Instructables

Barefoot Incognito: Hyper-minimalist shoe conversion

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What?
Fake overshoes!

Why?
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!

How?
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.

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
preshoe 3-19-2012 2-55-39 PM.JPG
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
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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!
blorgggg (author)  stringstretcher2 years ago
cool! this is terrific!
fishsoulhsv2 years ago
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.
photo.JPG
blorgggg (author)  fishsoulhsv2 years ago
Awesome!
groundupart2 years ago
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)  groundupart2 years ago
Terrific! Glad that it can help!
This is amazing. I would love to do this - I hate wearing shoes!
blorgggg (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Yeah shoes are lame! I hate wearing them too! Go for it!
fstedie2 years ago
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: http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/
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 fstedie10 months ago
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.
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.
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?
kenbob1 year ago
so brilliant, so simple. I must do this:)
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
try the local second hand store (goodwill in the midwest), especially if you don't feel like spending a bunch
Ok thanks
blorgggg (author) 2 years ago
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.
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.
Mtalus2 years ago
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.
ilpug2 years ago
I don't like running around barefoot, but I love the idea!
lperkins2 years ago
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.
Equator2 years ago
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!
criggie2 years ago
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 criggie2 years ago
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...
NightFire2 years ago
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.
Many, many people say that converting to barefootedness has cured their flat feet..
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...
Oh I totally love this! I go barefoot everywhere.... yea for this idea!
What about when someone is behind you
wouldn't they see your the true identity of your covert spy shoes.
Great Ible!!
blorgggg (author)  jackjackboom2 years ago
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!
mrjoeyman2 years ago
What keeps them from riding up your leg?
blorgggg (author)  mrjoeyman2 years ago
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.
polymythic2 years ago
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..
Mitsuskitzo2 years ago
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.
jsilverman12 years ago
This is the worst idea I've ever seen.
and7barton2 years ago
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.
Noadi2 years ago
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 Noadi2 years ago
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.
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