Best Barefoot Shoes: The Closest Thing to Walking Barefoot

These shoes will make you feel like you aren’t wearing any footwear

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Barefoot shoes have become very popular in recent years. They are comfortable and offer users a more natural feel when walking. There are also health benefits associated with them; they can help build muscle and relieve joint pain. This buying guide looks at the three best barefoot shoes available today.

  • Best Overall
    Vibram Men's KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
    Summary
    Summary

    These barefoot shoes are lightweight and flexible. The shoe is shaped like a human foot with individual sections for the toes.

    Pros
    Pros

    The “toe flex” area of the shoe gives it a natural feel. It also has great grip, and the speed lacing system ensures a snug fit in most conditions.

    Cons
    Cons

    They are unconventional shoes that can feel odd to wear and to look at. They are also known to wear out fast due to the thin sole.

  • Best Value
    Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 4 Sneaker
    Summary
    Summary

    These shoes are versatile and can work for both road and trail running in addition to crosstraining.

    Pros
    Pros

    They come with a Vibram sole and are very light. The toe cap is enclosed in rubber to guard the toes against bangs and scratches.

    Cons
    Cons

    There have been complaints that the toe box is a bit narrow for a barefoot shoe. The lack of cushioning means feedback from the road can be harsh.

  • Honorable Mention
    vivobarefoot Men's Ra Ii-m Shoes
    Summary
    Summary

    These comfortable shoes are for those who want the barefoot experience in a less sporty package. They are equally at home with formal or casual wear.

    Pros
    Pros

    These British-designed shoes are breathable and made with supple African leather. The thin sole also makes them very flexible and gives them a more natural feel when walking

    Cons
    Cons

    There are currently no U.S. repair agents. They also have a polarizing look; some people love them and others hate them. The price is rather steep.

Tips

  • Transitioning from a shoe with lots of support to a barefoot shoe can increase the chances of an injury. It is sometimes best to work down through the minimalist shoes before opting for barefoot shoes.
  • It’s normal for some muscle pain to occur in the early stages of wearing these shoes because the muscles on the feet and legs are working in a different way. Start slow and work your way up.
  • Barefoot shoes and orthotics or foot inserts don’t work well together. Most brands don’t have space to add an orthotic, and wearing them defeats the purpose of the barefoot shoe. 

FAQs

Q: What are the benefits of a barefoot shoe?

A: A barefoot shoe is designed to provide the most natural running or walking experience possible. They are supposed to encourage a more natural gait and posture as well as give you a better feel for the terrain.

Q: What should I look for in a barefoot shoe?

A: A barefoot shoe must have a thin sole of less than 6mm. It must also be completely level with no heels or arch support. It must also be lightweight and be wide enough to accommodate the toes comfortably.

Q: How do I choose a barefoot shoe?

A: It depends on what the shoe will be used for. On smooth surfaces like roads and sidewalks, the shoes should be lightweight with good breathability and flexibility. For trails, it’s better to focus on traction, durability, and comfort.

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best barefoot shoes goes to the Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe. They are lightweight and comfortable and give one of the closest barefoot experiences you can get. 

For a more affordable option, try the Merrel Vapour Glove 4.