The 10 Best Barefoot Running Shoes For Healthy Feet

*Disclosure – Anya’s Reviews is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

A collage of 10 barefoot running shoes - the Xero Zelen, Whitin Trail Runner, Freet Feldom, Altra Lone Peak, Saguaro barefoot shoes, Vivobarefoot Primus Lite, WIldling Nebula, Lems Primal 2, Tadeevo Bliss, VIbra, Five Fingers KSO with the text "The 10 Best Barefoot Running Shoes, Anya's Reviews" written over the op

Written in collaboration with running & performance coach Graham Tuttle.

Foot pain is a quick way to end your running career. So if you run you probably care about your shoes! But the debate is endless – do we need arch support, pronation control, and cushion to protect our feet? Maybe not. We believe that our bodies can carry us without all that shoe technology, and that barefoot running shoes are better in the long run.

In this review we cover our 10 favorite barefoot running shoes, why we think they’re better, and practical tips for transitioning to them.

Skip straight to the shoe reviews with the menu above!

Why We Run in Barefoot Shoes

A woman sitting on concrete steps holding a pair of shoes each hand, in one the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite barefoot sneaker with the text "Wear This" over head, and in the other a Hoka maximalist running shoe with the text "not that" over it

Compared to hefty modern running shoes, these thin foot gloves might look strange. Especially after endless marketing from shoe brands and foot specialists telling us our feet need to be supported every which way.

But we can train other parts of our bodies to become stronger and more resilient, why can’t we train our feet as well?

Because here’s the rub – most feet aren’t flawed, they’re weak. Rather than constantly bracing and supporting with high tech shoes, we believe that conditioning our feet so they function on their own is the best long term solution to foot pain. And that’s why we run (and walk) in minimalist footwear – they don’t interfere with our natural foot function!

Note: We use “minimalist” and “barefoot” interchangeably in this article!

Saguaro Barefoot Sneakers flexibility roll

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! They let your feet move naturally – as if barefoot – by following these tenets:

  1. Zero drop (totally flat from heel to toe)
  2. Thin, flexible sole
  3. No arch support
  4. Anatomical (foot-shaped) toe box

You see, the feet and hands are not that different. They’ve got similar bone structures, functionality, and dexterity capabilities. One reason we suffer from so many foot issues is that we shove our feet into restrictive shoes every day and don’t use our range of motion. If you put your hand into a stiff cast for decades, it would get painful and weak too! 

Want to learn more about the benefits of barefoot shoes? Read this article.

But because so many of us already have deconditioned feet (and because feet play such a big role in how the rest of our body functions), it’s really important that we consider transitioning to barefoot running shoes as a whole body endeavor.

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

How To Transition to 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 volume and pattern can result in pain or injury.

Below are a few tips for successfully transitioning to barefoot running shoes:

  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 close to your body on your forefoot!
  4. Increase running time in barefoot shoes slowly – you want to only train good form, so it’s better to take it slow than to 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 – the connective tissue that provides strength at the foot and lower leg – 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 and get injured. So pay attention to your body while increasing your volume and strengthening your lower legs.

If you’d like a step by step program that walks you through the transition and adds accountability, check out Graham’s Ready To Run program – it’s the perfect intro to natural running technique so you can move pain free for decades to come. And you can use code ANYA10 to get 10% off the program any time!

Now that we’ve covered the basics of running in barefoot shoes, it’s time to talk about the shoes themselves.

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.

Even though I think these are the ten best, not every shoe works for every person. So I have also included fit & sizing recommendations, prices, materials, and ships from location to help you narrow it down. Want to learn more about your own foot type and how to pick a size? Check out this guide.

And if you still don’t find what you’re looking for, don’t worry. I have a complete list of minimalist running shoes linked below, plus tons of other useful resources and reviews on my website whether you run, walk, hike, or whatever.

Are we ready to dig into the 10 best barefoot running shoes on the market? Let’s go.


1. 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

Vegan | $95-$130 | EU Sizes 34-50 | Ships from USA & other locations worldwide*

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. But 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
  • You might want to go 1/2 size down because they will stretch.
  • If you have high volume feet and/or long toes don’t size down!
  • If you have extra short toes this brand might not be for you.

Pro tip: Graham likes to buy them one half size smaller than his usual size so that they feel a little stiff and tight at first. But then once they break in they are perfect and his toes don’t slide out of the pockets.

*Click here to find your nearest Vibram retailer*


2. Tadeevo Bliss

A top down view of a pair of feet wearing Tadeevo bliss barefoot running sneakers in grey

Leather or Vegan | $119 | EU Sizes 37-53 | Ships from Poland

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

What We Love:

  • Extremely flexible
  • Light & breathable upper (don’t make you sweat!)
  • No break in time
  • Look “normal” for everyday wear
  • Durable – my tester has run over 100 miles in them

These sneakers really feel like nothing on your feet! They’re one of the most comfortable barefoot sneakers out there. The rubber sole is long-lasting and the leather toe guard helps protect against snagging.

A collage showing the flexibility of the Tadeevo bliss - 3 different shots of a hand twisting and rolling it tightly

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • True to size
  • Fit all foot shapes
  • Extra wide & high volume
  • Might be floppy on narrow or low volume feet

The Tadeevo Bliss can accommodate even the beefiest paws. If you have low volume feet you might want to use a barefoot insole with them, or try a different brand.


3. Vivobarefoot Primus Lite

a top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete with the left foot bare and the right foot wearing a light blue Vivobarefoot Primus Lite barefoot sneaker

Vegan | $155 | US Sizes W5.5-11.5 & M7-15 | Ships from multiple locations*

Use code VIVOANYA 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

Be Aware: Slight break in time

Once broken in, this is my personal favorite Vivobarefoot sneaker. But people also love the Geo Racer for a softer, more breathable fit (the upper is knitted).

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*


4. Freet Barefoot

Vegan | $115 | EU Sizes 37-48 | Ships from the UK

Use code ANYASREVIEWS-10 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 in the past
  • 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 when they’re kaput. My personal favorite from Freet is the Feldom.

a pair of feet wearing Freet Pace grey vegan barefoot sneakers standing on rock outside
Justin’s Freet Pace sneakers, back when they were still new

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Square toe box (works for almost everyone)
  • 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.


5. Xero Shoes

Vegan | $110 | US Sizes W5-12 & M6.5-13 | Ships from USA or EU

What We Love:

Be Aware: Slight break in time

The Xero 360 sneaker is the most versatile barefoot trainer available and my top pick if you want one pair of shoes that works for running, court sports, lifting in the gym, and basically any type of athletics.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Medium toe box width
  • Great if you have a wide arch and/or heel
  • 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 like the Zelen for myself because they fit a little wider in the toes.

Read my in-depth Xero reviews here!


6. Wildling Nebula

A top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing the Wildling Nebula barefoot athletic shoes
Photo courtesy of Gaby from @barefootgabventures

Vegan | $129 | EU Sizes 36-48 | Ships from Germany (US returns available)

What We Love:

  • Most comfortable shoes EVER
  • No break in time
  • Breathable upper

Be Aware: These are less grippy and durable than others listed here, but they actually feel like being barefoot.

Wildling makes the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn – I love literally everything they sell for casual wear, hiking, running, and walking.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Versatile fit – works for almost all foot types and width
  • True to size

If you have wide feet, expect to fill up the toe box and even touch the sides of the shoes. If you have narrower feet, you’ll have space around your foot and will need to cinch the laces for security.

Wildling shoes factor in extra length so you have plenty of toe space. Sometimes people feel like they’re too big, when really it’s just more space than they’re used to.

Read my in-depth Wildling Reviews here.


Best Transition Shoes

While you don’t necessarily need transition shoes, they can be helpful if you’re coming from an injury or don’t want to decrease your running time very much. Check out this guide for more Beginner Barefoot Shoe options!

Altra Running

Close up front side view of Altra Lone Peek zero drop minimalist trail running shoes

Vegan | $130-$240 | 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. Today I prefer thinner soles (and I believe they are better for us), but they were a lifesaver at the time. Altra is also very well regarded in the running community.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Wide forefoot width and narrow heel – for toe freedom + 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 “Standard” or “Slim” fit. For the best foot shape, go for the “Original” shape models. Men’s are also higher volume than women’s, so you can choose that if you need more space. For more details on the Lone Peak, read my review of them.


Lems Primal 2

Lems Primal 2 Top down and Sole Shape

Vegan | $110 | US Sizes W4.5-11.5 & M3-14 | Ships from USA

What We Love:

  • Versatile – can be used for lots of sports + everyday
  • Extra wide forefoot
  • Removable insole

Be Aware: Some Lems shoes are not zero drop and/or have a tapered toe box. Primal 2s are the best!

Many barefoot enthusiasts use these for high impact activities, such as long distance running, basketball, or long days on their feet.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Run small – consult their size guide
  • 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

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.

Whitin Trail Hikers

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

Vegan | $15-$45 | US Sizes W5.5-11 & M7-15 | Ships from USA

What We Love:

  • Super flexible
  • Easy on/off with velcro

Be Aware: These are not zero drop unless you remove the insole (which I recommend doing as soon as you can).

These barefoot running shoes are probably my least favorite looking, but they’re quite comfortable.

Sizing & Fit Type:

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

Read my in-depth Whitin review here!


Saguaro

Saguaro Barefoot neoprene adult shoes

Vegan | $40 | US Sizes W6.5 – M14 | Ships from USA

What We Love:

  • Cheap options for the whole family!
  • Lightweight

Be Aware: Like Whitin, you must remove the insole for them to be zero drop.

It can be a little confusing to order because they have one listing for many different styles of shoes. I ended up with a pair made of neoprene that seems more like a water shoe. But if you look closely at the photos you can choose a mesh option that is more like an athletic shoe.

Sizing & Fit Type:

  • Extra wide fit
  • Square toe box shape
  • Different models have different volumes – water shoes are high volume, mesh sneakers are medium volume

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!


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

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 – for all other fit considerations besides toe box please read the Sizing & Fit sections above.

Lems, Whitin, Tadeevo, Saguaro, and Altra are all very similar in toe box width!

Sole Thickness Comparison

Here are the same 10 brands organized from thinnest to thickest. Keep in mind that some brands (like Xero and Freet) have different thicknesses available in different models and depending on whether you use the insole.

  • Wildling
  • Vivobarefoot
  • Vibram
  • Saguaro (without insole)
  • Whitin (without insole)
  • Tadeevo
  • Freet
  • Xero
  • Lems
  • Altra

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.


Conclusion

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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Comments

21 thoughts on “The 10 Best Barefoot Running Shoes For Healthy Feet”

    1. I know of the brand Ballop, but don’t really know anything about the fit or quality. There are some water shoes on Amazon US with the name Ballop but I don’t believe they are from the same German barefoot shoe brand that I’m thinking of: https://www.ballop-shop.de/

  1. Hi Anya, thanks for the review! I was wondering if you knew any low-cut running-style shoes for men that offer a bit of water resistance and protection from the cold? I know that Vivobarefoot have an “all-weather” version of the Primus II, but they were a bit narrow for me when I tried them on. I don’t mind if they’re a bit more of a trail shoe, so long as they are low-cut. If you have any ideas, please let me know!

    1. Altra Lone Peak comes in an All Weather low top. They would have a wider fit than the Primus as well! Definitely lots more stack height as well, but that can help with the cold. Otherwise Zaqq Barefoot has some waterproof low cut shoes that might work but I have never used them for athletic purposes (all the Zaqq shoes I have are lifestyle shoes).

  2. Vibram must have changed the sizing on the 5 Fingers since I bought a pair over 10 years ago. I had to size up a lot to get the width I need. [I have extra wide high volume feet.] I strongly suggest anyone with wide feet try a pair before buying.

    Also, you need to have a very standard shaped foot. My feet are what I call mountain – cliff. My second toe is the longest, but my tiny toe is very small and the joint is quite far back on my foot. This toe does not reach the V5F toe space at all.

    I use my pair as toe spacers, but I could not run in them if my life depended on it.

  3. Hi Anya. Do you know any barefoot running shoes that are narrow. I’m looking for a women’s lightweight, flexible zero drop shoe that doesn’t have a wide toe box. Thank you.- Alina

  4. I’m used to cushioned runners. I’d like to try Altra shoes to try to transition to less padding. Which model of the Altra do you recommend I try?

  5. Anya I like when you post shoes from widest to narrowest, thank you! Actually I love all of your posts here and on IG! I ordered some Vivo’s Georacer Mesh and while to me they look wide at the toe (because of the narrow heel I think), they were actually too narrow for me. So I ordered the men’s version and they were perfect! And you are right about Xero being a bit narrower and how “brick-shaped” feet work well with those. I tried several Xero shoes and they were too narrow and when I got the men’s version the heel and mid foot were too wide. But, I have to say the one Xero shoe that works very well for my foot is the Xero HFS, the women’s style. The mesh is so flexible that my wide-ish forefoot fits well without spilling over the sole. I’d say my foot shape is a medium fan shape. Just wanted to mention the Xero HFS in case other medium fans out there want to try this style!

  6. Hi Anya! Thank you so much for your great work! You makes our life easier and help choose right shoes! 🙂 Last autumn I changed all my shoes (from casual to office) to barefoot (Vivobarefoot) but before I already used some yaers Vibram Fivefinfers. I’m “all year runner” and now I have barefoot shoes for any weather. For almost any weather… How about winter running barefoot shoes with spikes? Early I used Inov-8 ArcticClaw (drop 8 mm), in the coming season I’ll try Icebug Spirit8 which promises “narrow racing fit with straight big toe line”, high flex, low cushioning and drop 4 mm. Is there in the world a real barefoot shoes with spikes? Can you recommend anything? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi! Thanks for the kind words! There aren’t winter running shoes with spikes that I know of unfortunately! Altra has some technical all weather running shoes (and they have both US and EU distribution), but I don’t believe they have spikes.

  7. Hi Anya! Self-installation of existing on the market spikes is only possible in a thick sole. For a thin sole the design of the spikes must be different and their installation during the manufacture of shoes only. The experience of using barefoot shoes in winter tells me that shoes with thin soles and spikes have the right to exist so that the feet do not freeze and the grip on ice is reliable. I’ll search and wait… 🙂 Thanks and best wishes!

    1. I don’t know of any, but I wonder if you could use Yaktrax with a pair of barefoot running shoes? I walk in Yaktrax in the winter, and they have some that go over the top so they don’t fall off. Would probably pair well with Altra Lone Peak

  8. Hi Anya,

    I’m so happy I came across you! You make this whole barefoot thing SO much easier to navigate. There’s so much! Thank you for running this blog.

    I am feeling unsure about my transition. I haven’t been using barefoot shoes so far, but my feet (visually) seem fine, and have been wearing pretty wide shoes. Also, I walk barefoot at home (I work from home) and train bare foot. But still, I don’t know the condition of my feet and I am afraid of injury while running if I just get into minimalist shoes.

    Graham’s program seems great, but I am so, SO tight with time (and money) right now that I seriously cannot fit it in. So now I feel like I’m either gonna continue to run in “normal” shoes (😳) or start with some very simple exercises (like the ones you mentioned) 5 mins a day and maybe some short runs in then. I have just started running and I want to create good habits and posture now from the beginning.

    Please, do you have some advice? It would be of huge help.

    Thank you and warm regards!

    1. Training your feet and lower legs at home is actually a really great way to prepare for running in minimalist shoes. Many barefoot running coaches train people by having them run for short periods of time in minimalist shoes and slowly increasing the time, but the foot exercises will make a huge difference, and you can also wear minimalist shoes for walking but not for running. All of that is prep work and highly beneficial even if you continue running primarily in your other shoes.

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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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