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The Gateway Drug to Minimalism

  • 4 min read

Long distance hiker, Pie, is currently traversing the 3,100 mile long Continental Divide Trail (CDT). In this guest post, Pie discuses his pathway towards minimalism in the context of literally living out his backpack for months on end and attempting to complete America's Triple Crown of hiking (AT, PCT, and CDT). Learn more about Pie on his blog along with a upcoming CDT film he is  part of - 3mph.

I don’t know how or when I first heard about minimalism as a lifestyle. It was a while ago, like maybe five years ago. You’d think after all that time I’d be a better minimalist, but I am a decidedly mediocre minimalist. I’m good with it though. 

Minimalism is defined as: “A person who exists with few posessions"

To me it’s a lot more than just trying to live with less possessions. It’s the desire to get to the root of things, the desire to take in information and filter out the BS whilst adopting the good stuff.

Getting to the root of things

One of the biggest things that Minimalism has taught me is to try and get to the root of things, to peel away the layers and find out what’s really going on. Since I first discovered minimalism I’ve analysed many parts of my life to try and simplify. I researched different techniques, philosophies and ways of living. Trying not to be closed minded and looking at many different approaches, dumping what I didn't agree with and adopting all the best bits. Footwear philosophy was one of those areas of research.

Whats Natural?

With all this research I often came back to an over arching question. "What’s Natural?" Or “Is it Natural?”. This questioning led me to the world of Paleo food, long distance backpacking and Barefoot Shoes.

Is it really Natural to wear shoes? Not really.

Scientific evidence shows our feet are adapted to be unencumbered by bulky shoes. However, going barefoot in day to day to life is impractical, partly because of this stuff called glass and partly because of the funny looks you get from normal people.

I discovered minimalist sandals. 

I bought my first pair in 2014 and was immediately impressed by how simple and functional they were. Everything you need but nothing you don’t. Making them the most natural shoe we can wear. 

Flip flops are probably a more socially acceptable footwear option, but nowhere near as practical. I can’t scramble on the rocks in Flip Flops. I love the beach and when I tire of laying in the suns rays I like to scramble on the rocks. You know those awesome beaches that form a bay of white sand and up near the cliffs (the best beaches have cliffs) there’s rocks where crabs make their homes?

Yeah those rocks. Go scramble in them sometimes like you did as a kid. Do it in a pair of Bedrocks. You’ll feel like a crab spotting Ninja. Barefoot sandals aren’t the right choice for every activity but they do most things really well.

Thru Hiking

I carried that first pair of Classic Bedrocks on the Appalachian Trail in 2015 as a dedicated pair of camp/town shoes. I eventually lost one in a lake in Maine (nothing to do with the beers). In my opinion they’re the perfect camp shoe/town shoe. I wasn’t brave enough to hike in them for 2189 miles even though I know of people that have. Personally I love to be able to take my running shoes off after a long day of hiking, give air to my feet and throw on sandals for around camp. I wore my Classic Bedrock's during town visits because the less time I can spend wearing real shoes, the better.

Away from long distance hiking I love them for daily use around town. During the summer there’s not many other shoes I’ll put on my feet.

Sandals as a a Gateway drug

When I’m preparing my gear for a backpacking trip or a trip to far off lands, I have a system to make sure I don’t forget things. I start from the ground up. What shoes do I want to use? What kind of socks and how many? Do I want a pair of jeans with me or will a couple of pairs of shorts do? You get the idea.

A pair of Bedrocks is usually one of the first items that gets thrown in the backpack. 

I see sandals as a Gateway Drug into the world of Minimalism. They’re simple (like minimalism), they can do a lot of tasks really well (like all good possessions a minimalist owns) and they aren’t a huge financial investment (having less things means you have more money). 

Start small down the path of minimalism, start from the ground up. Start with minimalist sandals and take baby steps. I’m not going to tell you how to start on your journey of minimalism, there are plenty of great articles on the inter webs. Just keep it simple.

Your mediocre minimalist,


All photos taken by and property of Pie.

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