I’ve been an advocate of minimalist footwear for a few years now due to the fact that they allow the body to move more naturally and allow the foot to literally feel the ground. This week, I’ve been walking in the mountains of the Schwarzwald and see the majority of people wearing heavy walking boots or, at best, heavy walking shoes. I grew up being told that to walk in the countryside, it was essential to have the proper footwear, which meant walking boots. Now my own experience has taught me that minimalist footwear is far superior not just in terms of foot and ankle health, posture, and precise control but also in terms of energy efficiency.
Minimalist footwear such as Vivobarefoot shoes or Luna Sandals are significantly lighter than typical walking shoes and boots, meaning less weight to carry up the mountain. However, this weight is more important than the weight that you carry in your rucksack, because it moves more. Your body must constantly apply energy to accelerate and decelerate your feet to propel you forward, control each landing and slow you down when required. Just like the weight of bicycle wheels and tires is much more important than the weight of the frame, so too, the weight of your shoes is far more important than anything else that you wear. Light-weight shoes save energy, which effectively makes you fitter than if you were wearing heavy shoes.