The 5 Best Barefoot Hiking Boots – Zero Drop, Flexible

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Serious hiking calls for serious shoes. But if you are committed to healthy feet you’re going to want minimalist hiking boots that still let your toes and ankles move more freely (aka Not Your Average Hiking Boot). In this post we cover 5 of the best barefoot hiking boot options, along with barefoot hiking boots for kids.

Read on for the Best Barefoot Hiking boots that are zero drop, flexible, and wide.

Curious why it’s so important to be wearing “barefoot” shoes? Read this post

Barefoot Hiking Boots Comparison Table

 Joe Nimble WanderToesVivobarefoot TrackerFreet MudeeXero XcursionLem's Boulder
a close up of a pair of Joe nimble wandertoes in black sitting on concrete for the best barefoot minimalist hiking boots reviewa close up of a pair of vivobarefoot trackers in brown sitting on concrete for the best barefoot minimalist hiking boots reviewa close up of a pair of freet mudee vegan in brown sitting on concrete for the best barefoot minimalist hiking boots reviewa pair of Xero shoes vegan Xcursion green sitting on concrete for the best barefoot minimalist hiking boots reviewa close up of a pair of lems waterproof boulder boots in brown leather sitting on concrete for the best barefoot minimalist hiking boots review
Lugs
Waterproof~Resistant~Resistant
Speed Hooks
Vegan
Removable Insole
Stack Height10mm
-6mm w/o insole
11.5mm
-8mm w/o insole
7mm
-4mm w/o insole
14mm
-12mm w/o insole
13mm
-10mm w/o insole
Price$1991$2402$1493$160$165

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1€209.58 for non-US customers at Joe Nimble main site.
2Tracker available for $216 after code ANYAVB
3Mudee available for $126 after code ANYARV

1. Joe Nimble WanderToes

Lugs | Water Resistant | Speed Hooks | Leather |$199

*This boot has been updated with a new sole. I will be testing it out and updating this post shortly. First impressions are that the sole is much thicker and stiffer, and the insole that comes with it is not zero drop (remove it to be zero drop)*

After testing 5 different barefoot hiking boots my top pick for quality, comfort and functionality is the Joe Nimble WanderToes (US shop). International customers can purchase from Joe Nimble’s main site and get 10% off with code AFFANY10.

This boot has a wide spacious toe box, is soft and flexible, and fits a wide range of feet. The WanderToes has the most barefoot feel while still being super high quality and actually useful for hiking.

The tongue is fully gussetted to keep water and dirt out and it can be cinched or expanded depending on the volume of your feet (major bonus!). Lugs on the outsole prevented me from slipping in mud, rain, and on loose gravel. The leather is water resistant but still soft, and the whole shoe rolls up very nicely.

One con to this shoe is that the internal footbed is very narrow, so some people with either flat or wide insteps might feel the edge of the shoe underneath their foot. Some people call this “arch support,” but I call it the cut of the shoe. The removable insole is completely flat and any contouring on the sides is meant to follow the shape of a natural foot (of course not all feet are shaped the same).

Sizing & Fit

I got a size US 7 or EU 37, which is the size I usually wear in boots or anything I plan to wear socks with. These are plenty spacious for me and I can even wear thicker socks.

The Joe Nimble WanderToes will work best for feet that are wide at the toes and narrower through the instep and heel, but any volume of foot will work great.

2. Vivobarefoot Tracker

Lugs| Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Leather | $240

A side view of a foot wearing the Vivobarefoot Tracker barefoot hiking boot, standing on a log outdoors

The Vivobarefoot Tracker is an excellent durable hiking boot with a waterproofed exterior, lugs for traction, and a removable thermal insole. The tongue is fully gussetted and has an accordion design (like the WanderToes) so it can expand to fit high volume feet. The only reason I put this one below the WanderToes is because it is stiffer and slightly narrower in the toe box. However these boots are very well made, durable, and I can confidently recommend them.

My husband wore his as snow boots last winter (swap out the insole for a sheepskin one if you plan to do this) and even to work with business casual pants. I have a pair as well, but I only wear them for hiking. They have held up very well and are extremely functional! You can read my full Vivobarefoot Tracker review here.

Use my Vivo code ANYAVB for 10% off, making these $216.

Sizing & Fit

My husband and I both sized up one from our normal size because the internal padding makes these run smaller than other Vivo shoes. My husband also has square shaped feet.

Vivobarefoot shoes are usually made to fit an Egyptian foot (with the big toe longest) and these boots slope steeply after the big toe, so if you have square-shaped feet you’ll want to size up as well.

3. Freet Mudee

Water Resistant | Speed Hooks | Vegan | $149

The Freet Mudee is the first vegan hiking boot we are looking at. It is one of the most comfortable ones we tested with no breaking in period and great ground feel (take out the insole and the shoe is only 4mm thick!). The material is labeled as being water-resistant, but we found it to be waterproof with no moisture coming in.

Another big plus about this shoe is it has an excellent foot shape with plenty of space for all toes, and is very well made and durable. I also appreciate that Freet goes to great lengths to produce shoes that are ethically made using sustainable materials. And finally, after my code ANYARV for 15% off they are far and away the cheapest option here ($126).

The interior is heavily padded which is comfortable but bulky. Lacing them up was awkward, and we felt the shoe could do with less cushion around the ankle. The upper material also doesn’t breathe very well and they got hot and sweaty in warmer weather. They feel great in cooler temps and definitely with socks (or you’ll be in sweat city).

Sizing & Fit

We went with a size larger than usual based on the recommendation on their site. This allowed for plenty of space and thick socks, but wasn’t necessary for a good fit. Fortunately they cinch up really well, so both the regular size and the size up would have worked.

Freet shoes follow a square shape, so are great for people with Roman shaped feet (long 2nd and 3rd toes) or extra wide toes in general. The tongue and ankle on the Mudee are very padded and fit closely, so be aware if you have extra high volume feet and ankles (sizing up would be advised in that case).

4. Lems Boulder Boots

Waterproof | Leather | $165

The Lems Waterproof Boulder boot is an excellent everyday muck shoe or light work boot, but I have some reservations about it as a hiking boot. There is not a whole lot of traction on the outsole in certain conditions. Wet snow on grass was super slippery, as well as certain loose dirt and gravel terrains. I also find the ankle material to be stiff. When hiking I want my ankles to be covered but still able to bend freely as I’m navigating terrain. I have heard that the non-waterproof versions are much softer around the ankle, so if you don’t need waterproof that would be a good option.

While I think these are excellent, well-made shoes (and the claim to be waterproof holds up) I will be wearing them for every day walking on even ground. I’m also a huge fan of the way they look, so even though I don’t love them as a hiker I will still wear them often.

The tongue is gusseted to keep water and debris out, and the sole is thicker (13 mm with insole) than a lot of barefoot shoes so you have some protection from the ground (good for dealing with sharp objects or the cold). There is a removable insole if you need more space, and you can swap it out for a sheepskin one to stay extra cozy. You can see my YouTube Lems Waterproof Boulder review for more info. European readers can purchase Lems at Unterwegs Mit Dir to save on shipping and returns.

Sizing & Fit

I normally wear a size 7 in this type of shoe but took their advice to go up 1/2 size. These are a 7.5 and they fit well with plenty of space for my toes and thick socks.

The Lems Boulder Boot will fit a variety of foot shapes and volumes, whether you have Egyptian or square toes.

5. Xero Xcursion Fusion

Lugs | Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Vegan | $140

The Xero Xcursion is a vegan and waterproof barefoot hiking boot with lugs for extra traction. This model is the narrowest and the stiffest of all the ones I tried, and took some breaking in. I use a thick heel cushion in them to keep them from irritating my feet (I have a Haglund’s deformity so my heels are sensitive). Fortunately after a mile and a good soak in the bathtub (had to test the waterproofing!) they softened up and ended up fairly flexible, but I would definitely plan to wear thicker hiking socks and maybe even some moleskin on the heel to prevent rubbing at first.

The lugs were effective at keeping me stable while hiking, and the shoe fit nice and close around the ankle so my feet weren’t slipping inside. There is a removable insole if you need more space, and speed hooks make them easy on and off. But the truth is, they were too narrow for me and not comfortable. It’s a real shame, since the previous version was only just wide enough. So going even narrower is an odd move IMO. However they do the job of protecting me while hiking, and they seem quite durable. So if you have narrow feet here is an option for you!

Sizing & Fit

I sized up to a 7.5 in these because they run small overall. Even still, they are too narrow, but I couldn’t size up more because then they would be too long. Read my full review of the Xero Xcursion Fusion for all the deets and comparisons.

The Xero Xcursion Fusion works best for those with narrow feet. I would plan on sizing up, and avoiding them all together if you have wide feet.

Other Options

Hiking Shoes

Kids Hiking Boots

Vivobarefoot kid's barefoot shoes Fulham boot

Right now the best barefoot hiking boots for kids can be found at Vivobarefoot (Get 10% off with code ANYAVB). They have two models made with lugs for traction.

Freet used to make the Mudee (that I reviewed above) in junior sizes, but currently do not. They do have some other great shoes for older kids at affordable prices (and an extra 15% off with code ANYARV) that are worth checking out!

And lastly, older kids can wear the Lone Peak from Altra.

My kids are still young and they wear their normal sneakers when we hike without issue, but if you do intense hiking you might want to consider the Vivos or Altras. Check out this post for more info on our favorite Barefoot Shoes for Kids.

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Comments

33 thoughts on “The 5 Best Barefoot Hiking Boots – Zero Drop, Flexible”

  1. Thank you for introducing me to Joe Nimble! I just got a pair after admiring them for a while, and I am loving them – comfort, fit, and good looks!

  2. Thanks for this (again) great review! I recently got myself a pair of Joe Nimble – the GlobalToes Recycle though, and not the WanderToes – and I am still undecided about my final verdict. I am one of those with wide and flat feet who experience the arch support feeling from the construction. Not sure if it is only because of this, but somehow I get more of a traditional shoe rather than a barefoot vibe from these.

    1. Interesting! The WanderToes are the only Joe Nimble shoes I have tried, and they feel pretty barefoot to me (flexible, spacious, etc). But I’m curious to know about other models.

    1. The Tracker would be a better choice for narrow feet, and I think would work fine. The WanderToes would probably work too, but you might need an insole to make sure your foot is secure.

      1. One step further… Out of all the choices, is Tracker still the best for narrow feet? (I only asked about Tracker and WanderToes, but really I’m open to whichever are best for narrow feet, even if it’s not one of those two!) I have a terribly hard time finding shoes that fit. I’m also looking at Wildlings but haven’t been able to receive a reply from them about which styles might work best for narrow feet, if any at all.

        1. Wildling and Xero shoes are probably the two best for narrow feet, but the Tracker also works well. Are you also low volume? If that is the case, Tracker or Wildling. Xero shoes have a lot of vertical space.

  3. I haven’t worn barefoot shoes before but I am curious. I am contemplating buying a pair of hiking boots and a pair of sandals for this summer. Leaning toward Earth Runners for the sandals, but unsure about hiking boots. Do you have recommendations for hiking boots for someone new to barefoot shoes, or do you think it wiser to just start with the sandals before jumping in with both feet, so to speak? I’ll be doing casual walking and light hiking and some walking off-trail. Thanks 🙂

    1. I think hiking boots can work really well for someone who is new to barefoot shoes because they are a little more supportive than sandals (with the ankle covering). You also have the ability to add an insole or even an orthotic if you need during your transition. But I also hike in my Earth Runners a lot if it’s warm enough. So you could go either way!

  4. Hi Anya
    Thank you so much for all your reviews, opinions and information✌️👣
    I am just beginning my journey into barefoot shoes ! I have always gone barefoot as much as possible, especially in the warmer months ( I live in New York State) . I truly believe that shoes like these can be life changing ! I am grateful to have discovered them and your reviews🙏I have tried a couple of brands and one thing I am noticing is that they run a lot smaller than typical shoes ( at least the ones I’ve tried) . I am finding selecting the appropriate size very confusing and I’ve had to return several pairs . I usually wear anywhere from a 5 1/2 to a 6 1/2 us womens . I have pretty wide , small feet ,Roman to squarish shape. I am pretty small in general about 4’10” and and 110 pounds. I spend all the time that I can hiking , camping, and being in nature with my family ,I need a decent grip with a lot of ground feel and roam for my toes to splay . Do you have a hiking shoe recommendations for me ? I am considering the freet mudees , their website says to size up . I’m not sure what size to get , possibly 38?I’m hoping these will be wide enough.
    P.S I found zero shoes daylight hikers too Narrow ,I ordered a 5 1/2 wide in vivobarefoot trackers and they were so small I couldn’t even begin to get my foot in , wildlings wombats are beautiful but also too narrow for me and the 36 is too small ,I really like zemgear apex spit toe size women’s size 6 (so comfortable )but they are not the best for hiking , I really wanted to try Vibram Five Fingers, but they will not work for me , slightly webbed toes between 2nd and 3rd . So I’m considering the freet mudee, vivobarefoot tempest , or primal runamoc mega grip. Any thoughts, much appreciated 💜
    Sorry if this is a little scattered, I’m also pretty new to writing comments etc 🍄😀🪶
    Thank you 😊
    Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa! I am not surprised you haven’t had luck with the Xero Hiker or the Tracker in that size, the Xero shoe runs narrow and the Tracker runs small. It can be a real challenge! I would say the 37 in the Mudee would probably be good if you fit into a size 6 in the Lems Boulder. But, they have good customer service so it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to them with your measurements. It’s usually a good idea to measure instead of go off your usual size, or even what they generally recommend (to size up/down). If you don’t need a full boot, the Softstar Primal RunAmoc has an option of a grippy trail sole that would be plenty wide. See Below:
      http://shrsl.com/2uqyz

      1. Thank you for your reply ✌️😀 The lems Boulder boots were considerably too small and narrow in the 36 .I ended up returning them ,I didn’t like the feel either. This is why I figured a 38 in the freet mudee . It’s great to hear that they have a good costumer service team , perhaps I will reach out before I risk another purchase that is way to narrow and small 🙃 I really appreciate your advice and the coupon codes are extremely helpful 👍

  5. I forgot to mention 🙃 Lem’s Boulder boots , also too small in my usual size 36 And for me they seem stiff not enough ground feel , they don’t feel “ barefoot “ to me

  6. Hello Anya, and thanks for advice!
    I think i will take the Tracker one. The ANYAV code seems to not work anymore? That’s right?
    Thanks.

    1. Oh okay, it works! Cool!
      I have one more question, the better hiking shoes for using it in snow will be the tracker or wandertoe or another one?
      Im looking for one to hike in mountain, forest and some time in snow or with snow racket.
      What do you think?
      Have a good day.
      A

        1. Hello Anya,
          The new WanderToes seems to have better crampon than the Trackers to hike is snow no? What do you think about it ?
          Thank you.
          Arnaud

          1. I have a pair on their way to me, so I should be able to update this post with details on the current WanderToes soon.

  7. Would you recommend any of these for hiking in hot summer months? If not.. any more breathable hiking shoes worth taking a look at?

    I bought the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail shoes and am very disappointed. They are meant for trail running, but I thought they would also work for hiking.

    My first Vivo shoes were the Globi Hi 2.0 boots, which I love. They are super comfortable, very roomy and flexible, and an excellent winter boot that’s great in all the elements. After a great experience with the Vivo brand, I was confident I’d like their other models. However, the Primus Trail are extremely uncomfortable. The outer is made out of recycled plastic and is very stiff. Also the tongue of the shoe doesn’t full cover the top of the foot and the hard plastic rubs against your foot.. a bad design flaw. I have to wear thick socks or put some kind of padding in them to be able to wear them at all.

    Anyway, I’m looking for a summer hiking shoe if you have any recommendations!

    1. I think the WanderToes would be a good summer hiking shoe. The Tracker is also pretty good, but you’d want to take out the thermal insole in the summer. There’s also the Lone Peak from Altra and the Softstar RunAmoc with the Megagrip sole (both shoes, not boots). Bummer about the Primus Trail! My son just got the kids version and he is loving them. Sounds like the adults might be different.

  8. Hello Anya, Do you think the WanderToes would be warm enough with lambskin insole and two layer of socks for snow/ice/winter boots? I am talking about -15/-20 degrees celsius. Is their traction as good as the tracker on ice?
    I know the trackers would be warm enough but I am afraid they are too narrow and stiff for my feet (I have a roman shape feet and a beginning of bunion on left foot).

    1. Hey Marine, Yes I do think they would be warm enough for those temps with the insoles and two socks. I wore them in those temps and it worked, but I definitely needed the warm socks and insole. Good news is you can then wear them into the warm months!

    1. Hi! I looked into them this past fall/winter after writing this post and got my husband a pair of the Expeq hiking boots. I got a different shoe (the Quintic, reviewed in my Vegan Barefoot Winter Boots post) that uses the same sole. Essentially, I think it’s probably a great shoe!

  9. hey. thank you so much for your reviews. super helpful. i was excited to try the joe nimble wandertoes as you featured here, and discovered that they’ve changed the design.. the sole looks huge now, and definitely less attractrive to me all together… i’m curious how yours have held up and if you have any tips or resources on finding the older model? 🙂

    1. Unfortunately I’ve looked high and low and can’t find them anywhere anymore. They’ve completely switched over. I just ordered the new version to compare it to the old one. Hoping it’s still good, despite the chunky looking sole!

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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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