Introduction: Barefoot Incognito: Hyper-minimalist Shoe Conversion

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Hack

The dremel

Step 4: Pry

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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

Picture of Cut Out

Step 6: Pedspionage

Picture of 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!


stringstretcher (author)2012-03-25

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!

blorgggg (author)stringstretcher2012-03-28

cool! this is terrific!

fishsoulhsv (author)2012-03-28

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.

blorgggg (author)fishsoulhsv2012-03-28


groundupart (author)2012-03-23

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!!

blorgggg (author)groundupart2012-03-24

Terrific! Glad that it can help!

jessyratfink (author)2012-03-23

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

blorgggg (author)jessyratfink2012-03-23

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

NightFire (author)2012-03-25

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.

KathyN13 (author)NightFire2015-10-07

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.

Codi-BluS (author)KathyN132016-09-28

That's awesome information

WiringHarness (author)NightFire2012-03-25

Many, many people say that converting to barefootedness has cured their flat feet..

pcgirl (author)WiringHarness2012-03-26

Not a cure - just lets the feet fall naturally. Personally, I go barefoot when ever I can - and the current trend of "ballet flats" is sooooo liberating for people like me. :) I love this instructable - though I think it would be a giveaway when you walk. People can see the underside of the shoe...

AaronH62 (author)2016-01-24

From the comments here i can tell most of you have never spent much time in the world barefoot. I spend a lot of time barefoot and truly most of the "safety" concerns people have are bogus. I've done everything from trial running to wood splitting barefoot and never had more than minor injurys from it. Broken glass is not the issue people make it out to be, you can walk on broken glass barefoot, especially on soft surfaces. What needs to be understood is your feet do toughen up as you spend more time barefoot. You also develope better awareness of what you are stepping on.

ariel.meade2 (author)2015-12-03

ive thought of this before but wasnt sure if it would work, super glad there's a barefoot community

archer1266 (author)2015-01-15

Omg what a great invention NOT

archer1266 (author)2015-01-03

I can't stop laughing at how stupid this is.

archer1266 (author)2015-01-03

I can't stop laughing at how stupid this is.

fstedie (author)2012-03-25

We live in the 21st century and we are not living out on the farm. Shoes are a necessity of modern life, not a luxury.

I'm guessing that if he were to step on broken glass in the store and cut himself he would not hesitate to sue...

...except that it's not that easy to cut yourself on glass on the ground. It lays down flat, it doesn't stand up.

Also, the vast majority of barefoot lovers actually watch where they are walking (gasp! such a new concept!), and are less likely to sue a store due to injuries because a) walking barefoot causes less injuries than wearing ANY kind of shoe - soles can get slippery on wet floors, flip-flops and crocs flop all over the place, get stuck, fold over... I've hurt myself FAR less often walking barefoot.

And another thing... shoes are NOT a necessity, and you don't need to be "on the farm" to go barefoot. I don't know anyone who NEEDS shoes. Do you wear them in the shower? Are you completely unable to walk without shoes? If so, that's probably a personal problem caused by years of wearing shoes!

Check out this link - very good article about why shoes are NOT a necessity, and are, in fact, destructive:

Yeah, you try to go to a construction site, hot sidewalk in AZ or play any sort of sport without shoes. But, there are always crazy hippies out there...

InTheory (author)fstedie2013-09-04

Yeah, when I walk for long periods of time in the city I have to take my shoes off otherwise my feet hurt. I usually keep a pair of flip flops when I have to cross grass, glass or questionable surfaces. After you spend enough time out of shoes caluses will make a anti-thorn, rock, glass barrier. Like they said you become mindful of where you step.

photis22 (author)fstedie2012-04-04

Shoes make sense in dirty or hazardous environments, but it is far more natural to walk barefoot, far cleaner too, you'd be surprised the sort of bacteria shoes will pick up. while a barefooted person is more mindful of dangerous and less appealing things on the ground, and more likely to wash off their feet should they step in something, absent minded shoe wearing folk often track things in when they least expect it.

In fact it could be argued the farm and a short list of other modern day working environments are the only places hazardous enough to merit shoes, except perhaps these stores of which you speak in which broken glass runs rampant.

liquidhandwash (author)2012-10-19

when I Lived in NZ people were much more accepting of bare feet than here in Australia. It seems here all anyone in the "pc brigade" has to do to get to get their own way is bang on about "health and safety" and " policy".
Sometimes I will challenge them, asking for the Data and studies the used to come up with this "health and safety policy" which of course there is none, But most PC Nazis are completely unreasonable, so its a waste of breath.
I love going bare foot, the shoes are a neat idea, Has anyone caught you yet?

kenbob (author)2012-10-19

so brilliant, so simple. I must do this:)

Dusk Shadows (author)2012-04-11

i am not complaining i HATE shoes but doesn't just waste money if you bye shoes when your just going to put a huge hole in them?

again i am not complaining

kretzlord (author)Dusk Shadows2012-08-17

try the local second hand store (goodwill in the midwest), especially if you don't feel like spending a bunch

Dusk Shadows (author)kretzlord2012-08-18

Ok thanks

blorgggg (author)2012-03-28

Of all the comments, i figured that I would have one questioning the value of being a "closeted" barefoot person. I thought someone would balk a the idea of not being an out and proud barefooter to let the world know.

fishsoulhsv (author)blorgggg2012-03-28

Incognito is the only way to go. In our culture, going around barefoot in the workplace compromises your credibility, or at least becomes a distraction, because it's just plain weird to them. And I agree that exposed men's feet don't belong in the professional workplace.

It's funny that I almost feel like it'd be fine for *me* to be barefoot, but it would be totally wonky for my boss or co-workers to be barefoot. Therefore, I must be wrong about feeling like it'd be fine for me.

Mtalus (author)2012-03-27

A thing of beauty. Reverse flip flops. I'm thinking that I'll add a toe loop to mine to help hold them down to my foot; they ride up when I run.

ilpug (author)2012-03-27

I don't like running around barefoot, but I love the idea!

lperkins (author)2012-03-26

I would highly recommend carrying around a pair of moccasins or something that you can roll up and stick in a pocket. One car wreck or other accident that scatters broken glass across your path could otherwise ruin your whole day. Good foot protection is one of the most important things to have if bad things happen near you.

Equator (author)2012-03-26

Why do people even comment if they're against this/the idea, in their own world. THIS IS WONDERFUL MAN! thanks so much, now time to find those old shoes... hmm. next step is feetless boots haha!

criggie (author)2012-03-25

Boots, with steel or composite toe cap.

I'm on my third pair in 15 years, and they've saved one ankle from a rollover, both feet from damage due to falling from a ladder, and one mis-applied axe swing.

Also I was wearing them on the day of our big earthquake, so I was prepared.

Barefoot is good for showers and sleeping, but that's it. To each their own.

mrwild8 (author)criggie2012-03-26

This depends on where you work and/play.

I agree, in a Manufacturing Plant somewhere you HAVE to have your steel toe's on and they will save you - I wouldn't even think of anything else!

But in an office situation, or just out and about, why not go for this! As long as you aren't putting yourself out there for injury, and are safety conscious, then to each his/her own...

In my last Job I could have done this all the time. Current job? Not at all...

peacefulshades (author)2012-03-25

Oh I totally love this! I go barefoot everywhere.... yea for this idea!

jackjackboom (author)2012-03-25

What about when someone is behind you
wouldn't they see your the true identity of your covert spy shoes.
Great Ible!!

blorgggg (author)jackjackboom2012-03-25

No, they stay pretty covert from any direction. The only time you have to worry about your secret being revealed is if you lift the bottom of your foot above a 90 degree angle to the ground. Also most of the barefoot detection is done via peripheral vision and most people really aren't paying enough attention to really spot your bare bottom feet even if you lift them way high. thanks!

mrjoeyman (author)2012-03-25

What keeps them from riding up your leg?

blorgggg (author)mrjoeyman2012-03-25

The bottoms are a little bit contoured in, and tend to grip the edges of your foot. another Idea is to glue a tiny, thin strap of fabric across the bottom to make them stay if you have problems with them riding up.

polymythic (author)2012-03-25

Sweetness. No joke, a couple of my co-workers tried going barefoot around the office. It was a bit of an elephant in the room where other co-workers may have been "uncomfortable" but didn't say anything. Eventually, HR had to make a comment citing some safety concerns. Whatever the rationale, shoes were reinstated.

Now, you've crafted a devious way to go stealth. You'll be creating soul-less workers in no time... er.. sole-less... Yeah, that's what I meant..

Mitsuskitzo (author)2012-03-25

Or instead of ruining a perfectly good pair of shoes just buy you a pair of Vibrams. for the amount of money you would have wasted ruining your shoes you can buy a pair. Seriously the best pair of shoes I have ever owned. You can do anything in them. Walk, run, swim, go the the store, and go hiking. When they get dirty throw them in the washing machine and air dry and they are good as new.

jsilverman1 (author)2012-03-25

This is the worst idea I've ever seen.

and7barton (author)2012-03-25

Another clever ploy would be to paint your bare feet with body paint.
Paint them to look like a nondescript pair of dark trainers. The vast majority of people wouldn't glance twice at them.

Noadi (author)2012-03-23

I love going barefoot but if you go onto private property (like a grocery store) deliberately breaking the rules they have set that seems very disrespectful. Many of those rules are for genuine health and safety reasons such as preventing cut feet or falls. Why not just keep a pair of flip flops or slip on shoes with you for going into buildings that require shoes?

mgalyean (author)Noadi2012-03-25

I agree. Also, when one gets older and starts to lose the fat on the bottom of one's feet going barefoot is a much more painful activity. The foot is full of joints and all that high impacts over a lifetime also adds up and you feel it when the bursitis and arthritis kicks in later. For 150 to 200lb creatures who walk on two legs, on concrete and such, for 80 to 100 years, shoes are a darn good idea and there is a reason people in every culture on the planet, when given the option, really like to own a pair of shoes.

That said, barefoot on soft surfaces, like grass, or in a muddy farm pond, is something that should never be given up. Ever. :^) One should at least go barefoot enough to maintain a good callous thickness as this can help prevent punctures and injury.

Lastly, I like shoes mostly because in an emergency, I want to have shoes on. Whether it be dealing with a mugger, or running from a mugger, or escaping a fire, or helping someone out of fire, or whatever. I can always kick the shoes off quickly if that is advantageous (like helping a drowning person), but climbing a chain link fence barefoot to save a child from a pit-bull or prevent a mugging would be a very negative experience. I know the preceding reads comical, but life is full of surprises, not all pleasant. And some, while very rare, have extremely pivotal effects on our lives when they do occur. And as the Boy Scouts say, I think being prepared is a real good idea.

MissouriVillian (author)Noadi2012-03-24

They don't seem to mind barefooted or shirtless people around here in the summer. Of course that's when everyone hits the river and they'd lose a ton of money by NOT letting them in.

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Bio: I want computers to be wilder.
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