Barefoot, or minimalist, shoes are meant to mirror your bare feet by skipping arch support and rigid constructions for a thin, flexible sole. Although designed to help you feel the ground, the sole is also sturdy enough to keep feet protected from sharp rocks and bumps while walking or running.
According to some experts, the no-elevation style may help reduce impact on joints, particularly in the knees. If you suffer from foot issues like severe overpronation, though, you’ll want to look for styles with additional arch support, such as those that include removable insoles.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best barefoot shoes to suit a range of needs and budgets. Read on to shop them all, perfect for the trails, sea and more.
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1. Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe
Outdoor gear brand Merrell offers a high-performance trail running style, complete with the label’s signature Vibram outsole for stability on rough and slick terrain.
Pros: The lightweight design also features a protective toe cap, breathable mesh lining, soft microfiber footbed and traditional no-tie lace closure to keep feet secure. Overall, it offers a sock-like fit that molds to the shape of your foot, while its wide toe box won’t cramp toes. Plus, cleanup is a cinch since the shoes are machine washable.
Cons: The shoes may not be an ideal pick for those who prefer a split-toe silhouette.
2. Mishansha Barefoot Water Shoes
Designed to keep feet protected during water sports, this quick-drying style also works for a range of on-shore activities from walking to practicing yoga.
Pros: The style’s rubber outsole features drainage holes to help water flow easily away from the shoe and prevent odor buildup. It’s also slip-resistant and great for preventing feet from getting burned on hot sand. From the inside, an EVA insole offers added comfort while also being fast-drying. The style is available in four dozen colorways and comes in options with and without laces featuring an elastic collar for a second-skin fit. They’re also lightweight and foldable — so you can easily move and swim in them, as well as pop them in any bag on the go.
Cons: The style isn’t built be to worn off-road, so it’s not a top choice for those seeking a trail-ready look. It also may be too narrow for wide feet.
3. Joomra Minimalist Trail Running Shoes
If you’re need extra support, this trail-running shoe is a must. The five-finger design comes with a circular lug pattern on the sole for optimal grip and, unlike many other styles on the market, a removable insole to help you customize your level of arch support.
Pros: The shoes also feature a thicker topline to keep them locked in place during exercise. The wide toe box is designed to comfortably wear them with or without socks. Every option available includes stretchy speed laces with an adjustable toggle, while some also come with a Velcro strap for added security. On top of all those features, the shoes are affordably priced.
Cons: The style tends to run small and may be slightly heavier than other styles.