Run more naturally as nature intended with minimalist running shoes. Running in flatter, lower, lighter shoes is the best way to experience barefoot running. Once your body has mastered the skill of running in barefoot shoes you will experience a decreased risk of injury and increased performance.
You will be able to run the mileage you want with few to no complications. There are so many barefoot shoes in the market, and choosing the best minimalist running shoes may not be easy. So, in my selections, I have considered all the important features you would want a barefoot shoe to have.
The Best Minimalist Running Shoes Are:
|1. New Balance Men’s Minimus 10 V1||Check Current Price|
|2. ALEADER Hiitave Unisex Minimalist Trail Running Shoes||Check Current Price|
|3. JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Shoes||Check Current Price|
|4. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Minimalist Shoe||Check Current Price|
|5. WHITIN Women’s Minimalist & Barefoot Shoe||Check Current Price|
|6. Saguaro Men’s Women’s Barefoot Trail Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
|7. Xero Shoes Prio Women’s Minimalist Barefoot Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
|8. Oberm Men’s Minimalist Trail Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
|9. Troadlop Men’s Hiking Trail Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
1. New Balance Men’s Minimus 10 V1 — Best Barefoot Running Shoes
Are you a long-distance hiker or trail runner looking for your next pair of ultralight footwear? Look no further than the Minimus 10 V1 from New Balance.
- Flexible synthetic/mesh upper
- Vibram outsole with flex grooves
- Premium performance foam
- Unique midfoot wrap
This is a great minimalist shoe that supports the neutral foot type, which is good because it promotes a midfoot strike that strengthens your feet, calves, and Achilles tendon. It has a breathable mesh and synthetic upper that’s very flexible, allowing your foot to move naturally.
This helps to improve motion control and performance, especially when descending steep trails. I appreciate the back heel pull tab for easy on and off and the lace-up closure that helps with that snug fit. Not to mention that the laces are extremely easy to close.
The shoe has a soft, breathable textile lining in the inside that cushions as well as comforts your foot. It also does a good job of drawing out moisture. Another impressive feature is the Vibram outsole with rugged flex grooves that give you awesome traction on different types of trails.This shoe; however, isn’t the most ideal choice for running on sandy trails.
- Supports the neutral foot type
- Promotes midfoot strike to strengthen your foot
- Flexible upper allows your foot to move naturally
- Back heel pull tab allows for easy on and off
- Flex grooves offer superior traction
- Not a reliable choice for sandy trails
- Size and fit tend to grow small
I can’t stress enough how flexible this shoe is and how easily it mimics the shape of your foot, providing you with amazing barefoot running experience.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
2. ALEADER Hiitave Unisex Minimalist Trail Running Shoes — Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes
If you are looking for good quality unisex minimalist shoes for hiking and trail running, don’t look beyond this incredible pair from ALEADER Hiitave.
- Five toe box design
- TPU and mesh upper
- Adjustable hook and loop closure
- Rubber outsole
- Machine washable
I truly admire the highly elastic synthetic mesh upper, which is not only breathable but also allows your foot to move naturally without any restrictions. Its neutral support is simply incredible. The five-toe box design provides you with a wider space for your toes to spread out naturally and relax.
This improves stability, balance, and comfort in downhill descents and uphill climbs. So, you get superior feedback from the ground with every stride. There’s also a double-hole shoelace lock attached to the tongue that allows for an adjustable hook and loop closure.
The outsole is made from natural rubber with flex grooves that do a great job of absorbing impact on rocky trails. The rubber sole is also non-slip and lightweight, promoting a more natural barefoot-like stride. What seems disappointing about these shoes are the inserts, which tend to be smaller than the shoe.
- The upper is breathable and very flexible
- A great design for the neutral foot type
- Wider toe box for improved stability and balance
- Easy and quick hook and loop lace-up closure
- The non-slip outsole is great for shock absorption
- May receive a pair with poorly designed inserts
- Possible to receive the wrong size and fit
These are great barefoot-like shoes for strengthening your muscle fibers. But make sure you receive a pair with good quality insoles.
Overall Rating – 4.5
3. JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Shoes — Most Relaxed Fit
These shoes are incredible with a wide selection of beautiful colors and one of the most relaxed fits in the market.
- Breathable synthetic mesh upper
- Hook and loop closure
- Reflective strip on the heel counter
- Thicker topline wrap
- Rubber outsole
The upper of the shoes is ingeniously made with synthetic mesh for breathability and flexibility. It bends with your foot for a more natural movement to provide you with a neutral trail running experience.
The shoes are fitted with impressive fixtures. First, you have a double-hole lace lock for hook and loop closure. Second, you have a Velcro closure for a more secure fit. Third, there’s a pull tab at the heel that allows you to easily put on the shoes. Fourth, each shoe is fitted with a reflective strip at the heel counter for improved visibility in low light environments.
Another good feature is the rubber outsole with patterned grooves that provides superior traction on wet and dry trails. But the thing is, the shoes release a chemical smell during unboxing that may not completely go away.
- A great choice for neutral runners
- Synthetic mesh upper is properly ventilated
- Hook and loop lace-up closure allows for a snug fit
- Pull tab on the heel makes wearing and take-off easy
- The reflective strip at the heel counter improves visibility
- May release a chemical smell during unboxing
- The toe box may be too wide for people
These amazing minimalist shoes from JOOMRA won’t disappoint you. But make sure you choose a size that fits snugly in the toe area.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
4. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Minimalist Shoe — Best Ultralight Design
This ultralight shoe from Merrell has a minimalist design that aims at enhancing your foot’s natural ability to stabilize your body during hiking and trail running.
- Zero-drop design
- Mesh synthetic upper
- Vibram TC5 outsole
- Unique lace garage
- Trail protect pad
This shoe is made of a mesh and TPU upper and it has a breathable mesh lining on the inside. The upper is very flexible to support the natural movement of your foot. There’s slight padding in the tongue and collar for added comfort.
You’ve also got a unique lace garage on the tongue for tucking the excess lace after tightening your shoe. It comes with a lightly cushioned footbed to help absorb shock. The low profile midsole gives you a zero ground to foot movement, which is great for a neutral foot type.
The trail protect-pad does give you underfoot protection, while the Vibram TC5 outsole offers you durability and stability on the trail. But what’s disappointing is the inconsistent quality control from one model to another because some models tend to wear out quickly.
- Breathable mesh lining improves ventilation
- The barefoot-like design allows you to run more naturally
- Easy to use lace-up closure improves the fit
- Provides superior underfoot protection
- Highly durable outsole with superior traction
- Quality control tends to be inconsistent
- Could be much easier to wear with a pull tab at the heel
The minimalist design of this shoe is incredible, but make sure the pair you receive has no design flaws.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
Ladies! Improve your trail running and hiking performance and experience with this incredible minimalist shoe from WHITIN.
- Zero-drop design
- Synthetic and mesh upper
- Wider toe box
- Plastic shoelace lock
- Back heel pull tab
The shoe has a high-performing zero-drop design, which is great because it encourages a barefoot-like midfoot strike while providing both tread and cushion. The midfoot strike helps activate your body’s natural shock absorption mechanism. The non-elevated design may reduce pain in the lower back and waist. The zero-drop may also reduce knee strain during trail running.
The synthetic and mesh upper is very flexible. This allows your foot to move and engage the trail naturally, hence preventing atrophy and muscle immobility. The wide toe box ensures that your toes spread freely to improve balance.
The lace-up closure guarantees a secure fit, while the plastic shoelace lock with double holes guarantees to keep your lace tight and secure. You’ve got a back heel pull tab for easy wearing. But the thing is, the exact shoe size may be too long and too wide for some trail runners.
- Zero-drop encourages a barefoot-like midfoot strike
- May reduce knee strain when climbing steep trails
- Flexible upper allows you to run naturally
- Wide toe box improves balance and comfort
- Shoelace lock keeps the lace tight and secure
- Exact sizes tend to run large
- Possible off-gassing during unboxing
The zero-drop design is awesome and you won’t run short of vibrant colors to choose from. But make sure you get the size right.
Overall Rating – 4.4/5
6. Saguaro Men’s Women’s Barefoot Trail Running Shoe — Most Versatile Design
If you are looking for minimalist footwear that’s suitable for trail running, jogging, walking, gym, boating, and camping look no further than this great shoe from Saguaro.
- Flexible and ultralight
- Ventilated and breathable spandex fabric upper
- Elastic draw-string band and shoe mouth
- Durable rubber sole
- Highly versatile design
The shoe has a unique minimalist design that offers neutral support for a more natural running experience when climbing or descending. This model has a spandex mesh upper with a unique pattern offset printing. The mesh is ultra-lightweight, highly breathable, and extremely flexible.
You’ve got an anti-collision toe box that helps protect your foot from hard kicking of stones on a rocky trail. The toe box is also wider, providing enough room for your toes to stretch and relax.
The rubber outsole has a lump lug design that prevents sharp rocks, sand, and even broken glass from hurting you. The rugged and non-slip grooves are excellent at shock absorption. But the thing is, it’s possible to receive a pair that’s poorly designed.
- Ultra-lightweight and breathable upper
- Anti-collision toe box adds protection for your feet
- The rubber outsole is anti-skid
- The wider toe box improves balance and stability
- Great for dry and wet conditions
- You may receive a poorly designed shoe
- Some models don’t dry very fast
The performance of this shoe whether on dry or wet trails is guaranteed as long as you receive a genuine model with no design flaws.
Overall Rating – 4.4/5
Whether you are out for a run, toeing a slackline, hitting the gym, or trying out a new trail, you will love this amazing shoe from Xero.
- Lightweight, flexible upper
- Low to the ground design
- Wide toe box
- Adjustable instep strap
- FeelTrue rubber sole
The Prio is a running and fitness shoes, which means it’s suitable for trail running, road running, slacklining, and working out. The shape of the shoe contours to your foot for a comfortable fit. It is wide enough in the toe box, allowing your toes to spread and relax. The shoe has a zero-drop design, which is great because the heel isn’t elevated compared to the ball of the foot.
So, it doesn’t mess up with your posture, stability, and balance. The inventive FeelTrue rubber sole supports a more natural motion by allowing your feet to bend and flex freely. The dual chevron design gives you great traction whether running uphill or downhill. But the thing is, the shoe may lose its waterproofing ability after some time.
- It offers all-round performance for trail and road running
- Wide toe box design improves balance and stability
- Very flexible outsole supports a more natural motion
- Dual chevron sole design gives superior traction
- The upper is ventilated and breathable
- May lose its waterproofing ability
- Exact sizes tend to run small
The Prio is undoubtedly a performance minimalist footwear for trail and road running, but some sizes tend to run small.
Overall Rating – 4.4/5
This cute minimalist shoe fits like a glove with a wide and comfortable toe box for balance and stability.
- Wide toe box
- Zero heel-to-toe drop design
- True rubber sole
- Removable sock liner
- Good arch support
The shoe has a flying woven mesh upper vamp that is designed to be flexible, soft, and breathable. The five-toe box design is spacious enough for your toes to spread out and relax for better balancing and stability. There is a double-hole lace lock for easy hook and loop closure.
The tongue and collar are designed as a unit for a more secure fit. The true rubber outsole is highly flexible to support the natural movement, gives superior ground feedback, and provides great traction and protection.
I appreciate the removable sock liner, which you can remove to get a more barefoot-like running experience. You’ve also got a pull tab at the heel for easy on and off. What I don’t like; however, is that some models may come with poorly attached seams.
- The upper is flexible, breathable and soft
- Wide toe box ensures your toes are relaxed
- Hook and loop closure improves the fit
- Pull tab at the heel allows for easy put-on
- Minimalist design is suitable for the neutral foot type
- May come with poorly attached seams
- Exact sizes may not fit
Strengthen your feet and improve your balance, posture, and reflexology with a pair of the Oberm Men’s Minimalist Trail Running Shoe.
Overall Rating – 4.4
9. Troadlop Men’s Hiking Trail Running Shoe — Best Value Model
Do you want an all-rounded minimalist shoe for trail running, hiking, and water sports? This incredible footwear from Troadlop fits the description.
- Breathable upper
- Super soft sole
- A wide toe box design
- Hook and loop closure
- Pull tab at the heel
This amazing shoe is engineered with your comfort in mind. It features a knit fabric upper that’s light, soft, flexible, and breathable. The upper is fitted with lots of holes, which is great because they improve the ventilation and breathability of the shoe.
You’ve got a lace garage that keeps the lace secured when running in bushy trails. Theirs is also a lace lock for quick hook and loop closure. What is truly breathtaking is the super-soft sole of the shoe. Its extreme flexibility allows you to bend, flex, and stretch your foot naturally when hiking or running.
Another good factor is the wide toe box design that allows your toes to wiggle, and relax comfortably during a run. My biggest concern is quality control, which seems to be inconsistent from one model to another.
- Light, soft, and breathable upper
- Wide toe area improves balance and comfort
- The soft sole allows your feet to bend and flex more naturally
- Minimal design gives a barefoot-like experience
- Quick and easy hook and loop lace closure
- Quality control may be inconsistent from one model to another
- Glued seams may come off in inferior models
This shoe is stylish, breathable, and flexible, providing you with a barefoot-like experience during hiking and trail running.
Overall Rating – 4.3
Buying Guide: Things To Consider When Buying Minimalist Running Shoes
The choice of minimalist running shoes is huge, and not everyone can make a profound buying decision. That’s why I have come up with the following factors for you to consider before you engage the market.
Go For A Reputable Brand
Yes! Go for a reputable brand, but don’t just blindly go for the big names. This is so since not all big-name companies are heavily invested in barefoot running. Here are a few recommendations for you.
If there is one brand that has mastered the art of barefoot running, then that brand is New balance. New Balance believes the human foot to be a structural and mechanical design. So, they look to the human foot for guidance. The best minimalist running shoes from this company are made to enhance the natural running gait of landing on your forefoot and midfoot.
The barefoot shoes from this brand are designed to keep you moving forward on the trail. Their unique supportive high-traction outsoles are designed to survive harsh terrains, such as rocky trails. Not to mention that the shoes are ultralight, flexible, and durable.
Minimalist shoes by Merrell were designed specifically to replicate being barefoot. The company brings an entire category of barefoot fit and function to both men and women. The brand produces streamlined, all-terrain, multi-purpose shoes for running across creeks, and crags with ease.
The outsole is more than just a crash pad to this company. What they offer you are materials that have withstood the test of time, such as Vibram. It’s all about grip, traction, flexibility, and durability.
This is a relatively new shoe company in the market with about seven years of experience. But it has proven to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to minimalist running. The brand has completely transformed barefoot running with innovative five-toe box designs, flexible rubber outsoles, adjustable hook and loop closure, and breathable, flexible uppers.
The shoes from this company allow the feet freedom to move and function as nature intended without interference from the structure of the shoes. I am particularly impressed by the brand’s zero heel-to-toe construction, which promotes low-impact landing on different trails and terrains.
Another new brand that you might have never heard of but has proven to be one of the most innovative companies in the minimalist running shoe industry. Thousands of hikers and off-road trail runners have bought barefoot shoes from this company. This indicates quality, performance, and durability.
Other Minimalist Shoe Companies
The popularity of minimalist running is growing and more hikers and trail runners are actively looking for new designs and technologies. So, we can expect more brands to design footwear for minimalist runners. Other unique brands that I have come across in the minimalist shoe market are:
The Size And Fit Of A Minimalist Shoe
This is where things get interesting and you can easily go wrong. You can’t choose a size and fit of a minimalist shoe the same way you would a normal running shoe. Why? The design of a minimalist shoe isn’t tailored toward pronation control.
You can’t choose a size and fit based on foot type support, such as neutral or stability. What you should be more concerned about is whether or not the minimalist shoe allows for natural expansion of your foot when landing. The correct size and fit must allow your foot to move naturally as you would when barefooted.
For first buyers, choosing a barefoot size can be extremely difficult. I would recommend you physically test the size and fit of the shoe before the return period expires. Do the following when testing the size and fit:
- Put your foot inside the shoe
- Move your foot toward the toe
- Insert your index finger in between your forefoot and the inside part of the heel of the shoe
- If your index finger fits, then it’s the right size
- If your index finger doesn’t fit, then it isn’t the right size
Toe Box Design
How the toe box is designed matters a lot when buying a minimalist shoe. You might end up throwing away a pair of barefoot shoes because of a poor toe box.
By design, a toe box needs to be wider. This way, it will provide enough room for your toes to stretch freely. A narrow toe box will squeeze your toes when landing, causing discomfort and injuries. The design should also have anti-collision properties, which means it can help protect your toes from stones or rocky terrain.
The best minimalist running shoes must be flexible. This makes it easy for the shoe to conform to the shape of your foot. A flexible barefoot shoe allows your foot to move naturally during landing and toe-off. An elastic design makes your foot feel more relaxed when running over long distances.
How Fast Can I Switch To A Minimalist Running Shoes?
If you are new to minimalist running, you must understand the importance of starting slowly and let pain be your guide. This is so since minimalist running can lead to months of sore Achilles and sore calf muscles. You might easily injure yourself if you ignore these signs.
Here are a few tips that can help you with minimalist running:
- Start slowly and give your feet time to strengthen themselves
- Stop wearing minimalist shoes when your skin gets sore
- Watch for cuts and abrasions on your feet and care for them
- Be more cautious when running on rocky trails
- Always stand upright to stay on your toes and be light on your feet
- Don’t insist on wearing minimalist shoes that hurt you around the toe box
- Try different types of trails to get the best barefoot running experience
The pick for the best minimalist shoe is New Balance Men’s Minimus 10 V1. A minimalist shoe that encourages you to attack the trails with confidence. It stands out because of its innovative design that offers unmatched flexibility for superior natural movement. Its fit, traction, and breathability are beyond reproach.
The New Balance brand has mastered the art of barefoot running and this shoe is proof. The size and fit of the shoe tend to run small; so, you may want to order a slightly bigger size to achieve the optimal fit. For the right size, the toe box design is incredible. And the flexibility of the shoe is what any minimalist runner would want.