After 50 hours of testing, we conclude that the best barefoot running shoes for most people is the Vibram KSO EVO. The cost of a pair of shoes varies depending on the size and color of the shoes.
Barefoot running shoes are different from your normal sports shoes that are highly cushioned. The structure of the human foot has evolved over thousands of years to provide the body an excellent balance, stability and forward motion. The human foot comprises of as many as 28 bones. Certain bones like toes, metatarsals and calcenous are in contact with the ground when we walk, stand and run, while the other bones are suspended from the arches to the contact points.
Barefoot running shoes are minimalist running shoes. They help you to take advantage of the natural structure of your feet, at the same time preventing you from getting cuts or scratches that you may otherwise get from running barefoot.
Better than the above product are Vibram FiveFingers KMD EVO Barefoot Shoes. However they are more expensive. They are available in three different colors: black/grey, yellow/blue/red and black/yellow.
If you are on a budget then you can go for the Vibram FiveFingers ELX LS Youth shoes. They are much cheaper than the shoes mentioned above. They are available in three different color combinations: Orange/Red, Grey/Red and Blue.
Table of Contents
- Barefoot Running Shoes – Advantages and Disadvantages
- Who should buy this
- Our pick
- Step up pick
- Budget pick
- Wrapping it up
Barefoot Running Shoes – Advantages and Disadvantages
Barefoot Running Shoes are getting more and more popular among runners. One of the reasons why these shoes are getting popular is that when you run wearing barefoot running shoes, you are actually running in a more natural fashion. Nature moulded the human foot in the way it is so that one gets good balance, stability and forward motion. Many believe that highly cushioned shoes take away the advantages offered by our toes. If you are a fitness enthusiast and if you love running then you can consider buying a pair of Barefoot Running Shoes. To learn more about the evolution of running check out this great podcast with barefoot professor Dan Lieberman.
Barefoot running shoes are minimalist running shoes. They don’t have high amounts of cushion. As mentioned above they help you take advantage of the natural structure of your foot and toes. Lot of research has been done in this regard. Studies suggest that there are some advantages of barefoot running.
1) Running with highly padded heeled shoes gets runners into the habit of landing heavily on their heel. According to research the most efficient running happens when a runner lands his stride mid-foot. Landing on heels leads to unnecessary braking, thus the runner has to expend more energy. Barefoot running tends to get runners into the habit of landing their stride on the forefoot. When the runner lands the stride on his forefoot he is allowing the arches of his foot to act as natural shock absorbers.
2) Running barefoot can potentially improve balance. It activates various smaller muscles of ankles, hips, toes and legs which are responsible for co-ordination and balance.
3) It helps to reduce injuries by stretching and strengthening the calf muscle and Achilles tendon.
4) Running or even walking barefoot with barefoot running shoes can help the person develop a more natural gait.
There are some minor disadvantages as well:
1) Runners are accustomed to the use of highly padded running shoes. A change to barefoot running shoes would require an adaption phase. The muscles would take some time to get used to barefoot running.
2) Switching from padded shoes to barefoot shoes will initially cause some blisters for the first few weeks. But with time the feet and muscles are going to get used to it.
Who should buy this
Barefoot running shoes are great for runners who are interested in running in a more natural way. When one runs completely barefoot, he may get cuts or bruises due to the direct contact of the skin of the toe with the ground. On warm days, when the ground surface is hot, the runner may burn the portion of the skin of the toe which is in direct contact with the ground. Wearing barefoot running shoes gives the runner dual advantages of natural running and protection from bruises, cuts and burns. You will also keep your toes and feet clean.
So if you are a fitness and running enthusiast who wants to run naturally, barefoot running shoes are for you.
Jen’s Top Pick
The best barefoot running shoes we found that offer excellent value for money are the Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO Barefoot Shoes. These shoes are man made. They have a synthetic sole. A very important part of the shoe is that the tongue is lightly padded. The shoes are designed in such a way that they provide the runners good stability and comfort, an optimal balance for traction and durability. The shoes are very responsive to harsh terrain.
The soles of the shoes are very thin, less than 5mm. According to the company website the sole is made up of three layers:
1) Insole – 2mm EVA + Antimicrobial Drilex Sockliner.
2) Midsole – Not Available (Probably a company secret).
3) The rest 3mm of the sole is rubber.
The shoe is quite lightweight . A women’s 38 size (US) weighs around 3.5 ounces, while a men’s 43 size (US) shoe weighs around 4.3 ounces. The rest of the shoe is made up of polyester fabric.
They are available in five different color combinations: Black, Blue/Black, Red/Black, Grey/Black and Black/Blue for men.
The women’s version of these shoes are priced even more cheaply. The women’s shoes are available in six different color combinations, they are Grey/Pink, Black, Grey/Blue, Purple/Grey, Mint/Grey, Pink/Grey.
A user of this product who is a personal trainer and owns a wellness centre goes to great lengths to praise this product. Not only he uses it himself, he also asks his other clients to use this Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO shoes. He says that he has been using Vibram Fivefinger running shoes for the last five years. He found that the KSO EVO shoes were better than others when it comes to giving the feel of being barefoot. Many users have recommended them as the best shoes to be used in gym.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Some users have mentioned that these shoes seem to make you sweat more than other Vibram barefoot shoes. From our testing we did not see any noticeable difference.
Step up pick
Better than our top pick are the Vibram FiveFingers KMD EVO barefoot running shoes, however they are also more expensive – hence making these our step-up pick. The customers who have bought this shoes have rated them as the best shoes. They have also mentioned that the shoes are very comfortable as well. It has an 11mm three layered sole. The three layers of the sole are made up of the following materials :-
1) Insole – 2mm EVA+ Antimicrobial Drilex Sockliner.
2) Midsole – 6mm EVA.
3) The rest 3mm is rubber.
The upper portion of the shoes are made up of 100% low elastic polyester filament. The shoes are available in 3 different color combinations, they are black/blue, black/yellow and black/grey. If you are willing to spend a lot of money on your barefoot running shoes, you may chose this product.
Now if you have a low budget, then you can choose to go for Vibram FiveFingers ELX LS Youth. Some of the shoes are priced very cheap. Obviously they are not as good as the shoes mentioned above. However if you don’t want to spend too much on your running shoes, this is the product for you. It is available in three different color combinations, they are orange/red, grey/red and blue.
My foot is quite wide and normally find it hard to find a shoe that fits the the length and breadth of my foot. Vibram FiveFingers ELX LS Youth fit my foot perfectly, both in terms of length and width. The sole of this shoe like any other barefoot running shoe is thin and flexible, the sole provides protection against any splinters, gravel or glass.
Many users have ordered a second pair of these shoes. One of the user has even mentioned that the laces of the shoes are quite awesome, one does not have to worry about them getting undone. Users have also said that this shoes fit like gloves. One of the users has mentioned that these shoes are very comfortable as well.
Other than the above three products a fourth excellent Barefoot Running Shoe will be the Vibram KSO Trail Running Shoe. Vibram relaunched this product commemorating their 10th anniversary. They are limited edition shoes. The Vibram website says that Vibram KSO shoes are the most successful product they ever made. They are available in two different color combinations black/black and yellow/black/silver/grey. The shoes are quite light. A pair of men’s size 43 will weigh 5.9 ounces, while a women’s size 38 will weigh 4.71 ounces.
The insole is made of polyester microfibre, while the outer sole comprises of 3.5 mm of rubber. The upper material is made of Stretch Poly amide, Polyester and Hypalon(R). The stretch polyamide is abrasion resistant.
Users of this product have given amazing comments praising this product.
Till now we have described shoes of only one company however it does have serious competition from products of other companies as well, which are also very good. Here we have a list of such products.
Fut Glove Zip Five Toe Shoes
These shoes are hand sewn. The website says that the shoes are hand sewn with “Soft–Tech Stich”, to provide maximum strength and comfort. The shoe is made up of stain and water resistant materials so that the product is durable and long lasting. The innersole is quite cushioned, the sole is made of highly elastic, non-marking ‘India Rubber’, it provides good amount of flexibility. Between the toes there is breathable double skinned Lycra®, it provides a good amount of flexibility and comfort.
The shoe fits like a glove for the foot. It provides a good amount of flexibility to each toe and at the same time it protects them from cuts and bruises as well. The odor, staining and deterioration of the shoes are controlled by Aegies Microbe Sheild®. The customers who used these barefoot running shoes are quite satisfied.
So if you already have Vibram’s barefoot running shoes or you want to buy a pair of shoes for barefoot running that are not made by Vibram, you can consider buying this product. The male version of these shoes are available in two colors Gator Orange and Blue. The female version of these shoes are available in four different colors Blue, Black, Red and Gator Orange. The price of the shoes are same for all sizes and colors.
Best Barefoot Running Shoes For Water Sports
The Fila Men’s Skele-Toes Ez Slide Drainage Running Shoes are excellent barefoot running shoes. Along with running they can be used in water sports as well. This shoes have received excellent ratings and feedback from fitness enthusiasts. The shoes feature a cushioned footbed with open air mesh. The rest of the shoe is made up of synthetic material. The shoes does not have laces, it uses a velcro strap instead.
The shoes have a slightly different design from the Vibrams, the last two fingers are fused together.
If you are into water sports along with running, this shoes are the ones for you. Surfers, divers and sportsmen who play water polo simply love this product. One of the users have written that he found these shoes helpful in walking on sand, since walking barefoot on sand is better than walking on sand with highly padded normal sport shoes. This shoes provided him good amount of protection from gravel, splinters and glass.
Fut Glove Men’s Zum Five Toe Shoes
A low cost barefoot running shoe alternative is Fut Glove Zum Five Toe Shoes. The soles of these shoes are made up of non-marking, elastic ‘India Rubber’, this makes the sole flexible and it wears slowly. Between the toes there is breathable double skinned Lycra that provides comfort and flexibility.
This shoes are hand sewn with ‘Soft-Tech Stich’ to provide strength and comfort. The Neoprene Foot Gloves are machine washable. They can be washed with warm water with liquid or powdered detergent. The shoes must be hung or laid flat, to air dry. For controlling odour, staining and color detection the shoes have Aegis Microbe Shield.
Apart from the three products described above, you can choose to go for a different model of Vibram.
Komodo Sport Shoe by Vibram Five Fingers
The shoe has a seamless 2 mm footbed insole, stitching free to provide excellent comfort and minimize friction. The 4mm outer sole is made up of TC1 performance rubber, it provides excellent protection, traction and grip for all cross training activities.
The shoe also has heel and instep Hook and Loop closures that helps to pull the upper tight round the contours of the feet, hence it feels like a second skin. The shoes have excellent feedback from its users in Amazon. A user has described how running barefoot with these shoes has actually helped him to run with a natural gait and he was able to eliminate his knee pain.
These shoes are made of high quality material and they feel very comfortable in these shoes. There are readers who have mentioned that after using these shoes they don’t want to go back to their normal sport shoes or tennis shoes.
Incidentally, these shoes are great for running on pavement, because tread on the bottom of these shoes is circular, making them excellent for pivoting and sprinting. These shoes are also quite stretchable – they can stretch without losing elasticity. Another user of these shoes has said that the rubber tip toe protection offered by Vibram Komodo is excellent and the sole has an excellent grip. The footwear is very good for running on a beach.
The one possible drawback of these shoes is that sand can get in them easily. Thankfully, they wash off easily with a washing machine. These shoes are also not good for wet and cold environments, since if they come into contact with water, the moisture will seep through and wet your feet. The ideal environment for wearing these shoes is one dry and warm.
Wrapping it up
As with every aspect of our life, today there is an increased emphasis on going back to nature and natural ways of doing things. Our feet were designed by nature for walking, standing and running. However today we have got into the habit of wearing highly padded shoes. Shoes that don’t give our toes the opportunity to move freely. Sports Shoes that we wear today are highly padded and probably get us into bad walking and running habits which may lead to injuries. Running with highly padded shoes leads to the underdevelopment of some small muscles of the feet that would have protected us from injuries.
Barefoot running solves the above problems. However barefoot running has its own pitfalls as well. When we run barefoot the skin of our feet that is directly in contact with the ground risk getting cut or injured by pieces of glass, metals or stones. There is also a risk of getting bitten by insects that crawl on the ground. The Barefoot Running Shoes, which are essentially minimalist running shoes solves many of these problems and gives the runner adequate protection as well.
Many runners have had positive results since they started running in barefoot running shoes giving up their traditional sport shoes and tennis shoes. In this article we have tried to suggest you the best barefoot running shoes available today, so that you can buy and use them to get the advantage of barefoot running. We have made the choice after doing a lot of research so as to help you select and buy the best barefoot running shoe.
We firmly believe that the list of the products that we have given here will give you the best experience of barefoot running with barefoot running shoes. We believe that our top pick Vibram KSO EVO will give you the best value for money. At the same time if you are willing to spend more for good Barefoot Running Shoes then you can choose to go for Vibram FiveFingers KMD EVO, they are priced higher but the product is bound to give you an excellent barefoot running experience, even better than Vibram Fivefinger KSO EVO. Now in case your budget for your pair of Barefoot Running Shoes is very small, then you have the option to buy Vibram-FiveFingers-ELX-LS-Youth, this product is much cheaper and affordable. It will give you a decent amount of barefoot running experience. Other than this we have given you examples of products of different companies that can offer good competition to Vibram products and also we have mentioned about some special edition shoes.
We sincerely hope that this article motivates you to adopt running as an activity to keep yourself fit. At the same time we have made an effort to inform you about the benefit of barefoot running with the best barefoot running shoes available in the market that will help you do some excellent barefoot running. Happy Running.