great value rating
  • High quality
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Lots of air ventilation

If you are an avid runner, then chances are you already have at least one pair of running shoes that are cushioned and supportive. However, this may not be the best thing for your feet. Minimalist running shoes were designed with the idea that the more you engage your feet, the better the benefits will be when running.

Minimalist running shoes do not have cushioned insoles or a lot of support around the pressure points of your feet. This forces the muscles in your feet to engage more, which in turn will strengthen your lower muscles and can have better health results. If you want to get more from your workouts, then you may want to consider minimalist running shoes.

View the Best Minimalist Running Shoes, Below.

best overall rating

1. Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe

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These minimalist running shoes are made from a lightweight polyester fabric that has good airflow and allows you to feel every step you take. As they are breathable, these shoes will keep your feet cool and dry during a workout, which can reduce chafing. These minimalist running shoes have a rubber sole that offers a good grip without too much padding.

These minimalist running shoes have a lightly padded tongue for comfort. The lace-up closure is designed to be adjustable and easy to fasten so you can get going without delay. These minimalist running shoes have separate toes for a true barefoot feeling.

These minimalist running shoes are lightweight, breathable, and have separate toes for a true barefoot feeling.

Why We Like It
  • Lightweight
  • Separate toes
  • Breathable
  • Good grip
  • Quick lace-up fastening
Material
Polyester Fabric
Gender
Men’s
Sole
Rubber
premium choice rating

2. New Balance MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoe

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These minimalist running shoes have a breathable mesh upper that offers good air ventilation to keep feet cool. This also allows you to feel close to nature when running outside as you can feel the air through your shoes. These minimalist running shoes feature synthetic overlays that provide an accurate fit and reduces the risk of chafing by keeping the shoes stable.

These minimalist running shoes are lightweight and thin to give you a true barefoot feeling, while also being comfortable on the skin. The rubber sole offers a good grip so you can keep balanced on a range of different terrains while being thin enough so you can feel every step.

These minimalist running shoes are comfortable while also offering a true barefoot feeling on all terrains.

Why We Like It
  • Breathable
  • Accurate fit
  • Reduces chafing
  • Good grip
  • Comfortable
great value rating

3. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 4 Sneaker

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These minimalist running shoes are made from high quality and vegan-friendly materials. This makes them a good investment and ensures that they will last a long time. These minimalist running shoes are made from mesh-like materials that are breathable and offer a lot of air ventilation so you can feel the world around you when running.

These minimalist running shoes have a special footbed lining that is designed to be odor-resistant and will prevent bacteria from developing in the shoes. This makes them safe to wear repeatedly. These shoes offer good traction in both wet and dry conditions.

These minimalist running shoes are high quality and versatile as they offer good traction in wet and dry conditions.

Why We Like It
  • High quality
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Lots of air ventilation
  • Odor-resistant
  • Good traction

4. New Balance Women’s 20v7 Minimus Cross Trainer

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These minimalist running shoes are designed to be worn for a long period of time as they are manufactured for cross-trainers. These shoes are more supportive than other models, as they have a cushioned midsole and a good grip, making them suitable for beginners to minimalist running.

These minimalist running shoes are lightweight and breathable to keep feet cool during your workout. The lace-up closure is adjustable so you can get an accurate fit to prevent chafing and other discomforts. These minimalist running shoes have a removable insert so you can get the true barefoot running feeling when you get more comfortable with it.

These minimalist running shoes are ideal for beginners as they have a removable insert for additional comfort.

Why We Like It
  • Long-lasting
  • Great for beginners
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable materials
  • Removable insert

5. Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite 235 V2 Cross-Trainer Shoe

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These minimalist running shoes are lightweight and breathable as they are made from synthetic materials. They are easy to clean and maintain, making them suitable for repeated wear. These minimalist running shoes have a removable insert making them suitable for beginners as they can offer more support when needed.

These minimalist running shoes have an adjustable lace-up closure for an accurate fit that can support your feet during movement. They are close to the ground shoes that allow you to feel every step, whether you are running, hiking, or working out in a gym. As they are versatile, these shoes can be worn during different exercises to strengthen your legs further.

These minimalist running shoes are close to the ground and breathable for a barefoot experience.

Why We Like It
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable materials
  • Removable insert
  • Close to the ground sole
  • Versatile

6. ALEADER hiitave Unisex Minimalist Shoes

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These minimalist running shoes are made from stretchy, lightweight materials that offer a lot of air ventilation. This not only makes the shoes comfortable but also allows you to feel close to nature as you can feel the air outside when running. These minimalist running shoes have an accurate and close fit, which makes the shoes supportive to prevent chafing.

These minimalist running shoes have a shock-absorbing midsole to provide protection to your feet even though they are close to the ground. This midsole also provides extra comfort making these shoes suitable for beginners to minimalist running.

These minimalist running shoes are comfortable and protective as they have a shock-absorbing midsole.

Why We Like It
  • Stretchy materials
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable shoes
  • Shock-absorbing midsole
  • Comfortable

7. Nike Men’s Free RN 5.0 Running Shoe

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These minimalist running shoes are comfortable and lightweight, making them suitable for running, walking, and other physical activity. The outsole has a lot of grooves so it can provide smooth traction and a good grip on a range of different terrains. Even though this sole is supportive, it remains thin so you can feel every step you take and strengthen your muscles.

These minimalist running shoes are durable and high quality, so they can be worn repeatedly. This makes them a good investment. The lightweight materials of these minimalist running shoes offer good air ventilation and breathability to keep your feet cool.

These minimalist running shoes have a good grip and are breathable, making them comfortable.

Why We Like It
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight shoes
  • Durable materials
  • Good grip
  • Breathable

8. Vibram Women’s V Running Shoe

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These minimalist running shoes are very comfortable as they are made from stretchy materials. The lycra upper provides a snug and accurate fit to your feet, which not only reduces chafing but allows for a barefoot feel when running outdoors. The rubber sole offers a good grip while being thin enough so you can feel every step you take.

These minimalist running shoes have a Vi-Lite midsole that provides cushioning and durability, making them suitable for beginners to this sport. The tab and pull closure is adjustable, allowing for an accurate fit on all feet shapes and sizes.

These minimalist running shoes have a cushioned midsole making them suitable for beginners to this sport.

Why We Like It
  • Stretchy materials
  • Lightweight
  • Snug fit
  • Cushioned midsole
  • Ideal for beginners

9. Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 4 Sneaker

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These minimalist running shoes have a unique barefoot shape and a glove-like fit so you will be close to the ground. This allows you to feel every step you take during a run and will engage muscles within the feet and legs that are typically forgotten. These minimalist running shoes are high quality and vegan-friendly, so they are suitable for all runners.

These minimalist running shoes have a high-quality Vibram rubber sole that provides stability and grip on all terrains without ruining the barefoot feel.  This sole is also slip-resistant, so these shoes can be worn during wet or dry conditions.

These minimalist running shoes have a unique barefoot shape and are slip-resistant, making them versatile.

Why We Like It
  • Unique shape
  • Close to the ground
  • Slip-resistant sole
  • Vegan-friendly
  • High quality

10. Inov-8 Women’s Bare-XF 210 V2 Sneaker

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These minimalist running shoes are designed for speed training, so they are of high quality and offer good support. They have a unique lightweight fit that allows you to feel every step as well as offering a lot of air ventilation. They offer breathability, and the toe box is wider to allow for natural movement when running. This can also help improve balance.

These minimalist running shoes are flexible and allow for natural bending at the forefront. This allows you to engage a range of different muscles into your workout for improved strength and stamina. These minimalist running shoes have a web cradling system to provide an accurate fit and keep your feet snug in the shoe.

These minimalist running shoes are flexible to allow for natural movement to engage all muscles in the feet.

Why We Like It
  • High quality
  • For speed training
  • Flexible materials
  • Supports balance
  • Accurate fit

Buyer’s Guide To Minimalist Running Shoes

Before the invention of running shoes that we have today, most people would either run barefoot or in the thin shoes that were available. Instead of relying on manufactured support and cushioning that we have come to expect from running shoes, people were simply relying on their own strength in their feet, bones, and muscles. Barefoot running may sound like an extreme sport, but it is actually gaining a lot of popularity at the moment, and it isn’t as scary as you may think.

Barefoot or minimalist running requires you to focus on the strength within your body and working on the muscles that can get ignored during most exercises. This kind of running allows you to get close to nature as you will be able to feel every step you are taking, every motion that is made, and the various textures of the ground beneath you.

There are a lot of different benefits to barefoot and minimalist running as it goes further than a strengthening workout for your body. Although this kind of exercise can help you strengthen your body, there is a lot more that it can do too.

If you want to participate in minimalist running, whether that is for the body strengthening benefits or to feel closer to nature, then you will need some minimalist running shoes.

Why Do I Need Shoes For Barefoot Running?

It might seem counter-productive to invest in a pair of running shoes if you are trying to get into barefoot or minimalist running. As we have mentioned, this kind of running relies on engaging a range of different muscles in your legs and feet to help you reach a better level of strength. However, in our modern world, it is not safe or even acceptable to run around without shoes on.

This is where minimalist running shoes come in. These kinds of shoes have been specially designed to replicate the feeling of being barefoot, without actually putting your body at danger. There are a lot of issues that can come with actually running barefoot, which is why minimalist running shoes are such a big market.

The shoes in this review are thin, lightweight, and breathable, so you can get the experience of running barefoot without any of the dangers that come with it. It is also safer to run in minimalist running shoes as we are simply not used to being barefoot anymore.

If you suddenly jump into barefoot running without any shoes on, you could seriously damage your feet and legs as they are not used to this kind of pressure. Minimalist running shoes provide the protection and cushioning that is required to make the most out of this sport without damaging your body.

What To Look For In Minimalist Running Shoes?

As you can see from this review, there are a lot of options when it comes to minimalist running shoes. This can make it quite challenging to find the best pair for your needs. In order to find the best pair of minimalist running shoes, there are some features you should consider.

Weight

The weight of the minimalist running shoes that you choose can determine how comfortable they will be to wear. The weight can also determine what kind of barefoot running experience you will get. If they are heavy, then they are not going to give you a true barefoot feeling when running outdoors.

The best minimalist running shoes will be lightweight and breathable so you can feel the ground beneath you as you run. This is not only a unique experience that can make you feel closer to nature, and therefore make your runs more exciting, but it will engage specific muscles that will strengthen the more you practice barefoot running.

Air Ventilation

Most of the minimalist running shoes in this review offer good air ventilation. This means that they are made from breathable materials. Not only will these running shoes keep your feet cool and dry when running, to prevent chafing, but will also give a true barefoot experience.

You will be able to feel the air and the temperature of your landscape when running outdoors in shoes with good air ventilation.

Flexibility

It is very important that the minimalist running shoes you choose offer flexibility. This can be determined by the material they are made from and whether they will allow for natural movement when you are running or walking. Shoes that are made from mesh and lycra, for example, will be very flexible and stretchy to give a true barefoot experience.

You can determine how flexible minimalist running shoes are by seeing if they can fold in on themselves, with the heel touching the toe. This means that these shoes will allow your toes to spread naturally, to improve balance, as well as to encourage natural movement. This will give the illusion and feeling that you are not wearing any shoes at all, which will improve your results from barefoot running.

How To Start Out In Minimalist Running

As we have already mentioned, minimalist or barefoot running is not a sport that you can simply jump into. You are required to have specialist equipment, like minimalist running shoes, as well as undergo some strength training, so you do not cause damage to your feet or legs.

If you want to start out in minimalist running, then it is recommended for you to try running in thinner trainers than you are used to. It is not a good idea to go from regular running shoes to barefoot ones straight away as this can be quite a shock for your body and a lot of pressure to deal with.

Instead, look for minimalist running shoes that offer a bit more support and comfort. There are some minimalist running shoes in this review that have a cushioned midsole to provide support and protection to your feet. These are a good option for beginners, as they will still be thinner than the running shoes you are currently using, so you will be able to feel more of the ground beneath you, but still, have the support you require.

You can also purchase cushioned insoles to use in your barefoot running shoes if you are just starting out in this support. It is also recommended for you to use minimalist running shoes that have a slip-resistant sole to keep you balanced on all terrains.

What Makes Minimalist Running Shoes Different?

There are some key differences that you may have noticed in minimalist running shoes throughout this review. As they are designed for a different kind of exercise, they are not made in the same manner as any other running shoe you may own.

Low Drop

The drop in running shoes, which is determined by the space between the heel and the toe box, shows how much support they offer and whether the traction will be smooth. Minimalist running shoes have a low drop, which means this platform does not have a very pronounced slant to encourage a more natural foot position. This also makes the shoes closer to the ground.

Spacious Toe Box

Minimalist running shoes are designed to keep your feet in a flat and natural position. They are made to have a spacious toe box, so you are able to comfortably move and bend your toes when running, engaging the muscles in this area. Toes are vital for balance, and minimalist running shoes allow you to focus on your body’s natural abilities rather than doing the work for you.

Abrasion-Resistant Midsole

Minimalist running shoes are designed to protect your feet from damage while making you so comfortable while providing the feeling that you are barefoot. The best minimalist shoes will have an abrasion-resistant midsection to the sole to prevent your feet from being pierced or damage by sharp debris when running outside.

Sock Lining

Minimalist running shoes need to have a snug and accurate fit in order to give the impression that you are not wearing any shoes at all. This is why most of them are made to have a sock lining that will fit snugly to your feet for a tight and accurate fit. This will also prevent chafing and make the shoes suitable to be worn during inclines and other difficult terrains.

Conclusion

There are a lot of benefits to barefoot running, including improved strength. However, it is not suitable nor acceptable for you to actually leave the house barefoot, which is where minimalist running shoes come in. These shoes are lightweight and breathable to give the impression that you are being exposed to the elements without causing any damage to your body.

Did You Know?

Minimalism may seem like a modern trend, but it actually started in the 1950s when popular artists began focusing on simpler work.

Expert Tip

If you want to get started in barefoot running, then choose minimalist running shoes that have some kind of cushioned footbed to provide the support you need at first.