Best Barefoot & Minimalist Shoes - Backpacker

Best Barefoot and Minimalist Shoes

When it comes to running shoes and cross-trainers, many people find that less is more—less shoe, more you. If you love the freedom of going barefoot, yet still want protection from tree roots, rocks, and rugged terrain, here are three barely-there options that rank best for off-road adventure, overall performance, and fit.
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Best for Offroad

WHITIN Men’s Cross-Trainer Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe 

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Ready to dig up some dirt? Reach for these. These trail-hungry runners are like ATVs for your feet. 

What We Liked: 

 Sidewalks and city streets? We’d rather be pounding the ground on a dirt trail or across some grassy turf. If that’s your jam, you’ll love the off-road capabilities of these WHITIN Barefoot Shoes. They fit snug and true, gripping your feet like a glove. A wider, anatomical toe box and flat, zero-drop sole combine to promote a more natural stride. But our favorite thing about these shoes is the aggressive outsole with its all-terrain traction. Mud, gravel, grass—these handle it all with ease. Plus, they look cool! In our opinion, these stack up very well against higher-priced minimalist shoes. Buy with confidence for trail running, hiking, working out, and more. They're available now.

Best Overall Performance

New Balance Men’s 10v1 Minimus Running Shoe 

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Great fit. Great feel. Great look. Why settle? Invest in these New Balance Runners and experience the difference in quality. 

What We Liked: 

 Like with any footwear, you can spend a little or a lot. New Balance Minimus Running Shoes find the perfect balance between those extremes to deliver exceptional fit, feel, and overall performance at around $100. The uppers are an advanced blend of mesh fabric and synthetic, so they’re lightweight yet durable and highly breathable. You’ll love the feel of the neoprene interior, especially when going without socks. Plus, they feature a midfoot wrap that aids in stability. A top quality Vibram® outsole is durable yet flexible and provides an excellent connection to the ground beneath you. Heel-to-toe drop is 4mm, so they’re not a pure zero-drop shoe, but darn close. Actually, we liked these shoes so much, we’d wear them every day. Yes, they cost a little more, but they’re worth every penny. Available now.

Best for Wide Feet

Oranginer Men’s Barefoot Shoes 

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Take your wide feet into the great wide open. Typical trail shoes cramping your style? Get Oranginer Barefoot Shoes for more room and more comfort. 

What We Liked: 

 If you’ve been blessed (cursed) with wide feet, you know that finding the right fit isn’t easy. The struggle is real, my friends, but here’s some good news: Oranginer Barefoot Shoes deliver the roomy toe box you so richly deserve. You’ll find them more comfortable and more responsive on uphill climbs and downhill descents. Flexible mesh uppers are lightweight, breathable, and ideal for working up a sweat. The outsole is less aggressive than others we’ve seen, which makes these more adaptable to flat surfaces at the gym. Plus, the wraparound toe rand provides an added measure of protection for trail running. But in the end, it all comes back to fit. At under $35, Oranginer minimalist shoes are a sure bet to fit both your feet and your budget. Get them here.