Answers to Common Questions About Barefooting

Interested in going barefoot? Here are answers to common questions about barefooting

Last year, I wrote a post explaining why I don’t wear shoes.

Recently, a reader emailed me with a few questions about barefooting. This turned into a fairly long conversation. I thought I’d share it with you, in case you have any similar questions (or, if you’re a barefooter yourself, so you can help me answer some of these questions!)


Q: I’m curious regarding your barefoot lifestyle, how can you handle hot asphalt/other surfaces in the summer while being a barefooter? What about thorns? Broken glass?

A: Hot asphalt can be tricky on really hot and sunny days, but (a) I don’t actually spend that much time in the city or on asphalt, and (b) you develop habits to help you avoid prolonged exposure to the hot black surfaces. For example, I often walk on the curb, the white painted lines, etc. Usually, there’s a sidewalk or some other path to take which isn’t nearly as hot. It’s only difficult when walking across a really big parking lot, which I rarely do. Moreover, your soles get thicker and tougher when you go barefoot a lot, so they become a lot less sensitive to heat and better-protected.

As for broken glass and the like, it’s never been a problem. When you’re barefoot, you generally have a heightened sense of your surroundings — you become more conscious of the surfaces you’re walking on, and you use your eyes more. I find that it just happens naturally, without conscious effort. As a result, I’m generally able to avoid dangerous surfaces quite effortlessly.

And if I do happen to start taking a step onto something sharp, I feel it right away and can take my weight off it instantly.

The thing is, when you’re not wearing shoes, you start to walk differently — more gently, more carefully, with the front (balls) of your feel rather than the heels. Your gait becomes more springy, with less weight on your heels.

And, like I said above, after a while your soles get tougher while remaining flexible, so they’re a lot harder to puncture.

I’m part of Facebook community called the Society for Barefoot Living, where folks share photos and stories, ask questions, and encourage each other in their barefoot pursuits. Someone recently shared a story about helping a family on the side of the road that had been in a car wreck, where there was glass all over  the ground. After spending quite a bit of time in the area, she didn’t get a single injury. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Thanks for your answer. It sounds that you just barefoot everywhere and all the time. Does that include trips, vacations, public transportation, even flights? What is the longest time for not using any kind of shoes?

I don’t barefoot ALL the time — I live in Canada, so it gets pretty cold during the winter months! But I do whenever I can.

I usually go barefoot on trips, though I often take sandals along just in case I need them. Yup, I use public transport and everything. I’ve spent weeks in big cities (Montreal, Toronto) without shoes and have had no problems.

The only time I have run into problems are occasional restaurants and grocery stores that don’t like me being barefoot because they think it’s a health code issue. But most don’t even notice.

barefoot in metro

Waiting for the metro in Montreal.

I assume that your soles are dirty most of the time. Doesn’t it bother you? Do your family and others comment you regarding that?

My feet get kind of dirty, but surprisingly not that bad. Because the soles of your feet are smooth (unlike shoes), they don’t pick up much dirt. I just give them a wipe-down before bed. (Okay, confession: I forget more than half the time. But there is no telltale smudge on my bedsheets as a result, so I don’t stress too much about it.)

Interestingly, my feet are a lot cleaner after a day outdoors  in nature (even after walking through puddles) than a day in the city or a mall. The two worst scenarios are when I go berry-picking or mow the lawn barefoot.

It doesn’t bother me or my husband (who is NOT a barefooter). It might bother other people, but they don’t mention it to me and I don’t really care either way.

soles from walking barefoot

Our soles at the end of a typical day: a walk at the marsh, two walks around the neighbourhood, and a visit to a friend’s outdoor housewarming party.

You said that your feet become more tough and thick. Does that cause you to lose sense to the varied surfaces you walk on?  Gravel? Little stones?

Yes, they get calloused enough that they can easily tolerate rougher surfaces (like gravel), but still sensitive enough that they can detect danger. And they also stay sensitive enough that walking on varying surfaces is highly pleasurable – I love the feel of warm concrete on a cool summer evening, or the transition to a floor of fallen leaves after a long walk on rough gravel.

What about sport (running, biking)? Do you train and if so do you do it barefoot? Any tips?

Sorry, I’m not much of an athlete. I do bike barefoot, and I’ve gone on the occasional (short) jog barefoot.

 biking barefoot

I’ve read that there are lots of benefits to running barefoot — it encourages you to take a healthier, more natural stride, which is gentler on your joints. But I don’t have any personal experience. I would google “barefoot running” to learn more.

What about public toilets?  If you spend much time outdoors and on trips you need to use public toilets. Do you enter those places barefoot?

Yup. I do. That probably grosses a lot of people out, but I believe it to be perfectly safe. Germs can’t enter your body through (intact) skin. We put our bare bums onto toilet seats; why are our feet on the floor any worse? I don’t eat with my feet!

I’m lucky that I’m a woman: most women’s washrooms in North America are fairly clean. I guess I would perhaps be more wary of entering men’s washrooms (more risk of urine on the floor), but a woman’s washroom is unlikely to have anything objectionable on the floors. On top of all that, I also instinctively watch where I step, avoiding any puddles (though if there are any puddles, it’s probably just water).

 I agree. Men’s toilets are really gross. Can you remember what is the longest period of time that you didn’t wear any kind of footwear?  Do you go out at evening barefoot (also hard to see where you step on)?

I can’t say what is the longest period of time I’ve gone without footwear. As a stay-at-home mom, I can go a week at a time without putting on shoes. (I was able to go barefoot at my last job, too, so that wasn’t a problem.) Typically, I don’t wear shoes from April to October, except for the occasional event.

This summer I got a pair of “barefoot sandals” (i.e. sandals without soles), which I’m starting to wear into places where the owners might give me a hard time. (I hate confrontation.) Their only purpose is to fool people into thinking I’m wearing shoes (and also to look cute). But most of the time, nobody even notices my bare feet, or if they do, they don’t usually hassle me about it.

barefoot sandals

I do typically still go out barefoot at night, although you’re right — it’s harder to see where you step, and so it’s riskier. I mostly just do this when walking around my familiar neighbourhood. I DID once step on a slug, though, which has made me more hesitant to do this. :)

Do you have any questions to add? Or if you’re a regular barefooter, what would you add to my answers?

Read more: 14 Reasons I Don’t Wear Shoes

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  1. Going barefoot makes any kind of physical activity more enjoyable, especially if you can find a surface other than concrete or asphalt.

    I’ve found that running barefoot naturally leads to shorter strides and the heel having little to no impact with the ground. The interesting thing is that I was taught this method as the correct way to run by baseball coaches as well as sprinting coaches. So competitive athletes are taught how to run properly, but the majority of the population never is.

    If you’ve ever seen the footwear that sprinters/long distance runners use, you’ll notice that they’re extremely thin with an almost non-existent sole and some small spikes attached to the balls of the feet. It’s like running barefoot with a few spikes attached for extra grip.

  2. I have never barefooted, but the first time I hiked with Vibram 5-finger shoes, I was amazed how nice it was to actually *feel* the trail underfoot, and my footing on large rocks felt much grippier because my feet were flexible, not immobilized by foam rubber.
    Have you read about Earthing? I think that must be a huge benefit of barefooting–you are Earthing almost anytime you are outside, and getting the electrical charge of your body set right, reducing inflammation, improving mood, etc.
    I commend you for being able to get over the psychological thing about public restroom floors. That would be a hard one for me, even though I know it’s mostly in my head.
    Do you ever worry about walking on chemically-treated lawns or ground with lead contamination? I know that we can quickly absorb things through the soles of our feet, but do you know if that is minimized once you have a tougher sole?

    • I have read a bit about earthing, and I find it quite compelling! But I only read about it after I was already going barefoot regularly, so I didn’t need any extra convincing. :) I just figure that’s one more reason to encourage Lydia to do the same. I try to make sure she gets some barefoot time outside every day (as long as weather permits.) And try to get some sunshine/vitamin D at the same time. I like to think that all of these things, along with extended breastfeeding, have helped contribute to Lydia’s excellent health so far. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking. :)

      I do sometimes worry about walking on chemically-treated lawns, but I figure the overall benefit outweighs the risk/harm. Plus, most lawn treatments have recently been outlawed in Ontario, so that helps ease my mind somewhat. I’m not sure whether absorption of contaminants is minimized by tougher soles. Sorry I don’t have better answers!

  3. Hi Kathleen!
    Well, all I can say is that I LOVED to read about your barefoot life, congrats for being a barefoot girl!
    I am male, from Argentina, and I gues that the only person in my city someone can see sometimes walking barefoot is ME! :-( It´s a pity nobody else here seems to dare to barefoot in public.
    Now going to the point, I obiously totally agree with the sensations you say you get from different floor types, and the great it feels.
    But I want to know about other feeling that I get when barefooting in public.: It gives me a feeling of sensuality, sexuality, or whatever it can be called. Seems like a kind of “light” but delicious sensuality that I feel when my feet in contact with the streets and there is people around. Not to say when I (and they) see my dirty soles!!!!
    So my question is:
    Does something like this ever happened to you? Or am I some kind of pervert, a crazy or any other horrible thing?? Please help me understant what it gives! :-S

    Thanks friend, and happy barefooting!

    • HeatFooter says

      I don’t go out of my way to get dirty soles, but I also see them as part of the barefoot experience when walking on paved surfaces such as concrete and even moreso for asphalt. Feet can be washed; however, not all the dirt may be cleaned off–for sufficiently long walks on concrete or especially on hot asphalt, some of the dirt becomes ingrained which means the soles remain blackened even after the surface dirt has been washed away. This ingrained dirt remains for an additional day or two. This is why, with almost daily concrete or asphalt barefooting, the soles often look constantly blackened.

      • I have had a similar experience. I’m a frequent barefooter in public, and my husband is not. When we were dating, it was rare to see him barefoot (though he would often wear vibrams). Seeing his bare feet was the first time I noticed the sensual nature of feet… And since then, I’ve noticed with others as well. It’s probably cultural, because feet are not often seen unshod, but it might be otherwise.

        • Barefoot Adam says

          I agree. I have noticed that on the rare occassions when bare feet are normal, e.g. Swimming pools then this effect of being barefoot in public is diminished. When people are seeing barefeet when it’s not normal practice then there seems to be something daring, fun, rebellious, shameful, intriguing, delightful and sensual about it.

  4. I love going barefoot and try to do it as much as possible when walking around my yard. I have chickens and let them out of their coop first thing in the morning, so right after rolling out of bed when my feet are extra sensitive, the cold wet grass and little pebbles combine to make for the most intense sensation- definitely wakes me up. I do have a question for you about barefooting, do you always work in the garden barefoot? I often go to my garden barefoot when I’m picking vegetables or doing some light weeding, however, I find that for most of my hard gardening work I tend to put on shoes. I feel like I’m more efficient (although maybe efficiency isn’t always best?), since I don’t have to worry about what weird things I’m going to step on (my garden is big and weedy so I often can’t see what I’m about to step on). I also can’t imagine using a shovel without shoes, doesn’t that hurt? Or do you get used to that?

    • Hi Vickie! Your barefoot mornings sound exhilarating! :)

      Yeah, I generally do most gardening barefoot. My mom thinks I’m nuts. I can do some light shoveling barefoot, though if I’m doing serious shoveling, I go put on some shoes. I don’t worry too much about stepping on things.

      • HeatFooter says

        Anything that isn’t so sharp that it would create a huge gash in the toe, or isn’t so sharp that it would cut the sole of the feet, can be done barefoot.

        Mowing the lawn barefoot is genuinely not recommended but nevertheless it can be done when paying attention to how far back the lawn mower is being pulled back–do wear shoes if not comfortable enough to mow barefoot.

        Putting the shovel in the dirt requires some paying attention but it still can be done barefoot–just be sure the point of the shovel is not being lowered on the toes. Also, pushing down on a shovel can be done with the more flexible ball of the foot rather than the middle of the foot–it may feel sharp due to the thinness of the metal, but it also will not cut unless there is a quick sideways motion of the foot while also pushing down on the shovel (but will still leave an obvious indentation mark for a while).

  5. Oh I’m so glad you wrote this post because I’d been meaning to ask you some of the same questions. I remember being barefoot for much of my childhood apart from school, and I still feel much more comfortable without socks or shoes. It’s always felt like a bigger deal to do in the city, combined with the rather unfortunate local bad habit of not clearing up after your dog. But small steps right -we’re walking the four blocks to the park tomorrow to meet friends. Maybe I’ll leave the sandals at home…
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    • I think it’s great to go barefoot whenever/wherever you feel comfortable. Even just kicking off your shoes every once in a while and getting grounded is lovely. A park is an ideal place to enjoy some barefoot time, in my experience!

      • HeatFooter says

        Parks are okay but as long as it is not too cold or too hot, walks around the neighborhood are even better. Walk along the sidewalks, cross the streets as needed, maybe even visit a barefoot tolerant place of business close by before walking home. No need to speed walk, just take a comfortable walking pace and don’t overstride.

  6. I agree with some of the things you’re saying, but I wouldn’t want to go barefoot in Walmart or other stores because I’d end up with really dirty feet. And, couldn’t you get fungus from going barefoot in stores such as Walmart…especially the bathrooms???
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    • timetraveler says

      Why do you think you would get a fungus from the floor of a store? Fungus needs a warm, moist, dark place to grow. Like, uh, inside closed shoes. Yep. If you go barefoot all the time you can’t get it. And there is such a thing as soap and water….LOL. The floors of stores get cleaned all the time. The outdoors does not, beaches do not, and you know, seagulls do not use toilets. There are a whole lot more germs on a beach then on the floor of a store. Yet we are willing to touch that sand with our hands, play in it, and put down porous blankets on it and have picnics. And the sky does not fall.

    • HeatFooter says

      Many stores mop, or at least dust mop, their floors at regular intervals throughout the day. At best, the soles will remain as clean as they were entering the store. At worst, they may get a little bit more dusty, but not really any dirtier. Crossing the parking lot to get to the store will make the feet dirtier than any store floor–much more common on smoother blacktop and especially when it is hot.

  7. I’m so glad you posted on this again, too (just like one of the other commenters) because I’ve been thinking about it. I live in Vancouver, and in a neighborhood where there are occasionally health hazards like used needles lying around. I really do think it’s safer to wear shoes and to put shoes on my daughter in our urban life. BUT, your posts are encouraging me to walk around as much as I can without shoes, be it just in the house or in the back yard, or even (carefully) around the block. Thanks!
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  8. I go without shoes when I can and my youngest child (9) in particular would much rather not have shoes on. Neighbours comment on her ability to walk on gravel or tarmac without flinching :-)

    My brother rarely wore shoes for a good ten years or so and interestingly only ever got challenged on holiday in America by shop and restaurant owners who had ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ type signs. I don’t remember him ever having a problem here in the UK. He did occasionally get offered money by people thinking he was begging though (his whole look was pretty grungy- this was the ’90’s)… He was in a queue at a cash dispenser (ATM) once and the man in front took his cash out and offered my brother a £10 note! He did manage to return it with some dignity and assure him that he was a qualified professional with a job thankyouverymuch!

  9. I say this as a former Rhetoric teacher and debate coach- no harm intended, purely for the sake of playing devil’s advocate. I wear shoes in the summer for the same reason I wear them in the winter- to protect from the weather and chemicals on ground/floor. Hot pavement isn’t my friend. Neither is a freshly mopped floor in a public restroom. I also think shoes are fun…. fun to wear, etc.
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    • HeatFooter says

      Shoes are preferable to bare feet only when the ground is cold enough to make the toes feel numb, or when the ground is sufficiently hot to cause blisters on feet; however, even blistering hot pavement can still be tolerated with gradual heat training, rather than going from nothing to the hottest possible pavement. Otherwise, going barefoot is just fine, bring along minimal flip flops for public restrooms as needed, then take them off and put them away, go barefoot once again.

  10. timetraveler says

    Funny how you call this blog “becoming peculiar”. Had you been around during the 60s and 70s, you would have been rather ordinary. The barefoot girl wandering around town, shopping, and such was such a cliche for a few years. At least in many parts of the US, not sure about Canada. Amazing how something that was once relatively ordinary and associated with summer, freedom, and good times is now considered “peculiar”.

    • HeatFooter says

      In some cases, this is still true today–the barefoot girl (or rather, woman) taking no shoes with them, wandering around town (driving their car, or walking on the sidewalks), shopping in grocery stores, going to coffee shops, or even shopping at outside flea markets. Even during hot summer afternoons–still not taking any shoes along–standing on the edges of the feet and lifting feet while standing at hot pedestrian crossings (sometimes looking for a shade patch), walking across even hotter asphalt stretches like long street crossings or parking lots–walking a bit more quickly (and maybe trying walk on the white crossing line or trying to find more than one shade patch), some have visibly white callouses on the feet from their walking on rough and hot surfaces, and many of them have absolutely blackened soles from any prolonged concrete or asphalt walking throughout their all-barefoot day.

    • HeatFooter says

      Also, if anything, the barefoot girl is also once again still gaining popularity.

      Many music videos have at least some scene or snippet where the artist appears barefoot. Some musical artists play their entire set barefoot. I don’t count teenagers but many college girls still go barefoot–some even to classes but not to the dining areas that insist on wearing shoes.

      Again, though, some hot pavement barefooters do get obviously white callouses on the feet that often show through black asphalt street dirt, and a few even get blisters that reattach and heal into very heat resistant callouses.

      I knew of one who walked on asphalt so much it looked like her feet were coated with street dirt daily. She also had visible white callouses on the toe pads, the balls of the feet, and on the heels. Some of those callouses were from walking on rougher surfaces, while some of the larger callouses actually looked like burned sole blisters that had reattached as a callous instead of going away. Summer temperatures at that college got between 90 degrees F and at most 100 degrees F, and there were not all that many asphalt stretches so any heat callouses they had must have been from hot parking lots or whereever else they were doing their barefooting.

      I also saw another barefooter at a county fair where the air temperature was already 102 degrees F in the mid-afternoon and it got even hotter as the afternoon progressed, so they were barefoot in about 107 degrees F dry summer heat. They were seen walking for a few steps normally, then walking more quickly for several more steps, and then quickly seeking a shade patch to cool off the feet before walking again–and she was audibly heard saying “hot hot hot” as she walked very quickly it looked like she almost ran to the nearest shade patch. At least there were some shade patches they could find, especially since county fair concrete is almost exclusively asphalt. White spots on the soles of the feet indicated hot pavement callouses that were starting to blister, if they didn’t already blister, but it was also apparent that they were going to keep going barefoot towards the nearest exhibit hall until they could cool off their feet at the nearest exhibit hall. Those were some very tough and very blackened soles.

  11. Having grown up in warm Key West, Florida, I also grew up barefoot. I pretty much only wore shoes one day a week, on Sunday, to church. My dad, being the pastor, thought it looked bad for his kids to come to church barefoot, (although he fully supports his kids to run athletically barefoot and wears the vibram shoes himself, since he thinks he’s too old to bother developing callouses ) Up until the last couple years, I had never even thought of going without shoes as any sort of statement or “movement.” I just preferred not wearing shoes. But I generally wear shoes (flip-flops) in stores and to church (though I hold my sandals the whole walk to church and then don them as I enter, some habits are hard to break, I guess.)

    The concept of “barefooting” like it’s some sort of hip or radical thing is kind of fun, though. Now I make an effort to not wear shoes to places I may have previously subconsciously felt the need to wear them. Makes me feel cool and different. :) Barefoot sandals are on my list of “need to make” so I can confidently go to stores and not worry about people confronting me, because I, too, hate confrontation. Plus, they look super pretty.

    Constance is just starting to walk now and I’m kind of excited that she has never worn shoes a day in her life. It won’t last, though, she’s growing up in a very different climate than I did – New Hampshire, where the winters are for real!

  12. When you first got started with barefooting did you have any initial transition period? I’ve read a bit about it and it seems as if the more one wears shoes the weaker one’s feet become over time. Are certain types of shoes good for the middle ground to get ready to go barefoot more often before one is at a point where they can go barefoot most of the time?
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    • Hi John! Yes, I experienced a bit of a transition period while my foot muscles strengthened, but I’ve gone barefoot quite a bit ever since I was little so it wasn’t that dramatic.

      I don’t know of any “middle-ground” shoes to help make the adjustment; I would recommend gradually going longer and longer stretches without shoes (rather than just ditching them immediately and completely). Cheers!

      • HeatFooter says

        I would say that best middle ground shoes are minimal flip flops, not any of the Vibrams or any actual shoes. Generally, they fit in a backpack or waistpack. The transition would be to walk as much as possible until the feet feel too sore from distance walking, too scuffed for rough surfaces, or burning too much for hot surfaces. True, the only remedy for sore feet is to walk longer stretches, there is really no other way, and flip flops will not help with this. The only remedy for scuffed feet is to walk longer distances on rough surfaces, put the flip flops on when the feet feel too scuffed, then take them off again when the feet–especially the front of the balls of the feet behind the toes–lose that scuffed too much feeling. The only remedy for hot surfaces is to walk as much as possible until it genuinely gets too hot to continue, put on the flip flops until the burning or stinging sensation goes away, then take them off again and try walking as long as possible until it genuinely gets too hot to continue once again.

  13. I’ve always gone barefoot around the house/yard (though the amount of dog urine on my grass with two medium to big dogs probably doesn’t bear thinking about); I absolutely cannot stand to have shoes on inside a house. And I tend to kick them off when I’m at various places, too–I would sometimes forget to put them back on and wander over to the office kitchen barefoot, which earned me some weird looks.

    I still like shoes as a bit of a fashion statement out and about, though. ;-) And I do not drive well barefoot–it just feels too weird and not secure, and I just don’t want to mess with that. Also, I remember getting some pretty well burnt running across the street barefoot as a kid–I suspect pavement and blacktop get a bit hotter down south than up in Canada.

    All of that to say, I mix and match it a bit but I do really enjoy barefooting overall and you’ve encouraged me to try it more while out and about!

    • HeatFooter says

      Driving barefoot is an excellent way to have full sensation of the pedals–it doesn’t take much of a transition but in some cases the seat may have to be adjusted one notch forward when compared to the driving with shoes seat position. Feet really don’t sweat on the pedals, even when driving in desert heat. As far as it has been checked, it also isn’t against the law to drive barefoot.

      The burnt soles issue just requires starting earlier in the day and then increasing to full peak afternoon heat. Starting on the sidewalks before transitioning to the asphalt. Pre-heating the feet by standing as long as possible before walking–don’t go from nothing to the hottest pavement. Finally transitioning to all blacktop for as long as possible, if the walk requires a longer stretch of all blacktop. Air temperatures at or above 100 degrees F may still be challenging, in which case it may be necessary to go barefoot earlier in the morning or closer to the evening, rather than the hours of afternoon peak heat.

  14. does Barefooting make the bottoms of your bare feet less ticklish

  15. Hmm your public toilet answer isn’t convincing to me because I never sit on the toilets bare bottomed. I either cover the seat with toilet paper, or squat over the toilet without touching it!
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  16. Toni LaCentra says

    I am not a barefooter but trying – not so well – to be simpler. I find it odd and a bit comedic that I have just read your blog on barfootedness and I just bought 3 prs. of shoes today. They are – mind you – from Goodwill and cost only $21…
    Our church is beginning a 4-5 week series on The Spiritual Disciplines. It would seem that your posts could be some good resource material for the section on Simplicity.
    I look forward to being part of your fb community…how do I do that?

    • Thanks, Toni! There are a few places you can join my FB community in my sidebar, but you can also find it here:

    • HeatFooter says

      I have five pairs of shoes for work, an additional set of steel toed work shoes for when I would move toe crushing items–and I still go barefoot regularly. I do keep flip flops in the car when driving. If I am walking, I carry flip flops in a waistpack. However, I leave the flip flops in the car when I go shopping (except, for now, shopping malls and their department stores), and I do not go out of my way to wear the flip flops when walking (even for public transit)–they absolutely have to demand I put on shoes or leave before I put on the flip flops. I’ll even tolerate cold down to 40 degrees F, and I can tolerate heat up to 100 degrees F so even extremely hot asphalt is doable for shorter distances.

  17. I love this post, and your whole blog in general! I started out life pretty poor, and thus I often went without shoes (unless I could find my size at the thrift store.) I really miss it though, as I do a lot of things from those days. I’ve been fortunate to be pretty successful, and nowadays I can pretty much buy anything I want without worrying about money. That being said, I’m acutely concious of the fact that I’m not more happy because of it, and in a lot of ways all of these possessions are more a burden then anything else. your website is pretty inspiring! I also think you have enormous insight into yourself, which is a gift.

  18. Do you ever get compliments on your bare feet?

    • HeatFooter says

      In my own case, I would say it needs to be determined whether a complement is genuine like a congratulations, or an indication that they wish they could go barefoot as well, vs. someone who is just attracted to bare feet without also having gone barefoot.

  19. barefootbob says

    I am a 24/7 BAREFOOTER as you are, and have been completely Barefoot for well over 25 years, since age 16. I have gone everywhere in my Bare Feet and have never had any issues regarding health, but positive ones. In the photo above, your Bare Feet look great, just like a true Barefooters feet look; Filthy, bottoms, with thick well developed Callouses, and perfectly shaped. With time your Bare feet will also get wider, especially under the are of your Toes. Keep up the Dirt and Callouses!

  20. Just a question. If you’re still in school, how can you go barefoot more often, and if possible, could I convince my principal to allow it?

    • Depends on your school, and whether your parents are willing to talk to administrators about it. My high school was very large and decisions like that were made by people who didn’t care much about individual students’ needs. The school police officers actually wanted to arrest me when I went back to visit my old teachers once after graduating, because it was against school policy to not wear shoes.
      I think it’s unlikely that they’ll allow you to go barefoot, but don’t be afraid to ask. Rudeness and condescension is the worst thing that can happen.

  21. HeatFooter says

    Despite being barefoot–I still walk heel to toe. It just feels more comfortable to me that walking on the balls of the feet first and then the heel. I also do pay close attention to not overstriding.

    Grocery stores are very easy to shop in doing two things: one, get a shopping cart and two, don’t make it obvious by checking the soles of the feet.

    So far, I’ve only had comments about being barefoot, but management hasn’t confronted me yet and outright asked me to leave a store. Although I did have flip flops in the car as needed for stores that might complain about bare feet, I didn’t have to use them. In my area, I have successfully barefoot shopped in an Albertsons, Vons, Stater Bros., Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, and Costco.

    Regarding hot asphalt can be tricky on really hot and sunny days: it just requires some dedicated heat training. Rather that resorting to curbs, while lines, sidewalks, or shade patches–which really provides no significant heat tolerance–I think it is better just to keep doing hot asphalt for longer and longer walks, starting earlier in the day but also increasing to later and later in the afternoon, until eventually heat tolerance is achieved as close as possible for afternoon peak heat. Train for the longest possible asphalt walk–if the goal is to go barefoot at a flea market, don’t stop at training for just a hot parking lot.

    Especially in areas where the heat index reaches at or above 100 degrees, there will still be a very hot burning sensation on the feet, just not an unbearably hot sensation. Just avoid blisters–which means the feet got too hot too fast. In the event of blisters, for me, I just drain the blisters, take a couple of days off barefooting for the blisters to reattach, and then resume barefooting that also greatly increases hot asphalt (although a white calloused patch where the blister reattached will still be visible).

  22. HeatFooter says

    I am barefoot as much as possible, though I avoid using public restrooms in bare feet. If I drive barefoot then flip-flops are left in the car unless they demand I go back and wear shoes. If I am walking and using public transit then flip flops are put in a waistpack and are only worn if they demand wearing shoes.

    I’m not worried about dirty soles because feet can be cleaned. Of course, smooth blacktop type asphalt makes the feet dirtier, in addition to getting hotter.

    In summer, I do try crossing hot parking lots or longer stretches of asphalt in summer afternoon peak heat, as slowly as possible, and avoiding white lines, shade patches, or sidewalks as much as possible. The longest I’ve walked in 90 degrees F weather was 30 minutes at an all-asphalt flea market and it didn’t get too hot until 2:45pm in the afternoon; and, the longest I have walked in 100 degrees F weather was a mile, and it didn’t get too hot until 2:15pm in the afternoon. On occasion, my feet have blistered from too much rough pavement walking due to overstriding, or too much hot pavement walking; however, I also consider this part of the overall accepted barefoot experience in making the feet stronger and tougher.

  23. Hi Kathleen,
    Just want to say thank you for being such a strong advocate for the barefoot lifestyle. I am a 48 year old yogi that also lives a completely barefoot lifestyle. Although I do get some looks for being barefoot in numerous public places, I refuse to wear shoes! Aside from some negative looks, many people have made very positive comments about my feet! Keep them bare and happy bare footing!

  24. Kathleen, so great to read your blog post and hear all the comments and responses too. I’ve been a barefooter for over 3 years now (most of the time) and also trail run barefoot. Often my responses to people about the fears they have about germs and being injured in bare feet, are the same way as yours. I often remind people that the sun has UV rays that help kill bacteria and that way the beaches, parks, sidewalks and paths are kept clean. And of course when it rains, everything is cleaned once again! We worry so much about germs and health and yet our immune system needs to be exposed to build antibodies. Mother Nature will take care of us if we let her. You mentioned that you just bought a pair of sole-less shoes and I couldn’t help but wonder if you got some Barebottom Shoes! I designed them so that I could get into restaurants and stores without being hassled. They look like a shoe but don’t have a sole. I hope you are going to blog about your experience wearing them. I’ve just started making Barebottoms for babies and kids and tested them at the Mariposa Folk Festival a few weeks ago in Orillia, Canada with great success. If you want to try them on your daughter, just let me know and I’ll get you a pair. Happy barefooting!

  25. I live in Texas and it’s a lot more difficult to go barefoot here. It’s very hot in the summer, and there’s more spiny plant life and biting insects. Sand burrs are pretty fun to walk on. I also live near a college with a reputation for being a party school, and there’s one place I walk that always has broken beer bottles. But hey, it makes my skin tough, and I get bragging rights.
    As for the hygiene aspect… It doesn’t rain much in Texas, so the cities are a lot more filthy. I always wash my feet before entering home. Bathrooms vary by who uses them. College restrooms are usually clean. If you do step in urine, it’s not going to harm you. One seemingly obvious thing that nobody talks about is stepping in dog poop, so just watch where you step.
    And yes, restaurant managers do like to discriminate against barefoot customers. Chains are especially bad about this because they can afford to turn away business.

  26. Barefoot Jay says

    Wow! Kathleen, you are so cool! Wish I could find a girlfriend like you who likes to go around barefooted 24/7! Read The Barefoot Book and now reading The Barefoot Hiker. Everything the authors say in these books makes sense about barefooting is much healthier for many reasons. Since Jan 2015, I have been walking a 1 mile gravel path in a city park to help thicken my soles for barefoot walking and hiking and eventually running. Hope more girls/women start barefooting! Yes we guys do notice you if you do and we do think its sexy! God Bless you and yours Kathleen and keep barefooting!1 Barefoot Jay in Texas

  27. Kathleen, I know this is an older article but I felt I had to comment. Living in S. Florida, my family and I are barefoot nearly all the time. The only time my son wears shoes is to church and he complains of the “tightness” on a regular bases. It’s comical. I wear my foot jewelry when I go out pretty much all the time for the exact reason you mentioned in your article. To easy avoid confrontation. You can slip in and out of almost any establishment (haven’t tried Gov. buildings) no problem. Keep walking those white street lines and thanks for posting the article.

  28. I love to barefoot to the store and places. I basically love dirty fett. But my parents wont let me barefoot in
    Public. What should i do?

  29. Some comments on your sensations through the soles of your feet? Maybe your favorite surfaces, if you had to compare those sensations to something, what would that be? Etc. :) By the way, I think it makes you a more beautiful woman to live that way.


  30. Your description of avoiding walking across a big parking lot is an understandable one. The fact that your soles have become resistant to heat and thicker over time is an interesting fact.

  31. Tiras Glasgow says

    I have lupus (SLE) I have rashes and blisters on my feet due to lupus. I have had to go barefoot for the last 2 plus years. Yes this is by doctors orders. (I have a statement from the doctor I keep with me at all times, just in case I am questioned). I have found that now the bottom of my feet are so tough that I can walk on any type surface. Hot asphalt is not an issue. Rocks/gravel, cement, sticks, etc. non of these are an issue now. The bottom of my feet are so ruff and rough that I can feel it hanging on carpet as I walk across it.
    I go to church, stores, restaurants, hospitals, doctors, everywhere I go, and everything I do, I do and go barefoot. Going barefoot now is natural. I go barefoot winter, spring, summer, and fall. I would not wear shoes now even if I could. My wife made me some barefoot sandals so that it is not so obvious that I’m barefoot.
    If I wear shoes the skin on top of my feet is so thin and tender from lupus rashes that it will rub raw places and I will start bleeding in just a few minutes.
    For me barefoot is the only way of life!

  32. I am totally barefoot, never wear shoes and only in some resturants i will use xero flops.
    I walways tell people barefoot is the healthiest way to go.
    Look at gymnasts, will be impossible to do what they do with any form of shoe
    Martial artists never wear shoes

  33. I have been doing barefooted BMX Biking, Skateboarding,Hiking, Soccer & Volleyball along with Gardening, Housecleaning,etc. since I was a little boy. Is just more fun/comfy. Worked with Asian refugee children for yrs. & all of us ran around Barefoot, it is natural.


  1. […] a very comprehensive Q&A section:  The Barefoot FAQ Kathleen Quiring from Becoming Peculiar: Answers to Common Questions About Barefooting Heidi Fiscus from Barefoot and Paleo:  5 Common Myths About Going Barefoot in […]

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