The Pack I have is designed to take nearly the entire load off your back and place it on your hips instead so as to prevent paints from the stress of the load on your back. It works wonders :)

But I'd still have to make sure an additional 40-60 lbs can be withstood by still-tamed feet.

Regulation sounds like it may be the best tactic


850k is quite the hike! Once your feet get used to being bare, going back to shoes is often painful or at least uncomfortable. Natural terrain is the easiest and softest stuff to walk on. I assume most of what you'll be walking is a trial. Get outside, go hiking and your body will get stronger and straightened out.

Do you have any links or other information you can share about this adventure?


For the most part I'd agree with you, but some of the terrain will be over glaciers and a lot of it will be around mountains in BC. the easy stuff is in Alberta, fortunately where we start.

At the moment I don't have a link for anyone to see. Trying to figure out if I can get a site designer/programmer.


It is! I have some great ideas, I'm just not sure how to put it into coding :)

Do you know someone that may be able to lend a hand? yourself perhaps?


Yup! Had a look at it! Fantastic site! If you find anymore then send em my way! The more inspiration the better!


Here's a little of what you might expect Alex:

Alaska Yukon Trek

He didn't do it barefoot, but his feet were wet most of the time, and there's a cool photo of the bottom of his feet, 6th photo from the left.


Quite the prune-age going on there.

Amazing photography as well... How would our lives look if we had a professional photographer capturing the occasional moment as we plod along???

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