The Best Barefoot Chelsea Boots That Don’t Squish Your Toes!

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A woman holding up two pairs of shoes, one is the Mukishoes Chelsea review, a barefoot vegan chelsea boot. The other is a traditional chelsea boot with a heel and pointed toe. Above the image is the text "Wear This! Not That"
Why I Love Barefoot Chelsea Boots More

I love the chelsea boot look, but I want a pair that is both zero drop and wide. Because I’m tired of cute shoes that are uncomfortable. That’s why I choose barefoot chelsea boots instead! They don’t squish my toes or aggravate my back, like most stylish shoes do. Want the chelsea boot look minus the unhappy feet? Keep reading.

In this post we’re taking a hard look at a minimalist chelsea boot next to a traditional chelsea boot.

Welcome to Episode 3 of Wear This, Not That!

Barefoot Chelsea Boots Vs. Traditional

Most fashion footwear, like the Thursday boot in this post, can hurt our feet. By contrast, The Mukishoes Chelsea boot is a traditional chelsea boot style, but made according to barefoot shoe standards! Let’s break down the features of these two chelsea boots and talk about why they matter. (Psst, Mukishoes fall boots will launch for the 2023 season in September!)

If you need a refresher on what makes a barefoot shoe, read this post!

Shoe Shape

A top down view of a foot in between two pairs of shoes. On the left is the Mukishoes Chelsea boot, a vegan barefoot boot made of cork with a foot-shaped toe box. On the right is the Thursday Duchess black chelsea boot. Annotation shows that the Mukishoes chelsea boot is shaped like my foot, while the Thursday boot is too narrow.

The barefoot Chelsea boot on the left is made in an anatomical foot shape, unlike the Thursday boots that are way narrower than my actual feet are. Helloooo bunions! After an extended big toe injury I don’t mess around with pointy shoes. Free toes are happy toes.

Heel Height

A side by side comparison review of a woman standing in the Mukishoes Chelsea vegan barefoot boots versus standing in a traditional Thursday Duchess chelsea boot that has a heel.

Heels are a recipe for poor alignment. When I’m wearing the completely flat barefoot chelsea boots from Mukishoes my knees and hips are aligned directly over my ankle bones. This stacking of my joints is the most efficient way to stand and move. If I stick a heel under there, suddenly my trajectory is completely changed and by the time you get to my hips they are way out in front of me. Hellooo back pain!

Completely flat shoes are an absolute must for me. Every shoe Mukishoes makes (and all the shoes I review on this website) are zero drop, or flat from heel to toe. The rubber outsole gives the illusion of a slight heel, but the foot sits flat on the inside.

Flexibility

The Mukishoes barefoot Chelsea boot is so flexible you can roll it into a ball and squish it with one hand. The Thursday Chelsea boots on the other hand barely flex at the toes. If you’re wearing shoes all day, think what happens to the muscles in your arch when they cannot move. If you don’t use it, you lose it!

The flexibility of barefoot shoes is a very important feature, because it has the double effect of keeping your feet limber AND strong. Now that I am used to foot freedom, wearing the Thursday boots felt like being in a strait jacket. Walking was clunky, awkward and my feet immediately protested.

Style

A side by side image of a woman wearing the same outfit but two different black boots: On one side she is wearing the Mukishoes vegan barefoot Chelsea boot, and on the other side she is wearing the Thursday Duchess chelsea boot

But before you start lamenting the loss of your cute shoes, check out this style comparison. Choosing shoes that are better for your feet doesn’t mean sacrificing on style! Barefoot chelsea boots like the Mukishoes Chelsea can be styled exactly like every other mainstream chelsea boot.

Looks to slay, foot function to slay. Now that we’ve cleared the air about that, let’s talk about the barefoot chelsea boot options you have.

Barefoot Chelsea Boots

If you’re looking for barefoot chelsea boots that meet all the criteria of a natural shoe, check out the list below! I also have a full list of barefoot boots available for tons of other options in different boot styles.

And make sure you check out my in-depth reviews of 100’s of barefoot shoes.

A top down view of a pair of feet wearing black Angles Fashion Artemis barefoot chelsea boots

Angles Fashion (EU) – Sizes EU 37-46. Available lined or unlined. Use code ANYA for 5% off. This shop does not ship to the US or Canada, but you can also find them at Anya’s Shop!


A side angled view of a pair of feet standing in grass wearing brown Lila barefoot chelsea boots, designed by Anya and sold at Anya's Shop with a pair of cozy wool socks peeking out the top

Anya’s Shop (US) – Sizes EU 34-45. Chelsea boots designed by me only available at Anya’s Shop! These boots are hand crafted in Turkey using naturally tanned leather uppers and footbed, cotton thread, and a pure rubber outsole. Available in a side zip style or leather covered elastic.


An angled view of a foot resting on concrete wearing Entice Cinnamon Be Lenka barefoot chelsea boots

Be Lenka Entice (EU) – Sizes EU 36-43. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off from Be Lenka (returns are only accepted from within the EU and USA). Be Lenka is also available at Anya’s Shop!


Conker Shoes handcrafted boots in the UK

Conker Shoes (UK) – Sizes UK 1-13 with 3 different width options.


the drifter leather black chelsea boots

Drifter Leather (EU) – Sizes EU 34-49 with custom fit available. See my reviews of the Drifter Leather here.


Aintap Feelbarefoot Etsy handmade turkish chelsea boots in pretty cream leather front angled flexed view

Aintap FeelBarefoot (EU) – Sizes US Women’s 3.5 – Men’s 15. Read my Review here. You can use code ANYA50 for a discount!


Gaucho Ninja handcrafted leather chelsea boots made in the UK

Gaucho Ninja Chelsea (UK) – Sizes EU 36-45. Read my Gaucho Ninja Review here. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off!


a top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete with the left foot bare and the right foot showing the Groundies Camden Barefoot+ chelsea boot in a wide fit and a natural foot shape

Groundies (EU) – Sizes EU 36-43. My personal fave is the sleek Camden! It now comes in two widths as well. You can find this style at Anya’s Shop in the US.

Read more about the fit of these shoes here.


Top view of deep gray green Chelsea boots from Koel barefoot wide toe box chelea boots with a zipper being worn on rocks

Koel Fila (EU) – Sizes 36-45. These come in a few colors you don’t often see in chelsea boots. I like them for average width, average volume feet.

Also available at retailer Mugavik Barefoot with worldwide shipping. Code ANYASREVIEWS gets you 5% off from Mugavik.


A close up side view of a pair of feet standing in snow wearing leg warmers and Lems Chelsea zero drop boots in Cedar suede leather

Lems Chelsea (US) – Sizes W 6.5-12 and M 5-15. Note that these have a thicker sole than most barefoot shoes, but still zero drop and foot shaped. Read the Lems Chelsea review here!


Magical Shoes Lupino chelsea boots in dark red suede

Magical Shoes Lupino (EU) – Sizes EU 36-47. Get 10% off with code ANYA. These run small, I recommend sizing up one. Love how soft and flexible they are. Also available in a vegan version.


A pair of legs wearing Mukishoes Chelsea in Caramel leather, sustainable barefoot boots outside on a white rock with green foliage in the back and foreground.

Mukishoes Chelsea (EU) – Sizes EU 36-48. Comes in vegan and leather options. ANYAMUKI for 10% off. These are one of my all time faves – the short height makes them easy to style with pants. Read my review for more details here.

Also available at Anya’s Shop.


a side view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing PaperKrane barefoot chelsea boots rainbow Skitts

PaperKrane Chelsea boot (AU) – Sizes EU 19-42. PK is a great brand for a pop of color! Use code ANYASREVIEWS 10% off.


Front angled close up of Shapen Barefoot stylish dressy Ivy boots in smooth brown leather. Light colored jeans are visible over top of the zipper low ankle opening

Shapen Barefoot (EU) – Sizes EU 36-43. The Ivy is an extra wide barefoot chelsea boot! See my Shapen review for more details. Use code ANYA5 for 5% off.

You can find Shapen at Anya’s Shop!


Close up of black leather Vivobarefoot chelsea boots with a chunky flexible outsole new for 2023

Vivobarefoot Chelsea – Sizes US W5.5-11.5/EU35-43. Use code ANYA20 for 20% off. You can find two chelsea boots from Vivo – the Gobi and the Geo. My personal fave is the Geo! Read my more about these boots here.

Click here for your nearest Vivobarefoot Retailer.


Xero Tari barefoot chelsea boots in black

Xero Shoes Tari – Sizes US Women’s 5-11. These have a firm heel and durable outsole, but can still be dressed up if you choose.


Zkama handmade barefoot chelsea boots in brown

Zkama (EU) – I have yet to try this brand myself, but I’ve been watching them for years and they seem like a good option.


Stock image of Zaqq Equity barefoot chelsea boot in black velour

Zaqq (EU) – Sizes EU 36-50. Lots of chelsea boot options from Zaqq! See my Zaqq brand review here.

We also have select Zaqq styles available at Anya’s Shop.


Vegan Options

Ahinsa vegan barefoot chelsea boots in grey

Ahinsa (EU) – Sizes EU 37-46. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off


Stock image of Bohempia Rola vegan barefoot chelsea boots

Bohempia Rola (EU) – Sizes EU 36-43. Regular and Wide width available. Use ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off. This is an excellent extra wide vegan barefoot chelsea boot.


a close up a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing feelgrounds chelsea barefoot boots in white vegan leather fall winter

Feelgrounds Chelsea (EU) – Sizes EU 35-49. Available in black, cream, and brown!

Read all my Feelgrounds Reviews here


Stock image of black vegan material chelsea boots from Magical Shoes. The Lupino with wide toe box and zero drop outsole

Magical Shoes Lupino (EU) – Sizes EU 36-47. One vegan option in smooth black. These run small – I recommend sizing up one.

Get 10% off with code ANYA


a close up review of the barefoot vegan chelsea boot from Mukishoes shown at a side angle sitting on concrete, made of black cork

Mukishoes Chelsea (EU) – Sizes EU 36-48. The black cork option from Mukishoes is vegan. I love these boots and have worn them for years now. They are so light and comfy!

Use ANYAMUKI for 10% off. You can read my review of the Mukishoes Cork Chelsea here.


Barefoot Chelsea Boot Comparison

A row of barefoot chelsea boots organized from widest to narrowest - Shapen Ivy, Be Lenka Entice, Angles Fashion Artemis, Magical Shoes Lupino, Vivobarefoot Fulham, Mukishoes Chelsea, and Xero Shoes Tari

Here I’ve organized all the barefoot chelsea boot styles I’ve tried from widest (left) to narrowest (right). This hopefully will help you find a good fit. I have wide toes and am able to fit into everything but the Xero Shoes, which are too narrow for me. The Mukishoes are borderline narrow but have broken in and I am comfortable in them barefoot or with thin socks. All the rest fit me well. Note that the Be Lenka, Shapen, and Angles Fashion boots are EXTRA WIDE and might be too wide for some.

Check out my 10 All Time Favorite Barefoot Boots for more info on the shape and width of these brands!

A side by side image of a woman standing near a lake wearing the same coat and pants but two different black boots: On one side she is wearing the Mukishoes vegan barefoot Chelsea boot, and on the other side she is wearing the Thursday Duchess chelsea boot
Mukishoes Chelsea boots (left), traditional chelsea boots (right). Minimal style difference, huge comfort difference.

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75 thoughts on “The Best Barefoot Chelsea Boots That Don’t Squish Your Toes!”

  1. Hi Anya. Great review, as always. I have a question about the Mukishoe Chelsea boots. I really want a simple pull on boot like this chelsea. I’m a consistent 38 in Vivobarefoot and can wear most of their styles, even the Ryder, comfortably. However, I found their Fulham boot too snug across the top of my foot. Do the Mukishoes have more volume than the Fulham? In your picture above it looks like the Mukishoes might have more top to bottom space in the forefoot, even though it’s a little shorter (for the equivalent size). I’m wondering if I could wear a 39 in their chelsea boot. I have a slightly high instep, but not a particularly high volume foot, if that makes sense. What do you think?

    Thanks again for all your great reviews! You are sooooo helpful on this minimalist shoe journey.

    1. Yes, there is more space over the tops of the toes and instep in the Chelsea than in the Fulham (with the insole). But if you take the insole out of the Fulham it is about the same. So if the Fulhams were still a little shallow over the toes in the Fulham even without the insole you might want to size up in the Mukishoes. So glad the info is helpful!!

      1. Thanks, Anya. I think one size up for the Mukishoe Chelsea will work for me, especially since it’s a little shorter than the same size Fulham.
        One more question. How high up the ankle (the shank?) is the Mukishoe Chelsea? I thought I saw somewhere you said it is a little shorter than the Fulham, but I wasn’t sure.

      2. Hey Anya! I wanted to ask you if you tried Vibae chelsea boot or know anything about it? I like their design but I couldn’t f8nd it in your lists

        Thank you for all these reviews and info, they are so helpful!

        1. Hi! I have not yet tried them but I’ve spoken with the company and they come with a non-barefoot friendly insole that would need to be replaced if you wanted a zero drop shoe. Apparently without the insole there is just a thin layer of rubber that isn’t so comfortable and would make the shoe fit huge so replacing it would be the best thing to do. But from what I gather if you are able to do that the shoes are nice.

  2. These are so lovely! The cork is such a neat texture. All sold out in my size though. Hopefully they’ll get more in stock soon!

    1. They are getting a big restock at the beginning of the new year! It’s a bummer to have to wait that long, but they are making the Chelsea a part of their permanent line up so they’ll be getting plenty in.

  3. Hello , I have been following your site since i have recently been hooked on barefoot shoes . Can you tell me how do i buy angles fashion dafne ev black boot in the U.S .?

    thank you
    regards
    Jane kaufman

    1. Hi Jane! If you open up their website on Google Chrome you can use the Goggle translate feature to get it all in English. Then you should be able to check out like normal, and enter your shipping destination. I have a couple pairs of Angles shoes on their way to me, I’m excited to get to know the brand better!

    1. Hi Vicki! Yes, it would. Also a felt shoe tongue in the top would help with that. And so would yoga stirrup socks to fill in the ankle space.

    2. Hi Anya, thanks for this review! I am trying to decide between the 2. You commented on traction and durability in your Fulham review. How is the traction and durability in the muki Chelsea boot? I’m in the US so I believe we don’t have access to their resoling program. Thanks!

      1. The Mukishoes soles are super grippy, and they’ve held up really well for me so far. But if compared to the Fulhams, they don’t seem to be as sturdy or durable. My feeling is that the Mukishoes would wear out first if both were worn the exact same way. But again, my Mukishoes Chelseas are probably my most worn of all my chelsea boots and I haven’t seen any wear on the sole yet.

  4. I am a farmer who has farmed in Blundstones for years and spent alot of time searching for an adequate zero-drop replacement. I decided to invest in the Conker chelsea boots with a lugged sole after seeing them on this list. I can vouch that although they are a significant investment, they are every bit as sturdy as my Blundstones were, and they are amazingly comfortable. I waterproofed them and condition the leather regularly, and they’ve held up beautifully. They’re not as flexible as some shoes, but as a work boot that will be kicking a lot of shovels, I wasn’t looking for them to be too thin or flexible. Thanks for putting them on this list! They are exactly what I needed and I’d recommend them for anyone who wants a shoe that will hold up to hard work, mud, and everyday wear.

    1. Hi Josie – I second the Conkers vote of confidence! They craft some seriously beautiful boots. And their staff is incredible – they confirmed with me all of my measurements and helped me decide between standard and wide based on my region and boot usage. I had a pair of DaVinci’s, but Conkers (in my opinion) are far superior and more attractive.

  5. Tehilah Meged-Book

    Hi Anya,
    Thanks for your great reviews!
    I bought the Chelsea Mukishoes online according to your sizing recommendations and my feet slide forward and bump the front :/
    If I move my foot to the back end, the size is perfect. Also, I compared them to my Vivo Primus Lite and they are exactly the same length (the Vivos fit perfectly).
    So I’m wondering if I should size up or use an insole.
    What do you suggest?

      1. Hi Anya! I am adding to the above question. I’d love to try Chelsea style as I am lacking stylish barefoot shoes, but I am afraid with my low volume feet and skinny ankles and heels this style will not work for me, unless I wrap my feet in bubble wrap which is not something I am excited about. Is there by any chance a brand that makes Chelsea style boots for my kind of feet? That would not make my feet swimming all directions inside the shoe? Your input appreciated as always!

        1. Chelsea boots will always be a challenge for low volume feet and narrow heels. I have yet to find one for me that is a perfect fit out of the box. I think maybe if it was I wouldn’t be able to get my foot inside… I basically always need to use a tongue pad in the upper and often in the heel cup too. Mukishoes Chelsea, Groundies Camden, and Magical Shoes Lupino are the best fitting for me and I can almost get away with no accommodations.

  6. Hi Anya, Im a guy looking for Chelsea boots and I noticed a few of the brands here specified that the shoes were women’s. But am I correct in guessing that as long as the sizes fit me, that they can all be unisex? Or are there some other nuances that Im missing?

    1. You’re right, as long as the sizes fit you should be good. Some of these brands have a different shape in men’s vs women’s (like Vivobarefoot and Xero) but most of them are exactly the same, it’s really just needless gendering. Just make sure that if you’re looking at something marketed as a women’s shoe in US sizes you check the conversion, since your comparable men’s size would be different.

  7. Hi – been pouring over this article! I love wide toe box (I wear correctoes all the time) but have still not graduated to super thin sole. I’ve been trying to compare but many sites just say ‘really flexible’! 😉 which pairs (other than Lems – not wide enough for me) have the ‘thickest’ sole? thanks!

    1. Conker would have the next thickest sole, but another trick you can do is add an insole. NorthSole makes barefoot insoles that adds some cushion and stack height, and they work really well!

  8. Thanks for this blog. I’ve found some great new barefoot brands from reading your posts. I switched to barefoot shoes about 5 years ago and I’m noticing that some of my favorite boots’ (like the Drifter Leather Chelsea boots) soles are wearing down to the point where I either have to have them resoled or throw out the shoes even though the upper part is in great condition. My DL boots are in a shoe repair shop that specializes in vibram soles right now, but they told me that they can’t replace the entire sole but will try to patch and rebuild the worn heel area. I’m wondering whether you are seeing this issue. It seems this is an unspoken downside of minimalist/barefoot shoes—that the soles will wear out much sooner than those of conventional shoes and given how much these shoes typically cost and the dearth of good shoe repair shops that can resole them (not to mention some of these shoes simply *cannot* be resoled)—you will have to replace barefoot shoes often. It seems so wasteful.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts about this issue. Thank you for reading my message.

    1. Hi Lara, you bring up some good points. In this world of fast fashion I don’t believe it’s just barefoot shoes that have this problem – most of the shoes you see at the store and online are cheaply made, wear out quickly, and get thrown in the landfill within a couple years. In fact, I would say that barefoot shoe brands are generally more conscientious about having reparable shoes or offering repair services. But there are many that can’t be repaired if the sole wears out and it’s something that I would like to see changed as we apply pressure. There are cobblers in the states that will completely resole barefoot shoes or any shoes, one is The Barefoot Cobbler and another is Matt from Paisley Running Sandals.

  9. Really glad to find this blog! Thanks for your work. I’m wondering if there are any manufacturers who make custom shoes for atypical foot shapes. My 2nd, 3rd and 4th toes are longer than my big toe, and 43 years of cramming into shoes that assume big-toe primacy are taking a real toll. Even barefoot brands taper from the big toe, and either I’m buying shoes that are way too big for the rest of my foot (which is low volume and narrow) or my toes are crunched.
    I’m also wary of going all-in on zero drop and no cushioning – just got Topos with a 3mm drop and even that is a strain on the system.
    Any ideas?? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Shonie! There are in fact quite a few custom barefoot shoe makers, and while it can be expensive there are options in a more affordable range. You can explore custom brands here: https://anyasreviews.com/custom-barefoot-shoe-brands-for-hard-to-fit-feet/

      As far as the concerns with transitioning, you can find heel lifts to put under the insole in your shoe if you need a higher drop. The nice thing about that is you can take it out later without needing to buy a new pair of shoes. In this article here I list out brands with thicker soles, but they still have an anatomical foot shape. Some have a small heel rise as well. One custom brand you might be interested in is Fyous, you get a custom shoe to your foot shape and you can choose the heel drop and sole thickness.

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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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