Welcome (Back) to Bear-Foot

And welcome to our journey.

You may have noticed the Bear went into hibernation recently meaning we are temporarily without shoes to sell.

The reason? We've moved to Australia.

Why? Life's one big adventure. 

How long? TBC.

I assure you, I'm still passionate about living barefoot (check out the Instagram feed below). For now I'm going to see where my feet take me.

I'd love to keep you posted. Please sign up to the newsletter or follow the journey on social media. 

Phil :).

Instagram feed

Bear-Foot Adventures!

5 Good Reason Why We Love Bogs

5 Good Reason Why We Love Bogs

Our children don’t spend enough time outdoors these days - FACT! 

If I had to define Bogs this might be what I'd say - 

Bogs : foot friendly facilitators of exploration and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Let me share my own checklist of aspirations for my kids -

- Grow...
- Thrive...
- Be happy & fulfilled!

In my opinion in order to do this as humans a massive part is the need to move, play, stimulate our senses, get dirty, take risks, be outside, active, seeking adventure and contact with nature - daily experiences that make memories and influence the blue print of the big person that lovely little person will become!

This is best served barefoot.

We love shoeless antics........ 

     

Sometimes the dog manages to stay cleaner than the children!  

Especially in the safety of our own garden or spaces where we can take some control on the risks to our precious little ones (though in reality they quickly learn this themselves).

          

When asked, my children prefer to be barefoot outside 'because it feels better'.

What about when we go beyond these boundaries?

What about when the terrain just doesn't allow for shoelessness? (my invented word - patent pending!). 

What about the terrible weather? Skin becomes soft more susceptible to damage when it's wet. Trust me I run barefoot - I know!

WE DON'T NEED ANY EXTRA BARRIERS TO GETTING OUTSIDE!

 

Fellow humans and barefooters.....I think we're going to need to use some common sense

Interestingly, as I wrote this, I had a look at our friend Nic’s blog - Nip It In The Bud - and saw a perfect quote from Luther Burbank. So thanks goes to her for this quote :

Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education.

Luther Burbank (1849-1926, American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science)

Seems like we share his sentiment. 

 

So what are we to do?

The problem: we live in a country (UK) were the weather is rubbish to say the least. A lack of healthy footwear need not be a barrier to living Luther Burbank's (my own and hopefully your) vision.

 

A snippet of our life......

We’ve got a dog - Nutmeg - (you may have seen her on my Instagram feed). She’s walked lots. Dog walking. It’s a great excuse for an adventure. We let the kids pick their choice from the Fairy Forest (name so because the Fairies drop sweets there!), the Zebra Forest (because my son was obsessed with zebras as a toddler and we once went on a hunt for them there) and the Gruffalo Forest (we saw a mouse in the grass there once and the trees kind of reminded us of the book).

Sounds great? I’m not going to paint a picture blissful family expeditions. They never agree on location. Generally at least one of them is moaning about something. The truth is, it’s not easy to get them out of the door as all three go in separate directions as I shout and scream to brush your teeth, find your coat etc......yes you know the score.....but when we do finally get out - it's great. It's free. It's fun. I think the kids agree too.

 

So what about the Footwear.....

One thing that is never a problem is footwear. We all LOVE our Bogs

Is it the handles that make them easy to carry to the front door?

Or the cool colours and design?

Or that Bogs are designed with comfort and the foot in mind? 

You see options for boots for those seeking affordable foot friendly outdoor exploration vehicles for feet are limited. That’s if you don’t want them to fall to bits. Or your child likes cold feet.

In my years of running barefoot, I understand contact and ground feel. And how different attributes of a shoe/boot effect form and biomechanics. I get it. I fixed my running this way!

In general, for barefoot friendly shoes - less is more.

What about when we take to the trail?

What about vigorous muddy puddle jumping? 

Serious stream scrabbling and tree climbing? 

Feet need some protection. That's why our ancestors first made shoes.....lets call it common sense.

We prefer to be barefoot - so why do we love Bogs so much?

 

We love Bogs because.....

1. They have a wide toe box - wriggle room for toes is critical for me. So much happens, especially when running and jumping in the front portion of the foot that there needs to be room for the toes to splay, for balance, grip and dissipate impact forces after a mighty puddle jump! I want to maintain my children's healthy toe alignment (and mine too).

     

2. They are incredibly flexible - both the sole and upper - contain natural hand lasted rubber and not a bit of PVC (the reason for the rigidity and hard thud of cheaper, inferior wellies). The kids range is especially flexible - this is also a key fact. This allows the foot to feel the ground beneath it. What about tree climbing? Got it covered.

There is one slight negative we need to address here since we're talking soles - and this is the reason some people within barefoot circles cannot approve Bogs - it's Heel Raise. As with almost everything in life - even with Bogs - there is a compromise. We can't have all this greatness without one draw back. Except for the Baby Bogs (which are zero drop). They all have some degree of heel raise. Around 4mm for the children's range and a little more for the adults. I can accept this though as these are not all-day everyday shoes. And beside this they are so much better than anything else out there.

           

3. They keep feet warm and dry - with their NeoTech four-way stretch inner bootie provides insulation and comfort. And the Bogs Max-Wick technology keeps sweat away from the foot and keeps them dry.

4. They are so well made and ooze quality - Bogs are a pure rubber boot. There's no rigid PVC here! This provides quality, flexibility and longevity. In all cases my children have outgrown their Bogs and never destroyed them....and trust me - they push them hard.

My own Bogs (Ultra High) are now 4 years old and have been used daily to walk the dog almost twice daily (I go for sandals or barefoot in the summer and some days she comes on a run with me instead). I've also worn them exclusively in building an extension on the house, a dormer in the roof and all of our gardening work. They been submerged in concrete many times now and simply rinse off with the hose pipe (assuming you don't let it dry!).

5. They look cool - yes Bogs primary objective is comfort, but they also know great design and style. Seriously - just check them out!

 

So hopefully I've shown you that Bogs are so much more than a wellie! 

And that's why we love them!

Until the next time.....cheerio.

Phil :).

 

 

 

November 14, 2017 by Philip Evans

The Toe Box Taper.....

I was going to try come up with some witty title (this one almost sounds like a dodgy dance. I've just read the Kitchen Disco to children #1 & #2 and I think that might have something to do with it).

I failed (at the title not the reading!).

The bottom line is - there is no place for tapering toe boxes in barefoot shoes for kids nor adults! 

Why?

Have you ever noticed the shape of your child's foot?

Children naturally possess a forefoot that is wider than the rest of the foot - i.e. the widest part of the foot is at the tips of the toes. There is space between the toes of the child's barefoot.

#crazythirdchild's beautiful little feet with compulsory 2 year old chipped nail varnish (safe to say Dad does not approve!)

 

Your child's feet have potential.

Your feet have potential!

Spread or splayed toes offer natural grasping and balancing functions that are significantly inhibited when we choose to push our feet into unnaturally shaped shoes.

Almost all modern shoes have a tapered toe box meaning the shoe is not widest at the toes. In fact far from it. 

The fact that all shoes look like this means we don't question it.....well some of us do!

Using my Barefoot Bandit #3 #crazythirdchild, I've demonstrated the potential ill-effects of a tapered toe box on the wonder of nature's engineering - the human foot.

Quick, easy and obvious. I've even chopped up some shoes to show you!

Check it out - a fairly 'normal looking shoe' -

 

 Even rolls up. It's still no good - let me show you.

I measured #crazythirdchild prior to this as a UK7 E. So a narrow foot - giving the shoe it's best chance (I'm generous like that).

I first opened up the top but left the 'up stand' of the sole in place. That way we can see just how the toes are being effected....or should I say squished!

 

  

The big toe has changed direction. It's now pointing toward the other toes Gone is the space between the toes. The toes are now in an unnatural alignment. 

Why is this important?

Children's feet are not miniature versions of adult feet! Babies are born with fewer bones. At birth there are 22 bones in fact (rather 26 as an adult). By school age, this number will increase to 45.

There is significantly more cartilage in children's feet, this cartilage acts as a precursor to the process bone forming process (ossification).

...but I don't hear them complaining

Cartilage is more malleable than bone! So jamming a child's foot into an non-foot-shaped shoe will not cause the same discomfort as it would in your or my foot. 

Right, back to the butchery

Next I removed the 'up stand' this then left the shape of the sole below but freed  #crazythirdchild's toes! And guess what?.....

 

 
With toes free, they naturally splay outside of the sole beneath! (Remember with an E width measurement this foot is narrower...or at least has less girth..... than the majority of children's feet).

Therefore to preserve the natural form of the foot we must avoid tapered toes boxes!  

We need foot-shaped shoes

These open sandals shoe the benefit of a wider forefoot in the shoe, giving the feet space to align naturally

The toes are critical for our sense of balance - especially the big toe which I have discussed here. When our toes are not properly aligned our legs and upper bodies compensate for this.

Trust me, I was a busted runner for years.

I spent thousands on shoes, orthotics and physio.

You know what fixed me?

And I mean like instantly? 

I ditched the shoes! 

So what does the future hold when you do the toe box taper?

Well, (I know this is a bit mean but it's for the good of our children damn it!) on a sunny day take a look an old person's feet....you know when we all think, 'Let's wear our sandals'.

Wearers of ill-fitting shoes, such as shoes with tapered toe boxes can bag themselves a good chance of - 

Bunions, Hammer toes, Calluses, Corns, Athlete's Foot and all sorts of foot and lower-limb pain

I only select shoes that have a natural foot shape. I also offer support and advice to help achieve a good fit depending on the shape and width of your child's feet. 

I'm here, willing and able to help should you not wish to do the Toe Box Taper.

Phil :). 

 

 

June 14, 2017 by Philip Evans

Shoe Myths...

The more parents I talk to, the more I see how much 'myth' surrounds children shoes. Parents fear getting it wrong, yet unknowingly by selecting mainstream shoes the damage is inevitable.

...3 SHOE Myths...
 
 1. Snug Fit 
'Shoes should be a snug fit' isn't that what we're told?
If we're talking about preserving natural foot shape and agility then this is wrong. Check out my daughter running and hopping in this video to show how much room is truly needed if shoes are not to impair movement. We know that children's feet at more susceptible to deformation than adult feet due to growth and a greater amount of cartilage - this means it may be possible to wear ill-fitting shoes without the child noticing any notable discomfort. Therefore shoes that are a snug fit will cause deformation of the natural movement of the foot - especially in the forefoot.
 
2. The widest part of the foot is from the joint of the big toe to the joint of the little toe
More accurately this could be described by mainstream manufacturers as - 'the widest part of our shoes are at the joint of the big toe and the little toe', and if you extrapolate this further - 'the widest part of your child's foot will be at the joint of the big toe and little toe....if you continue to wear our shoes'. The widest part of the naturally developed foot is at the tip of the toes.
 
3. Need for support
Precisely where, how and why does a growing foot need support? We did pretty well for the last 200,000 years or so without support. One long-common answer is that in modern shoe-wearing societies the ground is hard (e.g. concrete, tarmac) hence the growing foot needs to be supported. The fact is, the arch is the foot's natural shock absorber - so by supporting it we interfere with it's natural function.
 
 ...3 ESSENTIALS FOR ANY SHOE...
 
1. Shoes should have a wide toe box
Why?: See this hopping video. Toe splay occurs in some many natural childhood movements. The front of the shoe needs to give space for this to happen, otherwise those delicate little toes are being squashed into the sides of the shoe.
 
2. Shoes should have a thin flexible sole
Why?: See this running video. Look at the natural motion of the foot. The way it moves, bends and flexes. Without a flexible we cannot fully engage the foots natural shock absorber - the arch. When the arch is not fully engaged it does not gain strength and it's natural development may be impaired.
 
3. Shoes should be made from breathable materials
Why?: You must have noticed how clammy your child's feet feel a lot of the time! This is not unusual, in fact children feet have twice.
 
I hope this is useful. Any questions just drop me a message here or use info@bear-foot.co.uk
 
Phil :).
 
January 12, 2017 by Philip Evans