The 10 Best Barefoot Hiking Boots & Shoes for Outdoorsy Folks

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A top down view of two pairs of feet wearing barefoot hiking boots and standing on muddy ground with the test "The Best Barefoot Hiking Boots, Anya's Reviews" written over it
The Best Barefoot Hiking Boots & Shoes – Updated for 2023

Serious hiking calls for serious shoes. But if you are committed to healthy feet you might want barefoot hiking boots that let your toes and ankles move more freely than your typical stiff, narrow hiking shoe.

In this article I review 10 of the best barefoot hiking boot & shoe brands, all of which I personally own and hike in.

Read on for the lowdown on barefoot hiking shoes that are zero drop, flexible, and wide.

The Best Barefoot Hiking Boots Available

This isn’t just a collection of links – I own and hike in all of the barefoot hiking boots and shoes here. After years of testing and hundreds of barefoot shoes in my closet, I am confident these are the absolute best barefoot hiking boots on the market, no matter where you are in the world. Hiking just feels so much better when I’m in barefoot hiking boots!

Psst, if you’re looking for barefoot boots for every day, check this review out!

Here is what I look for in my barefoot hiking shoes:

  1. Zero drop sole (totally flat from heel to toe)
  2. An anatomical toe box shape (space for all my toes!)
  3. A thin flexible sole (though sometimes I go for a thick sole for weather protection/durability)

These features are inherently different from your typical hiking shoe that weighs a ton and barely bends. Let blisters be a thing of the past! Barefoot hiking boots let your feet move naturally while still protecting you from the elements. For more tips on fitting hiking boots, here is a guide from Terradrift.

Take a segue to learn why I only wear “barefoot” shoes

Ok, on to the best barefoot hiking shoes on the market!

Vivobarefoot Tracker

A collage of 3 different great barefoot hiking boots from Vivobarefoot - The Tracker

Lugs | Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Leather | $240 | Sizes US W5.5 – M15

Use code ANYA25 for 25% off

No one does outdoor shoes like Vivobarefoot. The Vivobarefoot Tracker is an excellent durable barefoot hiking boot with a waterproofed exterior (in some models), lugs for traction, and a removable thermal insole. They’re the best combination of barefoot feel with function.

While the Trackers boots are extremely functional and durable, they feel a little stiff at first for a barefoot hiking boot and take breaking in. We have multiple pairs in our house that are several years old and I can confidently attest to them becoming soft and flexible.

The Vivobarefoot Tracker comes with three different outsole types.

A collage showing the 3 different tread types available from Vivobarefoot's good barefoot hiking boots

Here you can see the different outdoor soles in order of their grip and durability. The FG and FG 2 outsoles work perfectly for the hiking and playing we do, while the Esc sole is extra rugged and durable (a little beefier than I really need). They are a great choice if you do high mileage and/or extreme terrain.

My husband wears his Tracker FG hiking boots for snow (swap out the insole for a sheepskin one if you plan to do this) and even to work with business casual pants. I wear my FG’s for hiking whenever it’s cold and wet and my Decons with the FG2 sole the rest of the time. They have held up very well and are extremely functional! You can read my full Vivobarefoot Tracker FG review here.

Sizing & Fit

Read this post to learn all about foot type and how to measure your feet!

  • Runs true to size
  • Fits average to narrow width feet best
  • Medium volume over the arch (try the Tracker Esc if you have high volume feet)

My husband and I have our normal size in all our Vivobarefoot hiking shoes & boots except for the Tracker FG, that one we both sized up in.

a close up of a hand holding a rolled up vivobarefoot tracker in brown

Be Lenka Barefoot

Leather | Waterproof Option | $179 | Sizes EU 33-47

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off your Be Lenka purchase. They only accept returns from the EU and USA.

Also available at Anya’s Shop in the US!

Be Lenka barefoot has two excellent hiking shoes. The first is the Be Lenka Ranger. This is a fleece lined, waterproof boot with a durable upper and rugged non-slip sole. I am loving everything about these, from their high quality materials, to the extra spacious toe box, to the warm fleece lining (I do a lot of cold weather hiking). These are easily my #1 choice for a cold weather hiking boot, but aren’t as practical year round – which is where the Vivobarefoot Tracker takes the cake. The Ranger can double as a snow boot too!

If you need a barefoot trail shoe for warmer weather, the Be Lenka Trailwalkers are wonderful. These barefoot hikers are extremely comfortable and have great grip. Not to mention the incredible amount of toe space and excellent quality. I’ve banged up my ankle bones a few times in them on rocky hikes (the perils of not covering your ankles!), but I still prefer them when the weather is warm because of how light and and comfortable they are.

The tread is not deep, which actually helps keep mud from collecting in the grooves, and they’ve kept me steady even on loose rock and gravel. They come with an optional insole for some cushion or a better fit if you have low volume feet. Without the insole they are only 4mm thick! Overall, these are exactly what I’m looking for in a barefoot hiking shoe: practical, but my feet still feel free.

A side by side of two barefoot hiking boots from Be Lenka rolled up to show its flexibility - the Ranger and the Trailwalker

Sizing & Fit

  • Runs slightly small.
  • Fits wide to extra wide feet.
  • The Trailwalkers are high volume.
  • The Rangers are medium volume
A side by side of the outsoles of two different barefoot hiking shoes from Be Lenka - the Ranger and the Trailwalker

Xero Shoes

A foot wearing Xero Shoes Scrambler Mid Barefoot hiking boots on a mossy wet rock

Lugs | Water Resistant | Speed Hooks | Vegan | $169 | Sizes US W5-M15

The Xero Scrambler Mid is my FAVORITE hiking shoe from Xero to date. It’s soft, comfortable, and yet extremely functional. I love them for spring and fall hiking because the upper is breathable and light.

The lugs on the Scrambler Mid were effective at keeping me stable while hiking, and the sole is a great balance of being flexible while still having effective traction.

Xero’s hiking boots can be on the stiffer side, and I’ve had some trouble with certain models irritating my heel in the past (if you have wide feet and sensitive heels then avoid the Xcursion boot!). But the Scrambler Mid is really comfortable for me and I highly recommend them. If you are looking instead for a fully waterproof option, I would check out the Ridgeway.

Read my full review of the Xero Scrambler Mid for all the deets.

And if you’re looking for a barefoot hiking shoe instead of a boot, I recommend either the Scrambler Low or the Mesa Trail from Xero! They are similarly soft and breathable.

a side view of a pair of feet standing on dirt and leaves wearing Xero Shoes Mesa II lightweight trail hiking barefoot shoe in blue vegan showing the lugs and tread

Sizing & Fit

  • Runs true to size
  • Runs medium to wide width.
  • Works for most foot volumes from low to high

Lems Boulder Boot Grip

Waterproof | Leather | Sizes US W6-M15

European readers can purchase some Lems models at Mugavik Barefoot and use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

The waterproof Lems Boulder Boot Grip is a new variation on their original Boulder, and they are everything I wished for! Classic styling, a soft leather upper, and a grippy outsole that has better traction on and off the trails.

The tongue is gusseted to keep water and debris out, and the sole is thicker than a lot of other barefoot hiking boots (13 mm without insole) so you have some protection from the ground. This also makes the Boulder Boot Grip functional as a light work boot! There is a removable insole if you need more space, and you can swap it out for a sheepskin one to stay extra cozy.

Sizing & Fit

  • Runs small – They have a reliable sizing guide, so follow that.
  • Fits wide feet.
  • Square shaped toe box.

One thing I love about Lems shoes is that they have a lot of space above the toes, which makes them feel very roomy without being too big on the rest of the foot.

Freet Barefoot

Freet Tundra, a zero drop flexible hiking boot in black being worn on wet leaves
Freet Tundra (vegan)

Water Resistant | Speed Hooks | Vegan & Leather Options | $130-$230 | Sizes EU 37-48

Get 10% off any Freet Barefoot shoes with code AnyaFreet10.

Freet Barefoot has several barefoot hiking boots and shoes that function excellently, including vegan options! The hallmark feature of Freet Barefoot boots is that they are soft immediately without needing much break in time. They are the lightest option I’ve tried, and the soles can be as thin as 4mm without the insole.

Another big plus about Freet Barefoot is it their shoes have an excellent foot shape with plenty of space for all toes. I also appreciate that they go to great lengths to produce barefoot shoes that are ethically made using sustainable materials. And finally, after my code AnyaFreet10 for 10% off they have far and away the cheapest options out there. For the durability and comfort you get, these are a great find in the world of barefoot hiking shoes.

Close up of Freet Mudee, a vegan barefoot hiking boot, standing on dry leaves.
Freet Mudee (vegan)

One complaint about Freet shoes is that the interior is heavily padded and it can be kind of bulky around the ankle. They don’t rub or cause blisters though! The vegan waterproof options can also get hot and sweaty in warmer weather because they don’t breathe. They feel great in cooler temps and definitely with socks (or you’ll be in sweat city), but f you’re looking for something to hike in that is more breathable, I would check out the Botee M, the Feldom or the Ibex.

Sizing & Fit

  • The boots run a bit small, but it varies between models so consult the sizing & fit description for each model before ordering.
  • Fits wide feet.
  • Square shaped toe box.
  • Works for all foot volumes.

For more details on Freet’s sizing & fit, read my in-depth Freet Review.

Softstar Switchback

Side view close up of Softstar Switchback hiking boots outside.

Lugs| Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Fabric, Leather & Wool | $240 | Sizes US 5U-13U

The Softstar Switchback is a barefoot hiking boot with some amazing specs. It comes in two widths and two different material options. Mine are Wide, and they are SUPER wide! They are by far the widest hiking boot I’ve tried. The Regular Switchback’s are narrower and have a more tapered shape to them (see photo below).

These boots are made with Vibram’s Megagrip sole and have serious traction and durability – it should last for many, many miles. And if it does wear out, you can have it resoled by a professional cobbler. The interior is lined with a thin wool. The exterior on mine is Super Fabric, an extremely durable, waterproof, and yet breathable material. There also is an all leather version, which will mold more to your foot than Super Fabric.

I am finding them comfortable and practical, and I hiked miles in them the first wear without any discomfort! But be advised, these boots fit low to medium volume over the arch. That means if you need a lot of vertical space above your foot/have high arches you might feel cramped! Fortunately they’ve added more toe room, so it’s really just over the arch that can feel tight.

The sole is thick, so you don’t really feel the ground in them, but they are flexible and I still feel connected to the earth.

Sizing & Fit

  • Runs true to size.
  • Fits extra wide.
  • Square shaped toe box.
  • Low volume fit.

If you choose regular width these will be more average width.

Joe Nimble WanderToes 2.0

Close up of Joe Nimble Wandertoes 2.0 stepping on a log.

Lugs | Water Resistant | Speed Hooks | Leather |$199 | Sizes EU 35-48

The Joe Nimble WanderToes 2.0 is a rugged, water resistant minimalist hiking boot with a super grippy sole. This boot has excellent traction!

The tongue is fully gusseted to keep water and dirt out, and it can be cinched or expanded depending on the volume of your feet (major bonus). There is a tough microfiber toe guard to protect your toes and the material of the shoe from scuffs, and the rest of the upper is a soft, water resistant leather.

The truth is, I love everything about this shoe except for one thing. The sole is quite stiff. It bends, but it takes effort, and the reinforced heel cup rubs my heel. It also comes with an insole that is not zero drop (it adds a 3mm heel rise) so you need to remove it and replace it with a barefoot insole to be a true barefoot hiking boot.

If you are someone who needs traction over flexibility for intense terrain, this is your shoe. But if you’re looking for a real barefoot feel, I would go with something else in this list..

A vegan option, the WanderToes Lite, is now available at Joe Nimble International.

Sizing & Fit

  • True to size.
  • Fit wide feet.
  • Works for all foot volumes.
  • Fits sloped or plateau-shaped feet best.

Altra Lone Peak

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

Water Resistant Options | Vegan | Sizes Kids 13 – US Men’s 16

The Lone Peak from Altra is a well loved zero drop trail and hiking shoe line that features a thicker sole than you usually find on barefoot shoes. I tend to prefer my thinner and more minimal barefoot hiking boots, but I can appreciate the quality of Altra Lone Peak shoes. They have several different toe box widths depending on which you get, and a full range of sizes from youth to the biggest of men’s sizes. They also have some over the ankle options that would be more boot-like than the Lone Peak 5 that I have.

Many ultra runners and hikers use Altras and swear by them, the thick sole can be a life saver at those distances. Lots of barefoot newbies also really appreciate the extra bit of cushion, and the variety of sizes and toe box widths make Altra easy for people to access. So even though you can’t really feel the ground in Lone Peaks, they have a valuable place in the barefoot hiking shoes scene.

Sizing & Fit

  • Runs true to size, but if in between go up.
  • Fits wide toes, and even comes in a wider width.
  • Square shaped toe box.
  • Fan-shaped (they narrow at the arch and heel).

Feelmax Kuva

Lugs | Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Leather | €190 | Sizes EU 36-48

Feelmax is a Finnish brand and the Kuuva is their flagship product. They are a fabulous barefoot hiking boot. The sole is durable and slightly stiff, but thin and the quality is undeniable. They are waterproof and come up high on the ankle to keep water out. They have a tall toe box and work well for high volume feet, but I was also able to cinch them close around my shallow arches. My only complaint is that the high collar restricts my ankle motion when hiking. I sized up one so I could wear thick socks, and I am glad I did because of the stiffness of the material.

But the Kuuva gets 5 stars for quality and they meet all the barefoot requirements.

Zaqq Expeq

Waterproof | Speed Hooks | Vegan Options | $170 | Sizes EU 36-49

The Zaqq Expeq is the most flexible barefoot hiking boot on the market. The sole is slip resistant, and the upper is leather (though there are vegan options!) with a lightweight lining. These aren’t the most durable barefoot boots by any means, but they are extremely comfortable and get the job done. Zaqq shoes fit medium width and are true to size.

I am the type of hiker who would rather have a soft, flexible shoe that might wear out a little quicker than use a shoe that rubs my heel or feels uncomfortable. For that reason the Expeq still ranks highly for me! Just be aware that more serious hikers might want to look at another option on this list.

Barefoot Hiking Boots Comparison Table

Here is a quick look at the specs of the barefoot hiking boots & shoes in this review.

Vivobarefoot TrackerFreet MudeeJoe Nimble WanderToesXero XcursionLem's Boulder
a 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 close up of a pair of Joe nimble wandertoes in black sitting on concrete for the best barefoot minimalist hiking boots reviewA top down view of a person wearing Xero Xcursion barefoot hiking boots climbing on rocks.a 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 Height11.5mm
-8mm w/o insole
-4mm w/o insole
10mm w/o insole
*insole adds 3mm + another 3mm heel rise*
-12mm w/o insole
-10mm w/o insole

Scroll right on mobile
Continue reading for lots of coupon codes to save some money!

Which Barefoot Hiking Boots Are The Widest?

Curious which barefoot hiking shoes are the most wide? See below 10 barefoot hiking shoes in order from narrowest to widest, starting with the Xero Shoes Xcursion and ending with the Softstar Switchback in wide.

6 barefoot hiking boot brand collage showing top down and outsole view of Xero, Zaqq, Vivobarefoot, Joe Nimble, and Feelgrounds
5 barefoot hiking boot brand collage showing top down and outsole view for Altra, Freet, Lems, Be Lenka, and Softstar
Barefoot Hiking Boots in order from narrowest to widest! Top left is most narrow, bottom right is most wide.

Everyone will experience width differently, but I did my best to generalize it here. Keep in mind that this is organized by width in the toe box.

More Barefoot Hiking Boots

If you want to check out a few more options, here are more barefoot hiking boots!

More Barefoot Hiking Shoes

If you’d prefer to hike in a barefoot shoe, instead of a full on boot, check out some of these trail shoes.

Kids Barefoot Hiking Boots

Vivobarefoot kid's barefoot shoes Fulham boot

In my experience, barefoot hiking boots for kids is often not necessary unless they are serious little mountain goats. With their center of gravity so close to the ground, additional tread often doesn’t add more stability. So we focus more on durability and water resistance when choosing practical hiking shoes for my kids.

A photo of a child's feet wearing kids barefoot shoes as they climb in a tree with the text "The Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids, Anya's Reviews" thumbnail

This post is where you can learn all about the Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids, which we use for hiking and play.

But if your kids do more serious hiking, here are a few barefoot hiking shoe options for kids.

  • Vivobarefoot Fulham, Lumi, & Primus Trail – 10% off with code ANYA25 for 25% off
  • Freet Mudee 10% off with code AnyaFreet10) . This one comes in and out of stock.
  • Be Lenka Xplorer – Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

Barefoot Hiking Boots Review Conclusion

Whether you’re a casual weekend hiker or are doing serious ultras distances, there are barefoot friendly hiking boots that still getting the job done. Because even the most durable options in this list still have a zero drop sole and wide toe box.

I hike weekly in barefoot shoes, so you can expect this review of the 10 best barefoot hiking boots to continue to be updated with any new options that come to the market (or if over time my thoughts change). I am always testing and reviewing barefoot shoes to help you find what best option for your feet and your lifestyle!

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179 thoughts on “The 10 Best Barefoot Hiking Boots & Shoes for Outdoorsy Folks”

  1. Hi Anya
    I’m walking the Camino in Spain next year in June and I’m just beginning to transition to barefoot shoes. I was just wondering what your thoughts are on the Be Lenka Nevada compared to the Ranger 2.0?

    1. I like both quite a lot. The Nevada is not waterproof (also doesn’t have an attached tongue which can keep debris and water out), and it is lined with leather. The Ranger is lined with fleece. So the Nevada is more for mild, dry weather – but you could definitely get away with some rain and cold if you wore thick socks.

    1. Indeed I did! I have the same size in the Trailwalker as I do in the Ranger, but typically I would only size up in the boots. Both I wear in a size 38.

  2. Wow what a great review! Thank you very much, your website is really helpfull. As a huge fan of vivobarefoot shoes I am glad to spot them here. I just ordered my first pair of trackers and cant wait to test them in the bavarian alps. As a second pair I chose wandertoes 2.0 lite, just because they were on sale and I already have an old, worn out pair of Joe Nimble shoes that did a great job. Now I am broke but so ready for hikes in the colourful fall! 😀

  3. Hi there! Was wondering if there was any main reason you left the Groundies Ontario out of your main lineup or just preference? And if you had tried them, if you found you had to size up like recommended?

    1. At first it was because they were brand new and I wanted to give them a longer term test, and then Groundies went through an insolvency process that left their future unclear. At this point things are resolved and they look to be stable so I plan on adding a section on them. I did size up in the Ontario and they’ve worked great for me so far. I would probably put them after Freet, mainly because I find them slightly less comfortable than the first 5 options.

    2. Hello Anya. How wide is the boulder boot in the midfoot? Similar to mens xero ridgeway? Did you find it very wide? Because I guess that you usually wear womens models?

      1. The Boulder Boot is unisex, so there is no difference between men’s and women’s, unlike Xero which does actually have a different last for men’s and women’s models. But if I were to compare Justin’s Lems shoes to his Xero shoes then I would say that Xero is a little wider in the midfoot than Lems. But not too far off.

  4. Thanks for your site -can’t believe I just now found it.

    Have you tried the newly released Lem Boulder waterproof boot that supposedly has the better grip/traction? Curious your thoughts/comparison on that one as an all purpose hike/work boot for women and whether the sole really does have a better grip than the version you reviewed previously.

    1. Hi! I’ve actually updated this article recently with info on the Grip version of the Boulder boot. It is significantly better for hiking! I won’t even wear my other Boulder Boots for hiking again! And I do think they’d function as a light work boot as well. I also tested them in rain and they are soo much grippier.

      1. Oh great thank you, somehow I hadn’t caught that this article referred to the grip version. I must have gotten myself confused with a different article. Thanks for your feedback.

  5. Hi Anya
    I am planning to do a Machu Picchu backpacking hike for a length of a few days. I recently started wearing barefoot shoes, and I was wondering if there’s a good pair for that type of environment.
    I was looking at Vivobarefoot, but, to my inexperience, they seemed suitable for short hikes from what I researched. Do you have a few recommendations?

    1. Vivobarefoot hiking boots are more than up to the task of long hikes I would say! They are durable and have great technical specs. It’s more a question of whether you want to have thicker soled boots for your trek. Altra Lone Peaks are an alternative if you want more cushion while wearing a backpack, or the Lems Boulder Boot Grip.

  6. Hi Anya.
    I recently bought the Freet Connect 3 after watching one of your videos. I absolutely love them and am brand new to minimalist footwear. Now, I would love a hiking boot/shoe that is waterproof and will last. I live in Canada and spend a lot of time out walking the dogs. I have a plateau shaped foot and they are medium in volume, I think. The Freet fit my feet really well. Can you suggest a waterproof hiker that might work?

    1. If you already know you love Freet I would suggest looking at their waterproof hikers! Keep in mind that sizing varies across models and their waterproof boots run small, but the shape is the same across models.

  7. Hello Anya,
    Great job with all the reviews and descriptions.
    Thank you for your hard work and for your time spent writing all those useful informations.
    I am looking for solid waterproof boots. At the moment Im wearing Scarpa Mens Terra GTX Boots and they are amazing with their waterproof abilities but unfortunately they are rubbing my small toe and turned to be uncomfortable for 20 km + walks.
    Im wearing bigger size but their toe box is still quite narrow.
    So here is my question which barefoot boots for hiking are the best for their waterproof?
    Im looking at those models at the moment:
    Freet IBEX
    Barefoot Shoes Be Lenka Ranger 2.0
    I would be grateful for any suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Pawel! For waterproofness the Lems Waterproof Boulder has been the most effective that I’ve tried. But all those options are pretty effective.

  8. Hello there! Belenka told me that my feet won´t fit their shoes at all. I wanted to get the ranger 2.0. With my 25,4 cm long, 10,3 cm wide feet a size 41 should be good length wise but according to them are my feet too wide? I don´t even have wide feet compared to others and Belenka is supposed to be a wide shoe. I´ve seen that their sizing chart says that the width of a size 41 shoe is around 9,6 cm so I understand what they are saying but….Are belenka really that narrow?

    1. That’s odd, for your length I think you should be fine in Be Lenka shoes. For boots, the DeepGrip is wider than the ErgoGrip models. Both fit me, but the DeepGrip is best for extra wide feet. Their size charts have always shown a width that seems narrower than they actually are.

  9. Great work. Please, try to source ProAlp boots and add them to your tests and comparison. This is a Slovenian manufacturer that makes very attractive shoes/boots and form what I can see they are checking all the right boxes, but there is practically no reviews of them anywhere. It would be great to have an expert take a detailed look at them before making a purchase decision, since the shipping and return costs would come up to unacceptable amount in case of a return.

    1. I actually have some ProAlp boots! Maybe I got the wrong model, or maybe I need to try them again since it’s been a couple of years (and new models might be improved). But they didn’t wow me. Thank you for reminding me to look into them again.

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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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