The All Time Best Barefoot Running Shoes For Healthy Feet

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A close up of a pair of feet and lower legs running on concrete wearing Freet Pace barefoot running shoes with a wide toe box

These are our all time favorite wide toe box barefoot running shoes – written in collaboration with performance coach Graham Tuttle.

Foot pain is a quick way to end your running career. So if you run or want to run you should probably think about your shoes! But most of the big brands out there have a pointy tapered toe box and a lot of unnecessary doodads that might be hurting you.

We believe that letting your feet move naturally in wide, flat, barefoot running shoes is a great choice for a lot of people, whether you’re a casual or avid runner.

In this review we cover our 10 favorite barefoot running shoes, some wide toe box cushioned options, and practical tips for improving your running and foot health.

Skip straight to the shoe recommendations with the menu above!

What Is A Barefoot Running Shoe?

In contrast with your typical running sneaker that’s full of shock absorbers, pronation control, and arch support, barefoot shoes say you are the technology!

Barefoot running shoes have the following criteria:

  1. Wide foot-shaped toe box
  2. Zero drop or totally flat from heel to toe
  3. Thin and flexible – but you can play with thickness here depending on your current needs!
  4. No arch support – again, you can play a little here as you transition

Want to learn more about the why behind barefoot shoes? Read this article.

One of the things I love about wide toe box running shoes is that you can choose from a range of thicknesses and use insoles to get the right amount of cushion you need while still being much kinder to your feet than typical running shoes are. We’ve included here barefoot running shoe options from the whole spectrum!

Why We Run in Barefoot Shoes

Our foot strength plays an important role in whether or not we get injured. In particular our toes do so much for us and help with balance! We like barefoot running shoes because they have the dual benefit of allowing your feet to move in a way that’s biomechanically sound AND to strengthen those tissues while you are moving!

Of course many of us have deconditioned feet after decades in squishy shoes, so we consider this switch to be a whole body endeavor. You can start small! Find our best tips for a smooth switch here.

And even if you can’t run without supportive shoes today, getting into a wide toe box running shoe will be a huge relief to your aching toes.

A side view of Graham Tuttle running barefoot outside in Vivobarefoot barefoot running shoes demonstrating good form

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of barefoot running shoes, let’s get to our favorites.

The Best Barefoot Running Shoes

This isn’t your standard collection of links. I (Anya) have personally used all of the shoes on this list plus hundreds of others in an effort to bring you the most useful barefoot running shoe guide available!

Before we get started, you may want to check out this guide to learn more about your own foot type and how to pick a size. Oh and all these shoes are great for walking and other exercise too! Are we ready to dig into the best barefoot running shoes on the market? Let’s go.


Vibram Five Fingers

A front view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing Vibram Five Fingers KSO barefoot running shoes in black with one foot pointed

Mesh | EU Sizes 34-50 | Ships from USA & other locations worldwide*

The link above will give you a 15% discount!

Well of course we had to lead with Vibram Five Fingers! They kicked off the barefoot running craze after all. But because they are so minimal (like being barefoot) they require a thoughtful adjustment. Make sure you’ve read through the previous “How To Transition” section before running in these.

What We Love:

  • The glove like fit keeps your foot from sliding around during dynamic movement
  • The toe pockets splay your toes lightly, which increases your stability.
  • The rounded heel cup lets the back half of your foot move freely as well
  • Despite being thin & flexible, these shoes are durable and can last for years

Graham has gotten hundreds of miles out of his Vibram KSO’s over multiple years and they’re not done yet.

Sizing & Fit Type: Vibram Five Fingers come in many different styles, and each fit slightly differently. Some even have thicker soles for a bit more protection. In general, this brand is true to size. Here is the rundown:

  • Vibram Five Fingers are meant to fit closely.
  • They fit almost all foot widths
  • If you have extra short toes this brand might not be for you, as they may not stay in the pockets

*Click here to find your nearest Vibram retailer*


Vivobarefoot Primus Lite

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III in white close up detailed shot of the wide barefoot toe box and laces. The person's jeans are just visible in the top of the frame.

Recycled Material | US Sizes W5.5-11.5 & M7-15 | Ships from multiple locations*

Use code VBANYA10 for 10% off

What We Love:

  • Can be worn for all kinds of athletics
  • Very light & thin (also come with removable insole)
  • Not floppy
  • Very durable
  • Grippy outsoles

Be Aware: Slight break in time. VERY minimal

Once broken in, this is my personal favorite Vivobarefoot sneaker. People also love the Primus Lite Knit for a softer, more breathable and higher volume fit but I have low arches so the regular version is perfect for me. They just fit and feel good!

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Low volume (read this for an explanation!)
  • Good for narrow heels
  • Lots of big toe space
  • Medium Width
  • Men’s are wider than Women’s (otherwise no different)

Vivobarefoot is a great brand for people with low arches and narrow heels. If you have high volume and/or extra wide feet I would go with something else on this list.

*Click here to find a Vivobarefoot retailer near you*


Xero Shoes

Mesh/knit | US Sizes W5-12 & M6.5-13 | Ships from USA or EU

What We Love:

Be Aware: Not suitable for people that need an extra wide toe box

Xero has many different sneakers that function really well for running. Our favorites are the Zelen, 360, Prio Neo, and Nexus. They all have a soft, breathable fit, removable insoles, and a durable outsole. They provide just a bit more thickness under foot than Vivobarefoot, which can come in handy on pavement or with longer miles. All are really versatile wide toe box trainers and work for running, court sports (pickleball), the gym, and basically any type of athletics.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Medium to wide toe box width
  • Great if you have a wide arch and/or heel
  • Medium to high volume
  • Men’s are wider than Women’s (no other difference)

Shoes from Xero have a unique shape to them that is medium width at the toes but wide through the midfoot and heel. They work great for what I like to call “brick feet,” in the most loving way of course! I specifically recommended here my favorites that have a more generous fit in the toes because of the soft upper.

Read my in-depth Xero reviews here!


Freet Barefoot

Front close up angled view of a pair of feet walking in Freet Pace vegan barefoot sneakers with an extra wide toe box

Knit | EU Sizes 37-48 | Ships from the UK or US

Use code AnyaFreet10 for 10% off

What We Love:

  • Freet makes athletic shoes for all terrains
  • Super functional and comfortable
  • Great brand if you’ve had trouble with barefoot shoes being wide enough
  • Come with insoles if you need some cushion

My partner Justin has been wearing the same pair of Pace sneakers for virtually everything (and I mean everything) for 2 years. 10/10 will buy again – they are excellent all purpose athletic shoes, whether you’re running, walking, or playing pickleball.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Square toe box (works for most foot shapes)
  • Fits both high and low volume because of removable insole
  • Extra wide in toe box and midfoot

Be sure to read each product description fully for sizing advice because it is not always consistent between products. Some models run longer/shorter than others.

Read my in-depth Freet review here.


Lono Flow

Lono Flow Barefoot Running Affordable sneakers with a wide toe box being worn by a person with wide feet standing on grass. The photo is taken from directly above with only the ankles and shoes showing the light grey biodegradable mesh

Biodegradable Mesh | Sizes EU 36-46 | Ships from Hong Kong

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

What We Love:

  • Very thin and flexible – a true barefoot shoe!
  • Sock style uppers are stretchy, very comfortable, and can accommodate many foot volumes.
  • Biodegradable materials that are also sustainable and vegan friendly

Be Aware: They are often out of stock as of now (pretty new company), but always available to pre-order. This is to help reduce over-production and waste in general. I also found the laces sometimes want to come undone on their own, but only occasionally.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Runs true to size
  • Fits low-medium volume, but does have a removable insole.
  • Wide toe box

One of the things I love about the Lono Flow is that it has a wide toe box but is fitted the through the heel and ankle for security.


Merrell Vapor Glove

Front view of a person's legs wearing Merrell Vapor Glove road running barefoot shoes. One foot is flexed up to show the very flexible outsole

Mesh | US Womens 5 – Men’s 15 | Ships from US

What We Love:

  • Really Flexible
  • Breathable upper
  • Good Quality

The Vapor Glove from Merrell is a consistently reliable barefoot running shoe that can be used on trails and road. They are quite thin with a 6mm stack height, so you might consider the Trail Glove if you want a more robust sole. But we love how flexible and breathable they are.

Sizing & Fit Type:

Merrell’s Vapor and Trail Glove shoes don’t have an extra wide forefoot, so for people with a wide toe splay may not have enough space. They fit me well around the ankle and arch, but I wish I had more space for my toes to spread out.

On the Merrell website they say to order 1/2 size down to get the same fit as other Merrell shoes. But I found them to be true to size, so if you want to get the benefits of the extra toe space I would not size down.

Here are a few places you can find Merrell barefoot shoes around the world:


Wide Toe Box Cushioned Running Shoes

While you don’t necessarily need cushioned wide toe box shoes, they can be helpful if you’re coming from an injury/history of pain, don’t want to decrease your running time as you train your feet, or are doing high volumes of running on tricky terrain (pavement, sharp rocks).

You can check out this guide for more Cushioned Barefoot Shoe options!

Altra Running

Altra Running barefoot shoes wide toe box Solstice blue sneaker

Textile | US Sizes W5.5-13 & M8-16 | Ships from USA or UK

What We Love:

  • Cushion for long distances or newbies
  • Innovative shoe technology without interfering with your foot function
  • Different options depending on terrain – pavement/trail/all weather

This is the brand I wore every single day for a year while I built up strength in my feet. I am particular about which Altra’s I like, in my opinion the best ones with enough toe space are Lone Peak, Solstice, and Escalante. They have thickness underfoot without being excessively squishy and have good toe space. Altra is also well regarded in the running community for being a high quality brand.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Wide forefoot and narrow heel – for toe freedom and a secure fit
  • Work for both low and high volume feet
  • Mostly true to size, but I would recommend sizing up for athletic use

Just be aware that some of the newer models come in a “Slim” fit which I do not recommend – toe space is queen! Men’s are also higher volume than women’s, so you can choose that if you need more space.


Lems Primal 3 or Zen

A pair of feet resting on concrete wearing blue Lems Shoes Primal 3 barefoot sneakers

Mesh | US Sizes W6-12 & M4.5-15 | Ships from USA

What We Love:

  • Versatile – can be used for running, sports, + everyday
  • Extra wide forefoot
  • Really comfortable!

Many barefoot enthusiasts use these for high impact activities, such as long distance running, basketball, or long days on their feet. The Primal Zen is one of my personal favorites.

Be Aware: Not all Lems shoes have a wide toe box so pay attention to their fit guide. We love the Primal Zen and Primal 3 most because they have the widest fit.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Run small – I wear a half to full size larger than my usual in Lems
  • Extra wide toe box, but close around the heel
  • High volume toe box -people with upward pointing toenails love them!
  • Square shape – works for more foot shapes
  • Fits both high and low volume arches

Read my Lems Reviews here!


Peluva

Close up of Peluva's five finger wide toe box cushioned barefoot running shoes with a blue soft knit upper and white outsole

Textile | Sizes US Women’s 6.5 – Men’s 13| Ships from US

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off

What We Love:

It’s true these are not easy on the eyes, but Justin and I both have been using these and are intrigued. They separate the toes like Vibram Fingers but because the sole is thicker the toes don’t move as easily so you get more separation – like actual toe spacers. I can see this being therapeutic and I am feeling comfortable in them, but it also means that if you have scrunched toes or narrow feet it will be pretty aggressive.

They have quite a wide, square shape, so if you have that foot type (often hard to fit) this could be a godsend. If you really like the concept of five finger shoes, but want a little more cushion Peluva is a good choice.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Runs small
  • Fits wide and square!
  • Fit my low volume feet, but I expect will work for all foot volumes

Bahe Revive

A side view of a person standing on pavement wearing Bahe barefoot running shoes in Sand color with grounding technology

Mesh | Grounding | EU Sizes 36-47 | Ships from UK

Use code ANYA for 10% off

What We Love:

The Bahe Revive is a zero drop foot shaped running sneakers that’s a little bit thicker (14mm with insole, 11mm without) and stiffer than most barefoot shoes. This makes them in my opinion best for urban surfaces, but I would also wear them trail running on a mostly level path.

Overall Bahe has a light, natural feel and flexes easily (they just don’t twist easily). If you are looking for an in-between minimalist shoe (not super thin, not super thick) Bahe is a great option.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Run a little long, but I won’t size down.
  • Are Medium Width – they work on my wide feet because the mesh upper is flexible.
  • Are Medium to High Volume – a removable insole makes them work for a variety of feet.

Read my full Bahe Revive review here


Best Budget Shoes

Want to experience barefoot freedom without investing in an expensive pair of shoes? Here are some great starter options that give you a taste without breaking the bank. After trying these budget-friendly options, many people move on to other more established brands for their quality and longevity, but these are perfectly good shoes that meet my healthy shoe requirements.

Saguaro

A top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete. One is bare and the other is wearing Saguaro cheap barefoot sneakers

Neoprene or Mesh | US Sizes W6.5 – M14 | Ships from USA

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 15% off

What We Love:

  • Cheap options for the whole family!
  • Lightweight
  • Good, comfy fit

Be Aware: Color combos are a bit crazy! Product offerings change a lot, so can be confusing.

From Saguaro I recommend only the Free or Smart II as the best shape, fit, and feel (love a breathable knit upper!). Saguaro can be funny because they have so many similar looking shoes and they come and go frequently. My whole family enjoys these shoes, they’re pretty dang comfy!

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Extra wide fit
  • Square toe box shape
  • Medium volume, can fit high volume when insole is removed
  • They run small and I recommend erring on the larger side.

If you have low volume feet I’d go for an option with a velcro strap, since the laces only tighten so much.

Read my Saguaro review here!


Whitin

a top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete. the left foot is bare and the right is wearing an orange Whitin trail barefoot running shoe

Mesh | US Sizes W5.5-11 & M7-15 | Ships from USA

What We Love:

  • Super flexible
  • Easy on/off with velcro

These barefoot running shoes are not my favorite style, but they’re quite comfortable. Like Saguaro, the options change names and move around but seem to essentially be the same shoe.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Runs small, I size up
  • Fits low volume
  • Extra wide toe box (especially if you size up)

Read my in-depth Whitin review here!

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, don’t worry. You can find a complete list of minimalist running shoes here, plus tons of other useful resources and reviews on my website.


How To Be Comfortable in Barefoot Running Shoes

A close up of a woman spreading her toes using her fingers as spacers.

Changing your shoes without strengthening key areas and adjusting your running can result in pain or injury.

  1. Reclaim your feet with foot strengthening and mobility exercises – toes that move individually are better able to stabilize you.
  2. Walk before you run – walking in barefoot shoes is an excellent way to strengthen your feet without the high impact of running.
  3. Mind your form – cushioned shoes enable poor technique. Start to change this by taking your shoes off and running for a few steps on a hard surface. You will naturally shorten your stride and land closer to your body!
  4. Increase running time in barefoot shoes slowly – you want to only train good form, so it’s better to take it slow rather than push through and run poorly.
  5. Add movement diversity – bounce around, swim, bike, squat. Running is repetitive, and we need to be well rounded in our strength to not get injured
  6. Be patient – it takes time*

*Fascia is the connective tissue that provides strength at the foot and lower leg and it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to fully remodel. It is different from muscle in that you must load it enough to provide a stimulus for change but not too much that you overdo it. So pay attention to your body as you progress.

Which Shoes Are The Widest?

So which barefoot running shoes are the widest? Here is a rough guide to toe box width in the brands reviewed here.

A grid of 10 barefoot running shoes organized from widet toe box to narrowest - Vibram, Freet, ALtra, Saguaro, Tadeevo, Whitin, Lems, Wildling, Vivobarefoot, & Xero

Vibram, Freet, Lems, Whitin, Tadeevo, Saguaro, and Altra’s widest shoes are all very similar in toe box width and appropriate for many people with extra wide feet!

I did my best to generalize the differences between men’s and women’s sizes, and between models. Note that this chart does not take into account the width in other parts of the shoe, only the toe box. For all other fit considerations besides toe box please read the Sizing & Fit sections above.


Barefoot Running Sandals

A photo collage of ten barefoot sandal brands - Earth Runners, Laboo Leather, Luna Sandals, Shamma Sandals, Paisley Running Sandals, Xero Shoes, Chala Sandals, Bedrock Sandals, Unshoes Footwear, and Deliberate Life Designs with the text "The 10 Best Barefoot Sandals - Anya's Reviews" superimposed

Lots of barefoot enthusiast love running in minimalist sandals! You can find my top picks for athletic sandals in this article.


Barefoot running shoes provide your feet an opportunity to MOVE! Feet support the entire body every time we stand, walk or run, so it makes sense to keep them in prime condition. Foot shaped toe boxes, flat soles, and shoe flexibility keep your feet in their natural state. But because most of us have been stuffing our feet in non-functional shoes for decades, we need to transition thoughtfully back to minimalist shoes. This guide on barefoot running shoes is your jumping off point for healthier feet, more enjoyable runs, and a stronger body!

Interested in minimalist shoes for more than running? There are tons of options for different lifestyles and events – spend some time in my Barefoot Shoe Lists to get started.

Further Reading:


A close up headshot of Graham Tuttle white male smiling at the camera

Graham is a health and performance coach that specializes in helping you get out of pain and back to your life. Follow him on Instagram for daily tips!


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54 thoughts on “The All Time Best Barefoot Running Shoes For Healthy Feet”

  1. Great list! Altra running shoes were my first pair of barefoot(ish) shoes and today I only wear barefoot shoes for everything. However, I now find that my Altra Escalante started squishing my little toe a bit. My toe shape is somewhat between mountain and sloped shaped – the second and big toe are the same length, then the length of toes decreases. Base one that shape, the Altra should fit, so I’m a bit lost why it doesn’t.
    Any alternatives you would recommend that still have a bit of cushion (I’m not ready to run on super thin soles on the concrete yet)? Or should I try a larger size (I already went up from EU 43 to EU 44 while wearing barefoot shoes)?

    1. I would consider the Lems Primal 2 or Primal Zen. I tend to size up in Lems, they run small-ish for a lot of people. You also might just need to size up in Altra, since sometimes your feet grow after switching to barefoot shoes!

  2. Hello there Anya!

    Great to see that you have a nice review of barefoot shoes from different categories as expected. I’ve since quite a while now been looking for a nice pair of barefoot running shoes. I’ve tried the Xero HFS but it was to wide for me since I have low volume feet and also I had a feeling that the construction was a bit cheap. I tried Vivo Primus Lite III and the overall feeling was great although I really didn’t like the uncomfortable feeling from the plastic material they are made of when I wore them barefoot. I tried Altra Escalante 3 and they felt quite good. I like the textile material and the snug fit, just didn’t like the overly plush midsole. So am considering to try the Altra racer model which is thinner then the standard Escalante but I just have one concern.

    I have started my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle and with all of these shoes I mentioned none of them atleast in my mind have a great sustainable approach to their production, material and more. Vivo says its shoe is made from recycled plastic partly from garbage waste. Recycled might be good but actually I don’t want my shoes to be made out of plastic or garbage waste at all. Altra Escalante is “Made in Vietnam”. Xero shoes is “Made in China”. So in that respect there’s obviously no difference from conventional shoes. So to sum up. I’m looking for something that’s not only good for my feet but also can be considered sustainable. What does that mean? Well I like you have great respect for a company like Mukishoes. I’m planning to buy their leather Chelsea boots for the winter. There we have a prime example of sustainability. Vegetable tanned leather. Natural rubber. Felted wool. Made in Portugal i.e. Made in EU. That’s what I call a high quality sustainable shoe. Can I find a running shoe or something I can use as a running shoes matching these requirements?

    Very much appreciate your response.

    Best regards

    Mikael

    1. Hmm, this is a tough one because most athletic style shoes are made with synthetic materials. One that comes to mind is Bahe, which I reviewed here. They do have a thicker/stiffer shoe than many barefoot options. So another option is Softstar Shoes. They are all handmade in Oregon and do a good job of sourcing sustainable materials (but their outsoles are synthetic blend). Hope that helps get you started!

  3. Hi Anya! Thanks sou much for all of this great information. I’m wondering if you can write something about toes and toenails. I guess I have big big toes, and when I walk they tend to flex up. I usually leave my toenails a bit long (but not crazy long!) to avoid ingrown nails. So shoes that otherwise fit my feet well really hurt my toe. You mentioned one of the shoes in this review has a tall toe box – can you give us information on more? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Tiffany! Good idea, I’ll put it on the list of FAQ’s I’m preparing to add to our big FAQ section of the website. I do mention in my reviews which options have a tall toe box, but I don’t have a specific list of options. Lems is one of my favorite brands for people who need a lot of space over the toes.

  4. Hello! I have recently started my barefoot journey and so far have been walking a ton, but not yet running.. I just bought a pair of Vivo Primus Trail III all weathers and as much as I wanted to love them for a good versatile option for running in/around Stockholm in the wet fall, the dip in plastic material on the inside crease point is causing a lot of pressure on my foot. I don’t think any amount of break-in time will really solve this (I removed insoles and completely loosened the laces to see if that helped – not enough!). Any other suggestions for a wide forefoot (I love that my heel feels locked in in the Vivos) that will allow for running/hiking in wet and potentially slippery conditions? Thank you for all your detailed reviews and thoughtful advice!

    1. The Freet Connect 3 is a water resistant trail shoe that will have a lot more space above the foot so you don’t get that pressure. They aren’t as slim in the ankle/heel area, but can be cinched and laced securely. The Altra Lone Peak is also a good option but they are much thicker in the sole.

  5. Hello. I needed some help finding the correct size. One of your options are the Vivobarefoot primus lite lll which I am interested in purchasing. I normally wear a US 11.5. I measured my feet at 27.8 on my left foot and 27.5 on the right. When I spoke to Vivobarefoot I spoke to two different people one advised a 45 which is 28.5 and the other person recommended size 44 which is 27.9. Also their on screen tool recommended size 44. I have a slender low volume foot. What would you advise in your expert opinion in size to obtain.

  6. I see the word barefoot all thru this site and not finding the shoe bottom content. Is it rubber or what?
    If rubber, then how can these shoes benefit the desire to grounding/earthing of which is great for the whole body from head to foot?
    Something for us “grounding” enthusiasts to encourage company’s like yours to develope.

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Picture of Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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