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Great for maximum protection

WHITIN Men's Minimalist Trail Runner

Editor's Rating 

Perfect for every occasion

CAMVAVSR Men's Sneakers Fashion Lightweight Running Shoe

Editor's Rating

Breathable, lightweight and easy to clean

TSLA Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

Editor's Rating

3 Top Picks

3 Reviewers

6 Hours of Research

21 Products Considered

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Minimalist running shoes, are also known as barefoot shoes, due to the bells and whistles being stripped away and leaving you with only the essentials. You will be actively participating in your favorite physical activities without the hindrance of unnecessary features that will only slow you down. The presence of additional cushioning and support can actually hinder runners from utilizing important muscle groups.

Having your feet on the ground (pun intended), or as closely in touch with the ground as possible will allow the wearer to engage their bodies in ways that thick rubber sole shoes won't provide. Once your feet and leg muscles are fully accessed, it will likely lower injury rates and make you an overall more efficient runner. Picture wearing top rated minimalist running shoes that give you the feeling of running barefoot. To help you find kicks that will simulate this feeling, we found 10 of the best minimalist running shoes on the market today.

10 Best Minimalist Running Shoes 2020

WHITIN Men's Minimalist Trail Runner

Editor's Rating:

These rubber role running shoes feature a wide toe box for the comfort of those with wider feet. When running, you will not feel the restrictions a narrow toe box will give you. Easily spread your toes, kneel, crouch, and engage in any movement comfortably.

Made with animal-free materials and processes, the Whitin Men's minimlaist trail runner shoe is vegan friendly and comes in multiple colors to match your workout attire. The mock laces are there for support, but these barefoot shoes for running are actually slip-ons. Tighten the toggle and fasten the velcro as needed for additional security.

The rubber soles give you maximum protection, while still letting you feel the terrain under your feet. The rubber outsole will grip the ground and is non-slip for those rainy day runs.

Things We Liked

  • Rubber outsole
  • Many different colors
  • A minimalist running shoe
  • Wider toe box
  • Vegan-friendly

Things We Didn't Like

  • You need to size down
Why We Like It

This minimalist running shoe gives runners enough space to freely move their digits without feeling constrained.



CAMVAVSR Men's Sneakers Fashion Lightweight Running Shoes

Editor's Rating:

The Camvavsr Men's minimalist running shoes are the most stylish we've seen and at a very affordable price. For those who are restricted on their budget but want the comfort afforded by a barefoot running shoe, look no further than these lightweight kicks.

The breathable mesh upper shoe paired with a padded collar and foam insole takes comfort and utility to a whole new level. Whether you are running, hiking, jogging or walking, these running shoes are the perfect companion. They even look good for a day out on the town.

The shoes feature a slip-on design for convenience and are incredibly flexible. They conform to your foot in a way like no other shoe without sacrificing protection and support.

Things We Liked

  • Easy on and off
  • Affordable price
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Perfect for every occasion
  • Flexible
  • Might be a little tight

Why We Like It

The slip-on design for these lightweight running shoes makes them one of the best minimalist options in terms of convenience. 



TSLA Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

Editor's Rating:

A minimalist barefoot shoe with a 0 drop design will offer superior barefoot performance. The TSLA Men's Trail Running Minimalist shoe is designed for all outdoor activities to provide you with maximum support and comfort. The sole is only slightly cushioned to still give you sufficient comfort while still allowing you to feel the terrain under your feet.

The Dura Nylon band design will give you a secure fit and the laces will hold the shoe in place for more activities that require more effort and movement and the flyknit shoe upper is breathable, lightweight and easy to clean.

Things We Didn't Like

Things We Liked

  • Many different colors
  • 0-drop design
  • Provides more stability
  • Lowers injury rates
  • Can be used for various activities

Things We Didn't Like

  • The shoes run small

Why We Like It

The design gives runners the change to engage lesser-used muscles to fully strengthen every fiber.



Merrell Men's Trail Glove 5 Sneaker

Editor's Rating:

Created with a blend of synthetic and textile materials, Merrell's Trail Glove 5 sneaker provides runners with more enhanced stability during various movements. The barefoot design is incredibly comfortable and the diverse colors make this barefoot shoe great for outfit pairing. Feel comfortable and look good on the trail with the Men's Trail Glove sneaker.

The vegan-friendly running shoe is made with Vibram, a high-performance running shoe rubber sole that is virtually unmatched in its durability. Merrell furthers their efforts in sustainable processes by utilizing and repurposing recycled materials to create what you see here today.

Things We Liked

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Vibram rubber
  • Enhances stability
  • Multiple color options
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable production

Things We Didn't Like

  • The material has a sheen that may not be preferred by all

Why We Like It

We really appreciate the efforts Merrell adopts during the production of their sneakers. The use of recycled materials set an example for the rest of the industry.


Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 4 Sneaker

Editor's Rating:

Another shoe from the Merrell brand makes it onto our top list. The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 also features the coveted Vibram outsole that catapults these minimalist running shoes to the 5th spot on our list. The best minimalist running shoes should never compromise safety and stability for comfort. The shaft of the Merrell Vapor as sufficient arch protection and the breathable mesh upper will provide your feet with a comfortable environment.

The inclusion of anti-microbial agents in the Merrell Vapor will reduce unwanted odors, leaving the wearer feeling fresh and clean after vigorous activity.

Things We Liked

  • The Glove 4 has a breathable mesh upper
  • Anti-microbial agents
  • Vibram rubber sole
  • A relaxed and comfortable fit
  • Hyperlock TPU film heel

Things We Didn't Like

  • The lack of padding makes the fit smaller
Why We Like It

Other than offering a tight and comfortable fit, the Glove 4 is a minimalist shoe that offers the most advanced technology such as the Vibram rubber.



Vibram Men's KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe

Editor's Rating:

As a cross-training and running shoe, the Vibram sneaker has a padded tongue and speed lacing system that consists of just a toggle for fast and easy wear. The sole, which conforms to the arches of your feet will articulate the feel of the ground and allows your toes to have enough room to spread and grip when necessary.

These minimalist running shoes are lightweight and airy, with a seemingly simple design that hides more advanced concepts. The five-toe design gives you more dynamic movement for any activity with the perfect balance between traction and durability.

Things We Liked

  • Minimalist shoes
  • Great for wide feet
  • A comfortable and airy fit
  • Vibram rubber sole
  • Speed lacing system

Things We Didn't Like

  • A bit challenging to get your toes into the compartments
Why We Like It

The Vibram minimalist shoes are great with or without socks. They conform and fit your feet like a glove and provide dynamic range for your toes.




NEW BALANCE MEN'S MINIMUS 20 V7 CROSS TRAINER

Editor's Rating:

The New Balance minimalist shoes are perhaps the most stylish on our list. The mock sock shoes come in a wide variety of creatively named colors all complete with the New Balance logo on the side. The minimalist running shoes are one of the best in terms of style and utility.

The upper shoe is flexible yet still provides enough support for the runner and encourages natural movement. The shoes were created with a single piece of Vibram rubber outsole for a secure grip on any type of ground and flooring. The mesh windows will provide enough ventilation in any type of weather.

Things We Liked

  • Stylish minimalist running shoe
  • Provides a natural feel with the synthetic material
  • Many color choices
  • Encourages natural movement
  • Provides support

Things We Didn't Like

  • A narrow fit

Why We Like It

The New Balance Men's Minimus shoe is just the one you're looking for with the right blend of style and utility.


TSLA Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

Editor's Rating:

The TSLA Men's minimalist shoe has a zero drop design meaning the heel and ball are the same height, which simulates your natural stance. A zero drop shoe will give you the most natural support and not strain your calf and feet muscles.

The TSLA minimalist running shoes are only slightly cushioned, allowing you to still feel every bump and texture of the ground you stand on. This will further develop the muscles on the bottom of your feet to give you natural stability and protection.

Things We Liked

  • Only slightly cushioned
  • Fully feel the ground
  • Engages muscles
  • Offers full protection
  • Zero drop shoe

Things We Didn't Like

  • The arches can be a bit high
Why We Like It

These minimalist shoes feature instep support, which will hug your feet and provide a tighter fit that won't loosen over time.


ALEADER hiitave Unisex Minimalist Trail Barefoot Runners

Editor's Rating:

The thought of feeling the comfort of being barefoot while wearing running shoes is very inviting for most runners. If you're looking for unsurpassed comfort, and ultimate protection, look no further than this best minimalist running shoe. Give your feet a treat with a 5-toe design and mesh and TPU upper shoe.

The adjustable hook and loop feature will provide even more instep support and the rubber sole will offer a tighter grip of different surfaces. The best part about the Aleader minimalist shoe is the cleanup. After a messy and muddy run, just toss the shoes in the washing machine and they will come out looking like new.

Things We Liked

  • 5 toe box design
  • More instep support
  • Durable and breathable material
  • Strong surface grip
  • Machine washable

Things We Didn't Like

  • A little bit heavier compared to other minimalist shoes
Why We Like It

As a machine washable minimalist shoe, the Aleader runners will always look and smell fresh and clean.



Xero Shoes Prio - Men's Minimalist Barefoot Trail and Road Running Shoe

Editor's Rating:

The selection of solid colors really caught our eye. The Xero running shoes are breathable designs with wide toe boxes for more agility. These minimalist shoes put the focus on comfortable insoles. Each foot will be padded and protected while providing maximum support. Suited for daily wear and any activity, these running shoes are a smart and long-term investment.

The FeelTrue sole is not only comfortable but will enhance your posture by providing the wearer with improved traction, to help shore up previously unused muscles to help strengthen your overall form. The Xero running shoes will move as you move and adhere to your natural motion.

Things We Liked

  • Vegan materials
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Provides maximum support
  • Padded insoles

Things We Didn't Like

  • The narrow fit isn't ideal for wide feet

Why We Like It

Knowing what you are wearing on your feet didn't come at the detriment of animals while still made with durable materials is something we love about these shoes.


Best Minimalist Running Shoes Buyer's Guide

If you are new to the minimalist shoe game, you may not understand how to pick the right one. Other than the style and fit, factors such as protection and the heaviness of the shoe are important as well. To help move you in the right direction, we have created a simple buying guide for you below.

Protection

Minimalist running shoes often brag about how lightweight and thin they are. However, it's important not to strip away the basic protection a running shoe should provide. The best minimalist shoes should strike a delicate balance between protection and style.

They need to be able to give you the imitation of running barefoot but with all the protection heavily padded running shoes would provide. The best way to be sure of this is to consider the ground protections featured in your new minimalist shoe. Does it still provide sufficient support as you make your way down tumultuous terrain?

The strength of the material used, such as Vibram rubber will outweigh the importance of the thickness. You should be able to suss out the ground comfortably and be allowed a good range of movement.

Sole Thickness

The best minimalist running shoes give you the bare minimum in features but the maximum in protection, durability and utility. In this section, we are referring to the stack height, which is the combination of the sole thickness with the midsole. Since you are looking into minimalist running shoes, the stack height will be kept to a minimum. For this reason, minimalist running shoes provide more traction and feel of the ground than any other.

Zero Drop

The Zero Drop technology and design means the ball and the hell are the same height. In traditional running shoes, you may notice a slightly higher elevation in the heel, which isn't ideal since that isn't how our natural stance is. Basically, 0 drop shoes are made as nature intended us to be. Any drop higher than 3 mm won't be considered minimalist shoes. Yes, the standard is set pretty high, but we want the best for running shoes.

Lightweight

Since minimalist shoes are stripped of all the fanciness, they should be much more lightweight than their traditional counterparts. Minimalist shoes that is comparable in weight to other regular sneakers are not by definition, minimalist. The math just doesn't work out.

The transition between regular running shoes and a minimalist pair can be quite drastic at first. However, as time goes on, you will learn to appreciate the freedom afforded to you by minimalist shoes. True minimalist shoes should not weigh more than 10 ounces. Yes, you read that right, we said ounces.

The Right Fit

Depending on the design, your new minimalist shoes may not be the perfect fit for your feet. For example, the 5-toe boxed shoes may not be the best option for those with narrower feet. Having the space for your toes to wriggle around may cause a lack of stability for those with slimmer trotters. Conversely, a ton of options out there provide a tight fit that isn't the best for wider feet. Your best bet at finding the right fit for your new running shoes would be to know what kind of feet you have.

Stability and Support

It may be daunting to realize that minimalist shoes are famous for providing little cushioning, support and stability. Alarm bells may be going off in your head thinking that a shoe that offers virtually zero protection just isn't worth your money. However, the best minimalist running shoes can provide you with the protection of a regular shoe without all the extra padding and cushioning.

Believe it or not, there is actually a myriad of benefits to not having all the extra support. Let's take a look at the benefits of minimalist running shoes.

  • They allow you to feel the terrain and prevent unnecessary injuries by providing more dynamic and ergonomic movement.
  • The flexibility without the added padding can give you a better grip on surfaces.
  • Expounding on the points above, the lack of thick cushioning and added flexibility can help you strengthen previously unused muscles.
  • These running shoes typically feature a wider toe box, which allows you to spread your toes naturally for better balance.

Keep in mind that less support compared to regular running shoes does not equate to providing zerp support. With the right barefoot running shoes, your body and muscle groups will be trained to support themselves and prevent injury all on their own without the need for artificial components.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are minimalist shoes good for running?

Yes! Minimalist shoes are great for running and any other activities that require stable traction. The lightweight nature of the shoes and the tendency to help you strengthen your own muscle fibers prove to be very beneficial. They do not cause undue stress on any part of your feet and won't weigh you down during vigorous activity.

What are the best minimalist running shoes?

The best minimalist running shoes need to first and foremost provide you with a suitable fit. Depending on if you are a pronator, supinator, have wide or narrow feet, the style of your running shoes will be affected. The best barefoot sneakers need to provide sufficient support, protection, and stability without packing your new shoes with unnecessary extras.

Is minimalist running better?

Yes. Depending on your natural tendencies and the shape of your foot, minimalist running is generally better. These shoes are the best in not overcompensating and allowing your feet and muscles to develop, strengthen and support you naturally. This will greatly reduce the risk of injury and allow you to become a more efficient runner.

Can you wear minimalist shoes every day?

We would advise a gradual transition from regular to minimalist running shoes. This will give you the best results in terms of muscle strengthening to ensure your feet become strong enough to wear barefoot running shoes every day. After all, it's what nature intended, right?

Are minimalist shoes good for walking?

Yes, minimalist shoes are great for any activity. It can be tough and strenuous like a Spartan competition or be used for a walk around the block. Minimalist shoes are designed for everyday wear.

Are barefoot running shoes good for flat feet?

This is a great question and we commonly get asked this. The answer is yes, they are! They help correct and perfect your natural gait. In the case of people with flat feet, you have natural pronation, which can be corrected in time. Just remember not to make the transition too suddenly and to give it time.

Conclusion

If you have started or are looking to start your gradual transition to minimalist shoes, we hope our guide and top picks helped reduce the amount of work and research needed on your part. This type of sneakers provides more benefits than drawbacks and can eventually lead to gait and posture correction.

With the right fit, even without the cushioning and support you are used to, minimalist sneakers will hug your trotters snugly and offer you the same protection while facilitating the development of your natural muscle strength. With so many benefits, what's stopping you from going out and grabbing a pair at the first chance you get?

Did You Know?

Not only will barefoot running shoes offer posture and gait improvement as well as overall balance and muscle strengthening, but they can also help with your coordination. By activating the smaller and lesser-used muscles in the lower body, you will increase your ground contact time and reduce chances of injury.

Expert Tip

When getting accustomed to your new barefoot running shoes, be wary of overstriding. If you overstride (step out too far), it will put undue stress onto your ankles, calves, Achilles tendon and arch, which may lead to unnecessary injury and strain. Give yourself time to adjust to your new shoes.

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