For some people there are few better feelings than the freedom of running barefoot. And it’s hard to deny that feeling the ground under your feet is appealing. However, as the ground is often covered in potentially painful hazards like pebbles, fine glass and more, it’s safest to keep at least a small protective barrier between the earth and your feet. In short, barefoot running shoes are an impressive answer for people who want to run without wearing shoes.
Where conventional shoes put a noticeable barrier between your feet and the ground in the form of a sizable sole, barefoot running shoes are designed to keep this to a minimum. These shoes also sport a much lighter upper, which is made from thinner materials, to further add to the barefoot feeling.
In addition to the “natural” feel, there’s actually a number of reasons people choose the barefoot route. Taking away a padded sole may help increase your foot strength as you run. It can also encourage a more low-impact gait. These barefoot running shoes are also a lot lighter than normal shoes and take up less space, which makes them a great choice for people who travel and need to pack on the lighter side. And, of course, some people like to stand out from the crowd, which is definitely achieved when it comes to the fingered, glove-like styles of barefoot shoes.
It is important to note that switching to barefoot running shoes does require a little bit of adjustment. The sensation is different and should be approached gradually as to prevent injury and build up foot strength.
Below, you’ll find seven different barefoot running options. Styles include the more eye-catching fingered models, versatile water-friendly models and extra lightweight models. There’s a barefoot running shoe to suit everyone’s needs.
1. WHITIN Barefoot Shoe
The WHITIN Barefoot Shoe sports an anatomical design which provides natural support and comfort to your feet. It’s available in a range of colors and styles, including black, blue and green. The minimalist construction and adaptive materials make it feel like you’re not wearing anything on your feet, while the drawstring closure ensures a secure fit. There’s also zero drop between the heel and toe for a more natural stride, and the production of the shoe is completely vegan friendly.
2. L-RUN Athletic Water Shoes
If you need a pair of shoes for running, boating, kayaking, swimming and more, the L-RUN Athletic Water Shoes are the right choice for you. These versatile shoes are available in over 30 different colors and designs, and include a drawstring closure for a snug fit around your feet. The thickened outsole provides protection from the ground and grip on slippery surfaces. There’s also a heel loop to help you slide the shoes on with ease, and the exterior is made from a breathable and lightweight material to complete the barefoot feel you’re after.
3. SKINNERS Minimalist Barefoot Sock Shoes
They may look a lot like a pair of socks, but the SKINNERS Minimalist Barefoot Sock Shoes provide far more protection for your soles while delivering the same level of comfort. They are available in a range of colors and include anti-odor technology to help them stay fresh wear after wear. The underside is water resistant for bad weather days, while the exterior is made from SKINNERS StretchKnit material along with antibacterial fibers for a clean and comfortable ride.
4. Merrell Vapor Glove 3
The Merrell Vapor Glove 3 is a durable and rugged minimalist shoe which is ready to come with you almost anywhere. The Vibram® TC5+ sole provides all the protection you need, including a textured toe guard at the front. Inside, the barefoot-like insole and TrailProtect™ pad provide comfort while maintaining minimal distance between your feet and the ground. The exterior is constructed from a mesh and TPU mix along with a lace-up closure, which keeps your feet secure and cozy. These shoes are also available in a range of colors, including bright options like blue, orange, red and green.
5. Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
The Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe is the only option on our list which sport a “split-toe” design. It’s a design some runners swear provides a balanced mix of comfort, protection and flexibility. The rubber sole, which is less than five millimeters thick and has zero drop to deliver the barefoot feeling, giving you more grip on slippery surfaces than your feet alone. It also helps promote good running form while still giving enough shock absorption to feel comfortable. These shoes are available in a range of colors, including brightly colored options to make you more visible.
6. New Balance Minimus 10v1
BEST FOR TRAIL RUNNING
If you’re after a lightweight shoe for running on roads and on trails, the New Balance Minimus 10v1 is a solid option. It provides neutral support and minimal cushioning while giving your feet all the flexibility they could need. The upper exterior is a combination of mesh and synthetic material for a secure and breathable ride. There’s also a heel pull loop and lace-up closure to ensure your feet are snug inside. Plus, you’ll find the inside, tongue and collar have also been lightly cushioned to improve comfort without detracting from the barefoot feeling.
7. Vivobarefoot Primus HIVIZ Running Shoe
The Vivobarefoot Primus HIVIZ Running Shoe is made from a combination of synthetic and textile materials to keep weight to a minimum for a nearly barefoot ride. These shoes include a HI-VIZ reflective-hex upper exterior to ensure you’re visible even during low-light conditions. The lace-up closure provides a secure fit around your feet, while the fused TPU and mesh provide an exterior, which is winter-proof, water-resistant and breathable, helping to maximize comfort inside. In addition, the included 3.5mm Outlast™ thermal insole delivers more thermal protection than the average insole.