10 Best Barefoot Shoes Rated for Runners

Barefoot running has been around for centuries. In the Olympic Marathon of 1960, Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, ran through the streets of Rome barefoot and won a gold medal. There have been many runners who claim that running without shoes or minimalist shoes can be beneficial. Nowadays, runners are choosing to buy ‘barefoot’ shoes as a lightweight alternative to the classic athletic shoes.

Best Barefoot Running Shoes-close-up

Though running through city sidewalk barefoot isn’t the best idea, as you’d need to avoid running into broken glass bottles and other strange/unhygienic objects. There are many risks that come with running barefoot through the rough terrains that you might find yourself in. Barefoot shoes are there to offer you an option for footwear that allows you the feel of truly running barefoot. Most barefoot shoes offer a zero drop feature which is the difference between the height of the toe and the heel.

Featured Recommendations

Mizuno Wave Universe 5
  • Mizuno Wave Universe 5
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Shaft measures approximately 3
  • Price: See Here
Merrell Vapor Glove 2
  • Merrell Vapor Glove 2
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Polyurethane Upper
  • Price: See Here
Cior Fantiny
  • Cior Fantiny
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Antislip Outsole
  • Price: See Here

Nowadays, we’re moving away from the traditional athletic footwear and more into a more natural running experience. You still wish to have some sort of support and protection for your soles from pebbles and rocks while running outside, or even the wear on the treadmill. In the recent years, barefoot shoes have come a long way in terms of the protection they offer and the technology that they use. Though it’s still an establishing market, there are still quite a few products out there. Our list will help you narrow down your choices based on the shoe being lightweight, use the latest technology and still have a bit of style.

 

10 Best Barefoot Running Shoes

 

1. Mizuno Wave Universe 5

Barefoot shoes combine the best of style, technology, and protection. They allow us to feel how runners pre-modern athletic shoe felt while running. The barefoot shoe from Mizuno has a high tech, ultra-modern and lightweight style. On top of the stylish body of the shoe, it also includes a unique and stylish lace that adds a pop to the whole shoe.
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Very Lightweight
At roughly 2.3 oz., for the women’s version and 2.9 oz., for the men’s version of this shoe – this is one of the lightest shoes on this list. They are so lightweight that many people have compared it to putting your feet into a silk sock.

Breathable
The lightweight and thin material of this shoe makes it very strong and breathable. It’s been compared to being like spider silk. It’s a slightly spongier and thinner version of its predecessor. On top of that, you can wash them by simply placing them in a mesh garment bag.

Cost and Value
This is one of the pricier shoes on this list and the sizes seem to run slightly small. Apart from that, they are great for runners. Runners can even choose to wear them sockless without experiencing any redness or blisters. The slightly cushioned feel of the shoe allows for longer running distances.
Pros
  • Very flexible that allows for a natural running feel
  • The midsole support provided by U4ic tech
  • G3 SOLE technology for ground feel and a strong traction
  • Extremely lightweight (2.3 oz., for women’s shoes and 2.9 oz., for men’s shoes)
  • Fit like a glove
Cons
  • Higher price point (expensive)
  • Shoes might start to smell after some time.

2. Merrell Vapor Glove 2

When searching for barefoot shoes, you’re bound to come across a couple by Merrell at the tops of all the lists. They regularly score high and continue to give runners all the aspects they desire in a barefoot running shoe. They have a minimal and attractive design that has all the necessary technology that runners need. Through it all, it remains somewhat affordable and lightweight.
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Vegan Friendly
Vapor Glove 2 by Merrell proudly states that these shoes at vegan-friendly. They provide runners with style and comfort while using 0% animal products. The breathable mesh fabric holds your foot to offer you unstoppable movement.

Vibram Layer
The lug patterns provide runners with stability while they run in all sorts of conditions. In addition, no lugs on the arch provide runners with flexibility for your feet for a more natural and comfortable running experience. The Vapor Glove 2 is has great traction to be able to run on dry and wet surfaces.

Cost and Value
Though not the highest priced shoe on this list, this is still in the higher price points. Apart from that, the Vapor Glove 2 provides runners with a long lasting freshness that prevents moisture and sweat from affecting your barefoot shoes. The shoe contains antimicrobial agents that can reduce the production of odor molecules.
Pros
  • Zero Drop and Vibram layer
  • Durable outsole
  • TPU and Mesh uppers for a breathable yet secure coverage.
  • Lightweight construction through the combined outsole and foot bed.
  • Vegan-friendly construction
Cons
  • Sizes run slightly large
  • Some reports of it wearing out quickly

3. New Balance Minimus

The Minimus barefoot running shoes from New Balance are stylish and sleek shoes. If you’re still unsure about going completely barefoot, then these are the perfect pair to give you some support and still look attractive. They are very lightweight at around 4.7 oz., for the women’s pair and 5.9 oz., for the men’s version. They have a fair few amount of color options and other positive qualities about them.
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Comfortable and Stabile
Though these shoes are very lightweight, they are still able to maintain stability. There isn’t a large amount of cushioning with the shoe as it’s built more towards a minimalistic design. Through it all, the shoes remain quite comfortable, though it is recommended to be worn with socks to avoid any blisters.

Quality Build
In comparison to its predecessors, the Minimus Trail Running shoe has been reported with a high durability rate. It’s constructed with quality materials that ensure a long lasting shoe. It includes antimicrobial agents that keep the shoe odorless and your feet fresh.

Cost and Value
This barefoot shoe from New Balance is on the higher end price point side. In comparison to other minimalistic styled shoes, this one is a bit pricier. However, the quality and build of the shoe as well as the reputation of the company, combined make it a worthwhile investment for all runners.
Pros
  • Ultra flexible for a natural running feel
  • FantomFit technology in upper sole for a sock like fit
  • Well designed
  • Antimicrobial for keeping feet odorless and fresh
  • Low and lightweight
Cons
  • Sizes run slightly small
  • Tread can make it harder to walk on wet surfaces

4. Saucony Virrata 2

Saucony’s Virrata 2 features a flexible and zero drop shoe design that is ideal for everyday use. It is made with a lightweight material that is more towards the minimalistic design. In comparison to Saucony’s product line, the Virrata 2 is the slimiest option. The 18mm cushioning makes this the ideal shoe for those runners that are transitioning into the world of barefoot running.
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Quick Dry Mesh
The Virrata 2 features a quick dry mesh that keeps your feet cool and dry. It’s also able to support the heel and give the runner a sock-like, snug fit. The Ethylene Vinyl Acetate provides the runner with some cushioning in the midsole.

Minimalistic And Comfortable
These shoes received little to no complaints from runners that have used it. It has a good durability ratio and quality of the shoe, ensuring that your investment will go a long way. It provides runners with a flexible shoe with enough support and cushioning to make it a smooth and comfortable shoe.

Cost and Value
Though this shoe is by no means that most expensive barefoot shoe, it still runs on the pricier side. However, taking into account the durability of the shoe as well as the comfortability – it makes for a good investment shoe. In terms of its practicality, this shoe is decently priced.
Pros
  • Affordable and lightweight
  • flexible with good heel support
  • comfortable sock-like fit
  • Breathable rapid dry mesh material
  • Ethylene Vinyl Acetate within the midsole for cushioning
Cons
  • Not as element resistant as other shoes
  • Same Toe Box from predecessors and runs half a size small

5. Cior Fantiny

The Fantiny barefoot slip on shoes feature a lightweight and rapid drying design. They have a soft elastic sole that has excellent durability standards. The drainage system within the shoe allows water to flow out easily, creating a healthier and cooler environment for your feet. They are also comfortable to wear and can suit a variety of different sporting needs.
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Rapid Drying
The FANTINY barefoot shoes by CIOR contain an exemplary drainage system that moves water out of the shoe to ensure that the shoe remains as a healthy environment. The quick dry and comfortability of the shoe means that it can be worn for a multitude of events and purposes.

Comfortable
The breathable fabric allows the runner to have a comfortable and flexible running experience. Runners are able to move freely without feeling any sort of restraint on their toes. It is fit for most outdoor sports, such as walking, jogging, weight training, climbing, fishing and much more.

Cost and Value
In comparison to the rest of the list, this item is one of the most affordable products. It features a range of colors and designs for runners to choose from. As well as being okay to use with several popular sports.
Pros
Cons
  • Online sizing can be confusing
  • Sizes are inconsistent

6. Vibram V Trail

This barefoot shoe is made out of 95% polyester and 5% spandex materials, ensuring a snug fit for your feet. The rubber sole offers runners plenty of flexibility and support to adapt to the ground while running. They include Vibram’s 3D cocoon technology that is molded into the sole and ball area of the shoe, to provide runners with protection against rocks and other debris.
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Sure Footed Grip
The V Trail Runner delivered protection and grip to allow runners to run without a worry about pain. This shoe is the perfect choice for those runners who wish to delve barefoot into the tough and rough terrain.

Vibram’s 5mm Rubber Sole
They offer two colored 5mm soles for runners to pick from. These soles provides the runners with protection from stones, rock and other debris that might be on the ground. Through it all, it still allows a natural running experience for those barefoot running lovers.

Cost and Value
Vibram’s V Trail Runner is among the higher priced shoes on this list. However, the price is completely justified through the advantages that it offers runners. Vibram is known to make excellent barefoot shoes, and they do not disappoint with the V Trail Runner either.
Pros
Cons
  • Sizing may run small
  • Reports of faulty sewing

7. Vibram KSO-M

The KSO-M Trail Runner is made out of stretchy Hypalon, Polyester and Polyamide. The thick rubber sole provides enough resistance while runners are running through rough terrains. The hook and loop Velcro allows for a convenient closure. It is designed to be a glove like fit.
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Thick Sole
The sole can handle most terrains. Whether you’re running along a riverbank, or near gravel and grit – you need a shoe that can handle running on rough grounds. The soles are made with rubber and are razor-sipped to ensure a snug fit.

Breathable Material
The KSO-M Trail Runner features a thin design that’s made with an abrasion resistant polyamide as well as a breathable stretchable mesh that wraps around the entirety of your foot to keep safe and secure.

Cost and Value
Though the price of this product seems to depend on the size that you’re getting, the overall price point seems to be relatively moderate. The KSO-M Trail Runner barefoot shoe offer runners a great grip to keep them moving, no matter what terrain they pass.
Pros
  • Suitable for all ages
  • Smooth soles
  • Thicker sole
  • Excellent grip
  • Usable for most weather conditions
Cons
  • Sizes run small
  • Takes time to adapt to the shoe

8. Merrell Trail Glove 3

The Trail Glove 3 is made with textiles and synthetics. It features a rubber sole that allows for a comfortable run. It’s the perfect shoe for those wishing to transition into barefoot shoes. The shoe has a 3 mm depth of lug, zero-drop, 10.5 stacked height. The Omni fitting lacing system provides runners with a glove like fit. For an added benefit, the reflective details make it perfect to be used in low light.
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M Select FRESH
The lining of the shoe is made out of breathable mesh which reduces odor within the shoe. The added TrailProtect offers runners with protection for the feet while running longer distances. As most Merrell products, the Trail Glove 3 is also vegan friendly.

Midsole Cushioning
Merrell’s Trail Glove 3 offers a minimalistic design that still offers runners enough support to have a comfortable running experience. The MBound midsole cushioning provides immediate feedback. On top of that, the Vibram outsole is a durable sole that offers the highest amount of traction and support.

Cost and Value
Along with other Merrell products, this is placed in a similar price point. The higher ranged shoe offers runners with a minimalistic style that still has all the necessary technology to have a comfortable run. The features of this shoe make it a worthwhile investment.
Pros
  • Omni fitting lacing system
  • Reflective details
  • Vegan friendly
  • Great traction on wet and dry surfaces
  • M-Select FRESH to keep the shoe odorless
Cons
  • Some reports of the arch support being uncomfortable
  • Narrow at the arch

9. New Balance 720v3

As many other shoes offered by New Balance, this barefoot option is one of the top contenders in the world of barefoot shoes. It’s made with 75% Synthetic and 25% Mesh materials. The rubber soles ensure that runners will have a comfortable run. The shoe features a bootie construction as well as being barefoot friendly. On top of that, the molded heel insert is sure to make runners feel comfortable throughout any length or terrain runs.
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Rubber Pod Outsole
The 720v3 Flexonic shoe by New Balance features Ethylene Vinyl Acetate that provides better contact with the ground. The no sew application allows for a smoother and cleaner looking shoe appearance.

Comfortable Running Experience
Though these might not be the best that New Balance has offered, these are still one of the top contenders. The 720v3 shoes offer runs with a thin and flexible upper sole. There won’t be any rubbing on the Achilles, nor will there be any blisters and hot spots while running with this shoe.

Cost and Value
For the features that this shoe has, it is priced extremely well. This mid-priced barefoot shoe is able to handle long distances while still giving your toes enough room to feel relaxed. Though the sizes are said to run small, if you go a size larger – they are quite comfortable to wear.
Pros
  • Comfortable toe box
  • 4mm drop
  • Almost a glove-like fit
  • Lightweight and attractive
  • Break in fast
Cons
  • Sizes run small
  • Some durability issues

10. Xero Prio

The newest addition to the Xero Shoes product line, Xero Shoes Prio is becoming a top choice. This shoe features a rubber sole to allow for a flexible and lightweight shoe that’s perfect for a range of sport activities. It has wide toe boxes that give your toes enough space to relax and spread. The low to the ground feature allows runners to have agility and balance while running through any terrain.
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Foot First Design
The Xero Shoes Prio feature a wide toe box that allows your toes to keep separated and relax. They are non-elevated and feature zero-drop sole that allows runners to keep a proper posture while running.

Low To The Ground Sole
The lowered sole allows runners to keep their agility and balance while getting the true feel of running barefoot. The flexibility of the sole allows runners to bend and move their feet naturally. Through it all, the shoe still offers you plenty of protection and traction.

Cost and Value
Though the Xero Shoe Prio isn’t the highest priced item, it’s one of the most talked about. The new 2017 design is priced a high mid-range, but it features plenty of advantages for runners. It’s a flexible and lightweight shoe that can handle most sports such as trail running, road running, CrossFit, fitness sessions, hiking and many more.
Pros
Cons
  • Some reports of sizing mistakes
  • Might not be great for extremely high temperatures

 

Our ancestors ran across many rough terrains without stopping. They did not feel a need for large foot coverings with bountiful of inserts. They preferred to be closer to the ground while they ran. Nowadays, everyone wants the newest releases by the most popular companies. From Saucony, Merrell, Vibram, New Balance and much more – there are several branded barefoot shoes out there for you to try out. These shoes are perfect for those individuals that want the next challenge while running without comprising their stride or comfort.

Most runners want to get better and faster. They want to run in exciting and new places. They want to feel closer to the ground while they run. Though barefoot shoes might not be for everyone, they have been known to offer agility and balance that modern athletic shoes can’t offer. All you need in a shoe is to ensure that it is lightweight, breathable and odor free. Our list of top ten barefoot shoes will offer something for everyone, even if you are still on the fence about trying out barefoot shoes.