Barefoot Running Shoes – A Complete list of Zero Drop Athletic Sneakers

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Looking for barefoot running shoes? Or athletic barefoot sneakers for exercise? Check out this list of zero drop sneakers that meet my requirements for natural footwear. These are running shoes that give space for your toes to spread out, are completely flat for good alignment, and flexible so your feet can move naturally. Read on for the full list of barefoot running shoes organized by sole thickness!

Barefoot Running Form

I learned all this from Run For Your Life, by Mark Cucuzella!

Barefoot running shoes are all about letting your body move the way it would if actually barefoot. If you are used to running in traditional heeled athletic shoes, it’s likely you’re accustomed to landing on your heel. Heel striking in barefoot shoes can cause pain and even injury throughout your body, just like it would if you ran that way barefoot.

In general the barefoot running style is accepted to be a short stride, high cadence (frequency of steps), and a forefoot strike, where you land gently on the outside forefoot (4th and 5th toes) before pushing off through your big toe. By contrast, lots of adults are running with long loping strides at a lower frequency and landing jarringly on their heels.

@urpotenzial‘s image, found on @theurbanbarefoot

True barefoot experts change their foot patterns with the terrain and might land elsewhere on their foot when on uneven surfaces. The biggest takeaway is to not reach your foot out in front of you, but keep your legs moving underneath with your ankles relaxed.

@runrx is an excellent social media account with tons of free content as well as a paid membership for serious guidance and training.

I am a student of natural movement and still learning. My strategy has been to start with extra thin soles from the beginning and focus on form in short distances, lengthening that distance slowly over time. Other people choose thicker soles so that they don’t have to shorten their distance and instead slowly ease off the cushion over time. Regardless of your path, pay attention to your body and don’t overdo it. Slow runs (or wogs, as I do) are fabulous for training. Always best to walk before you run, and don’t forget the foot exercises!

Now let’s talk barefoot running shoes.

Barefoot Running Sneakers

Because barefoot running can be a huge change for our feet, this list is organized by sole thickness. It also includes each brand’s location, price, and size range, so you can easily find an option that works for your life. One trick I use all the time with my barefoot shoes is insoles. Barefoot insoles (not orthotics or arch support) can be a great way to add a bit of cushion to help you ease into the barefoot lifestyle. You can remove them later on without having to buy more shoes!

Minimal Cushion 2-5 mm

These are the most minimal barefoot sneakers on the market, with only a few millimeters (mm) between you and the ground. You’ll feel every rock underfoot, which can be help with proprioception. You’ll also feel the impact with every step, something that can motivate you to change your running pattern to be lighter and kinder to your joints. But it also might be too much too soon. Don’t forget you can always add an insole at first and remove it later!

Chala Unico – Europe | $214 | | Size EU 36-47 | 2-5mm | Vegan


Feelmax – Europe | $75-$100 | Sizes EU37-48 | 2.5-4mm | Vegan


Freet Tanga & Flex – UK | $94 | Sizes EU37-48 | 6mm w/ insole, 4mm w/o | Vegan


Leguano – Canada | $160-$200 | Sizes EU34-49 | 5mm | Vegan

Click here for the Australia E-Shop


Magical Shoes – Europe | $90 | Sizes EU36-54 | 5mm | Vegan


Saguaro – Amazon | $34 | US Women’s 4.5 – Men’s 15 | 4mm | Vegan


Softstar RunAmoc – USA | $150 | Size US 5-15U | 5mm | Leather (vegan option here) & TONS of color options

*First purchase only, you must be logged into an account to use the coupon code*


Sole Runner – Europe | $162 | Size EU 36-48 | 3.5mm w/o insole | Vegan


Tadeevo affordable sneakers for kids

Tadeevo Essential – Europe | $104 | Size EU 37-47 | 5mm | Vegan & Leather Options

*For sizes up to EU 53, click here*


Vibram KSO ECO – USA | $100 | Size EU 35-50 | 5mm | Vegan

*Click here to find a Vibram retailer near you*


Vivobarefoot – US & Worldwide | $150 | Size EU 35-49 | 4mm w/insole, 2mm w/o | Vegan

*Click here to find a Vivobarefoot retailer near you*


Xero Shoes Speed Force – US & Worldwide | $100 | Size US Women’s 5 – Men’s 15 | 4.5mm | Vegan

*Click here to find a Xero retailer near you*


Wildling Nebula – Europe | $120 | Size EU 23-48 | 3mm | Vegan


Medium Cushion 6-10 mm

The following barefoot sneakers have a medium amount of cushion, but still are fairly thin. Some people will be happy in this category forever, with no desire to go thinner. It’s a good middle ground for beginners too, if you want to experience a barefoot feeling without going all in. I wore medium cushioned barefoot shoes for years, and only just recently started preferring the super thin soles. Absolutely no shame in a little cushion!

Freet – UK | $94 | Sizes EU37-48 | 6-10mm with insole| Vegan


Joe Nimble Addict – Europe | $180$200 | Size EU 35-48 | 10mm (remove insole to be zero drop) | Vegan


Lems Primal 2 – USA | $105 | Sizes US Women’s 4.5 – Men’s 15 | 12.5mm w/ insole , 9mm w/o | Vegan


Merrell Vapor Glove – USA & Amazon | $90 | Size US Women’s 5 – Men’s 15 | 6.5mm | Vegan


Nummulit – Europe Only | $106-$113 | Size EU 38-47 | 6.5mm | Vegan


Softstar Megagrip RunAmoc – USA | $170 | Size US Men’s 5-13 | 6.5mm | Leather


Vibram 5 Fingers (everything but KSO ECO) – USA | $170 | Size EU 35-50 | 6-8mm | Vegan


Vivobarefoot Primus Trail – US & Worldwide | $150 | Size EU 35-49 | 4mm w/insole, 2mm w/o | Vegan

*Click here to find a Vivobarefoot retailer near you*


Whitin– Amazon | $38 | Size US Women’s 5.5 – Men’s 15 | 6mm (remove insole to be zero drop) | Vegan


Xero HFS & Prio – USA | $90-110 | Size US Men’s 5-13 | 7.5mm w/insole, 5.5 w/o | Leather


Max Cushion >10mm

The following options have more than 10mm or 1cm of cushion. These are good options for long distance runners or people experiencing foot pain who are very accustomed to thick soles. The downside to soles this thick is that they really put a lot of distance between you and the ground so you can’t use the nerves in your feet as well to sense location. This means less responsiveness and sometimes less use of your intrinsic foot muscles.

Altra – USA | $120-170 | Size US Women’s 5 – Men’s 15 | 20-30mm | Vegan


Oesh Warrior – USA | $118 | Size US Women’s 6 – 13 | 16mm | Vegan


Lems Primal 2 – USA | $105 | Sizes US Women’s 4.5 – Men’s 15 | 12.5mm w/ insole , 9mm w/o | Vegan


Best Barefoot Running Shoes for Extra Wide Feet

Here are the barefoot sneakers from this post that are best for extra wide feet. For more barefoot shoe brands good for extra wide feet, make sure you check out this post on the Best Barefoot Shoes for Your Foot Type.

  • Feelmax – Europe | $75-$100 | Sizes EU37-48 | 2.5-4mm | Vegan
  • FreetUK | Sizes EU37-48 | 4-10mm | Vegan | Use ARV10 for 10% off
  • Lems Primal 2 $105 | USA | Sizes US Women’s 4.5 – Men’s 15 | 12.5mm w/ insole , 9mm w/o | Vegan
  • Magical Shoes – $90 | Europe | Sizes EU36-54 | 5mm | Vegan | Use ANYA for 10% off
  • Softstar RunAmoc – $150 | USA | Size US 5-15U | 5mm | Leather (vegan option here) & TONS of color options | Use ANYA for 15% off first purchase *Must be logged into an account to use
  • Sole Runner -$162 | Europe | Size EU 36-48 | 3.5mm w/o insole | Vegan
  • Tadeevo Essential – $104 | Europe | Size EU 37-53 | 5mm | Vegan & Leather Options | Use ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

Other Barefoot Shoes I Run In

These aren’t marketed as being for specifically for running or exercise, but I still have no trouble at all running in them. Nice thing about them is they do double duty as every day shoes.

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Comments

10 thoughts on “Barefoot Running Shoes – A Complete list of Zero Drop Athletic Sneakers”

  1. This comprehensive review is so helpful! The irony is that the running world has been promoting mid and forefoot running for awhile now to avoid injury, but this is impossible in their regular cushioned shoes because I’ve tried it! The result is, or as my astute husband remarked, why is he/she running on their tippy toes? I’ve tried the Altras but they were so squishy that it exacerbated my knee pain! I read your Tadeevo review from 2/2019, and was wondering if they still fit the same now? I really appreciate all the hard work that you put into these detailed reviews so that we know exactly what we are buying so thank you!

    1. Hi Suzie! Thanks so much for the kind words. Yes, I know what you mean! As far as the Tadeevos, since then my feet have gotten a little wider and fuller so actually fit me better. Still feel like they’re great sneakers!

  2. Hi Anya! Thank you for this helpful roundup! I am not a runner, but am looking for a barefoot exercise shoe for fast walking (so more athletic than an everyday casual shoe). Is there anything specific to consider between choosing a shoe for running vs. walking?

    1. Hi Sophie! No, I don’t think there’s any reason all of these can’t work for walking or other athletic activities. But you also could wear a lot of other shoes for walking that aren’t listed here, like basically all the ones in my Casual Barefoot Sneakers post. Walking is more inclusive because generally you don’t need them quite as secure and your feet aren’t as hot/sweaty when you walk.
      https://anyasreviews.com/best-barefoot-minimalist-sneakers/

  3. Ashtyn McAuliffe

    Hi! I was wondering if you know of any 5mm and under athletic shoes that come in neutrals?? Like tans and creams, even a mauve? Vivobarefoot is the closest to what I’m looking for, leaning towards trendy style and colors but also equally functional. I’ve got a smaller foot, I’m a 35 in EU sizing, so even if it’s a kids brand I could check it out!!

    1. Magical shoes has a tan sneaker (the Explorer Kids) that is 5mm thick. Feelmax has the Salla Purple (adults) and Rosa (kids) which is a mauve sneaker and is 5mm thick. And there’s the Softstar Primals that you can customize to any color you want!

  4. Hi Anya,

    Longtime reader here (thank you for your absolute plethora of great info!). My 13 yr old has ‘high volume’ feet and it’s a huge challenge to find teen-friendly colors and styles of sneakers. Would you have any idea (does not need to be perfectly minimalist; at this point I’m open to anything that fits his unique feet and is flexible)? I feel like I’ve looked into all the links, and can’t seem to find anything a teen would want to wear :/

    Thank you,

    Nancy

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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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