15 Barefoot Sneakers That Are Better Than Vans

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A top down view of two people's feet standing on concrete wearing Bohempia barefoot sneakers with the text "barefoot sneakers that look cool, Anya's Reviews"

Barefoot sneakers are a great way to bring the benefits of barefoot shoes into your daily life, without sacrificing on style. In this list you’ll find my favorite 15 barefoot sneakers that look cool, but feel even better!

Why Barefoot Sneakers Are Better Than Vans

cool barefoot sneakers being styled by the same woman in 3 different outfits featuring Vivobarefoot geo court, Xero shoes Aptos, and Splay Freestyle

Why do I care whether or not you wear Vans? When it comes to footwear, you could do worse (ahem, stilettos). But there are still some valid reasons to consider swapping your Vans for a barefoot sneaker alternative. Barefoot sneakers have the following:

  • Foot Shape: Vans more closely resemble a shank than a human foot, and evidence increasingly shows that footwear can cause bunions and many other foot deformities.
  • Flexibility: Barefoot sneakers are significantly more flexible than Vans, making them movement and balance friendly.
  • Zero Drop: Vans seem flat, but they actually have a tiny heel lift which affects your alignment and posture. Over time, that small heel can contribute to foot, ankle, knee, back, even neck pain.
Annotated image of Splay Freestyle versus Vans shoes. The barefoot in the middle shows the toe box shaped overlaid. Vans are bunion shaped, while Splay is the shape of a natural human foot.

You can read more on the features of barefoot shoes and why they matter in the articles below!

Now that you know why barefoot sneakers are better for your feet, let’s dig into the coolest options that match your killer sense of style!

A woman holding up two similar pairs of sneakers - Splay and Vans. She is looking at the Splay shoes and smiling. The text blocks read "Wear This!" over splay and "Not That" over the Vans.

But before we get started, I’d like to say a word about price and quality. If you’re wondering why some barefoot shoes cost $150 and others cost $50 – it usually comes down to materials and quality. Sometimes a cheap shoe works just dandy for my life, but I do appreciate a high quality item that will last forever. You can read this article to learn more about how barefoot sneakers are priced.

And finally, this article on how to measure and determine your foot type will help you pick the size and brand most likely to work for you!

Ok, now we’re REALLY ready to talk cool & stylish barefoot sneakers.

The Best Barefoot Sneakers


Bohempia

Vegan | $112-130 | Sizes EU 36-46 | Available At:

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off your purchase

If you don’t want to order from Europe, we carry select styles at Anya’s Shop!

What I Love About Them: Bohempia barefoot sneakers fulfill that classic look so well, with slip ons, low tops, and high tops, all in trendy colors. They’re all sustainably made with hemp, and they’re one of the only brands to offer a regular and wide width. The sole looks thick, but the rubber wall comes up much higher than the sole so you still are close to the ground.

Sizing & Fit Type: Bohempia runs true to size, I am a size 37 in all of mine. I wear regular width, which already is fairly wide. But you also can get wide if you have extra wide feet!

You can read my in-depth Bohempia review here.

a close up of the outsoles of bohempia regular versus wide width

Feelgrounds

Vegan | $100-130 | Sizes EU 35-49/US W5-M15 | Available At:

What I Love About Them: Feelgrounds barefoot sneakers are legitimately cool, comfortable, and lightweight. I reach for them often because they feel great and are easy to style. I prefer their mesh & knit models, but they also have some in a vegan leather.

Sizing & Fit Type: Feelgrounds run true to size, and fit a wide foot. I wear a size 37 in all my Feelgrounds sneakers. The different models fit different foot volumes, you can read more in-depth sizing & ordering info in my Feelgrounds Review.

Feelgrounds Top down view and outsole shape

Groundies

Vegan & Leather Options | $150 | Sizes EU 36-48 | Available At:

What I Love About Them: Groundies Barefoot sneakers are some of the most stylish around, and there are a dizzying amount of options and styles! The Universe is one of the most popular, but be aware that they also offer a “regular” fit line od sneakers which has a tapered toe box (no bueno!). The quality is excellent, and if you go with the original rubber outsoles they are very flexible and comfortable.

Sizing & Fit Type: Groundies Barefootwear fits true to size. Different sneaker models fit differently in terms of volume: The Universe and other sneakers with the GS1 soles are high volume and good if you need lots of space above your toes. The Sydney and others with the original Groundies outsole are lower volume. Read my Groundies Barefootwear reviews here!

Groundies top down and outsole shape

Splay

Vegan | $70 | Sizes EU 24-47/US kids 8 – M13 | Available At:

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off

What I Love About Them: Splay Freestyle sneakers have thin, flexible soles that move with your feet, and a nice wide toe box. I also appreciate that they fit securely around my ankles so I don’t feel like I’m sliding around (which sometimes happen in wide barefoot sneakers). And of course, the contrast stitching makes for a classic American look that’s hard to beat. The construction is good, but they don’t seem as durable as my Vivobarefoot sneakers.

Sizing & Fit Type: Splay has a detailed size guide I recommend following. In general they run true to size, but if in between I would size up. They also cater to a lower volume foot best, but high volume feet should be able to make do with the laces. For more in-depth info on sizing and fit, read my full Splay Freestyle review!

Splay shoes Top down and Outsole shape

Anatomic

Vegan | $56 | Sizes EU 35-45 | Available at:

*Anatomic doesn’t ship outside Europe. For worldwide shipping, you can order from Tupsunupsu.
For US/Canadian shipping, PedTerra has some models and (ANYASREVIEWS gets you 10% off your first purchase)*

What I Love About Them: Anatomic barefoot sneakers look veeery much like a classic Vans, but they don’t squish my toes. They are thinner than they look, but still not as thin and flexible as Feelgrounds. They are not as soft as I usually prefer, but work well for walking, errands, and looking cool!

Sizing & Fit Type: Anatomic sneakers run a little small and narrow compared to other barefoot shoe brands – I sized up to an EU 38 (from my usual 37) and they fit me well but I don’t have tons of wiggle room for my toes. They are a great starter shoe.

Anatomic Top Down and outsole Shape

Vivobarefoot

Vegan & Leather Options | Sizes EU 33-49 | Available At:

Use code VBANYA10 for 10% off

What I Love About Them: Vivobarefoot sneakers are consistently well made, durable, and they look cool too. I personally love the Geo Court as an everyday sneaker (leather sneakers just have that little something extra), but they have many options. One con to Vivo sneakers is that they tend to make my feet sweat. I keep wearing them without socks anyways, but you could wear hidden toe socks to prevent it. The upside is that they last a long time despite being thin and flexible.

Sizing & Fit Type: In general Vivobarefoot fits an average width foot with a sloped shape. Their sneakers tend to fit shallow over the top of the foot and close around the ankle (choose the knit versions if you have thicker feet!). Keep in mind that the Men’s and Women’s models are different widths, so if you fit into men’s sizes and have a wider foot that is a great way to go. I wear my usual size EU 37 (or US 7) in all my Vivo sneakers. Another option from Vivo for wider feet is the Made in Ethiopia line.


Be Lenka & Barebarics

Leather & Vegan Options | $140-$180 | Sizes EU 33-47 | Available At:

Be Lenka/Barebarics only accepts returns from within the EU and USA. Be sure to check out the Discounted Seconds section at Anya’s Shop for a deal!

What I Love About Them: Be Lenka is another brand that makes very high quality barefoot sneakers – they combine the best shoe making techniques, great style, AND the features of barefoot shoes all in one. They have TONS of trendy styles, and I like all of them!

Sizing & Fit Type: Be Lenka barefoot sneakers have a wide fit and come in two different shapes. – bean and square. Most Be Lenka sneakers have a medium to high volume foot, but the Eazy is low volume. You can read all about the Be Lenka Barefoot brand in my reviews here!

Be Lenka has a second brand called Barebarics, which features a chunkier looking sole and a bit more cushion than their other models. Learn more about Barebarics shoes here.

A side by side of two Be Lenka barefoot shoe outsoles to show the different shapes. One is bean, and one is square

Xero Shoes

Vegan | $65 | Sizes US W5-M15 | Available At:

What I Love About Them: The Xero makes a few casual sneakers, including a barefoot slip on and a simple knit sneaker. The Aptos slip-on is simple and affordable, but actually doesn’t fit my personal foot type well. It’s main merits are that it looks like a mainstream sneaker and is a good price point. For me, the Xero Dillon (shown above right) is the best casual sneaker from Xero, but be ware that the white gets dirty easily

Sizing & Fit Type: The Aptos fits a narrow to average width and is high volume. My feet are wide and shallow, so they really aren’t a good match for me. The Dillon fits wide feet, but isn’t too open around the ankle and arch – they have a solid universal fit and they are super comfy!

Sizing is true, but note that the men’s and women’s shoes from Xero are different widths. So if you fit into a men’s size and need a wider shoe, that’s the way to go. You can read my Xero Shoes Reviews here!

Xero Aptos top down and outsole shape

Peerko

Leather & Canvas Option | $150 | Sizes EU 37-43 | Available At:

Use code ANYASREVIEWS10 for 10% off directly from Peerko

What I Love About Them: Peerko has impeccable quality with a mainstream looking sole, but they are still very flexible – especially after being broken in. They also fit quite wide without looking like clown shoes. They have lots of nice barefoot sneakers in different colors and designs, and I have yet to hear from someone who doesn’t like them!

Sizing & Fit Type: Peerko runs true to size and fits a wide foot! They work well for medium volume feet, but should also fit high and low volume because of the laces. I wear mine as is without any modifications.

Peerko top down and outsole shape

Mukishoes

Vegan, Leather & Wool Options | $110-150 | Sizes EU 36-48 | Available At:

Use code ANYAMUKI for 10% off

What I Love About Them: Mukishoes barefoot sneakers are one of my most worn – I really love their unique but also classic design. And they always seem to have the best color options each year! They are very minimal, with super thin and flexible soles, so you get a real barefoot experience in them. *Available colors change seasonally, so what you see might be different than what is shown here.*

Sizing & Fit Type: Mukishoes fit an average width best, but many people with wide feet are able to make them work because the outsole is so flexible it spreads out underfoot. I wear my usual size 37 in them, but don’t have much extra space for my toes on the sides (I wear them barefoot). They fit high volume, so I almost always use an extra insole with them.

Read my Mukishoes brand review here!

Mukishoes top down and outsole shape

Lems Shoes

Vegan & Leather Options | $95-125 | Sizes US W5-M15 | Available At:

What I Love About Them: Lems has a few minimalist sneaker options that can replace your Vans – my two sneaker favorites are the Chillum and the Kourt.

They have a wide toe box and are zero drop, but have a thicker sole than most barefoot shoes (approx 14mm with insole). This makes them an excellent choice for people who are not comfortable in thin soles but want all the other benefits of barefoot shoes. They also look pretty darn cool and are well made. Besides the Chillum & Kourt, I also like the Drifter, Primal 2, and Boulder as stylish barefoot sneaker alternatives.

Sizing & Fit Type: Lems barefoot sneakers have a wide fit and run true to size. Lems does a great job with their sizing information, so I highly recommend consulting that before purchasing because different models fit differently. In general, I find that they run on the smaller side so if in doubt I usually size up.

Be aware that not all Lems are zero drop or anatomically shaped. I recommend hanging out in the Minimalist Shoe section on Lems’ website and checking product descriptions before purchasing. And if you need an extra wide toe box, the Lems Primal 2 is an ever popular barefoot sneaker for everyday and athletic use!


Origo Shoes

Vegan & Leather Options |$60-$130 | Sizes US Kids 8-Mens 13 | Available At:

Use code ANYA for 10% off

What I Love About Them: Origo sneakers are really stylish, come in affordable options, and are sustainably made. They’re a great brand for someone who wants to break into natural footwear but keep the mainstream look. My personal favorite is the gold leather, I took them traveling with me recently and they perfectly completed every outfit! *This brand only ships to the US & Canada currently*

Sizing & Fit Type: Origo sneakers have a medium width compared to other barefoot shoe brands, which means they are not best for extra wide feet. The canvas models in particular fit a little snug, but the leather options are buttery soft and feel great even though they hug my feet. For extra wide shoes from Origo check out their Derby line for women.

Otherwise they are true to size and fit high volume over the toes, but fit close around the arch and ankle so they stay secure and don’t slide around.

Origo Shoes top down and outsole shape

Wildling

Vegan | Sizes EU 36-48/ US W5-M13 | Available At:

What I Love About Them: I know, these don’t look much like Vans at all. BUT THEY’RE SO COMFORTABLE that you might even end up preferring them. Wildling is one of those brands that once you discover it’s hard to wear anything else. Their sneaker styles are light as air, breathable, wide – as close to being barefoot as it gets.

Sizing & Fit Type: Wildling Shoes’ fit type varies by model. The Nebula and Tanuki (shown above) are the most like a casual sneaker. They both run true to size and accommodate average, wide, and even extra wide feet thanks to a highly adaptable outsole. Read all my Wildling Shoes reviews here!

Wildling top down and outsole shape

Zaqq Barefoot

Vegan & Leather Options | $175 | Sizes EU 36-50 | Available At:

What I Love About Them: Zaqq Barefoot fits my foot shape well and they have so many different style options there’s always something to catch my eye! They are also quite well made and I’ve had good luck with this brand. They can be a bit tricky to order from (US customers must request an invoice by e-mail), so make sure you read my Zaqq review below for the details.

Sizing & Fit Type: Zaqq barefoot sneakers run true to size and fit an average to wide foot. I wear my usual size 37 and they fit my wide toes perfectly. They cater to a medium volume foot, but provide space above the toes. They should work for many foot types. You can read my in-depth Zaqq Barefoot review here!

Zaqq Top down and Outsole shape

bLifestyle

Vegan & Leather Options | $135-$175 | Sizes EU 20-46 | Available At:

Unfortunately this brand has temporarily stopped shipping outside the EU. You can find select styles at Tupsunupsu (EU retailer with worldwide shipping)

What I Love About Them: Great look, lots of color and style options, and they fit my feet great. This is a brand that really captures a mainstream look without compromising on barefoot features.

Sizing & Fit Type: The bLifestyle sneakers I’ve tried run true to size, leaving me with plenty of toe space but a secure fit around my ankles and arch. They seem best suited for average volume feet, but should work for high and low volume as well because of the laces. Note that the new CoolStyle line is made with a narrower shape than what is shown here.

bLifestyle top down and outsole shape


Barefoot Sneaker Runner Ups

The following barefoot sneakers don’t look so much like Vans, BUT they meet my minimum criteria of natural footwear and can be worn casually.

Top down and Sole Shape of Whitin barefoot sneakers.

Whitin Casual Sneakers | Amazon | Vegan |$38 | Sizes US W6-M13: These come with an insole that is not barefoot friendly. Once it is removed they are very flexible with lots of ground feel. I found the toe box a little too tapered for my wide feet and the quality is definitely cheap. However, they are a very non-threatening way to try out the feeling of barefoot sneakers! Full Whitin Review Here


Magical shoes top down and outsole shape

Magical Shoes Promenade | EU | Leather & Vegan Options | Sizes EU 37-47: These sneakers are uber flexible and fit a wide foot. They run small, so I wear one size up from my usual and they’re perfect. Code ANYA gets you 10% off.


Ahinsa top down and outsole shape

Ahinsa Bindu | EU | Vegan | Sizes EU 36-48: Ahinsa shoes are all 100% vegan, very soft, and good for a wide forefoot. The Comfort line comes with a non-barefoot removable insole. Code ANYASREVIEWS gets you 10% off


tadeevo top down and outsole shape

Tadeevo Bliss | EU | Leather & Vegan Options | Sizes EU 37-53: This is an excellent barefoot sneaker that works casually and as an athletic shoe. If you need a size above 48, you can find it here. Code ANYASREVIEWS gets you 5% off.


leguano top down and outsole shape

Leguano Beat | Canada | Vegan | Sizes EU 34-49: These barefoot sneakers are very light and flexible and I enjoy wearing them a lot. The price is a bit ouchy, but they are comfortable and look cool.


PaperKrane top down and outsole shape

PaperKrane | Australia | Vegan & Leather Options | Sizes EU 19-42: PaperKrane is known for their funky prints (of course the one I have is plain grey, but they have rainbows, bananas, leopard print, and brights!). They also are more affordable than many barefoot shoe brands. They do run on the narrow side though. Code ANYASREVIEWS gets you 10% off.


Flux footwear top down and outsole shape

Flux Footwear | US Vegan | Sizes US W7-M14: These are a good transition shoe to barefoot sneakers – they have a thicker sole than most barefoot shoe brands and a slightly tapered toe box. But the upper is stretchy and the sole is flexible.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off


Barefoot Sneaker Width Comparison

I organized 27 different barefoot sneaker brands in order from the narrowest toe box to the widest. Check them out below! Keep in mind that I was looking specifically at toe box width – you can see there are many variations in shape and width in other parts of the shoes (like the instep and the heel).

Barefoot shoe brands from narrow to wide

And if you’d like to see more complete lists of barefoot sneaker brands, check out these resources!

Barefoot Sneakers that are better than vans cover image by Anya's Reviews dot com

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Comments

16 thoughts on “15 Barefoot Sneakers That Are Better Than Vans”

  1. Great post! The width comparison is one of the most helpful things I’ve found in my own barefoot journey. Trying to find brands that fit has been very frustrating (even with the help of your “Best brands for your foot type” post). Information like that is always super helpful.

  2. Great article and comprehensive. While I have many of these, there are many more I am looking forward to trying! Thank you!

  3. I ordered a pair of Origo Gen 1 shoes based on your review, and I love them! So comfortable and the perfect shoes to help me transition to barefoot. Plus they look stylish and not like clown shoes.

  4. Excellent article! Love, love, love all that you do. Your posts and your site are beyond fabulous!

    I do have one small critique here, however. Comparing shoe width based on the sole width will not yield an accurate comparison. This is because the sole shows the widest dimensions of the shoe, and yet… this is not the part of the shoe that actually accommodates/houses the foot. As such you can have shoes with a really wide and attractive looking sole that are actually quite narrow in the upper and fit like a conventional narrow shoe. Hokas or newer Altras are an example: generously wide soles, but narrow and constricting uppers and shoe bodies (yes, Altra have devolved their shoes to be essentially narrow and conventional). The only way to actually compare shoe width (where your foot would feel it) is to compare the shoe widths from ABOVE, not from below. To illustrate the disparity: In your above comparison you have Altras, Lems, Freets as wider than Splay, Feelgrounds, and Vibrams. In fact the OPPOSITE is true. Altras and Lems (except for Primal) are EXTREMELY narrow in the toe-box. Freets and Feelgrounds fall in the mid-to-wider ranking. Splay and Vibrams are among the widest toe-box shoes you can get, and Ahinsa is actually about as wide as Belenka. So to compare the toe-box via the sole measurements is inaccurate misleading.

    1. Comparing width is very tricky, because everyone experiences it differently based on their particular foot shape, and which model they have tried from a particular brand. I made this chart based on my own experience wearing several different models from these brands combined with the feedback I hear from family, friends, employees, and readers. It’s not perfect, but it’s my best summation of these collective experiences. Someone once commented on a post I wrote about Splay shoes saying they were sooo narrow and not foot shaped at all and how could I call them wide??? What they meant is they didn’t match their foot shape and were not wide where they needed it (in the middle of the shoe). I’ve learned that individual foot shape factors heavily into how you fit into shoes, so really everything I share needs to be taken with that grain of salt. Also, brands change things often so I have to do a lot of updating. I will likely adjust the chart over time.

      Thanks for being a supportive reader!

  5. Love all of this. I am new to the barefoot lifestyle, but now that I’m aware of it I cannot go back to my old shoes. I would love to see a list of vendors who carry barefoot shoes in women’s extended sizes (US) size 12+. I’ve found a few by hunting and peeking through your reviews but it would be AMAZING for us large footed ladies to have a one stop shop resource. Thanks for all you do!

  6. Thanks for another comprehensive comparison post! I came to look at shoes like Vans because my kiddo wants to try skateboarding, and I’m hoping to find a barefoot-enough option (wide toe box, zero drop) with soles that can hold up to the griptape and pavement. My kids have worn minimal footwear their whole lives, so it feels weird to be searching for a thicker/lug sole! Any suggestions? (Need to measure again, but size is probably around 28 EU.)
    Love your reviews, by the way.

    1. Mmm I would say Xero Prio but they start at EU 30/US 12. My next recommendation would be Vivobarefoot Primus Sport, they come in the full size range so you would be able to get them in your child’s current size. Lugs usually aren’t needed on pavement, so these two options actually have a thin sole still.

  7. Hi. Im a student from Canada. If I just can afford for 1 shoes for winter & 1 for other seasons. Would you help suggest 2 options that I should consider.
    Tks a lot for your reply. Hope to hear from you soon

  8. Vans just released a wide version to their old skool shoes and they compare to my barefoot sneakers at half the price. I wish these companies would decrease their prices.

    1. Are they wider in the toe box than their regular shoes or just throughout the midfoot and heel like most “wide” width conventional shoes? In any case, there is a good reason so many barefoot shoes are priced the way they are. I encourage you to read this post about it – it’s eye opening!

  9. Caroline Landreth

    I’m curious on wide width Keds? They are inexpensive and seem to have lots of flexibility and are fairly flat.

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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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