Are There Barefoot Shoes With Cushioned Soles?

Closeup of a hand holding 4 pairs of sandals separated by their fingers to show varrying thickness among barefoot sandal brands

Absolutely! Though they aren’t usually called barefoot shoes, you can find natural footwear options that meet all the healthy shoe requirements but have some cushion.

This can be useful (but aren’t a requirement) if you are

  • Transitioning to barefoot shoes
  • Have pain standing all day
  • Run/walk/hike long distances
  • Have lost the fatty tissue on the soles of your feet

Here are a few of my favorites:

A top down view of 6 different pairs of barefoot shoes with cushion, otherwise known as transition shoes or natural footwear. Text overlay says Lems, Barebarics, Altra, Joe Nimble, Oesh, Fyous

To learn more about these brands, plus find more cushioned options, read my Barefoot Shoes for Beginners Article.

If you’re looking for shoes with just a wide toe box and not a barefoot sole, check out this resource.

Cushioned shoes are not a requirement as you transition to barefoot shoes, but they are here for you if they meet your particular needs best. Read this FAQ to learn more about How To Transition To Barefoot Shoes.

*For the entire searchable FAQ list, visit Barefoot Shoes FAQ

*Disclosure – Anya’s Reviews is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

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21 thoughts on “Are There Barefoot Shoes With Cushioned Soles?”

  1. Do you know of any nicer shoes (women’s dress / boots) that are similar to Altras (20mm+ stack height)? I can’t seem to find any! Thank you!!!! Love your site.

    1. Oesh Dream and Townie are the only women’s barefoot dress shoes of that thickness that I know of. For boots, you might get away with wearing the Lems Chelsea as a dress boot or the Lems 9to5, but they do lean casual. Unfortunately there aren’t so many options in that category right now.

      1. Since Altra discontinued kokiri there are no good shoes for really active kids. I hate to do it but I might have to go back. Any ideas ??

        1. Depending on the size your child wears I would suggest the Lems Primal 2 – they go all the way down to a women’s 4.5 which is small enough for a lot of school aged children. You also can get a NorthSole insole and add it to the Xero Prio, which is a durable sneaker (or if you just want durability and not cushion then you could try the Prio without the insole).

  2. Hey!
    Do you know if there are any stylish barefoot sneakers that have a bit thicker soles. I had barefoot shoes with 4mm thick soles and my feet started to hurt.

    1. The Lems Chillum is a great one with a thicker sole that looks like Vans. Next week Xero Shoes is releasing a sneaker called the Dillon that looks really cool and has 10.5mm stack height with the insole provided.

      1. I’d love to hear additonal recommendations on athletic/gym shoes with some cushion but still barefoot. After years of wearing xero shoes I find I need some cushion when walking on pavement for example. Thx!

        1. Many of the brands listed here have good options for the gym, specifically the Lems Primal 2, the Oesh Warrior, and Altra Running. Flux Footwear also has a new sneaker called the Adapt that is wide and zero drop for the gym, but I feel that they have too much toe spring (where the front of the shoe lifts up).

  3. Are there any closed toe flats (eg, loafers, ballet flats, mary janes) that are attractive, yet healthy, and can be purchased from sellers in USA? I see a lot of sellers from other countries which would be problematic if you needed to return shoes.

    1. Thank you for this! Xero Jessie or Z-trail or TipsyToes sneakers are my go to shoes but sometimes I just want something squishy especially when I’m going to be moving around a bunch but I didn’t know where to start looking.

    1. Yes, Altra and Barebarics both tend to work well for low volume feet because they are close fitting around the arch and heel (and you can remove the insole if you need). Lems are pretty high volume, unless you get the Primal 2 sneaker which works well on shallow feet.

  4. I have weak ankles. Currently working , walking and standing up most of the day. Which shoes would you recommend? Location: EU .

  5. Since transitioning to healthier shoes (Xero, Splay, Earth Runners, always barefoot at home) about 5 years ago, I’ve developed plantar keratosis, or corns. Two are particularly painful, one under each fifth metatarsal. I routinely file these areas, but I’d love to address the cause, if possible. I know most podiatrists would prescribe enucleation every few months, cushioned shoes to decrease pressure on those areas, and orthotics to correct supination. However, I would love a more functional approach. Do you have any advice or insight? Many thanks!

    1. It can be really helpful to work on the strength of function of the entire lower limb! Some cushion can help in the short term, but if they are recurrent then it may have something to do with your gait. Adding in some of these foot/ankle/calf exercises can help balance things out.

  6. Good Day Anya, thank you for providing a quality knowledge and information, also for sharing your experience with barefoot shoes.
    I have been wearing vibrams for 7 years now(had spinal cord inflammation couldnt feel my toes so tried vibrams), I rarely switch to a normal shoe. Recently, because of my hyperflexible joints, I have issue with my knee movement, I have been told by my physiotherapist to switch between vibrams and cushioned shoes….
    Any recommendations? as there are too many options I am confused also I live in Qatar, shipment will be an issue I will need to pay extra so in short, I need most bang for my bucks.

    1. Do you have Birkenstocks available close to you? If not, I really like the Lems Shoes listed in this FAQ. They have retailers around the world so you might be able to find something a little closer than their main shop in the US. It’s a challenge when you have to shop internationally!

  7. I’m trying to find a shoe for my arthritic feet, not only feet and toe pain but bilateral ankle pain too ! My left foot is worse than the right, I am more comfortable walking barefoot in the house for the most part but can’t outside, very little padding on the soles of my feet. I’m co fused as to which shoe would be best for me. I also have a bunion on the left foot and fallen arches. Can you suggest something ?

    1. I really like Lems as an entry point brand. You can swap out the insole for your own supportive one if you feel the need, but otherwise the fit and cushion make for a really smooth transition to a wide toe box shoe. The Primal Zen, Eco, and 3 all fit most foot types and shapes.

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Picture of 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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