TOP 14 Best Barefoot Running Shoes for Men & Women Reviewed 2020

Jeff Baldelli
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Running is a great low impact cardio exercise that can really help to strengthen your heart and lower your risk of diabetes and stroke.

It also gives you a chance to practice a bit of mindfulness.

One thing tends to hold many people back though, that thing is running on the road barefoot.

This post will highlight some of the best barefoot running shoes in the market to help you choose the most comfortable and safest shoe for you.

NameCategoryProduct
Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 RunnerBest Overall
Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 Runner
Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail RunnerBudget Pick
Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner
Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk ShoeUpgrade Pick
Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk Shoe

1. Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 Runner

Our rating: 9 / 10


Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 Runner

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Pros:

  • True Barefoot Running
  • WATERPROOF OUTSOLE!
  • NO EVA Removable Footbed
  • MIDSOLE Rebound

Cons:

  • No Heel Support
  • Minimal Cushioning
  • Fast Instep

This is one of the best barefoot running shoes for men. It has zero drop but does have a little heel but enough to support maximum efficiency with an EVA footbed and a PHF midsole.

This shoe features a strong rubber outsole, sturdy synthetic upper, excellent COMFORT-sensor technology and premium textile overlays combined with a very comfortable removable sculpted sockliner.

The Trail Glove is a perfect combination of a barefoot and conventional shoe and is a good transition shoe for users who are just getting into the game.

2. Nike Mens Free Rn 2018 Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10


Nike Mens Free Rn 2018 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Has a protective rubber toe cap to protect against kicking trail hazards.
  • Fits true to size, mostly.
  • Looks great.
  • Feels even better and will leave you wanting more.
  • Constructed from a lightweight sole and from a breathable mesh upper, which makes it perfect for both long distance running, hiking, and even trail running.
  • Like most Nike shoes, they run a bit small so it’s best to order one size up from your usual shoe size.

The Nike Free is one of the best minimalist running shoes in the market today and for good reason too. This shoe is an updated version of the popular Free 5.0 and runs even more comfortable than its popular predecessor.

If you’re a fan of the Kobe 9 Elite basketball shoes, then you’re in luck because it’s similar to that shoe on the sole side. In fact, many compare the two.

Surprisingly, the Free Rn shoe has a better fit when compared to the Free Run models. It’s lightweight design and stable ride make it a go-to option for those with flat feet.

3. Vibram Men's V-Run Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10


Vibram Men's V-Run Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Thoughtful design
  • Quality materials used
  • Fair price
  • Ample room for toes
  • Assists to protect the bigger toes a little
  • Perfect for road training
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Helps to strengthen legs

Cons:

  • Not for long distance
  • Not appropriate for trails
  • Not suitable for wet weather

These Adidas shoes are made from a soft mesh with strong mesh overlays. Their contoured sock-like upper hugs your feet and locks them in place for superior comfort. The suede overlay helps to keep them in place.

They have a responsive midsole that is ideal for trail running, cross-training, and daily use. The Adidas includes a rubber construction with a small ridge to aid in gripping the ground. The Adidas has a midsole that provides a stable smooth ride. It has a 6mm drop that is measured from heel to toe. It includes a 4mm heel rise. The TPU heel counter provides stability and protection. The Adidas has a 10 mm heel-to-toe foam that provides ample padding and comfort.

4. Saucony Women's Kinvara 9 Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10


Saucony Women's Kinvara 9 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • The sole is thinner and lighter than traditional running shoes.
  • The lightweight, flexible sole works great for running.
  • It has a sock-like fit to keep your foot comfortable.
  • It’s ideal for people with a neutral gait.
  • It’s designed for men and women.

Cons:

  • Its tread is made from synthetic material, so it wears out quickly.
  • It’s not the best option for trail running.
  • It’s not very supportive so it’s not a comfortable option for running long distances.

This is one of the best barefoot running shoes on the market. The Saucony Kinvara is made with a flexible, lightweight sole that can be great for people who have natural running capability.

This barefoot shoe is one of the best options for people who are just beginning to transition into barefoot running. Reviewers say it’s a comfortable shoe to transition into a more minimalist heel-to-toe motion. However, many people recommend wearing minimalist socks that will keep your feet from sliding around inside the shoes.

5. Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner

Our rating: 8 / 10


Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner

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Pros:

  • Well-cushioned footbed
  • Form-fitting upper support
  • Velcro strap closure for flexibility
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Vibram outsole for traction
  • Great fitting shoe for those with narrow feet and high arches
  • Very breathable in hot weather
  • Motion-control shoe
  • Traction is fantastic across multiple surfaces
  • Wide toe box accommodates toe splay

6. New Balance Men's MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10


New Balance Men's MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Vibram outsole provides good traction on varied surfaces
  • Built without a shank
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Great shoe for both men and women
  • Minimalist design
  • Environmentally-friendly manufacturing

Cons:

  • Some have reported size issues
  • Rubber on bottom is a bit slippery on wet surfaces
  • Laces tend to be somewhat flimsy
  • Larger hits might be uncomfortable due to the lack of cushioning

New Balance has been a big name in the running industry for a number of years, and this minimal shoe is a great example of what they can do.

The New Balance Men’s Minimus Trail Running Shoe is a terrific option for minimalist running. The mesh material is highly breathable, and much of the shoe is made from sustainable materials. The Vibram outsole is tough, and the use of zero drop makes it suitable for nearly any kind of use, from light trails to hard city running surfaces.

It is also available in a wide variety of sizes and colors, which is always fantastic for men (and bigger-footed women).

7. Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10


Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk Shoe

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Pros:

  • Moldable sole provides great traction over various surfaces
  • Great cushioning
  • High-quality shoe made from high quality leather and mesh
  • Look as good as they feel

The Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk Shoe has a Vibram rubber outsole that provides an excellent grip over a variety of terrains. It also comes with a 3mm heel to toe drop and features good cushioning in the midsole.

The Stealth 2 is very comfortable and has excellent breathability. It also comes with a palm oil free EcoOrthoLite footbed created with the help of Dr. Ray McClanahan, renowned podiatrist and inventor of the foot science method.

The Stealth 2 is one of the best barefoot running shoes for men because of how lightweight and breathable it is. The midsole is soft, and you feel like you are running barefoot on concrete. It isn’t quite as comfortable as the Vibram Men’s KSO EVO or the Vibram Five Finger Bikila EVO, but it’s certainly a great shoe.

8. Xero Shoes Prio

Our rating: 7 / 10


Xero Shoes Prio

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Pros:

  • Zero drop sole
  • Breathable, mesh upper
  • Cushioned sole to protect the feet
  • Increased stability
  • Extra space in toe box to move your toes
  • Available in a variety of cool colors
  • Can be used for athletic or casual wear

Cons:

  • Overly thin, flexible sole
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Sole wears quickly
  • Not good for medium to high arches

The Xero Shoes Prio is a women’s athletic shoe designed for running and walking. This zero-drop style is designed to support your mid- to forefoot without the addition of an excessive amount of padding that can make the fit too tight.

The Prio is casual enough to wear to work, but works just as well for running, walking, and exercising. It’s made with an outershell of a durable but breathable synthetic leather. This makes the Xero Shoes more durable than even those sneakers made with suede.

The innershell is designed to be lightweight and flexible. It is made of a breathable mesh that is really durable for a breathable material. The shoe comes with a thin, cushioned footbed for arch support and shock absorption.

9. Merrell Women's Bare Access Arc 4 Trail Running Shoe

Our rating: 6 / 10


Merrell Women's Bare Access Arc 4 Trail Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Low to the ground for agile action on uneven terrain
  • Perfect for short distance running
  • Durable with good traction
  • Removable insole

Cons:

  • Not for long distance running
  • Not the best shoe for hiking

The Arc 4 is one of the lightest protective running shoes on the market today, but they are by no means fragile. The women’s shoe weighs a paltry 8.1 ounces, which is lighter than most of the other shoes on this list.

The athletic shoe is designed to be fast and lightweight, while still keeping tread and stability. In fact, the shoe has a dual density EVA midsole, which provides roll-bar stability. If you’re looking for a barefoot running shoe that is lightweight and flexible, this is the one for you.

The style of the shoe is great, but it is more tailored to men than women. The men’s shoe comes in a variety of colors, but the women’s is limited.

10. Altra Men's ALU1812F Vanish-R Road Running Shoe

Our rating: 6 / 10


Altra Men's ALU1812F Vanish-R Road Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great for long distance running (marathoner).
  • Lightweight, flexible and comfortable.
  • Mesh upper makes these shoes breathable and comfortable.
  • Good fit for narrow and medium width feet.
  • More cushioning provides comfort for longer runs.
  • Preadjusted to reduce some friction and toe pinch.

Cons:

  • Not for wide toes or broad-feet.
  • Colour less attractive and shoes have a bulky look.
  • Breathability could have been better.

The Altra Men’s ALU1812F Vanish-R Road Running Shoes are very comfortable to wear. They are lightweight and soft and have good cushioning which makes you feel like walking on clouds.

The anti-microbial mesh upper material is very breathable and it also makes the shoe really lightweight. The padding around the top of the shoe is soft and comfortably cushions the ankles and feet. The outersole is made up of durable rubber and is good for walking and running.

11. Vibram Women's V Trail Runner

Our rating: 6 / 10


Vibram Women's V Trail Runner

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Pros:

  • Updated 2014 design
  • More breathable mesh
  • Leather toe cap
  • Compression-molded EVA footbed
  • Removable and replaceable footbed
  • Composite arch shank
  • TC1 performance rubber
  • Weight: 8.9 ounces
  • Men’s: size 8-13, weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Women’s: size 5-10, weight: 8.9 ounces

This lightweight cross training shoe is the perfect trainer for any weight training session or task. Made of a soft fabric and a reinforced synthetic sole, this shoe helps you feel light on your feet as you train. You can wear this shoe during any of your intense CrossFit workouts or any rigorous, functional movement training work out.

The Vibram stability technology works to reinforce the natural support of the podiatry arch, while also helping to stimulate the nerves in your foot to improve foot balance and leg stability. The shoe has a rounded toe box, giving your feet extra flexibility while moving, and the heel of the shoe features extra cushioning.

12. On Women's Running Cloud Sneaker

Our rating: 6 / 10


On Women's Running Cloud Sneaker

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Pros:

  • Lightweight mesh upper for breathability and support
  • Snug
  • Good arch support
  • Maximum comfort
  • Cloudfoam midsole cushioning
  • Generous forefoot width, reduces toe jamming
  • Plenty of width for a wide toe box
  • Flexible
  • Water resistant upper
  • Great quality cushioning, responsive

Cons:

  • The shoe only lasted me about 6 months before the sole started coming apart from the rest of the inside shoe
  • While the upper is very good at breathing, you do want to make sure to wipe it down and let it air dry after use
  • Heel to toe drop (16mm) is wider than average, which takes some getting used to
  • Not the greatest arch support, you want to be aware of this if you have a high arch
  • Only 1 color option, blue haze

This Nike Women’s running shoe not only provides barefoot running experiences but also durable protection with a nice cushioned foot bed and lightweight mesh upper.

13. Mizuno Women's Wave Universe 5 Competition Running Flat

Our rating: 5 / 10


Mizuno Women's Wave Universe 5 Competition Running Flat

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Pros:

  • The Wave Universe 5 is a stylish, lightweight, and responsive shoe that is perfect for any terrain or distance.
  • The Wave Universe 5 features Mizuno’s well-known Neoprene plush while providing a limited but stable amount of support.
  • These Mizuno running shoes are quickly becoming a favorite among women who enjoy running.

Cons:

  • The Wave Universe 5 is not a good fit for long distance running.
  • Some runners have complained that the shoe is too narrow.

The Mizuno Women’s Wave Universe 5 Competition Running Flat is a running shoe you’ll be sure to love, no matter what type of workout you enjoy. Enjoy this running shoe by going on a run on the beach as it’s a good fit for neutral runners.

This running shoe has extra cushioning, which is what some runners need to feel comfortable in their shoes. There are also a wide variety of colors available for these Mizuno running shoes, making them the right shoe for you and your specific style.

This running shoe has a wide toe box, allowing your toes to move around freely while you run. The Mizuno Women’s Wave Universe 5 Competition Running Flat is also extremely lightweight, so it is perfect for side to side movement, which allows you to run at your best.

14. Topo Athletic Men's ST-2 Running Shoe Navy/Black 11

Our rating: 4 / 10


Topo Athletic Men's ST-2 Running Shoe Navy/Black 11

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Pros:

  • Very comfortable for minimalist shoes
  • Zero drop construction
  • Great traction in all kinds of trail and off-trail runs
  • The size was right on for my foot
  • Look good on casual Friday

Cons:

  • * At first I thought they’d be too big

When it comes to barefoot running shoes, the Topo Athletic Men’s ST-2 Running Shoe is one of the best designs you can find. These minimalist shoes are rubber soles, so they’re ideal for running trails, doing errands on foot, and doing whatever else you can think of.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best barefoot running shoe?

New Balance Vazee Prism V3 Barefoot running shoes are the best option for anyone who wants to be free, yet still have protection and style. The design and comfort of this shoe allows you to move swiftly and naturally, as if you were barefoot.

The sneakers are designed to have a zero-drop platform, which allows for a more natural stance and motion. The shoes are very light and have a sturdy construction, but at the same time they are flexible enough to make you feel like you’re running barefoot.

There are a lot of other cool features that we will go into in detail below so you’ll know if they are the right ones for you.

What are the best minimalist running shoes?

Both the Vibram Men’s KMD Sport & Women’s KMD Sport (pictured) are among the most reviewed minimalist running shoes on the web today, and it’s easy to see why. They’re light, flexible and allow for easy movement during a run and beyond. They’re also running-specific, so you won’t find them mixed in with your casual wear when you aren’t logging miles on the pavement. The KMD Sport does have a running-specific shape, so if you’re a real barefoot running fan you’ll still want inserts for long distance and for the time when life says that you can’t run.

What is the best rated women's running shoe?

What brand of running shoes last longest?

People buy new running shoes when their old ones no longer feel good or are starting to show visible signs of wear. Some people believe the best shoes are the most expensive ones, but that isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of high-end running shoes that are terrible and plenty of cheap running shoes that are awesome.

The difference is in the quality of the materials used and the tolerances built into the shoe. Many of the cheap running shoes utilize outsourced parts and poor designs. Better quality shoes use higher grade materials, tighter tolerances, and better materials management.

Conclusion

Running shoes have come a long way. Not that long ago, they were just simple and functional, with some padding to protect the runner.

Now, running shoes are a completely different animal. With all the added technology, they are able to optimize running performance for all levels of ability. Or, if you prefer, they can make you run more efficiently and with less of the pounding that can lead to high running costs.

If we had to choose the best running shoes of all time, we would have to say the Nike Free series has to be up there at the top. These sneakers are extremely lightweight and are engineered to allow you to land on your forefoot while still offering some support and cushioning.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 RunnerBest Overall
Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 Runner
Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail RunnerBudget Pick
Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner
Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk ShoeUpgrade Pick
Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk Shoe