Barefoot shoes are shoes that provide very minimal padding between the foot and the walked surface. This post describes my experiences using them.
Why do I want to try?
One day, while hiking near La Pedriza, I and a group of friends wanted to cross a stream. There were a few stones that others hopped over and got to the other end. I was stuck. My shoes were slipping on these rocks and I did not want to be drenched. So, I took off my shoes and achieved the task barefoot. I felt nice. There were new sensations in my feet I never knew existed. I continued to hike without the shoes. Then someone saw me and said, I should not walk like this as there is glass from beer bottles that can hurt my feet. He further suggested, that if I want to, I should invest in a pair of barefoot shoes.
What did I do?
I spent a few hours looking for good hiking shoes online which has a very thin 'Vibram' sole. The new ones were expensive, so I went to this popular used clothes store and found a decent pair of Merrell for €20. I aimed to experiment with how these shoes perform for regular walking, hiking, and running.
I was quite surprised to feel so much under my foot. I discovered new kinds of mobility in my forefoot. I could notice how the surface changes under my feet. The patterns on the streets, the paint of crossing on the streets, tiny pebbles on the path, the difference between the road, the footpath, and the grass. It was like having a camera on my feet.
Over time, I realized that the city is not ideal for walking in these shoes. The cities are more for wheels than for feet. On longer walks (>7km), I had some pain in my heel and ankle. I continued to use them nevertheless, developed more pain, and eventually stopped using them on hard surfaces altogether.
Running in these shoes is not ideal. I tried to run 5km in them and ended up getting injured in the knee. In hindsight, I think, I must have trained by transitioning from heel running to forefoot running and strengthened the set of muscles that help in barefoot running. Barefoot running seems healthier but needs a few months of transition. I do not use these shows for running at all.
These shoes are great for hiking medium-length distances (<15km). You feel so much under your feet and the grip is excellent as your entire foot adapts to the surface. I use them entirely for this purpose.
The shoes seem cool. I have had several people notice them and ask if they are any good. These shoes have helped me practice more Spanish than going to language exchanges. 😁
Do I recommend them?
For purposes mentioned above —Yes. I do not recommend them for walking in the city as the impact of concrete is too much for me.
Cheers! Let me know if anyone needs more info.