Mark Atwood (fallenpegasus) wrote,
Mark Atwood

Burning Man Advice #1. Boots

One of the important pieces of gear to have at Burning Man is foot protection.

You will be using your feet a lot, probably much more than you do in the Default World. You will walk and probably bike many hours each day. You will be on an uncontrolled surface that is covered with surprising rocks, bumps, divots, tools, and pieces of rebar. It is make out of a very fine dust that literally will eat your flesh if it gets wet. You will be climbing up and down stairs and ladders onto art projects and onto art cars. You will be surrounded by people who are wearing boots and are riding bikes. The sun will burn your skin during the day, and the air and the ground get cold at night.

My first burn, I wore Teva sandals. This was simple, not a big change for my feet, low cost, and didn't involve bringing lots of stuff. It was a mistake. The dust between my feet and the bed of the shoe got damp from sweat, and burned the soles of my feet. When I got home, I was literally crippled. I needed a wheelchair to navigate an airport.

The second year, I bought a pair of boots, and couple dozen pairs of natural fiber socks. I changed my socks every morning and evening, and washed my feet in vinegar each time I did. My camp actually had a foot washing station just for this. This worked much better. However, my boots didn't fit very well, and so I got sore feet from them, and playa dust got into them more than I would have liked.

Probably the best approach is to have a pair of good working or hiking boots, at least ankle high, that are already broken in to your feet. Burning Man is not a good place to get "new boot blisters". And do the "change the socks twice a day".

Some people who have tough feet go barefoot for the event, and trust the dust to keep them dry. This can work if you already routinely go barefoot over natural ground, but I think it is very unwise. It's just too easy to get hurt that way.

Some people wear "Vibram Fivefinger KSO" and other similar "barefoot shoes". I wouldn't have believed they worked, but they seem to do. I may try them this year.

Remember to reserve a pair of clean socks to change into AFTER you leave the city after the exodus. You do not want to wear playa-fied clothes on your drive or flight home, and neither does the airport and airline.

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Tags: burningman

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