Shoes for the Playa

What to wear? What not to wear? Where to find and how to make anything from goggles to fantastic pieces of playawear.

Shoes for the Playa

Postby FaeTora » Mon May 31, 2010 11:48 pm

So I think sometimes pictures can tell you a thousand things and I started to realize in all the pictures I've seen most everyone is in boots or sneakers. I understand why heels would not be wonderful on the playa but I was wondering about sandals. I've only seen one picture of anyone with sandals on. Just wondering if there is a reason. My guess is hot sand hurts but it's almost 2 a.m.

Thanks in advance!
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Postby shroom » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:33 am

The survival guide on the burning man site explains it all.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; Isaiah 43:2
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Postby AntiM » Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:34 am

The playa is not sand, it is dust. Some people find the dust quite caustic on their feet and try to keep it off their skin. Not a matter of heat at all.
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Postby C.f.M. » Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:49 am

E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e is different. Everyone.

Some people (like me) traipse about barefoot as they please (wearing warmer shoes at night).

Others are fastidious about footcare.

Search through this message board (there's plenty of threads already on the subject) and google "playa foot."
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Postby Savannah » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:42 am

My first few Burns, I basically treated my feet as though the dust was the acid vat that created The Joker. I wore boots constantly, and my feet saw air only at night while I slept. Over the years I let down my guard and tried sandals and flip-flops, paying close attention to how my feet felt (and never going to bed without cleaning & moisturizing my feet first).

I've been lucky; my feet aren't particularly sensitive, but this varies quite a bit from person to person. Best to experiment carefully.

(I did hurriedly wipe the front of my calves with a baby wipe last year on the last day and this did result in pink, slightly irritated skin. At that point in the week, the wipes were probably too dry to clean and just wet enough to mix unfavorably with the dust; I should have spritzed it in lemon juice or vinegar.)

eta: If you wear heels/heeled boots out there, go for wedges (or at least thicker heels). Stilettos melt into the cracks on the playa.
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Postby FaeTora » Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:44 pm

Thanks! I was just curious. I was thinking at night if I have to run to the bathroom or from tent to tent, sandals would be easier but during the day I think I'll wear my biker boots. They are heavier than you'd believe but comfortable! Slight heel (1/4 inch maybe) like most guys shoes have but nothing big. I love heels but I figured in the sand that was a bad idea so I won't be wearing those on the Playa. I did though think of making covers for my boots. I think I figured out a way to keep them in place without covering any of the treads or messing up my favorite boots (I've had them almost ten years and when anything goes bad on them I have it replaced because I love them so much). I'm not sure I'm brave enough to go barefoot but maybe I'll give it a try.

And I just want to thank everyone in advance too. Over the next two months I will probably be asking a lot of stupid questions. My survival guide looks like an English teacher attacked it with all the notes and what-have-you's I've written on there to get me prepared.

The truth be told, I thought I was going to Black Rock in 2011 because a lady who is like my mom was very ill and I had to choice if I was going to Flipside (a regional or pre-burn in Texas) and to Burning Man for the first time or to take care of her. I choice to take care of her. But I can't stand to not be prepared so I started lists and preparing all the things I would need for 2011 about 7 months ago. Now its June and I found out someone is GIFTING me a BM ticket!

I will also be bringing someone home for the last time though it will be my first time on the Playa. It is not my story to tell but lets just say I met a man on his worst and last day of his life and it will be the anniversay of his funeral the day the Temple burns this year. It's odd how life lines up sometimes.

Anyways, I can not say it enough. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANKY YOU!
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:16 pm

Just to point it out, it's not so much like sand, it's a lot more like dirt.
I go with the sneakers most of the time. They're every bit as easy as sandals, especially if you leave the laces loose enough to slip them on without tying/untying.
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Postby madmatt » Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:46 pm

I wear sandals during the day, but the kind that have covered toes (for safety) and good heels and soles so I can run around and climb around alot. Just gotta clean and moisturize often.

Sneakers at night just because of the pain associated with the death march.
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Postby falk » Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:20 pm

I had a hellacious case of Playa Foot my first year, and never want to experience it again. Feet literally cracked and bleeding. Hobbling the ten feet to my bike -- shudder.

Good shoes, change socks twice a day, use copious amounts of cocoa butter with every sock change. Even then, I still sometimes get a mild case.

Other people can go barefoot the entire week with no problems. Your mileage may vary.
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Postby chris2010 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:44 pm

I'm going to try and go barefoot... I usually hike barefoot here in Florida. I know its not the same as on the Playa, but I thought I would give it a try and see what happens.
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Postby Savannah » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:14 am

You could start with flip-flops--the gateway drug.

The porta-potties make this a good idea at minimum.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:32 am

chris2010 wrote:I know its not the same as on the Playa...

Freakin' genius. ;)

Do your campmates a favor and bring a backup just in case.
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Postby gaminwench » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:32 am

I go barefoot during the day, around camp and never had a problem; I HIGHLY recommend a pedicure pre-playa, sloughing off the dead stuff really seems to make for healthy feet. I have a pair of slide on sneakers for potty runs, ugg boots for chilly nights(they won't ever be non-playa boots again!), and platform boots, with cushy inserts, for exploring (practice riding your bike in them, first!). Always clean feet with vinegar water before shoes, and before bed (hands, too); follow that with moisturizing lotion, you're good to go!
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Postby chris2010 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:00 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:Freakin' genius. ;)

Thank you, Thank you! :P

Ugly Dougly wrote:Do your campmates a favor and bring a backup just in case.

I will bring two backups!!! :D
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Postby chris2010 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:00 pm

Savannah wrote:You could start with flip-flops--the gateway drug.

The porta-potties make this a good idea at minimum.


Good Idea!
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Postby FaeTora » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:24 pm

Why do so many wear really thick soled shoes at BM? Does it have a benefit on the Playa or is it just fashion?

Vinegar. Hmm. Should I bring a small bottle of it or a little sprayer with me to make it easier to apply on and wipe off?
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Postby AntiM » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:46 pm

FaeTora wrote:Why do so many wear really thick soled shoes at BM? Does it have a benefit on the Playa or is it just fashion?

Vinegar. Hmm. Should I bring a small bottle of it or a little sprayer with me to make it easier to apply on and wipe off?


We have a gallon of it, which we diluter in a sprayer. You don't need it to be full strength. A small mister bottle would work fine, refill as needed. Not like you can't use it in the real world if you don't finish it off.

One year a neighbor saw us spraying our feet and legs, she wanted us to spray her face to wash the dust off. We tried to tell her about the vinegar, but nooooo, she wanted us to spray her Right This Minute. Then she bitched when it got in her eyes.
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Postby knowmad » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:47 pm

FaeTora wrote:Why do so many wear really thick soled shoes at BM? Does it have a benefit on the Playa or is it just fashion?

Vinegar. Hmm. Should I bring a small bottle of it or a little sprayer with me to make it easier to apply on and wipe off?
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Postby FaeTora » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:50 pm

My biker boots are a 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. Is that thick enough then?
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Postby babysnakes » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:57 pm

I've done boots, sneaks and mocs and haven't had a problem.
A little vinegar treatment and lotion on the down time was fine for me.

Vinegar water spray + playa breeze on the feets = awesome
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Postby AntiM » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:07 pm

Melted ice water from the cooler makes a refreshing foot bath. Let it warm up, or the shrieks will be heard for blocks. I still glare at Larry for that stunt.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:04 pm

Savannah wrote:I've been lucky; my feet aren't particularly sensitive, but this varies quite a bit from person to person. Best to experiment carefully.


I just cannot, can not, tell my tragic story...
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Postby AntiM » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:11 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
Savannah wrote:I've been lucky; my feet aren't particularly sensitive, but this varies quite a bit from person to person. Best to experiment carefully.


I just cannot, can not, tell my tragic story...


Some days I think we need a Sticky Eplayan FAQ thread. I'd say Sticky Fishy, but it makes me laugh. Laughing is my first response to tragedy, I'm socially awkward that way.
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Postby Elliot » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:51 pm

All right... I just cannot, can not, keep quiet. The last one I'm aware of who spoke up was Tiahaar -- one of the most sensible people around here; famous for the diversity and all-inclusiveness of his principles. This time, you may get offended at me. I don't mind. That's what friends are for.

Carol, I suggest you either make a funny wisecrack or keep quiet. A lot of us know you, so we are perfectly aware you lost both legs in an accident three years ago. Harping on it is boring for those who know you, and confusing for those who have no idea whaddafork your cryptic comments are about.

There. Now go whine about me over on our village web site and get that over with. And let me know by PM what sorta sprockets or Stuff you still need for your collage project -- I'm doing spring cleaning in my garage.

Regarding shoes and boots -- bring several pairs, because they become stiff as rocks as the dust is absorbed into the very pores of the shoe material.

Before going to Burning Man, I sand the callusses off my heels with an industrial power sander. Not kidding. Callusses crack first.
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Postby illy dilly » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:07 pm

gaminwench wrote:I go barefoot during the day, around camp and never had a problem; I HIGHLY recommend a pedicure pre-playa, sloughing off the dead stuff really seems to make for healthy feet. I have a pair of slide on sneakers for potty runs, ugg boots for chilly nights(they won't ever be non-playa boots again!), and platform boots, with cushy inserts, for exploring (practice riding your bike in them, first!). Always clean feet with vinegar water before shoes, and before bed (hands, too); follow that with moisturizing lotion, you're good to go!

Besides for the ugg boots and platform boots I agree with gaminwench entirely.
I go bare foot during the day because honestly my feet sweat a lot all the time, and I like to let my feet and my boots dry out during the day.
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Postby FaeTora » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:27 pm

hmm... maybe I'll do a pedicure foot scrub thing (I'll get one of the guys to show me how its done) and bring a couple pairs of shoes instead of just my boots. I actually am relieved that I might get to wear sandals now and then. After all in two weeks I get my first tat on my ankle and though its for me and noone else, it would be a shame to keep it covered all the time.
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Postby AntiM » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:00 pm

We have a tote/bin just for a variety of shoes and boots. I wear slip on Rocket Dogs most of the time, with socks, but I do bring sandals. Larry mostly wears his river shoes, sometimes boots. He can even pull off stilettos.
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