The 5 Best Barefoot Hiking Boots – Zero Drop, Flexible

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
Speed Hooks
Removable Insole
Stack Height10mm
-6mm w/o insole
-8mm w/o insole
-4mm w/o insole
-12mm w/o insole
-10mm w/o insole

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1€209.58 for non-US customers at Joe Nimble main site.
2Tracker available for $216 after code ANYA10
3Mudee available for $126 after code ANYARV

1. Joe Nimble WanderToes

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

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 ANYA10 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. Xero Xcursion

Lugs | Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Vegan | $160

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. At first I was concerned they were going to give me blisters, so I used a heel cushion on my first hike (I have a Haglund’s deformity so my heels are sensitive). Fortunately after a mile they softened up and ended up alright, 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. Also, the criss crossing straps are reflective (who knew?). While they aren’t uncomfortable, they are the least comfortable of the ones I tried. The material is a little stiff, and I wish I had more toe space. However they do the job of protecting me while hiking, and they seem quite durable.

Sizing & Fit

I got my usual size 7 in these, and they are a pretty close fit. I debated sending them back for a 7.5, but went ahead and wore them with thin socks (instead of thick). Fortunately they loosened up just enough to fit.

The Xero Xcursion works best for those with narrower feet. If you have extra wide feet or want to wear thicker socks, I would plan on sizing up.

5. Lems Boulder Boots

Waterproof | Leather | $165

The Lems Waterproof Boulder boot is an excellent everyday muck shoe or light work boot, but it didn’t perform well as a hiking boot. There is not a whole lot of traction on the outsole and I was slipping on loose dirt and gravel. When hiking I want my ankles to be covered but still able to bend freely as I’m navigating terrain, and these boots were stiffer than I like. 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. 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.

Other Options

  • Feelmax Kuvaa – I had heard good things about these shoes, but sizing was quite limited so I wasn’t able to test it.
  • Zaqq Hiqe – read my Zaqq brand review for info on ordering.
  • Feelgrounds Patrol – These should be an excellent vegan hiking boot (and stylish too!) but won’t be ready to ship until early 2021.

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 ANYA10). 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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8 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.

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered “barefoot shoes” after a long bout of foot issues. I realized that with some extra research (and a whole new set of standards), I could curate shoes that made me feel amazing and didn’t require any compromises. I started my blog Anya’s Reviews to share what I learned with others.

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