Are you tired of bulky, uncomfortable running shoes that weigh you down? Are you searching for the perfect pair of lightweight, minimalist shoes that let you truly feel the ground beneath your feet? Look no further! In this article, we will explore the world of the best minimalist shoes on the market. From trail running to cross training, we have compiled a list of the top-notch options that will revolutionize your running experience. So lace up and get ready to discover the ultimate freedom and flexibility with the best minimalist shoes around!

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is an excellent choice for individuals who focus on lifting. This shoe has a wide toe box that comfortably accommodates toe splay, so even those with wide feet won't have any issues with width in this model.

What sets this model apart is its removable insole and finished internal construction. The Active Sole is only 4mm thick, allowing you to get close to the ground for deadlifts and making it a great choice for barbell-friendly barefoot workouts.

The upper construction is both breathable and environmentally conscious, as it is made with recycled materials.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii lifting

For lower body sessions, the Primus Lite III is my go-to shoe. The minimalist sole allows for easy foot articulation, making it ideal for lunges, active foot exercises, and targeting specific areas of the feet during training.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, but there are no half sizes (except for 12.5)
  • Read My Review: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Review

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG is another great barefoot shoe option for trail running and hiking. This model has a more casual look, making it suitable for both daily wear and outdoor adventures.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg for trail runs

The Primus Trail II FG features Vivobarefoot's FG tech, which provides added foot protection for outdoor activities. The shoe has 4mm lugs that cover the entire outsole.

I found that these lugs performed well on light and moderate trails, but were not as effective on icy surfaces, so keep that in mind if you plan on using them in such conditions. Overall, the Primus Trail II FG is a solid choice for those seeking a versatile and casual barefoot shoe.

vivobarefoot primus trail ii fg hiking performance

Two additional benefits of this shoe are its easy-to-clean nature and superior breathability. The ability to easily clean the shoe is particularly useful when encountering muddy terrain during a trail run. However, keep in mind that the breathability may not be suitable for colder weather hikes.

  • Best For: Trail Running, Hiking, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.2 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size (if you're in-between sizes, then go up)
  • Read My Review: Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG Review
Budget-friendly barefoot shoes can vary in price, and not everyone wants to spend over $100 USD on a pair, especially for casual use or experimentation.

Below, I will provide two of my favorite picks for the best budget barefoot shoes. One option is for those on a super tight budget, looking to spend less than $50 USD, and the other is for those aiming to spend less than $100 USD.

Vivobarefoot Primus Asana

The Vivobarefoot Primus Asana takes the top spot as the best barefoot shoe for daily wear and walking. This model offers numerous benefits and can serve as a stylish pair of casual barefoot shoes. It is also suitable for casual training and workouts.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Asana for Walking and Standing

One of the standout features of the Primus Asana is its appearance. The shoe combines Woolmark merino wool and Wildhide leather, giving it a classy and refined look.

In my opinion, the Vivobarefoot Primus Asana is one of the best-looking barefoot shoes from the brand. The blend of wool and leather provides excellent thermoregulation, especially during spring, summer, and fall.

Vivobarefoot Primus Asana Barefoot Shoe Review

Another feature I appreciate is the use of Vivobarefoot's Active Sole in this model. The 4mm thick sole offers good ground feedback and decent traction on different surfaces, making the shoe versatile for daily wear.

  • Best For: Walking, Casual Training, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 9.8 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size (half sizes, see my full review for a sizing breakdown)
  • Read My Review: Vivobarefoot Primus Asana Review

Topo Athletic ST-4 Comfortable Minimalist Running Shoes

ST-4 Comfortable Minimalist Running ShoesMost Versatile

Xero Shoes Minimalist Mesa Trail Running Shoe

Minimalist Mesa Trail Running Shoe

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is my top choice for hiking and trail running for three key reasons. First, it features 3.5mm lugs on the outsole that provide excellent grip.

xero shoes mesa trail performance

These lugs perform well on light and moderate terrains, including rock scrambles and obstacles encountered during hiking and trail running.

Second, the shoe incorporates a hidden layer of 3mm "TrailFoam," which offers a bit of protection on varied terrain. This feature makes the shoe more versatile and suitable for beginners to barefoot shoes.

Third, the upper construction of the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is durable, with reinforced areas in high-abrasion areas like the toe box. Additionally, the insole is removable, allowing for customization of the shoe's feel.

  • Best For: Trail Running, Hiking, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Review

ALTRA Escalante 3 Minimalist Road Running Shoe

Escalante 3 Minimalist Road Running ShoeBest for Road Racing

ALTRA Solstice XT 2 Cross Training Minimalist Sneaker

Solstice XT 2 Cross Training Minimalist SneakerBest for Cross-Training

Merrell Trail Glove 6 Minimalist Sneaker

Trail Glove 6 Minimalist SneakerBest for Barefoot Beginners

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Minimalist Running Sneaker

Vapor Glove 5 Minimalist Running SneakerBest Value

Luna Sandals Leadville Trail Minimalist Sandal

Leadville Trail Minimalist SandalFinally, for those seeking the most minimal option available, there are running sandals. The Luna Sandals Leadville Trail model, named after a challenging ultra race, provides an experience closest to barefoot running without going sockless on the road. These sandals are lightweight, flexible, and offer just enough thickness (11mm) to protect your feet on rocks and gravel. If you want to truly experience running like the Raramuri, slipping into a pair of Lunas is the way to go.

Buy Unisex

Headshot of Amanda FurrerAmanda Furrer

Test Editor

Amanda is a test editor at Runner's World who has participated in the Boston Marathon every year since 2013. She is a former professional baker with a master's degree in gastronomy, and her go-to pre-race fuel is snickerdoodles.

Other Options to Consider

Barefoot with Grip

Softstar Minimalist Primal RunAmoc Shoe

Minimalist Primal RunAmoc ShoeEfficient runners who are light on their feet and less prone to injury will appreciate these barefoot leather trainers. Designed for shorter runs and soft trails, these shoes feature a 5mm grippy Vibram Omniflex rubber outsole and an extra roomy toe box with a light protective cap. The padding around the tongue and ankle ensures comfort, whether worn with or without socks. Handcrafted in Oregon with responsibly sourced materials, these shoes offer a true minimalist experience, though those seeking more support for longer distances may find them too Spartan.

Buy Unisex

Stylish Comfort

Vibram V-Trail 2.0 Minimalist Running Shoe

V-Trail 2.0 Minimalist Running ShoeThe Original

WHITIN Trail Runner

The WHITIN Trail Runner is my top pick for the best budget-friendly barefoot shoes. I chose this model because it is priced at $40 USD and WHITIN offers other similar options.

whitin minimalist trail runner for casual trails

If you are looking to save money or want a pair of durable barefoot shoes without breaking the bank, then the WHITIN Trail Runner is a great choice.

I also appreciate that WHITIN offers other models priced around $40, allowing you to find the best option for your needs. The Trail Runner is particularly suitable for outdoor enthusiasts.

whitin minimalist trail runner trail performance

Additionally, this shoe performs well for training, walking, and provides decent comfort. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing shoe, its affordability makes up for it.

  • Best For: Budget Shoppers, Casual Training, Light Hikes, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 11.6 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: WHITIN Trail Runner Review
If you are in search of a budget-friendly barefoot shoe under $100 USD that offers great durability, the Xero Shoes Prio is a fantastic option.

Xero Shoes Prio Budget Friendly

This model has numerous advantages and has consistently made it onto my list for various reasons. Firstly, the price point is .99 USD, and if you manage to purchase them on sale, you'll be getting excellent value for your money.

I appreciate the versatility of the Xero Shoes Prio, as it performs well in various contexts. Whether you're working out intensively, going for long walks or runs, or wearing them daily, they will deliver excellent performance.

Xero Shoes Prio Insole

Moreover, the long-term durability of the Xero Shoes Prio is commendable considering its price. My only small complaint is that I would prefer a more aesthetically pleasing upper construction.

  • Best For: Casual Wear, Budget Shoppers, Lifting, Shorter Runs
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Xero Shoes Prio Review
Barefoot shoes can be used for a variety of reasons, and it is essential to define your purpose when considering a pair. Most commonly, barefoot shoes are worn to support natural movement.

what are barefoot shoes (1)

When we wear regular shoes, our movement mechanics are slightly altered. Barefoot shoes aim to minimize this alteration and provide a barefoot-like experience. This can positively impact lower body mechanics during walking, running, and lifting, as the shoes have a 0mm heel-to-toe drop and keep you closer to the ground.

Another reason people opt for barefoot shoes is to strengthen the foot muscles. The foot and ankle have 29 associated muscles. When constantly wearing shoes, especially those with thicker midsoles and outsoles, the opportunity to build foot and ankle muscles diminishes.

Barefoot shoes, on the other hand, expose the foot to a more variable environment, allowing the intrinsic muscles of the foot to develop. In simple terms, barefoot shoes encourage the foot to adjust its positioning to the ground, engaging the smaller muscles.

The benefits of barefoot shoes can vary depending on individuals. However, there are consistent benefits that barefoot shoes offer, regardless of personal opinions.

Whitin Sneakers

A side view close up of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing tan Whitin casual barefoot sneakers

Whitin sneakers are one of the most affordable options available, priced at around $40. They offer a wide range of casual styles to choose from. These sneakers come with a removable cushioned insole, allowing you to experience a true barefoot feel when desired. They are zero drop and highly flexible.

These sneakers are a favorite amongst individuals who want to try the barefoot concept without a significant investment. Furthermore, the casual sneakers are machine washable. For the best foot shape, I recommend ordering from their "Wide Barefoot" section.

You can find my Whitin Barefoot Shoes Review here!

Altra Running Shoes

Four photo collage showing Altra Running shoes, zero drop cushioned footwear with toe space

Another outstanding brand for minimalist athletic shoes is Altra. Similar to Lems, Altra offers multiple width options. Their wider zero-drop options with thinner soles make for great picks.

My favorites from Altra are the Lone Peak, Escalante, and Superior models. For a wider toe box, I recommend choosing the Lone Peak Wide, which comes in several colorways.

Altra was the first minimalist shoe brand I owned, and I immediately noticed their superior comfort for my toes compared to other sneakers. One of the advantages of Altra is its wide availability, and you may even have the opportunity to try them on at a local running shoe store. However, please note that some models have extremely thick soles and a low drop (4mm heel), which I typically do not recommend.


A collage of 7 different Barebarics barefoot sneaker models on different feet and from different angles

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for a 5% discount at the EU shop.

Barebarics is a fashion-forward brand owned by Be Lenka. These shoes are designed for urban dwellers, offering a highly abrasion-resistant outsole, slightly more cushioning compared to Be Lenka shoes, and a modern aesthetic. Barebarics excels in both style and quality.

Their thicker and stiffer outsole, along with a cushioned insole, makes them a good transition shoe. You can even use orthotics comfortably with them if needed. Barebarics shoes have a fabulous toe box shape, catering to individuals with wide feet. We offer Barebarics shoes at Anya's Shop in the US, with free shipping and returns.

You can read my full Barebarics Review here!

Oesh Shoes

Oesh is a women's brand that offers minimalist shoes for everyday wear with a thicker sole. They have a range of athletic shoes, summer sandals, and even dress shoes, catering to the needs of modern women. The 3D-printed soles are designed to be shock absorbent and springy, reducing joint impact. However, they do not provide arch support, promoting better foot stability and function. You can read about my experiences with Oesh here.

Wildling Shoes Chestnut

The Wildling Shoes Chestnut is my second pick for the best barefoot shoe for daily wear. I wanted to include this model because it offers a different style compared to the Vivobarefoot Primus Asana mentioned earlier.

Styling the Wildling Shoes Chestnut

In terms of daily wear, the Wildling Shoes Chestnut is an excellent choice due to its casual appearance. It pairs well with different outfits and looks great with both pants and shorts, despite being a high-top boot.

These shoes have an internal wool construction that provides warmth, making them suitable for all seasons. They keep your feet warm in cooler months and offer good thermoregulation for sockless wear on warmer days.

Wildling Shoes Chestnut Barefoot Shoes Review

Moreover, these shoes offer a generous width and should accommodate most foot widths. The only downside is that they require weather-proofing for wet days, which is an extra step to consider.

  • Best For: Walking, Cooler Month Wear, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.6 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Wildling Shoes Chestnut Review

When evaluating barefoot shoes for trail running and hiking, I focus on three key features. Firstly, I consider the outsole tread and its ability to provide sufficient grip on different types of trails.

Secondly, I assess the upper durability. Since trails can vary significantly during runs and hikes, it's crucial to have shoes that can withstand various elements and obstacles without tearing.

Lastly, I prioritize comfort and foot protection. It's important to assess the level of protection provided by the shoe in case of accidental contact with sharp objects on the trail.

Tolos Archetype 1.0

The Tolos Archetype 1.0 is my second pick for the best barefoot shoe for lifting. I frequently alternate between the Tolos Archetype 1.0 and Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for my lifting sessions, as both shoes deliver exceptional performance.

Tolos Archetype 1.0 workout review

The Tolos Archetype 1.0 stands out for its low-profile athletic fit and excellent articulation. It offers exceptional grip on rubber gym floors and wooden platforms during heavy deadlifts and squats.

I appreciate how well the Tolos Archetype 1.0 articulates during exercises such as lunges and active foot movements that require flexibility in the toes and midfoot. The shoe's performance improves as it breaks in over time.

Tolos Archetype 1.0 vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Upper Construction

The only potential downside of the Tolos Archetype 1.0 for some lifters is that its toe box is not as roomy as models like the Primus Lite III. If you prefer a barefoot shoe with a spacious toe box, this is something to consider.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 7.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Doesn't come with an insole
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Tolos Archetype 1.0 Review

Until recently, there were limited barefoot shoe options designed specifically for CrossFit. A great barefoot CrossFit shoe should possess a few key characteristics that set it apart from other barefoot shoes.

These characteristics include a durable upper construction and outsoles that provide grip for multi-directional activities. Durability is crucial in this style of training. Below are my top two recommendations.

Xero Shoes 360

The Xero Shoes 360 is specifically designed for functional fitness and CrossFit-focused athletes. Compared to the Xero Shoes Prio and HFS, this model offers several unique features.

Testing the Xero Shoes 360 for Weight Training

Firstly, the Xero Shoes 360 has a durable upper construction with a suede toe box overlay and rubber ribs for enhanced abrasion resistance.

Additionally, the removable insole provides responsiveness and versatility based on your preferences. It offers good grip on different surfaces, with the sole wrapping up the lateral and medial sides of the forefoot.

Testing the Xero Shoes 360 for CrossFit

The Xero Shoes 360 excels in gripping the floor during CrossFit movements such as box jumps, cleans, and double-unders. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing shoe, it gets the job done for CrossFit workouts and versatile training.

  • Best For: CrossFit and Lifting
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 10.2 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Xero Shoes 360 Review

Xero Shoes Zelen

My preferred barefoot shoe for running is the Xero Shoes Zelen. This shoe offers excellent performance in hybrid training sessions that combine running and lifting.

Testing the Xero Shoes Zelen for Running

I appreciate the tire-like tread on the sole of the Xero Shoes Zelen, which provides excellent traction on various surfaces and offers grip during sprints and steady-state runs.

Another advantage of this shoe is its breathable upper, allowing for comfortable wear with or without socks in warmer environments. Whether you prefer running with or without socks, the Xero Shoes Zelen accommodates your needs.

Me Training In the Xero Shoes Zelen Barefoot Shoes

Furthermore, the Xero Shoes Zelen offers flexibility, a removable insole, and durability suitable for both running and lifting. It is a well-rounded option for those seeking a barefoot shoe for these activities.

  • Best For: Shorter to Mid-Range Runs and Lifting
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Xero Shoes Zelen Review

Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit

The Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit is an excellent choice for runners who prefer a lighter-weight upper construction. Its key feature is the knit upper, which I personally appreciate for its breathability, maneuverability, and lightweight feel. Whether you're running indoors or outdoors, this model offers great breathability.

The 4mm thick Active Sole on this shoe promotes a strong connection with the ground while running. I also like that it has a removable insole, providing versatility in terms of cushioning. The hexagon tread on the Active Sole offers good traction on concrete, tracks, and treadmills, but it may not perform well on wet surfaces.

  • Best For: Shorter to Mid-Range Runs, Daily Wear, and Lifting
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit Review

When it comes to the best barefoot shoes for women, I rely heavily on feedback from my YouTube community to create a comprehensive list. By analyzing trends in the feedback and combining it with my own reviews, I can determine which barefoot shoes women prefer.

Feelgrounds Original Mesh

The Feelgrounds Original Mesh is the top choice for the best barefoot shoe for women. It offers versatility for daily wear and looks great in various settings. The shoe features a simplistic design that gives it a refined appearance, making it suitable for both shorts and pants. It can be easily dressed up or down based on your preferences.

In addition to its design, the Feelgrounds Original Mesh is built with recycled materials, making it an environmentally conscious choice. The upper, lining, and laces are all made from recycled PET, and the sole is made from recycled TPE. This model is a good option for casual wear and walking, but it does not come with an insole.

  • Best For: Walking and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 7.7 oz (size 10 model, 11.5 in women's)
  • Removable Insole: Does not come with an insole.
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Feelgrounds Original Mesh Review

Feelgrounds Highrise Knit

The Feelgrounds Highrise Knit is another excellent barefoot shoe for men, particularly for daily wear, walking, and even casual workouts. Its standout features are its appearance and overall fit. The refined and simplistic knit upper gives the shoe a stylish look and provides effective thermoregulation.

The Highrise Knit also prioritizes sustainability, as it is made with recycled materials like recycled PET for the laces, lining, and upper, and recycled TPE for the sole. This model is a great choice for those who prefer high-top shoes and want a multi-season daily wear option.

  • Best For: Casual Wear and Lifting
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 9.2 oz (size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Feelgrounds Highrise Knit Review

When it comes to finding the best barefoot shoes for beginners, I often wonder which shoe is the ideal choice for someone's first pair. Here are two beginner-friendly options that offer both affordability and functionality.


The Splay FREESTYLE is my second pick for the best beginner-friendly barefoot shoe. It stands out for its no-frills design and reasonable price point. Priced around .99 USD, this shoe is a clean-looking option suitable for daily wear. It is also durable for this context, ensuring longevity.

I appreciate the simplistic upper construction of the Splay FREESTYLE, which has a Converse and Vans vibe to it. It is a comfortable option and offers sufficient width for most foot anatomies, making it a safe choice for beginners who are still figuring out their ideal shoe width. Note that this model comes with a removable insole.

  • Best For: Beginner-Friendly, Budget-Friendly, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 11.2 oz (size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Splay Freestyle Review

When testing barefoot shoes for daily wear and walking, my main focus is on comfort, appearance, and long-term durability. These shoes need to be suitable for commuting and versatile enough to match different outfits.

Saguaro Barefoot Sneakers

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 15% off!

Saguaro offers affordable barefoot sneakers that come in a full range of sizes, starting at the toddler level. These shoes come with a removable insole that provides some cushioning, although not as much as other brands on this list. The adult athletic shoe models feature a minimal heel rise in the insole, which can help with transitioning to zero drop. If desired, the insole can be removed.

With a price of around $36 after using the provided code, the Saguaro Barefoot Sneakers offer an accessible entry point to barefoot shoes. They are available in both knitted and winter models, suitable for both kids and adults.

Read my Saguaro Shoes Review here.

In a world that's constantly striving for more, it's refreshing to find the beauty in simplicity. And that's exactly what minimalist shoes offer - a chance to connect with the ground beneath us, to feel every stride, and to truly embrace the freedom of natural movement. From the versatile Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III to the lightweight Luna Sandals Leadville Trail Minimalist Sandal, there's a perfect pair out there for everyone. So why not take a step back from the noise and chaos, and let your feet take center stage with the best minimalist shoes? Your body will thank you, and you'll wonder why you ever wore anything else.