The Best Minimalist Shoes

posted in: Athletic, Exercises, Running, Shoes, Sports | 0

Minimalist shoes, along with barefoot shoes are a growing trend. Chances are you will tackle a friend or stranger wearing a sleek pair of these, either in the gym, the beach or simply jogging around your area.

So why are people even using minimalist shoes? Is this just a passing phase?

Well, according to Harvard’s research, “Barefoot and minimally shod people can run easily on the hardest surfaces in the world without discomfort from landing”.

Minimalist shoes are fit for running, jogging, walking, exercising and climbing, what’s more, today there are cool brands that make them comfortable, useful and look great as well.

Taking this into account – we went ahead and consulted with some of the industry specialists to compile a list of the top minimalist shoes out there.

Let’s take a quick look:

 

PictureNameRatingPrice
Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe4.3$76.11 - $115.21
TF-BK30 Tesla Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe BK304.2$23.98 - $36.98
Merrell Men's Trail Glove 3 Minimal Trail Running Shoe4.5$98.95 - $133.43
Merrell Men's Bare Access Ultra Trail Running Shoe4.3$44.01 - $899.00
New Balance Men's MX20v4 Minimus Cross-Training and Weightlifting Shoe4.2$41.19 - $99.95
EM ROAD N 04.6$36.68 - $100.00
New Balance Women's WX20v4 Cross-Training and Weightlifting Minimus Shoe4.2$40.76 - $99.95
Sockwa X8- Breathable, Barefoot/Minimal Shoe4.3$64.99 - $69.97
Vibram Men's KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe4.4$71.96 - $107.14
Merrell Women's Bare Access Ultra Trail Running Shoe4.3$45.64 - $160.00
Under Armour Women's UA Speedform Studiolux Sneaker4.4$44.99 - $129.00

Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe Testimonial:

I have to end up thanking Merrell for initially making me sad–they made the Trail Glove thicker (from 9.5mm to 10.5mm stack height) to cater to the pendulum swing in the market towards maximalism. When I saw that they were coming out with a 2nd version of the Vapor glove without thickening it’s sole from its prior, it gave me hope that Merrell would still be my sole trail shoe provider. I decided to take a risk with buying the Vapor glove V2 for trail running. I have been running road, treadmill, or light trail and all daily work/walking in Sockwas–a shoe that is only 1mm thick. My feet have strengthened and thickened–my legs and feet have never felt better and I no longer have to cross train to prevent runners knee! I love technical trail running, though, and my Sockwas don’t give me the protection from stubbed toes or the comfort I like to maintain to just take the edge off of the technical trails I run on.Enter Vapor Glove V2.V1 VS V2: Talking to customer service I found out that the main upgrade to the version 2 is that it has deeper lugs while maintaining the same 5mm stack height. This creates better flexibility which I found to be out of the box amazing! These shoes hit the ground running–no need to “break them in.” Customer service also mentioned that the V2 weighs slightly more. Total pair weight for the V2 is 11.6 oz size 9 compared to 10 oz size 9 for V1. The other upgrade is simply aesthetic–it has an amazing new design which I love. Now if you ask customer service what changed the weight they’ll tell you there is nothing to suggest added weight. My guess is that this is at least partly, if not fully, due to what another reviewer (who owns both V1 and V2) reffered to as a difference between the two. Vapor Glove V2 has paint-like spots where the upper meets the sole right beside the pinky toe and big toe areas (you can see a slighty darker grey if you look closely at the picture). According to that fellow reviewer this is not present on V1 (I have to take their word for it since I never owned V1). Although I’m not sure why Merrell didn’t include this in the list of upgrades for customer service to see, it is an obvious answer to the durability issues of V1. If you look at the reviews for V1, holes developing in those spots are the topics of the most concerning negative feedback. While these paint-like spots may be the answer to the slight weight gain of V2, in my books, durability is a worthwhile sacrifice of weight. Stay tuned. I will update this in a year to answer if the paint-like spots have fixed the problem.TREAD: I’ve thought about trying the vapor glove V1 for technical trail running before but the lack of aggressive tread has always held me back. As I wore this shoe on my first technical run with everything from rock strewn paths to gravely steep decents I realized that once one has transitioned patiently and correctly into a barefoot style of running, tread aggressiveness doesn’t matter as much. A barefoot style runner constantly runs with their feet in the center of mass with a faster cadence (=less time on the ground). Slipping out is caused by overstriding or heel braking down a steep, loose path.TOE BUMPER: The Vapor gloves toe bumper is perfect! I ordered the same size I did with the Trail Glove V2 and have the recomended thumb width of extra space beyond my toe. I already accidently tested this out when I looked breifly at my watch at the wrong moment and my toe snagged a rock. I felt it coming and was able to minimize the impact and my toe wasn’t stung with pain!TOE BOX: The toe box is a little wider than the Trail Glove. This allows for very comfortable toe splay (also more comfortable than the Trail Glove).GROUND FEEL/THICKNESS: With the Vapor glove my feet are able to tell me if I don’t have my knees bent enough for the steepness of the grade. I feel everything on the ground comfortably. This should be the case for anyone who has safely done the worthwhile work of transitioning to very minimal foot protection, the 5mm of thickness is a perfect thickness to take the sharp edge off of sharp rocks! For those who want to change your running style to one that will make your leg muscles more balanced ( saying good bye to runners knee) the vapor glove is a great place to start (albeit slowly). Evaluate your goals. If your only goal is merely to get faster you probably won’t have the patience to listen to your feet and go slower and less distance until your feet strengthen enough to the point that your strengthened feet and balanced leg muscles will help you go faster and longer more efficiently. It is the impatient ones who are getting injured and making companies like Merrell cater to the demand of a more thicker shoe (enter Trail Glove V3).WEIGHT: This shoe has everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. It is very light and appears very durable (there are other lighter shoes but at the cost of durability) My size 9 weighs in at 5.70 Oz (one shoe/my scale)WITH OR WITHOUT SOCK: The upper is very breathable and soft and once could wear these with no socks. I prefer socks since running trails tends to fling dirt in ones shoes.RECOMENDED USE: Light trails (for beginners) to technical trails (for experienced)THE ONLY DOWNSIDE OF THIS SHOE: (seeing what is happening to the Trail Glove) This perfect shoe produces a fear in me that Merrell will try to thicken it up or entirely drop it eventually and leave me in a position to find a new favorite trail shoe elsewhere.

 

TF-BK30 Tesla Men’s Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe BK30

TF-BK30 Tesla Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe BK30 Testimonial:

VERY IMPORTANT:Order 1 size up for walking, standing an entire day, or wanting to wear socks. I usually wear 8.5 men’s sneakers but I took the advice and ordered a 9.5 and it fits great.I got a second pair at ONLY 1/2 a size up for RUNNING barefoot in. Full size up may result in too much toe-space length-wise as I found out, either way the width is narrow.Now for the review.WOW!, for a couple of reasons. One, this Tesla brand, which apparently is Korean, makes budget/inexpensive versions of very famous footwear. In this case, this shoe is practically a replica of the Merrell Vapor Glove, even the sole design is practically the same. The only difference is that this shoe doesn’t use Vibram rubber and instead of saying Merrell it says “Bare Trek” on the side of the heel.The other reason for the Wow is that this shoe is actually very impressive. No way is any minimalist shoe worth the 100 dollar asking price, considering the lack of materials used in them, so if you’re interested in minimalist footwear but aren’t willing to fork over a hundy for the design and innovation in minimalist footwear, is that irony?, then try this out for size first at a mere 20 bucks.The only thing preventing a perfect score are: the thin upper which appears to lack durability and might be torn from the sole. Also, the tongue is terrible! Seriously, they just stitched a thin piece of cloth onto the upper, ugh…Finally, the pictures make the sole look terribly thin, but in fact I’m actually quite surprised at the amount of cushioning there is for walking, I haven’t tried running in it yet but the rubber at the forefoot seems denser than the surrounding area, which makes sense since any running will be forefoot based. You also do get an everyday removable insole in the shoe.For 20 dollars it’s hard to complain, even if it breaks, it’ll take four to five of these to make up for one pair of Merrells.UPDATE, I’ve now ran in the 1/2 size up shoe twice, 3 miles each after another first day adjusting to minimalist wear, which will probably hurt the back of your legs the first few times, don’t over push it. Luckily I have a college soccer field near my track so I also did some bumpy running on thinning grass :)I can honestly say that my fears about the upper tearing is unwarranted. These shoes will probably hold up. Plus, there is practically no wear on the rubber, which also nice, contrasting with my Pearl Izumi’s sole which had the hard foam flaking already. Finally, the only downside is the scratchy think tongue which is bothersome. So 5 stars. I also noticed the price went up 10 bucks 🙁

 

Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 3 Minimal Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Men's Trail Glove 3 Minimal Trail Running Shoe Testimonial:

I bought these for the Afghan desert. I needed a shoe with a firm insulating sole, providing good arch support, and did not retain heat in the toe box. These shoes perform very well in all these areas.Unboxing revealed a very bright orange shoe, almost florescent, and not anything like the picture seen here. But I figured the dirt would tame the color and it has. The sole is extremely narrow at the arch and heel with a very wide the toe box. Make no mistake, I need a wide toe box, and these definitely have the extra room to alleviate cramped toes during the day. Fitment was a little tight in the arch area, especially along the top of my foot, but a couple of days in these shoes have fixed that. I do, however, find the laces about 2″ too short since I do not like cinching my shoes down. I have barely enough lace to tie the shoes and that is without using the last hole closest to the ankles. The shoes are very light and supportive. When I give these shoes a break and have to wear my other shoes the difference is noticeable.First compliment is its weight, my Nike runners and Sketcher boat shoes weigh a ton compared to these shoes.Second, I compliment the soles which are flat, have zero heel rise, and do not negatively affect the arch support. The flat sole also gives me the feeling that my feet are solidly planted to the ground, unlike my other shoes that feel too spongy and are melting. Also, the sole does not absorb or transfer heat unlike my other shoes and I can walk around without feeling like I am stepping on a hot stove with my feet surrounded by a 350 degree oven. The arches are very stiff and well formed almost like a true orthotic arch support you would get from the doctors. I have flat feet and the support is so great that I feel a difference in my gait when switching shoes. An example, regardless of shoe, when I walk a distance of greater than 20 yards, the joint connecting my big toes begin to ache nearly to the point of having to stop and rest. I rarely have this problem with the Merrell Trail Glove 3. I have also had to sprint a few times with these shoes on. In typical shoes I feel a slight ankle sprain in the first few strides that make me stop to walk off before I can resume running –not once have I had the ankle sprain sensation with the Trail Glove 3 nor have I felt the immense burning in my calves like this before.I highly recommend these shoes and hope this line does not get discontinued for a very long time!

 

Merrell Men’s Bare Access Ultra Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Men's Bare Access Ultra Trail Running Shoe Testimonial:

I’ve been wearing the Merrell Mix Master Move (3 pairs of those, ~600-800 miles on each) and before those, Mix Master 2 (2 pairs of those, also about 800 miles on each). I like the minimalist thing, but I also want shoes which protect my feet. These fit the bill. I’ve had the pleasure of taking these out on some rocky runs and the Vibram sole offers better protection than the soles of both the Mix Master 2 and the Move.I wore a size 9 in the Mix Master Move and Mix Master 2 and a Bare Access Ultra Trail size 9.5 fits perfectly. I tried out the Mix Master Move 2, but the toe box feels more narrow than the previous model, and I need a little extra room on the sides. That’s why I stopped wearing Brooks shoes, actually – by mile 15 or 20, I could feel my pinky toes crying out in pain as they’re being jammed under my ring toe. With the Bare Access Ultra Trail, the toe box is exactly what I am looking for. A little extra room but it doesn’t look super weird like the Altra shoes I also tried.Only possible complaint is that my heel feels like it might come out, but I probably just need to break em in more. If it’s really a problem, I’ll update my review and knock off a star. For now though, these shoes are exactly what I wanted. I immediately bought another pair while they’re cheap (~$50) on Amazon.Thanks to subsequent stretches of inclement and nice weather here in Colorado, I’ve been able to test these babies out on all manner of surfaces. Here’s my take:Sand — the low profile makes it easy for your shoes to kick sand up into them. It’s annoying, but I don’t run on much sand, so I can deal with it.Roads — awesome. These do not have an overly aggressive lug pattern, so running on roads feels just fine.Smooth gravel trail — awesome. These shoes eat that up!Mud and snow, loose — average. The other Merrell shoes I’ve worn stuck better in gooey mud and snow, but these aren’t bad, just not as good.Mud and snow, packed — good. As long as you don’t do anything stupid like try to stop on a dime, you’ll be fine. Again though, not a very aggressive trail shoe, so if you want to rip it down a packed snowy mountain, this might not be the shoe for you.Technical rocky trails — awesome. The sole protects well. I have not yet had to test out the bash guard on the toes against some rocks.

 

New Balance Men’s MX20v4 Minimus Cross-Training and Weightlifting Shoe

New Balance Men's MX20v4  Minimus Cross-Training and Weightlifting Shoe Testimonial:

These shoes are excellent… for what they are designed for.I bought them to wear to the gym and for low-impact exercise (stationary bike, ellipitcal, etc.). And, cosmetically, I wanted a pair that was all black. I got them in the “D” width, and it is a tad wide in the front. But, overall, the front of the shoe is what is interesting. There is a bias, if you will, towards the lateral – or outside – portion of the foot, with a much narrower fit towards the medial – or inside – part nearer the toe. I had been wearing regular running shoes on the AMT machine at the gym, and was noticing that my toes were becoming a bit “numb” towards the end of the 30-minute workout. That completely stopped with these shoes. Also, I was able to position myself better and more comfortably on the steps of that particular machine with these shoes.PROS: They are extremely light. I love the look at the fit (and wear them with ankle-cut black socks). They are pretty much reinforced open mesh and they do not get hot. They are under-the-radar suggested to be a good Cross Fit shoe (but I don’t do Cross Fit, so don’t rely on me for an opinion on that). They have a Vibram sole that provides good traction.CONS: They do not have a lot of cushion in the sole and I’m not sure how they would hold up to a lot of high-impact movements, or if they would provide enough support (I’m way past the point in my life where I do any high-impact motions, though, and that’s not what I bought them for). Time will tell whether that same Vibram sole will hold up to use, as I’ve had problems with other shoes in the past with Vibram soles that seemed to wear out quickly. The achilles protector in the rear of the shoe rides a little low, and there’s no real significant rear foxing or heel counter to speak of, which made the shoe was a little rough on my ankle the first time I wore them (although I didn’t get any blisters).BOTTOM LINE: This is a great shoe provided you use it for what it’s designed for. For me, this is perfect to do non-/low-impact aerobics at the gym and to wear when I lift. It’s stylish and looks great if the “black out” look is what you’re going for.

 

EM ROAD N 0

EM ROAD N 0 Testimonial:

My new favorite running shoes. Used to always buy Adidas which were good, though always a bit narrow. These fit great, very comfortable minimal running shoes!

 

New Balance Women’s WX20v4 Cross-Training and Weightlifting Minimus Shoe

New Balance Women's WX20v4 Cross-Training and Weightlifting Minimus Shoe Testimonial:

This is a great shoe for weight lifting! With this shoe, your feet are right where they are supposed to be….grounded flat on the floor, toes spread out to help with balance. This is a wide shoe in the area where the toes are, but that is how it’s supposed to be when weight training. With New Balance shoes, I’m always an 8 1/2. This is the first time I’ve ever had to go down a size…to an 8. So, it’s my opinion they run about a half size big. But if you are into crossfit, weight lifting, strength training, I would highly recommend these.**UPDATE ( 10/2/15): It’s been roughly 6 months now that I have been using these shoes for crossfit, 5 days a week. I still love them! Some people say they aren’t good for running. It really all depends on the person. I am a barefoot kind of person. I don’t need arch support. If I wouldn’t have to worry about stepping on glass, I’d run barefoot all the time. I’ve ran 4 miles in these shoes with no problem. I’ve had to do a 300 meter sprint in them, and got the best time in my class. It’s a solid shoe for box jumps. The wide toe box comes in handy for deadlifting. So many other women in my class complain about how unhappy with their shoes and have commented about how I haven’t complained once about my shoes.

 

Sockwa X8- Breathable, Barefoot/Minimal Shoe

Sockwa X8- Breathable, Barefoot/Minimal Shoe Testimonial:

For the past 7 years I have been all about minimalist shoes. Throughout those years I have gone through many shoes. From the New Balance minimus line, to a few vibrams, to zemgear, and a few others. These are by far my absolute favorite minimalist shoe I have ever owned. The ground feel is astonishing, and the comfort level is off the charts. It breathes extremely well, more so than any shoe I have ever owned. The moment I put them on I fell in love with them. The material on the bottom that your foot interacts with, feels ridiculously smooth and yet, it does not mute the ground feel at all. Aside from wearing them on a day to day basis, I have ran in these shoes, lifted weights, played both indoor and outdoor basketball and worn them to and from the pool. These have become my everyday, everywhere shoe. So far they have held up perfectly. I can honestly say that in the distant future, when the current X8’s I have fall apart I will purchase new ones on the spot. I highly recommend this product to anyone and everyone who is remotely interested in minimalist/barefoot shoes, and even to those who aren’t. I promise you will not be disappointed.

 

Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe

Vibram Men's KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe Testimonial:

This review was posted to birthdayshoes.comPlease do a quick search for KSO EVO birthdayshoes for the full review.Background: this review was written after running 30 miles on asphalt (in freezing Cape Cod weather!) and 40 treadmill miles, mixed in with some gym work, including weights and an automatic rock wall. My other Vibram shoes include the Bikila LS, KSO Remix, KSO TREK, and EL-X. I have relatively flat feet and wear a size 41 for all Vibrams. For additional sizing reference, I also wear a size 41 for Vivobarefoot’s minimalist offerings.The KSO EVO may be the best toe shoe Vibram has ever offered. It carries on the lofty name of its predecessor in style and vastly improves upon the EL-X that it’s based on. No other shoe in the lineup strikes such a perfect balance between weight, flexibility, and stability. The KSO EVO has replaced the EL-X as my “go to” shoe for just about anything.Vibram uses initializations for the naming of some of their models. In the case of the KSO EVO, the name is meant to signify an evolution (EVO) of the original KSO (keep stuff out); a shoe that aims for versatility as an “all-around” model that can fill multiple roles, including running on both roads and trails and for cross fitness. In addition to the naming fun, this shoe is also known as the EL-X LS, where EL-X stands for “Entry Level Crosstrainer” and LS stands for “lace system”.KSO EVO is more of an evolution of the EL-X than the original KSO. It can be best described as an EL-X with added features for a more secure fit, both in the heel and the around the foot.The major differences between the KSO EVO and EL-X are:The welcome addition of Vibram’s speed lace systemAdded structure around the heel for a tighter fitBefore the KSO EVO, I would have said that the EL-X is the best in the FiveFingers lineup, followed by the Bikila LS. However, the KSO EVO trumps both shoes by being a near-perfect combination of the security of the Bikila LS and the weight and ground feel of the EL-X.While the EL-X is the featherweight of the vibram lineup at 4.23 oz for a size 43, the KSO EVO is only a shade heavier at 4.9 oz. By comparison, the Bikila LS can almost be considered heavy at 6 oz and even the Seeya LS clocks in above the EVO at 5.07 oz.Overall, the KSO EVO is the second lightest shoe in the Vibram lineup.The UpperThe KSO EVO features the same polyester stretch mesh upper as the EL-X and the Seeya. More breathable than the coconut active upper used in the Bikila LS, the stretch upper in the KSO EVO is very comfortable and fits like a glove (well, my foot anyways).Because the KSO EVO has such a breathable upper, I would not recommend it for cold weather fitness activities. Of course, that didn’t stop me from running six miles each day in 25 degrees, but the original KSO, Bikila, Spyridon, KMD, Flow, Maiori and Lonta all provide better insulation for the cold.In addition to the stretchy mesh upper, the KSO EVO also features the same “painted on” rubber first utilized in the EL-X to add a little structure to the shoe and keep it tight on your foot, but these painted sections hinder breathability in the sections of the mesh where they are present.Unlike the EL-X, which has nothing else but the mesh+painted rubber combination to keep the shoe on your foot, the KSO EVO has the addition of a lace system to maintain tightness and does not rely on the the painted-on for security, so its usage seems redundant and inhibits breathability. It may also cause hot spots, which I experienced on my instep where there is some of the painted-on material (near the Vibram logo). This went away after a few runs, but it was quite the initial annoyance. I had a similar experience with the EL-X and I think both shoes just require a little bit of a break-in period to eliminate any hotspots or tightness due to the non-breathable rubber material.Overall, the upper for the KSO is very breathable and comfortable, but I did experience a short-lived hotspot on my instep, which rubbed some of the unnecessary(IMO) rubber material on the shoe.The KSO EVO features the same closed-loop bungee and velcro strap as other LS shoes for FiveFingers (minus the Seeya LS and Speed, which have traditional laces). With the lace system, the the KSO EVO should be able to accommodate a wider range of foot shapes, including those with flat feet (like mine) and high arches.I also found that the KSO EVO does not look quite as “strange” as the EL-X because the lace system and tongue of the shoe makes it a little taller, where-as the EL-X is a very low attention-getting shoe.I find the lace system that Vibram uses to be far superior to traditional laces. There is no need to tie and knot floppy laces; just grab the bungee, dial in the right fit, slap the plastic but onto the velcro strip and you are good to go!If there was any issue that I found with the lace system is that the opening of the shoe and tongue is not as large as other Vibram LS shoes. Whereas I am able to quickly slip into my Bikila LS, the KSO EVO requires a bit of a struggle to get into it at first, but it becomes easier as you break in the shoe. In addition, the reinforced leather portions of the shoe around the collar and heel are not stretchy, so that also makes it a little more difficult to get the shoes on.Overall, the lace system is absolutely perfect for finding a perfect fit for a variety of feet. You will wonder why you bothered with velcro or traditional laces in the past.The KSO EVO has a similar sole to the EL-X. They are both part of the “max feel” category from Vibram, alongside the women’s Alitza. They all feature a zig-zagging, sliced up Vibram rubber sole that provides good traction in a variety of surfaces and is miles ahead of the smooth sole of the original KSO.With the “max feel” line, Vibram has truly put itself back ahead of other “barefoot” shoes in terms of flexibility and ground feel.The KSO EVO has a “max sole thickness” of 4.7mm which includes a 2mm EVA foam insole in the figure and something like a 2.7mm Vibram rubber outsole. The EVA compresses pretty quickly and will begin to mold itself to the shape of the bottom of your foot after running just a few miles, making the overall stack height of the shoe even lower as a result.With such thin soles, both the KSO EVO and EL-X are very floppy and you can roll them up in any direction with a single finger. You can even roll up one shoe and cram it into it’s opposite (but not, like, evil version), if you so choose to. While all vibrams allow you to flex your toes up, only the EL-X and KSO EVO (and the KSO Remix) allow for you to flex your toes down, which is an amazing feeling and a testament to how thin and flexible the shoes are.Ground feel with the KSO EVO is fantastic. You can feel every little thing as you run, including tiny pebbles and even the stems of leaves as you jog to your heart’s desire. The sole provides just enough protection, while maintaining a near-barefoot experience. Because the sole is so thin, it can help you figure out proper running form and technique. By comparison, when I run in my Bikila LS shoes, I definitely notice that I can land a little harder because of the extra padding that the Bikila has over the KSO EVO.I will caution that the KSO EVO may not be a good choice for those who are looking to transition into minimalist running as its thin sole does not allow for a lot of room for error in running form. If you heel step in the KSO EVO, you will hurt yourself. Something like the KMD or Bikila may be better suited for anyone planning to make the transition from bulkier shoes to Vibrams, while the KSO EVO is more of a shoe for barefoot enthusiasts looking to hone their barefoot technique.The HeelThe single best improvement the KSO EVO made over the EL-X (aside from the lace system) is in the heel fit. Vibram greatly enhanced the sections that wrap around your heel to make the KSO EVO a fantastic shoe for running and making sharp turns. In the comparison photos between the EL-X and KSO EVO, you can clearly see that Vibram added additional height to the heel and structure to the “wings” on either side of the heel (See this photo), which really hugs the back of your foot and completely eliminates the heel sloppiness you may experience when running with the EL-X or Seeya.When running with the EL-X, I was constantly reminded of the heel as it moved up and down with every step (luckily, no hot spots ever developed). Despite that issue, the shoe was adequate for running in a straight line at moderate speeds, but the EL-X was definitely a let down if I ever had to quickly move around. With the improvements found in the KSO EVO, I can confidently run and make turns as quickly as I please.The lace system and the heel “wings” are a perfect combination for security, stability, and a glove-like fit with the KSO EVO.DurabilityI have not had enough time with the KSO EVO to assess the durability of its upper or sole, but I’ve run about 100 miles with the EL-X and it’s held up perfectly with zero issues and the sole has yet to show any wear. By comparison, my pair of Bikila LS have–all things considered–held up very well after about 750 miles, but they did sprout a small hole on the inside of the big toe, which I was able to patch with some shoe goo and about 40% of the treading has worn away around the outer toes and the ball of the foot.Vibram has really outdone itself this time around. I was initially skeptical when I heard that they were replacing the beloved KSO with the EL-X-based KSO EVO. All of the skepticism was swept aside after I went on my first run with them.The KSO EVO strikes a balance between the fit and security of the Bikila LS, the heel tightness of the KMD, and the thin and flexible sole of the EL-X. The improvements Vibram made on the EL-X were absolutely fantastic and it has become my new favorite running and gym shoe. My only regret was that the KSO EVO was not available in black at the time of writing this review.

 

Merrell Women’s Bare Access Ultra Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Women's Bare Access Ultra Trail Running Shoe Testimonial:

I’m a supinator with very high arches, and I’ve been a Merrell fan for years. I had two pairs of Pace Gloves, and then I switched to Brooks for two pair of shoes, believing for some reason that I needed more padding/support, and found that I was supinating worse than ever. Of course, I had to come crawling back to Merrell once more.They’re minimal, to be sure, and light. They look more substantial in the photo, so I was a little worried, but they are definitely 0 drop. There is a nice medial arch structure on the inside that feels good but doesn’t feel obstructive or supportive and still allows my foot to move. They aren’t as minimal as the Pace Glove, which is what I used to wear. These seem substantial enough to handle walking and running on pavement, which is what I need.Both times I’ve started wearing Merrell’s more minimal shoes, it’s taken some adjustment in the beginning, especially to the ball of the foot. I find that my best bet with these is to wear padded socks, such as Balega Hidden Comfort. I have the beginnings of a Morton’s neuroma on one foot, and a shoe like this can aggravate it. I walk/run 10-15k steps a day, and activities like using an elliptical will definitely get it irritated at first without a padded sock. I think it just takes time for the muscles in your foot to build up.These were recommended to me by a client of mine who is an Iron Man triathlete, who also wears them, and so far, I’ve been equally pleased.

 

Under Armour Women’s UA Speedform Studiolux Sneaker

Under Armour Women's UA Speedform Studiolux Sneaker Testimonial:

These shoes are everything I hoped for. I grew up a dancer so I prefer lightweight shoes that fit like a second skin and these certainly do that.I have very large feet, a 10.5 wide to be exact, so finding women’s sneakers is very difficult. Since these don’t come in a wide I ordered an 11. Much to my delight these shoes are plenty wide especially in the toe box and I probably could have gotten the 10.5. Note that I have been wearing these without socks so with socks I would probably need the extra half size.So far I have used these shoes for BodyJam (a dance aerobics class with a similar impact level as Zumba) and weightlifting. I find these great for BodyJam as the sole is smooth and allows for easy turning and pivoting. The thin design and neutral platform makes these great for heavy lifting too. I haven’t used these for running yet and I probably won’t as they don’t offer a lot of structure and support. They might be ok for a mile or two on the treadmill but definitely not for outdoor use or long distances.It is not unusual for me to experience arch pain (7-8 on a scale of 1 to 10) in other sneakers, however despite the fact that these shoes don’t offer much support, my arch pain is minimal in these shoes. Perhaps this is because the shoes are wide enough and don’t squeeze my feet.

 

And finally…

We have covered a lot of great minimalist shoes here, these are the best brands and models out there.

We recommend you to read a more detailed explanation of what minimalist shoes are, and how they perform against ‘regular’ shoes.

Be sure to share this article with your friends, and make them understand why you went barefoot too 😉

Be free to comment in the comment section below, let us know of any suggestions and tips for minimalist shoes of various types.

 

Have a fantastic day ahead!

TheShoesForMe Team.