Barefoot Incognito: Hyper-minimalist Shoe Conversion





Introduction: Barefoot Incognito: Hyper-minimalist Shoe Conversion

Fake overshoes!

Lots of people like running around barefoot and claim all sorts of benefits. My favorite part of running around without shoes is just getting to feel all the different surfaces, textures and temperatures that you would otherwise ignore in regular shoe-wearing life.

The problem with going around barefoot though is other people. First you have to deal with clerks banning you from grocery stores, malls, and funeral homes just because you think regular feet are cool. Then there is the problem with others who are either neutral or supportive of your barefootedness, but want to do stop and chats all the time. 
You don't have time for getting kicked out of places or chatting with every single person, so what do you do?

Turn your feet into covert spies!

The project basically consists of just cutting the very bottoms of your shoes off, but the entire process was a bit more physically demanding and interesting than I had thought it would be.

Step 1: Materials

  • Pair of shoes (might be good to test out doing this first with an old pair, but it would be great to do this with dress shoes - and probably easier!)
  • Dremel Device
  • Dremel cutting blade (I use the thinnest metal cutting blade, others might be better for cutting rubber and foam but this worked for me)
  • Dremel routing bit (i used the standard one that came with the dremel tool)
  • Hacksaw
  • Safety Glasses
  • Dust face mask (cutting shoe foam shoots lots of tiny particles

Step 2: Circumsize

Doing this will really teach you a lot about all the different sorts of materials combined together in your average tennis shoe.

With the rotary cutting blade of your dremel cut a slice all the way around the base of your shoe. Crank your dremel up to max speed and attack the foam slowly and steadily. You may need to give your dremel a break about half way around the shoe because it can really heat up! Cut as deep as you can, but realize that the dremel isn't going to cut deep enough to get that shoe off for you.

The rubber parts of the shoe (the very bottom of the soul) are really hard and smelly to cut through. You might want to save this for the hacksaw! Note that there will be a film of foam dust covering EVERYTHING.

Step 3: Hack

The dremel

Step 4: Pry

At this point you will have your very own "minimalist shoes," but if you want to go ALL THE WAY go to the next step!

Step 5: Cut Out

Step 6: Pedspionage

Now you can slip your shoes on over your feet and have all the fun of running around barefoot without the annoyances! Plus you don't have to worry about getting the tops of your feet sunburnt.

I got a store manager to take a pic of me grocery shopping and told him he even needed to get my shoes in the picture. Nobody could tell!



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Until recently in Galveston, Texas there was a legendary military surplus store run by a colorful old gentleman called Colonel Bub. I remember seeing him on the Tonight Show once with Johnny Carson. Carson asked Colonel Bubbie what were some of his biggest selling items. One was bamboo bird cages (military?) and the other was a container full of tennis shoe uppers! Galveston is a surfer's hangout, and the restaurants all had sings that said "no shirt, no shoes, no service." He supplied them with the solution to their problem, they all wanted to go barefoot, and they bought every one!

cool! this is terrific!

I modified some dress shoes with Vibram soles a few months ago. Socks are a must, so I cut the bottoms off a pair. I figured out a way to keep the sock top on my foot so it won't slide up and show my ankle. Also, the front of the shoes kept flopping up, so I devised a toe loop to keep the shoe pulled down over my foot.

It takes a couple minutes to put the socks/shoes on in the morning, but it continues to be worth it. It's "sensational". Carpet, tile, aggregate sidewalk, stairs.

Only two people at work know about my "magic shoes". The first one noticed because we were in a meeting and I had my feet stuck out in front of me. The second one I told because she's a huge barefooting fan.

I do carry an extra pair of shoes and socks to work in case I'm busted or in case I might find myself in a compromising position. I have yet to change shoes, though.

How realistic are they? When you're walking, from the back it's terribly obvious that you're not playing by the rules. Surprisingly, no one ever seems to notice. Obviously, I also have to be careful about how I cross my legs.


10 point bonus for getting the manager to take the picture!! I have a lymphatic disorder that causes my feet and legs to swell so wearing shoes actually hurts SO bad. I buy my shoes big but when it flares up they swell 1 to 2 sizes larger and stay that way for a few days so this instructable is going to be put to great use!!

Terrific! Glad that it can help!

This is amazing. I would love to do this - I hate wearing shoes!

Yeah shoes are lame! I hate wearing them too! Go for it!

I wish I could go around barefoot, but having flat feet, I have to wear shoes with good support or risk more pain and injury to my knees.

indigenous people that have never worn shoes have wide and "flat" feet. It gives more stability and balance. However, the flat feet from wearing shoes, is caused by atrophying of the muscles in the arch of the foot. Get to reading up on bare footing, and true foot anatomy, you will find good info. Go barefoot for times when your feet will get a workout, like going uphill in a natural area, and see what happens after doing it regularly.