If you’ve never run in minimalist or barefoot running shoes before, you’ll probably have to put up with a few weeks of aches and pains as your feet and legs adjust to your new shoes. However, many runners agree that the initial pain is well worth it. Whether you’re a serious distance runner or are just getting started in the sport, this type of shoe can be a great alternative to traditional running shoes. Many minimalist running shoes cater to a wider range of feet, including flat feet and those with higher arches. There are several different types of shoes to consider, from running-oriented ones to those that work best as cross-training or multi-sport shoes.
1. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe
This lightweight shoe weighs in at just 5.8 ounces. A zero-drop heel promotes a fluid and natural running motion. The shoe comes with a breathable mesh lining that helps to keep feet cool and dry while promoting odor control. As an added bonus, the integrated footbed also keeps odors at bay. This vegan-friendly footwear has a durable Vibram outsole to keep feet firmly planted on the ground on just about any surface. A traditional lace closure keeps feet snug and secure. These shoes also have unique lug patterns to help feet flex and move as naturally as possible.
Price: $83.49 – $86.93
- Zero-drop heel
- Traditional lace closure
- Material can rub without socks
- Sole wears quickly
- Tricky sizing
2. Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport Shoe
This multi-sport shoe caters to runners as well as the everyday fitness enthusiast looking for a minimalist shoe. Aside from a durable arch construction that hugs the contours of the feet without adding extra weight, these shoes stand out for their stitch-free seamless construction, which keeps blisters and friction at bay. Another highlight is the loop closures in the heel and instep, which add an extra element of security and support. These shoes have a durable rubber outsole for superior grip and protection in just about any cross training activity.
Price: $59.95 – $104.00
- Multi-sport shoe
- Lightweight arch support
- Seamless construction
- Mesh material is a bit thin
- No odor protection
- Easy to feel rocks and other debris through the sole
3. ASICS Men’s Gel-Fortius TR Cross-Training Shoe
This cross-training shoe stands out for its durability. In fact, it was designed to hold up to the demands of extreme athletic training. The shoe comes with a high-traction outsole for enhanced grip in all types of weather. It also has an abrasion-resistant medial and quarter panel along with a toe cap to protect the most delicate parts of your feet. A double-stitched quarter panel supports the feet during rapid lateral movements. These shoes also come with gel cushioning to keep foot pain at bay along with a breathable mesh upper.
Price: $39.83 – $91.94
- Cross-training shoe
- Toe cap
- Gel cushioning
- Not ideal for longer runs
- A bit heavy
4. New Balance Men’s MX20v3 Minimus Cross-Training Shoe
The Minimus 20v3 trainer is a barefoot running shoe designed for the neutral runner with high arches who needs minimal support. Aside from a closer connection to the ground when running, these shoes provide a durable and flexible Vibram outsole to keep feet happy and supported on all surfaces. A no-sew upper material means no rubbing — and no blisters. The shoes are equipped with a low profile midsole for added support in the forefoot and lateral parts of the shoe. Whether you take these shoes running or use them for cross-training, you’ll appreciate the odor-reducing antimicrobial treatment.
Price: $69.95 (30 percent off MSRP)
- Barefoot running shoe
- No-sew upper material
- Antimicrobial treatment
- Traction could be better on slippery surfaces
- No heel loop to help pull shoes on
- Not ideal for longer runs
5. Vibram Men’s Bikila EVO Road Running Shoe
If you’re ready to make the transition from a traditional running shoe to a minimalist shoe without sacrificing comfort and support, these Vibram shoes are a safe bet. For starters, they come with a thinner sole that provides enough support while giving you a closer ground connection. The shoe also enhances natural running motion. A polyster mesh upper promotes breathability while keeping feet cool and dry. An antimicrobial sockliner assists in odor control. Runners appreciate the comfortable and supportive outsole, which promises a superior grip.
Price: $64.59 – $178.65
- Ideal transition shoe
- Breathable mesh upper
- Antimicrobial sockliner
- Seams can cause blisters
- Runs a bit small
- Could have better heel stability