The Best Barefoot Running Shoes

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Hi folks!

Today we talk about barefoot running shoes.

We will cover the best pairs available in market, after taking a thorough look over a couple of brands.

You will clearly see Vibram dominates a decent portion of that market –

But stay tuned and check out the table and testimonials below that will help you out to find you next

barefoot running pair.

 

Advantages of barefoot running

Before we dive in, let’s cover some advantages of barefoot running.

Dr. Daniel Lieberman from Harvard University showed about barefoot running, that:

  • Runners in shoes tend to land on their heels, essentially using the padding built into the shoes
  • Landing in this manner sends a massive jolt of force (called an impact transient force spike) through the ankles, knees, hips, and into the spine
  • Runners who run barefoot tend to land on their forefoot or midfoot, with the landing point nearer to the body’s center of mass (not out in front of the body, like shod runners)
  • Barefoot runners use the natural shock-absorbing, spring-like mechanism of the muscles, ligaments and tendons within and around the foot, the ankle, the knee, and the hip.
  • Barefoot runners do not create the impact transient force spike through their joints

 

Essentially, this study shows that barefoot running can eliminate injuries, you heard it right.

Now after we’re clear about the benefits, let’s dive to our compiled list of the best barefoot pairs available for you.

 

PictureNameRatingPrice
Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Shoes-Men's4.5$49.95 - $79.99
Vibram FiveFingers Women's SeeYa LS Polyester Running Shoe4.1$42.50 - $175.11
Vibram Men's Bikila EVO Road Running Shoe4.4$64.59 - $176.16
Vibram Fivefingers Spyridon LS Barefoot Running Shoe - Women's4.5$63.15
Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS Trail Running Shoe - Women's-Military Green/Grey/Black-394.5$84.29
Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa - Men's4.2
Vibram Women's Bikila Evo Road Running Shoe4.4$59.83 - $174.49
Bikila Ls Running Shoes4.5$64.95 - $122.99
Vibram Fivefingers Men's KMD Sport LS Cross Trainers4.3$64.68 - $79.99
Vibram Men's Spyridon MR Trail Running Shoe4.4$113.90 - $163.11
Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport Shoe - Men's4.4$59.95 - $118.99
Vibram Women's KMD LS Cross Training Shoe4.5$35.74 - $164.09

 

 

Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Shoes-Men’sVibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Shoes-Men's

Testimonial:

My favorite shoes are no shoes at all. At home, I am always barefoot, so the idea of them sounded great. I purchased these exact shoes as a ‘women’s’ shoe at a retail store. It was love at first footfall! I tested them in the store by running up & down the stairs and ended up wearing them home. Others have said they take time to get used to, but I have never had any problems (except sand from the beach) in these shoes. (I did end up removing the velcro band that goes around the foot because it seemed a tiny bit tight. Happily, that was easy as it attached to the heel of the shoe with more velcro!)
I weigh close to 300 lbs and need to walk and get lots of exercise to lose the weight. With other shoes, I have sore feet/knees after a few hours of moderate activity. Because they have minimal cushion, I was really surprised that I could walk around on asphalt/sand/gravel/etc. in them and have NO soreness. Even when my feet got wet, they were still comfortable. They did not slip on wet rocks or sandy/gravelly paths. The first weekend we literally went from ocean shore to mountaintop in them. I did NOT want to take them off.
I’m eagerly looking forward to trying out many of the other versions!

 

Vibram FiveFingers Women’s SeeYa LS Polyester Running ShoeVibram FiveFingers Women's SeeYa LS Polyester Running Shoe

Testimonial:

I will make this brief. If you are thinking about purchasing these on amazon, I must advise you to visit the vibram website to get instructions on proper measurement of your feet and the conversion chart for your corresponding Euro size. A guesstimation is not recommended, it is imperative to get the size that will fit you precisely. These shoes must be eased into at first, what I mean by that is they must be put on slowly at first. You have to get used to the process of toe by toe insertion. It is not difficult or time consuming at all, and you will get the hang of it quickly. There is no “breaking in period” with these shoes. They are unbelievably comfy right out of the box. I havent worn these on a run, because I do not run (bad for my knees). However I have taken these hiking, camping, walking on all terrains imaginable and they are incredible. The way you walk in regular shoes (heel-toe, heel-toe) Is not natural. If you need living proof, take a few steps and note your stride. Then remove your shoes and walk the same short distance. If you are like most homo-sapiens you will notice that without shoes the first part of your foot to make contact with the floor is the balls of your feet instead of your heels (as with regular shoes). Thats how you will walk with vibrams, no matter what path life takes you down. This review is killing me, but I would be doing you a disservice by not writing it. Lastly I want to mention a specific issue with these shoes helped me resolve. My second to last toe on each foot has a tendancy (in regular shoes) to curve inwards and sit slightly beneath the middle toes while inside a hot sweaty shoe all day. This is bad, because in certain shoes it can become painful, as well as creating excessive pressure on the wayward toe. You can see where I am going with this. Eventually the nail on that toe becomes thick and grows all funky and requires constant maintenance. The 5 fingers correct this problem and I have a much easier time when grooming my feet (nail cutting and dead skin removal eeks!) thought I would save the gross part for last!

 

Vibram Men’s Bikila EVO Road Running ShoeVibram Men's Bikila EVO Road Running Shoe

Testimonial:

These shoes are great. I admit; as a runner I talked trash on these shoes for years. Thought they were ugly and only people wanting attention wore them. After reading about people saying these shoes helped their running pains by changing the way they run I saw them on sale on Amazon. Figured I would try them. Very glad I did. First off, they do run small. I normally wear a size US Mens 13 which is off the sizing chart they give. I bought a size 47 which is a US Mens size 12. They seem to fit perfectly. watch the video on Vibrams site on sizing. For some reason I recall the size chart on Vibrams site to be slightly different than Amazons. There is a little room hanging off in my pinky and ring toe but when you run it isn’t an issue. Second; when I first start out running it is funny. I am 6′ 3″ with a long stride. Because of the lack of padding I can actually hear myself running wrong. I tend to slap my foot down heel to toe. After about a mile I notice that my body corrects itself to run in smaller choppy steps. Because of this new form I find the wear and tear on my knees and legs, even IT band , is much more minimal than my thick running shoe asics which I also love. I tend to alternate between normal running shoes and these but I definitely recommend them if are thinking about it. I have never tried any other Vibrams but this Bikila Evo seems to be a perfect balance between being minimal and having a decent piece of rubber on the bottom for rocks or pebbles in road races. They are feather light as well

Vibram Fivefingers Spyridon LS Barefoot Running Shoe – Women’sVibram Fivefingers Spyridon LS Barefoot Running Shoe - Women's

Testimonial:

I love the color of this Spyridon. It really looks nice with all things brown, olive and in between. I previously purchased this same style in orange and gray and found it very comfortable. The Spyridon has a good arch support and my feet and legs are happy when I wear them. They wash beautifully in the machine and dry before the next day. The Spyridon is slightly harder to put on, but not at all difficult if you slide your foot in while flattening the back of the shoe with you heel. Then, once your toes are in place all you have to do is lift your heel so you are pressing on the ball of your foot, hook your finger in the back loop, and pull the back over your heel. I can wear a size 39 or 40, but have been staying with the size 40 so that I can wear a pair of toe socks, like the Injinji, when the weather warrants something a bit more than the shoe. I have about 30+ pair of Vibrams, have been wearing them for the past three+, years and have only accolades for the shoe. I’ve tried nearly every style and love the many colors that Vibram has introduced. They are very well made; I can still wear all my shoes. I use them for gardening, exercise, and every day shopping, hiking, and exercise. The Spyridon is a great shoe for walking, running, hiking and every day wear.

 

Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS Trail Running Shoe – Women’s-Military Green/Grey/Black-39Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS Trail Running Shoe - Women's-Military Green/Grey/Black-39

Testimonial:

For fit, I usually wear an 8US, 39EU, and they fit just as expected.These are great shoes. You really get a good ground feel, and yet, are still protected even with the thin sole.The traction is awesome! And I can really grip. I love the way I can climb on rocks.I use these shoes for hiking and casual wear. I originally got them for hiking, but they are so comfortable, I wear them on casual days as well.I also like that they come up all the way on the foot, like a regular tennis shoe would, and the pull string is great. The material seems to be durable and comfortable, but not too hot, and adds just the right amount of cushioning around the ankle without being too thick.My only critique is an aesthetic one… The whitish/greyish stripes on top are sort of “painted” on. These stripes started to crackle the first time I wore them. It doesn’t affect the performance of the shoe at all, but the stripes themselves are a bit ugly, and then to crackle so easily makes it even worse. Get rid of the stripes and you’d have a perfect shoe!

 

Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa – Men’sVibram FiveFingers SeeYa - Men's

Testimonial:

As someone who has/does run barefoot, I had been hesitant to order these. I happened to get a gift card and decided I’d give them a try.First, these are not exactly like running barefoot. I think these work the feet and calves more than barefoot does. That said, the feel is great with these. You get as close to the ground as you can without being barefoot. The SeeYa model is as minimal as it gets from Vibram.The fitment takes some getting used to. Use the Vibram website to find your actual size. When I got them I thought that I had ordered the wrong size and contemplated returning them. But after wearing them around the house, my feet seemed to adjust.You do need to heed the warnings of doing shorter runs your first few times out. As I mentioned above, these work the feet and calves quite a bit which can lead to injury. This is true whether you’re a new runner or a seasoned vet. Just take your time and work up to your regular run length in them.I wear these when I lift as well. They are great for squats and deadlifts. They also help you dig in when you bench press. I wouldn’t hesitate to order these again.

 

Vibram Women’s Bikila Evo Road Running ShoeVibram Women's Bikila Evo Road Running Shoe

Testimonial:

The Bikila Evo’s are an awesome upgrade from the former Bikila (with velcro) and Bikila LS, both which I tried for running. I have to admit I was a little skeptical about the Evo as I wasn’t completely sold running comfortably in Bikila’s. However, I ran in the Evo today about 5k and they feel great! The Evo makes running on pavement and stepping on stones/debris hurt less with the thicker sole and is overall lightweight and breathable. My feet do not feel weighed down by the Evo, unlike in Bikila LS where the fabric material feels pretty thickish and ‘warm’. I felt like I could fly in the Evo and have more confidence in landing when I was not always worried about getting an “Ouch” moment stepping on hard concrete or stones. It’s great to know I can go for longer distances in these shoes since they are made for middle distance runs (having an exact figure of what constitutes “middle distance” from VFF would be useful though). I simply adore the new eye catching colours and I got the yellow/pink! I hope VFF comes up with more crazy multi colours.

 

Bikila Ls Running ShoesBikila Ls Running Shoes

Testimonial:

As some background I was once a very high mile runner with a number of marathons under my belt. As I got older the miles started to cause more pain on my knees and shins and I couldn’t just run through it like I used to. My doctor recommended I try these. I was a bit weary at first but after some exhaustive research I decided to take the plunge and I am glad I did. My knee and shin pains is gone. I have friends who have experienced the same relief of pain they had dealt with all their lives, knee, shin, and back pain.Now this isn’t some magic shoe, but what the shoe does is helps us, as humans, run they way we are supposed to. The way we had run for tens of thousands of years. Keep in mind that footware of all kinds are relatively recent. Long before trainers came about we were running, barefoot or in flimsy sandals and doing just fine. What these shoes do, and similar minimalist shoes like them from New Balance, Merrell and Reebox, is help the body run in a more natural manner. The heal strike that is so common today has come about as we added thicker and thicker cushioning to our shoes. When barefoot it is not natural to strike the ground with your entire weight on the heel of your foot. A good example of natural running is to go watch kids run barefoot, before they are taught the ‘correct’ way to run they run the natural way. Which is to land more gently on the forward part of your foot and role the foot front to back, instead of hammering your heel into the ground.With that in mind wearing these shoes takes some time to retrain the foot so start building up slowly. I found that just having my toes separated felt very odd but after a few days of wearing them around the house I had gotten used to it. Now I am running some of the fastest laps of my life with this ‘new’ type of shoes and a ‘new’ type of running. There is a lot of good information available online about barefoot running, which you are essentially doing with these types of shoes. Youtube also has a wealth of information. These shoes have turned what used to be a painful experience back into the joy of running I had been missing. I’ve already recommended them to a number of my fellow runners with wonderful results.I want to include a few words of caution though. The Five Finger shoes aren’t for everyone, some people will have toes that are longer and will not be able to fit comfortably in the toe pockets. Not to worry though, Merrill and several other makers now offer similar shoes without the toe pockets for people who need them, or just find the toe pockets too strange. Also you don’t have a large robust sole to offer protection so kicking a rock or the like during a run is a painful experience. I’ve also found that during longer runs socks like the Innijin socks help prevent heat build up and blisters.

 

Vibram Fivefingers Men’s KMD Sport LS Cross TrainersVibram Fivefingers Men's KMD Sport LS Cross Trainers

Testimonial:

I’ll update this if I discover durability or smell issues, since that’s a concern of mine, but so far these have exceeded expectations.These are my first pair of vibrams and I went in with the expectation that that there would be some adjustment, because I’ve read that people’s plantars and/or calves hurt when first adjusting. Even the paper that comes with the shoes advises you to gradually increase the amount of time you wear them.I wanted to see how much of problem the adjustment would be, so I dove right in by taking them out of the box and going for a five mile run. I’m pretty slow as I’ve only been running for 4 to 5 months (11 to 13 pace). My calves didn’t hurt; while it might’ve been psychosomatic, I felt like I could really zoom when I wanted to sprint. My calves and plantars didn’t hurt the next day, so I tried wearing them all day while walking around my campus and downtown. Everything felt great. Day two went by great as well.I should note that my calves might be sort of large because I’m a very heavy guy (250 lbs, 6’1″), and until fairly recently I was even heavier (6-7 months ago I was 340 lbs), so I do have gigantic fat guy calves that could feed a family of four.As an aside, I recommend cutting up your normal socks to make the toe socks for this shoe; I feel like the specialty ones are too expensive. You can google a couple of DIY pages, but It was just a matter of putting two stitches between the 1st (big) toe and the 2nd toe, and then another between the third and fourth toe.I’ll change my review if I discover any problems with them, but so far the only problem has been that my friends see them and scoff, “Oh, so you’re one of *those* now.”

 

Vibram Men’s Spyridon MR Trail Running ShoeVibram Men's Spyridon MR Trail Running Shoe

Testimonial:

As the title says, I have owned (and own) 3 other pairs of five finger shoes. 2 are Fila, 2 are vibram. The fila have the two smallest toes in one, and these have all 5 as separate. I like both systems for different reasons.The frist pair of these kind of shoes ere the fila. Here is why I wanted these—as I slowly learned with the next 3 pairs—

1- Shoe lace adjustable. I Like that I can tighten the laces very easily which tightens the whole shoe. 2- The sole is thicker. These have the thickest soles of any of the “toe shoes”. No discomfort when walking on rocks etc. 3- comfort. With the laces being adjustable, these are very comfortable. 4- Well made. 5- GREAT water shoes

When you look into purchasing shoes, look at the thickness of the soles. Most are 2mm. That is very uncomfortable when walking outside. Rocks, bottle caps, anything uneven is painful, especially if running or you dont see it. The fit is accurate and very good. The key is to make sure your heel doesn’t slip and that all 5 toes are deep inside the “toes”. I wear socks with mine–toe socks obviously, but I just find that they fit better and are more comfortable. They are designed to wear barefoot. In fact the whole concept is to feel as if you have nothing on–and are going around barefoot, except now you can wear no shoes and have some protection.Once you wear them for a while, nothing else will do. I might add. The green ones are much brigher in real life than the photo shoes. The photo makes them look a little like subtle “camo” but they are not. More yellow and more green –Good luck.

 

Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport Shoe – Men’sVibram FiveFingers KMD Sport Shoe - Men's

Testimonial:

Short story: Yes, Vibram’s are awesome, they have given me a new running life, and if you’ve been plagued with running injuries I’d suggest trying them.Long story: I’m 47 years old and have been a “gym rat” since high school. About ten years ago a coworker told me about a local “Mud Run” and I thought it sounded good. Knowing I’ was creeping up on the 40 year old mark and knew it would be a good time to start mixing in some cardio, so I signed up.I went to Road Runner Sports shoe store, did the treadmill foot examination thing, and left with a pair of “Stability” shoes. I started slow and built my running up to ten miles a week by the 8th week and it was at this point my ITB started giving me problems.Being a gym rat and somewhat of an athlete who understands the body and injury I began a long process of trying to run without pain. I did a lot of research on running websites, at running stores, and read books like Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. In the following years I tried to perfect Chi Running and tried every ITB stretch routine, roller pads, ice + Ibuprofen, countless shoes, and even took 4 months off of running. And although I was able to improve my pain free running distance, I still could not run 5 miles without experiencing a lot of ITB knee pain, so much that I couldn’t run more than 6 or 7 miles on a good day, and my top pace was around 8:30 min/mile.About two years ago I read a blog from a runner who said barefoot running eliminated his ITB issues by forcing him to run with a natural gait, stride, pace, etc. I figure I had nothing to lose, I’ve spent a fortune on shoes and a lot of time running, stretching, rolling, and eating Ibuprofen, so I bought my first pair of Vibram shoes, the Komodo sport in 2009.Again, I’m a gym guy, so I know the risk of jumping into physical activities and doing too much too soon. I walked in them and wore them to the gym for about a month before attempting to run in them, and even then I started running on the treadmill first. I ran on the treadmill for about another month before my first road run. My first run was two miles and I monitored my body, specifically my feet, the whole way. It felt great!! I kept my runs short for the next four weeks, never running more than 2 miles, but increasing my pace (I use a Garmin GPS watch) and eventually got my two mile run down to 14:18, by far the fastest I’ve ever run.I now own three pairs of Vibram shoes, the KomodoSport, the TrekSport, and the new SeeYa. I’ve only wore the SeeYa once, so I can’t give a review yet, but I can say this in general, I have been running without ITB problems ever since. I live near Mission Trails regional park in San Diego so I’ve added trail running to spice things up. I’m currently training for my first half marathon this June, the Rock n’ Roll in San Diego, and will be running the Camp Pendleton Mud run the week after that, all in my Vibram shoes.BUT, and this is an important note, I’ve had one minor foot injury from stepping on an uneven road surface that kept me from running and was limping around for a few weeks, it hurt like hell! I’m also just recovering from a moderate calf strain that sidelined me for 5 weeks (probably was over doing it). Here’s the deal folks, our feet have been in the equivalent of a cast for our most of our life. Our foot tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones have not been used much and will take a while the strengthen, but the good news is they will strengthen and adapt if you’re patient.For me “barefoot” running changed virtually everything in my running economy. I believe I achieved “Chi Running” naturally because when I run in Vibram’s I don’t have the option of a heel strike, long strides, and I don’t have the unnatural heel to toe drop of running shoes. I don’t have to think about most of bad running issues because my natural instinct takes over the moment my feet sense the terrain. It’s like being a kid again, running barefoot makes me feel like I’m playing again. My new goal is to improve my running economy even more by finding a way to lessen the strain on my calf muscles. Vibram’s have definitely increased the use of my calf muscles, very sore, and getting more muscular, so be ready for that change too, a lot more calf stretches in your stretch routine will go a long way.

 

Vibram Women’s KMD LS Cross Training ShoeVibram Women's KMD LS Cross Training Shoe

Testimonial:

They are insanely cute and ridiculously comfortable. I currently own 8 different pairs of fivefingers and these have quickly become my favorite pair for boxing, kickboxing, and running.I am a solid size 39 in all 8 pairs, despite each pair being a different model. Once you know your true accurate size– DON’T DEVIATE!!!I bought the KMD Sport LS to replace my Seeyas. I have worn out 2 separate pairs of Seeyas within the last year and decided to opt for a different, hopefully longer lasting, fivefinger model. I purchased the KMD Sport LS a couple months ago and so far they have exceeded my expectations.For shorter distance excursions (under 8-10 miles) and lounging around KMD Sport LS are the bomb. However on longer distance walks, hikes, etc., I still prefer to wear my Spyridons or Alitzas.The KMD Sport LS have proven to be an excellent, useful, and beloved addition to my collection of Vibrams. I highly recommend them!

 

 

And there you have it…

The best barefoot running shoes, all reviewed, ranked, and benchmarked for your convenience.

We hope this article helped you to pick your next pair,

join us on our other articles where we cover in a similar format even more shoe related categories.

If you have any suggestions for a pair that was not listed, or if you have a recommendation on a pair that is,

please let us know by submitting a comment in the section below.

 

Have a terrific day!

TheShoesForMe Team

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