Transition in to Barefoot HikingHiking without shoes on is not the kind of thing that you want to jump in to. Try going for a walk barefoot and you'll quickly see what I mean. The skin on the bottom of our feet is capable of becoming extremely tough and resilient, to the point where you can walk on just about anything barefoot without any discomfort. But it takes time to get there. Keep in mind too that when you're hiking barefoot you'll have that extra weight from the backpack to contend with. It's in a situation like this where lightweight backpacking really pays off, because if you're barefoot hiking the soles of your feet will thank you for leaving those extra twenty or thirty pounds at home.
- First, try reducing the amount of material between you and the ground. Inov8 shoes are well known for having less padding than the average backpacking shoes and would be a good first step. A second step might be Vibram Five Fingers, which are less intimidating than they look and will allow you to interact with the ground without actually having to get your feet dirty.
- After you're comfortable with a more minimalist shoe it's time to take the shoes off entirely and start really breaking your feet in. Above all this process takes time, and patience is required because calluses aren't made overnight. Transitioning to barefoot hiking will be a process. Start out on grass and smooth surfaces like concrete and gradually work your way up to full on trail. Before you know it you'll be barefoot hiking without any problems.