HomeSports Shoes24 Best Barefoot Shoes for Men & Women

24 Best Barefoot Shoes for Men & Women

-

You want to try Barefoot running – but you’re not sure which is the best barefoot shoe for you? That’s okay – our reviews below will help you make the right decision.

It’s an important decision based on several factors, such as the shoe’s overall protection (what terrain will you be running on?) and the heel-to-toe drop (how flat should the shoe be?). Of course, cost – if you’re starting, you want the best shoe without investing a fortune.

Buying a new shoe – barefoot or otherwise is something you’ll want to consider carefully.

If you’re in any doubt, we always recommend going to a good sports shoe store so that you can check out your foot strike and stride pattern and make recommendations based on that.

Barefoot Shoes for Women

1. ALEADER Women’s Barefoot Trail Running Shoes Minimalist

Barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon

2. Joomra Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes

Barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon

Related: Sheepskin slipper

3. WHITIN Women’s Barefoot & Minimalist Shoe

Barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon

4. Weweya Barefoot Shoes for Women Minimalist Running Cross Training Shoe

Barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon

5. Vibram Women’s KSO EVO-W

Barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon | Zappos

6. WHITIN Women’s Barefoot Minimalist Shoes, Natural Foot-Shaped

No products found.

Get it: Amazon

7. hiitave Womens Water Shoes Quick Dry Barefoot

Barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon

Related post: Best running shoes for women and men

Barefoot Shoes for Men

8. WHITIN Men’s Minimalist Trail Runner with Wide Toe Box

mens barefoot shoes

Get it: Amazon

9. Minimalist Trail Runner

Elongated Toilet

Get it: Amazon

10. TSLA Men’s Trail Running Shoes, Lightweight Athletic Zero Drop Barefoot Shoes

Elongated Toilet

Get it: Amazon

11. Minimalist Cross Training Shoes for Men

Elongated Toilet

Get it: Amazon

12. Vibram Men’s V-Run Running Shoe

Elongated Toilet

Get it: Amazon

13. Vibram Five Fingers Men’s KSO Trek Trail Hiking Black Shoe

Elongated Toilet

Get it: Amazon

14. Oranginer Men’s Barefoot Shoes – Big Toe Box

Elongated Toilet

Get it: Amazon

What are Barefoot Shoes?

These shoes offer the closest-to-ground feel with a very minimal layer of sole, usually about 3-4mm thick.  Most models do not have any cushion in the heel pad since the whole idea of barefoot running is about mid-foot or forefoot strike.

The most significant feature of this kind of shoe is the 0mm drop from heel to toe.  This means the heel to toe is leveled, encouraging a more natural form of running. Most of these shoes offer a very snug fit as it simulates as if you are not wearing any shoe for your running.

Factors to Consider when Selecting Barefoot Shoes

1. A Wide Toe Box: Traditional running shoes have a narrow toe box. Barefoot shoes have wider or easily flexible toe boxes, which allow your toes to spread when they land.

2. Light Material: Whether made of mesh, a strap, or fabric, it is important that this is light and breathable. It might also stretch, flex, and be pretty to look at.

3. Adjustable: Whether accomplished with velcro or laces, most shoes need to have an adjustable upper. If it is too tight, it limits circulation. If it is too loose, it will either fly off or cause you to adjust your landing in negative ways.

4. Insole: If it has an insole, it should be removable and the shoe should still be comfortable. It should not offer any support such as an orthotic might. It is best if an insole is non-existent, but it adds to the life, comfort, and durability of the shoe.

5. Outsole: This should not be made up of too much EVA foam or anything that controls motion. It should be durable, lightweight, and able to handle the surface on which you plan to run.

A note about socks (including toe socks for Vibrams):
Socks are not really invited to the barefoot shoe party. Besides adding more layers between you and the ground, socks actually constrict the foot, limiting blood flow, which actually keeps your feet cold

What is a Minimalist Shoe?

Almost like barefoot shoes, these minimalist shoes offer a slight drop from heel to toe, usually within 4mm to 8mm.  It encourages natural running motion on a mid-foot strike and provides minimal cushioning. The toe box is generally roomier than barefoot shoes, and it helps strengthen grip and balance.

Characteristics of good minimalist running shoes

1. No Arch Support: Barefoot shoes remove the curvy arch support, allowing your foot’s natural arch to take over. Unlike most shoes on the market, barefoot shoes are flat, allowing your heel to drop (called zero drop) all the way to the ground. This is important to maintain a natural gait pattern allowing the calf and Achilles tendon to flex, spring, and respond with each step.

2. No Cushioning: Traditional running shoes are stuffed with round, bumpy padding to absorb shock. Barefoot shoes do not have fluffy padding. The absence of cushioning allows your foot to feel the ground when it hits. This is what gives a barefoot shoe its distinctive feel.

3. No Motion Control: The firm side support and other structural attempts to prevent pronation are gone in barefoot shoes. Minimalist shoes allow your foot to roll, flex, and move freely.

Bare form running

This video compares the typical form running and basic form running techniques.

It also demonstrates how you can try to transition into a better running technique by resetting your posture, being conscious of how you land, and counting the 180 steps per minute during your run.

The video shows how common-form runners land their feet on the heel; first, we call it a heel strike. And usually, the knee will be straight during landing and takes place in front of the hip position.
Common form runners typically have a slower cadence which covers about 140 to 160 steps per minute.

Barefoot runners, however, land mid-foot with a bent knee and usually below the hip position.

There is a shortened cadence and would cover about 180 steps per minute. There is also a slight leaning forward at the ankle when the feet land.

Bare form running requires a good posture reset to get your body position for the right start. This is also demonstrated in the video, and it shows an excellent and straightforward way to correct your running technique.

Barefoot Running

Barefoot running has been nothing but a back-to-nature since the beginning of humanity.  We are just going back to basics, where running in the most natural essential state could improve our endurance and minimize injury.

With the Harvard study and research on the effects of foot strikes, runners have been putting more focus on their running form.

The common misconception about running barefoot or on minimalist shoes is that it is injury-free.  The Harvard research showed that runners could land comfortably and safely by landing on flat feet (midfoot strike) or on the ball (forefoot strike).

Of course, posture and technique of barefoot running are still essential to have a safer and less injury run.

Runner Christopher McDougall wondered why his foot hurt; he set off on the journey to find the answer and ended up with the bestseller Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

This is an excellent book for those searching for answers on how to improve your running stamina and endurance.

According to Newton’s Running shoes selection guide, how to choose a barefoot or minimalist shoe is also dependent on whether the runner’s feet are of natural gait, pronate or supinate.

The Health Benefits of Walking Barefoot

Walking barefoot essentially means going around without the aid of any footwear. Some people swear by this because it helps them feel at one with nature. But believe it or not, there are health benefits to walking barefoot.

Related: Walking shoes

Sure, footwear can protect against hazards such as cuts and abrasions, but it also limits the benefits you can get that come with naturally walking barefoot. These range from promoting healthier skin, having improved blood flow throughout your lower extremities, and having stronger foot muscles, which makes you less prone to a foot injury.

The shoes that we wear have little relation to the shape of our feet despite the appearance that they may have. Despite their best efforts, shoe companies cannot replicate the shape of the human foot in shoes closely enough.

This problem is exacerbated when shoes are designed primarily for fashion or stature, most notably in high-heeled shoes.

Some of the problems that shoes create include cramping the foot, creating inadequate blood flow, improper functioning of the foot’s muscles, increased frequency of foot injury, and adverse conditions such as ankle sprains and ingrown toenails.

Prevent Your Feet from Getting Lazy

Of course, shoes help protect your feet from the elements, but they are so protective that they prevent specific foot muscles from being used adequately enough. The result is that shoes help your feet get lazy.

By going barefoot, you will utilize more of these muscles consistently so that these muscles develop correctly and help prevent foot injuries that you would sustain with less developed foot muscles.

Studies have shown that people who mostly go barefoot tend to have more flexibility and mobility in their feet. People who walk barefoot tend to use a more natural gait than when wearing shoes, especially when the shoes are not well designed for human speed.

When barefoot, the motion ideally begins with a soft strike of the foot on the ground and then a gentle rolling action from the heel to the toe. When wearing shoes, people tend to begin the motion with a much harder strike on the heel, which does not produce the ideal walking gait.

In a study conducted fifty years ago, the results showed that children who were allowed to walk primarily barefoot had the following benefits:

  • they developed more muscular and healthier feet
  • they had more developed muscles at the bottom of their feet
  • they had a more remarkable ability to spread their toes

Remember, our ancient ancestors walked barefoot for centuries, so we are genetically inclined to go barefoot. The invention of shoes is recent in the overall timescale of human existence, so it’s not in our DNA for our feet to be enclosed in shoes most of the time.

Healthier Skin

Walking barefoot will toughen the skin at the bottom of your feet and help your skin become denser and healthier. Your exposed feet will cause more wear and tear on your skin, but the skin is designed to replenish itself on an as-needed basis.

Your skin consistently sheds dead, unhealthy skin cells and replaces them with healthier new cells. By walking barefoot, your exposed skin will clear the dead cells quicker, so the result is that you will tend to have healthier, fresher skin on a more consistent basis.

Furthermore, with no shoes, your feet will be constantly exposed to the air and remain dry. If you wear shoes for hours on end, your feet won’t receive any sun rays and will stay in a dark, damp environment.

There are many sweat glands on the foot, and since they will be hot when stuffed in shoes for a while, the hot wet environment is ideal for harmful particles such as bacteria and fungi to flourish.

This can result in adverse conditions such as athlete’s foot. You will rarely experience this problem barefoot since your feet can quickly air dry while at the same time receiving a healthy dose of sunshine. Sunshine increases the presence of melanin and serotonin in the skin and provides the body with Vitamin D.

Prevent Varicose Veins

Walking barefoot can help prevent varicose veins. Varicose veins occur due to restricted, or less than optimal, blood flow between the feet and the heart.

When walking barefoot, your motion is fuller and less restricted, which helps your leg muscles pump more blood back to the heart. This will help you sustain healthier veins and prevent them from becoming varicose.

More Relaxing

When you think of going barefoot, typically, you picture yourself on the beach or at the park in the grass, in a relaxed state of mind.

You usually associate times when you are barefoot with relaxing moments. Going barefoot tends to put you in a different state of mind, involving a lot less stress than typical.

Notice how specific exercises which promote relaxation are usually done without shoes? These include practices such as yoga, Thai Chi, and other specialized martial arts that focus on mental strength and calmness.

Safety Precautions With Going Barefoot

If you decide to try going barefoot more often, you should have some safety concerns to make it a much more enjoyable experience. You’ll have to pay more attention to potential hazards in your pathway, especially if in an urban or industrial setting.

It might not be harmful to carry a light pair of shoes with you if you think you will be in a less-than-the-optimal area for barefoot walking.

Also, you will want to wash and disinfect your feet frequently since they will be exposed to more dirt and bacteria. You can soak in warm soap and water, and perhaps take a piece of cloth dabbed in rubbing alcohol and rub your feet with that.

This will keep your feet nice and clean while enjoying the numerous health benefits that walking barefoot gives you.

Christine
Christine
Dr Christine Nolan is the CEO and founder of Footdiagnosis.com. She also has extensive clinical experience and is therefore uniquely qualified to detect and manage diseases of the lower extremities including those related to peripheral arterial disease and diabetes.