How we pick our products
Welcome to our big barefoot shoes test 2022. Here we present all the barefoot shoes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best barefoot shoes for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy barefoot shoes.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The best Barefoot shoes: Our Picks
- 3 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying barefoot shoes
- 4 Decision: What types of barefoot shoes are there and which are the right ones for you?
- 5 Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate barefoot shoes
- 6 Facts worth knowing about barefoot shoes
- A barefoot shoe, as the name suggests, can be worn barefoot in contrast to a classic running shoe. This allows the foot muscles to be trained more intensively.
- In principle, you have the choice between minimalist barefoot shoes and toe shoes. Depending on the purpose and preference, one type of shoe is more suitable for you.
- You should check the material, fit, size, sole and cushioning of the barefoot shoes carefully before buying.
The best Barefoot shoes: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying barefoot shoes
What are the advantages of barefoot shoes compared to classic running shoes?
By actively exercising the foot muscles, the legs receive much better blood circulation than in shoes. The running technique helps to improve performance, as there is less braking energy when touching down and the impression is more powerful with the help of the calf, thigh and gluteal muscles – runners are faster barefoot. Another advantage is that posture is improved. People who run barefoot automatically shift more of their body weight to the front of the foot, as landing too hard on the heel can be very uncomfortable.
There are many reasons to choose these shoes. On the one hand, they allow a natural movement when walking and running. For another, they allow you to take smaller steps and place your foot in front of your body’s centre of gravity instead of directly under it.
Barefoot shoes for every occasion
Barefoot shoes for hiking
No matter where you go hiking, you need the right shoes. There are special barefoot shoes for hiking and mountaineering. They provide enough support for the foot in rough terrain, but the sole is still thin enough for the feet to feel and react to the unevenness of the ground.
Barefoot shoes for walking
Barefoot shoes were originally developed for running, as more and more athletes wanted to get back to their natural running style. But there are a variety of uses for toe and barefoot shoes. Mostly they are put on for jogging and running. But barefoot shoes are also increasingly used in the gym or for yoga.
Leather barefoot shoes
You don’t want to do without shoes made of kangaroo leather? No problem! There are also barefoot shoes made of leather. You are sure to find barefoot shoes made of the right material, because the selection is now huge. As an alternative, you can also buy so-called espadrilles. These slip-on shoes made of cotton and linen are very popular summer shoes.
What to consider when buying barefoot shoes
Are barefoot shoes healthy?
However, wearing the wrong footwear can lead to foot deformities such as flat feet or fallen arches. Therefore, walk barefoot as often as possible, for example in your garden or on specially created barefoot paths. Here are some more reasons why you should walk barefoot more often.
Walking barefoot exercises your feet
In the past, people walked barefoot all the time, but only recently has it become the norm to walk around in shoes. However, this is not healthy, because often the shoes do not fit properly or strain the feet with a narrow toe or a high heel. Wearing the wrong footwear can lead to foot deformities. Regular barefoot walking is therefore important for the healthy development of the feet.
Prevent foot malpositions
When running barefoot, the foot must constantly adapt to the unevenness of the ground. This constantly exercises the foot muscles. Since the foot muscles support the longitudinal and transverse arch of the foot, strong muscles prevent the development of foot deformities such as flat, flat and splay feet or hallux valgus. Children in particular should walk barefoot as much as possible to strengthen their foot muscles and develop a correct toe position. But adults can also train their foot muscles by walking barefoot regularly. However, existing foot malpositions can only be corrected if they are caused by underdeveloped muscles.
Barefoot walking relaxes
It doesn’t always have to be autogenic training – walking barefoot is also an effective way to relax body and mind. Take a short walk and choose a path with different floor coverings. As you walk, pay close attention to how your feet feel. There are many nerve endings in the soles of the feet, so we can perceive much more through the feet than we suspect. Walk on the tips of your toes, the heel, the inside and the outside of your feet and feel how your sensations change. In this way, you can easily reduce stress and inner tension by walking barefoot. When switching from traditional sports shoes to barefoot shoes, it is better to acclimatise slowly. Since barefoot shoes put more strain on the feet than traditional jumping shoes, a gradual changeover is recommended to prevent injuries and overstraining. For a person who runs 3 times a week, it is recommended to wear barefoot shoes only once a week.
Decision: What types of barefoot shoes are there and which are the right ones for you?
In principle, barefoot shoes can be divided into the following categories
- Minimalist barefoot shoes / minimal shoes
- Toe shoes
Barefoot shoes are very trendy and there are many suppliers on the market with many different offers. But how do they differ from classic shoes and which ones suit you? In the following section, we would like to help you find out which barefoot shoe is best for you. For this purpose, we will introduce you to the different types of bare foot shoes and clearly present their advantages and disadvantages.
What types of barefoot shoes are there?
Barefoot shoes can be divided into minimalist barefoot shoes and toe shoes. Both types give you the feeling of walking barefoot, depending on what is more comfortable for you
- Minimalist barefoot shoes/minimal toe shoes: minimalist barefoot shoes have a thin sole, so they have little to zero heel. They are very flexible and light and the toes have a lot of free space in the forefoot.
- Toe shoes: Toe shoes are not much different from minimalist shoes except that you can put each toe in its own toe box, just like a glove. The freedom of movement of the toes is meant to convey the barefoot feeling even more authentically and intensively.
What are the characteristics of a barefoot shoe?
Barefoot shoes differ from classic shoes in many ways, to bring runners closer to the natural feeling of barefoot running, barefoot shoes are made with the following features.
- Zero heel or hardly any heel: Barefoot shoes have little to no heel. This means that you can feel the ground when you walk, which is much more in line with a natural walking technique.
- Flexible sole: In contrast to conventional running shoes, the soles are very flexible. In minimalist barefoot shoes, they can be turned and bent in all directions. The natural rolling movement of the foot is hardly affected by this.
- Toe freedom: In contrast to classic shoes, barefoot shoes have more free space in the forefoot area, which means that each individual toe can react to signals from contact with the ground, for example with gripping movements. The foot and leg muscles are thus constantly challenged, become stronger and stabilise the running movement as a whole.
- Lightweight: Barefoot shoes weigh almost nothing, or just 100 grams. They have a very thin outsole with little to no cushioning. This enables better contact with the ground and also faster running speed. The higher the weight of the shoes, the more the leverage changes when running.
Running in barefoot shoes not only prevents foot deformities such as flat feet, but also easily trains the muscles of the feet at the same time. Barefoot running is also a good way to relax body and mind and reduce stress.
Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate barefoot shoes
In the following, we would like to show you which criteria you can use to buy and evaluate a barefoot shoe. This will make it easier for you to find out which barefoot shoe suits you best. In summary, it can be divided into the following criteria
- Intended use
The most important thing, apart from all these criteria, is, as with every purchase of a new pair of shoes, the personal feeling of whether the shoe fits and whether it is pleasing and feels good.
The shoes can be washed by hand or in the washing machine on the delicate wash programme at 40° C.
The first thing you need to determine is what you need barefoot shoes for. Are you looking for barefoot shoes for work, leisure or robust outdoor shoes? You can read about the different occasions for which barefoot shoes are available further up on this page under Barefoot Shoes for Every Occasion.
Barefoot shoes are made of different materials. They can be made from leather, for example, as is common with shoes. However, there are also some stylish shoes made of textile upper materials, for example mesh or polyester. However, there are also vegan barefoot shoes, these are made from synthetics and they are also very comfortable and practical to wear. If you are looking for a running shoe or a shoe for outdoor activities, it might be practical to choose a particularly breathable and washable minimal shoe.
Barefoot shoes are generally quite generously cut and offer good toe room. However, there are big differences in fit, especially when it comes to shoe widths. Barefoot shoes such as the Sole Runner Yuma, the Vivobarefoot Jing Jing or the Merrell Vapor Glove have a relatively narrow cut, while the Sole Runner FX Trainer has an extra-wide cut. When buying these shoes, make sure that they fit properly. If shoes are cut too wide, it does not make sense to simply wear them in a smaller size. The width may fit, but the shoe will be too short. If the shoes do not fit properly, this will affect comfort and can lead to hammer and claw toes.
Finding the right size is another relevant point when buying barefoot shoes. As you probably already know, cuts vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some barefoot shoes are larger than normal shoes. The special thing about barefoot shoes is that they are cut particularly wide at the front of the forefoot. This is a new feeling for people who are wearing barefoot shoes for the first time, as they are otherwise always in shoes that are relatively tightly enclosed. Size charts may vary from brand to brand as shoes are made differently. When making your choice, you should always follow the size chart provided by the manufacturer. If a size chart gives the size in mm, this is usually the inside length of the shoe, not the length of the foot. When choosing a size, it is also important to consider how you want to wear your barefoot shoes. Barefoot in summer or with thick socks and insoles in winter? This can make a difference between two different sizes. In any case, try on the shoes as you would like to wear them later. Ideally, try them on in the afternoon or evening. Feet swell a little during the day, but this is normal.
The first question you need to ask yourself is how much barefoot feeling you want to experience. Even with minimal shoes, there are quite big differences in sole characteristics. Whether you walk on a 2.5 mm or 6 mm sole, the feeling is completely different. The thinner the sole, the more directly you feel the ground, the better the freedom of movement of the feet and, above all, the more intense the feeling of walking barefoot. Another important factor is the flexibility of the sole material. A slightly thicker sole made of a softer material may be more sensitive than a thinner sole made of a firmer material. Many barefoot shoe fans prefer shoes with the thinnest possible soles because the walking feeling is closer to barefoot walking. Others also like to wear shoes with thicker soles. In winter, a thicker sole is more advisable because the cold of the ground is not felt so immediately. You can also find a good balance by wearing warm insoles and thick socks with thin soles. Of course, it also depends on the occasion, for example, if you are hiking on gravel paths, it is recommended to wear a thicker sole than if you are going to yoga. In the beginning it can be a bit uncomfortable to wear barefoot shoes, it takes a lot of getting used to. Sometimes, however, this is simply because your walking style has not yet adapted to the new shoes. If you have difficulties at the beginning, it is best to wear thick socks or insoles, this will cushion the barefoot feeling and help you to get used to barefoot shoes step by step.
Beginners still need a certain amount of cushioning. It is often asked whether barefoot shoes are unhealthy, but it is not the shoes themselves that are unhealthy, but the way you use them. Beginners should choose a gradual introduction to barefoot walking and not an overly direct one. So don’t go straight for a Vibram Five Fingers or other toe shoes. Models such as Nike (e.g. Nike Free), Asics, Adidas or Merrell maintain a certain level of cushioning, so these are well suited for beginners. Gradually, you can then venture into toe shoes.
Facts worth knowing about barefoot shoes
Are there barefoot shoes for yoga?
When practising yoga, it is recommended to practice barefoot, as this is the most effective way to train. But in case you get cold during yoga, don’t like the look of your feet or don’t want to practice yoga barefoot for hygienic reasons, there are also barefoot shoes for yoga. It also protects you from injuries when you practice yoga outdoors, for example. Because of the thin sole and the lightness, you also have the feeling of walking barefoot.
Are barefoot shoes suitable for winter?
Barefoot shoes are not only suitable for summer, you don’t have to do without barefoot shoes in winter either, you can also enjoy the great barefoot feeling in barefoot shoes in winter, because there are numerous toe and barefoot shoes for winter. So you can continue to trudge “barefoot” through the snow without getting cold feet.
Are there vegan barefoot shoes?
Vegan is cool. More and more people are switching to the veggie trend. Supermarkets are booming with veggie products, so shoes are no exception. There are also vegan shoes in barefoot shoes. These are made from synthetic materials instead of leather.
Image source: 123rf.com / Phanuwat Nandee