Hiking in Minimal Footwear

Hiking is a great way to get in touch with nature, breathe in some fresh air and get a fun workout along the way. In addition to strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, hiking also provides a cardiovascular workout. It’s a great alternative to biking, running or other forms of cardio, and unlike the treadmill, where every minute can seem like an eternity, it’s easy to get caught up in the enjoyment of the hike and lose track of time.

During my recent visit to LA, I got to hike through Topenga State Park with my friend Mike Lieberman. We hiked around for hours and despite the drizzle and overcast skies, had a great time and enjoyed some beautiful views.

Less is More
I wore my Invisible Shoes on the hike and found them to be ideal for traversing the uneven footing. In general, “athletic” sneakers seem to weigh me down, making me feel clumsy rather than enhancing my performance. Since acclimating to the barefoot running technique, wearing anything more than a vans slip-on tends to feel cumbersome. Mike kept his footwear minimal as well by sporting his Vibram Five Fingers.

Hiking generally means more pounding on your feet than running or jogging on even terrain, so don’t start minimalist or barefoot hiking before getting comfortable with minimalist footwear in other contexts. Additionally, there are a lot of small, sharp rocks and other things to potentially cut your feet on during a hike, so I don’t suggest full-on barefoot hiking to anyone who isn’t a seasoned barefoot runner. Even with my Invisible Shoes, after three hours on the trails at Topanga, the soles of my feet were achy.

Take a Hike!
While hiking might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles, there are a lot of places out there to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while having a moment with nature. Even at home in NYC, I recently got in a hike at the Mohonk Preserve with the rest of the team from Nimble Fitness.

No matter where you live, it’s worth your while to find a place where you can go for a recreational hike. It’s a great way to get fit, have fun and expand your horizons. Oh, and feel free to wear whatever footwear you prefer.



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7 thoughts on “Hiking in Minimal Footwear

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  • By Nelly -

    Years and years ago, I went on a long camping/hiking trip with my dojo and bought super special women’s vegan hiking boots. I broke them in pretty well beforehand, but they were still so built-up and boxy (and thus pain-inducing) that I ended up having to take them off mid-way and hike the rest of the way in socks. The rest of the group hailed me as a bad-ass for that (which still kinda makes me grin now), but now I realise that I shoulda just ditched the foot-prisons right off the bat! You win some, you learn some…

    I’m lucky enough to live literally right down the road from the Eno River State Park now, which is just miles and miles of gorgeous riverside trails. If you ever hit NC (the cooler Carolina) you should check it out!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for sharing, Nelly – you are a badass! I’ll let you know if I ever make it over to NC.

  • By Ajcurly -

    I love hiking and you are correct, it’s a great workout! We have plenty of nice hiking trails in southern Ohio which I visit regularly in the summer. My favorite hike though was a 5 day, 100 mile hike on the appalachain trail in virginia. I still want to through hike the entire trail one day.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      100 miles in one day is a lofty pursuit, but it can be done. I hope you do it someday!

      • By Ajcurly -

        No, you misread that. I hiked 20 miles a day…doing 100 miles in 5 days. lol I don’t think I could get 100 miles in a day because we hiked at a decent pace and we hiked about 8 hours a day! At the end of the week I had lost 10 pounds and my legs felt like I had done 1000 pound squats for a month.

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Gotcha. Sounds like a helluva week!

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