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There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being barefoot. Going straight skin on a sandy beach, lush park grass or even your favorite trail can stimulate the senses and ground us in significant ways. One quarter of all of our body’s bones are in our feet, and there are over 7,000 nerve endings on each foot. When we spend our entire lives wearing shoes and socks, we don’t always receive the benefits of all the sensory input our feet can give us. Imagine if you wore gloves on your hands your whole life, that wouldn’t feel like you were taking full advantage of the physical capabilities of your hands, would it?
Plus, running barefoot actually has numerous benefits including a more natural gait and less impact on joints during lengthy runs and walks. Improve your posture and avoid injury to your achilles and calf muscles by leaving your running shoes at home and opting for something a little more down to earth. Plus, you’ll avoid corns, blisters, hot spots and other delightful side effects of running shoes — with toe running shoes.
Going straight up barefoot would be ideal, but many of us live in cities where that’s not quite a safe option. Plus, if you want to grab a cup of joe after your workout or hit a brunch with friends you don’t want to be the barefoot guy getting refused, avoid this unfortunate fate and opt for toe running shoes instead.
Remember these? They were all the rage about ten years ago when they first emerged on the scene as a happy medium between a barrier for protection between feet and ground, but not over-padded and extra constructed like the running shoes of today. Toe running shoes offer all the benefits of a barefoot exploring experience, without the potential for cuts, scrapes or stepping barefoot on someone’s dog’s business. Let’s get back to basics with a little protection with these top-rated toe running shoes you can order online.
1. Vibran Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
If you want to go barefoot, you’ve got to go Vibram. This is the brand that started the movement and know their stuff when it comes to almost-barefoot shoes that are comfortable, supportive and grounded. This cross training shoe is made with a rubber sole and has a low-top arch so you won’t have the lift that other running shoes have that potentially causes injury. It has a lightly padded tongue and a speedy lace-up system you’ll be able to throw on and off in a flash. They’re machine washable and run small so make sure you go up a size. They also come in five different colors including black, blue, navy, red and grey.
2. Vibram Men’s V-Train Cross-Trainer Shoe
If you’re looking for a flat foot cross-trainer shoe that will give you just enough support to work out without all the cushioning of your regular running shoes, these Vibrams are a great option. They have a rubber sole and give your foot the flexibility to move while still providing protective structure. They have traction lugs in the arch for rope climbing, if that’s your thing, and have a circular lug pattern across the entire bottom of the shoe for lateral movements. They also have an anti-microbial fabric liner that’ll take care of excess moisture and smell so you can enjoy the barefoot feeling.
3. Vibram Five Fingers Men’s Minimalist Casual Walking Shoe
BEST WALKING SHOE
If you’re looking for the perfect shoe for a casual walk around the block, this one’s a great option. It’s made of 100% textile fabric, rather than polyester, spandex or other athletic material, and is a more casual wear in general. It has that Vibram sole you know and love, and is made of a hemp blend that’s protective but non-irritating at the same time. It has a low-top shaft from the arch and is made with the XS Trek Vibram rubber that gives your soles a break from the rough ground while still providing enough opportunity for sensory input. These are machine washable and do best when air dried.
4. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 3 Toe Running Shoes
BEST FOR TRAIL RUNNING
These trail runners from Merrell are a collaboration between the Merrell shoe brand, known for their comfort, and Vibram. They have a Trailprotect pad built in for protection under your foot and breathable mesh lining up top to keep you comfortable and moving. These shoes have a rubber sole as well as a Vibram TC5 outsole, the part of the shoe that touches the earth directly. They’re made of 100% TPU mesh and will give you the feeling of being in close contact with the earth, while also protecting you from sharp edges, cuts, bruises and other harm. The support and flexibility of the shoe makes them great for running, jumping and leaping on trails where you need a shoe that can keep up with you.
5. Luna Retro Mono Sandals
BEST RUNNING SANDALS
Sometimes a thin layer of fabric is still too much, we get it. Let your toes fly freely with these running sandals designed by Luna Sandals. Ever heard of the book Born to Run? If you haven’t, check it out, definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the running world. This shoe is designed after the thin strips of tire rubber the runners in that book wear instead of shoes, that catapult them into the speed and endurance they’ve got without injury. The outsole is extremely flexible and made out of Vibram’s Moreflex material. The shoe is lightweight, easy to adjust to your foot and the material contours to your shape the more you wear them.
6. Maniamixx Men’s Quick Drying Trail Shoes
BEST WATER SHOE
Running through streams in trails might be the adult version of splashing in puddles in the rain, and we’re all here for it. These quick-drying toe running shoes from Maniamixx will help you enjoy the H2O without walking around with wet feet for the rest of the day. They’re got protective anti-collision toes built in that’ll protect your feet from stubbing or jabbing while doing water sports. They’re comfortable, breathable and made of high-quality, flexible fabric up top that’s skin-friendly and creates a cool environment for your feet. The ungraded soles are non-slip so you can step with confidence even in wet conditions, and they’ve got drainage holes built into the bottom to help water escape.
7. WHITIN Men’s Minimalist Toe Running Shoe
BEST MINIMALIST SHOE
This shoe trusts that your foot knows what it needs and supports that, without too much interaction or intervention. This toe running shoe from WHITIN has a naturally anatomical shape that provides you with the natural comfort you’re looking for without too much padding. It’s made of adaptive materials that learn your body and adjust the more you wear them and have a minimalist construction that doesn’t involve unnecessary materials. There’s zero drop from your toe to your heel for a natural stride, and the shoe is vegan-friendly and made without any animal products. This shoe tends to run large so order a size down to be on the safe side of a perfect fit.
8. ALEADER hiitave Barefoot Toe Running Shoe
MOST SECURE FIT
These unisex toe running shoes from ALEADER have a five-toe box design that feels like you’re running right on the trail or beach. The upper shoe is made of mesh and TPU fabric that’s flexible and breathable to keep you comfortable throughout your adventure. The shoes also have an adjustable hook-and-loop closure at the instep for a super secure fit that won’t shift, loosen or rub your feet in the wrong way as you move. The rubber outsole is grippy and non-slip so you’ll stay steady and the shoes are machine washable so caring for them is easy.
9. Weweya Barefoot Toe Running Shoes
BEST ZERO DROP OPTION
These toe running shoes from Weweya are minimalist, barefoot style trail runners with a rubber sole and zero drop between the heel and toe. This means that your foot stays flat the whole time, improving your posture and decreasing your chances of an achilles heel or calf muscle injury. The wide toe box allows your toes and the front of your foot to relax, and they have a speed elastic lacing system which allows you to securely fasten the shoes quickly and easily while out and about. They offer flexibility and comfort as well as structure and protection.
10. Xero Shoes Prio Kids Running and Fitness Shoe
BEST FOR KIDS
If your kids are wanting to explore almost barefoot like you, these shoes are a great option. They’re super durable so no matter how much rough-housing goes on, you can rest assured knowing their little piggies and toes are protected. The shoes are also versatile and able to be work hiking, on the beach or in the water without a problem. It’s so crucial to let your child’s feet grow and develop naturally while moving, bending and flexing — and these shoes let them do just that. The FeelTrue soles give them the grip they need to move with confidence and the ergonomic fit gives their feet structure and room to breathe. The Prio is also unisex, lightweight and made of 100% vegan-friendly materials.