best minimalist running shoes

7 Things To Consider Before Purchasing Minimalist Running Shoes

When it comes to running, perhaps you are a hard-core athlete who wants nothing more but to improve their running time, as means of becoming stronger and faster in the sport. From purchasing the latest watch gadget technology to getting the best running shoes there is, you want nothing but success for your running career.

That said, you might have heard about the latest trend these days in terms of minimalist running shoes. Claiming to be better than normal running shoes in terms of little cushioning but a “more natural” way of support, minimalist running shoes are meant to be a way of helping your body reform to a more natural manner of running, in terms of gait and stride. Whether this claim is true or not, minimalist running shoes are all the rage these days.

As a result, you are interested in buying minimalist running shoes and giving them a go. However, you are a bit unsure as to how to go about buying the best ones, since there are so many that exist out there in the market. We are here to help! Read on to learn more in this article on how to choose the best minimalist running shoes for you, as well as get suggestions to get started. Soon enough, you will be running minimally like a pro.

Without further ado, let’s get right down to it!


** Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices, choose the colors and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

Things to Consider before Purchasing Minimalist Running Shoes

First things first, you will need to look into just a few features before setting about finding and purchasing the best minimalist running shoes for you. With the large variety out there in stock, it helps to limit them down to just a few aspects that are pertinent to you, aside from practical things like shoe size, shoe shape, and arch support.

Below, we give you just a few tips and tricks, and in general ideas to consider before you set about getting those perfect running shoes for you:

1. Fits well.

This point does not only relate to shoe size and shape, let alone arch support, but also to how well it fits your feet. Minimalist running shoes, especially bare ones, are a bit different in respect to normal running shoes in that they have space for each of your ten toes, thereby resembling more like a glove than an actual shoe.

Hence, it is a good idea to find a minimalist running shoe which sports the toe features, and not only that it should fit nice and snugly, just like a glove. After all, you would not want extra space inside, which can slow you down when running.

2. Type of minimalist running shoe.

As briefly mentioned in point #1, there exists what is known as a “bare minimalist running shoe.” In fact, there are two different types of minimalist running shoes you can choose from, depending on your abilities and personal preferences in terms of taste and lifestyle. We list the two down below:

  • a. Barefoot running shoe. Just as the name implies, barefoot running shoes offer very little cushioning, if any at all. They serve to imitate the sensation of being barefoot, while also providing that extra layer of cloth to protect the soles of your feet from debris and sharp objects. They are distinctively known for their glove-like appearance, with spaces for each of the toes to fill in.
  • b. Minimalist running shoe. On the other hand, minimalist running shoes are a blend between barefoot and traditional running shoes. Their appearance looks more similar to the latter, albeit with significantly less cushioning. They are very lightweight and offer little arch support, as well as small, 4 to 8-millimeter heel drop that is meant to encourage mid to forefoot striking while running, thereby preventing injuries caused by heel striking (e.g. plantar fasciitis) from happening.

3. Figure Out If You Want Socks (Or No Socks).

If you choose to go with minimalist running shoes, then you might also want to consider if you would be more comfortable wearing socks or not while running. Wearing socks can be advantageous in that they prevent blisters from developing, as well as protect from extreme odors.

On the other hand, choosing to go sockless would be practical if you opt for barefoot minimalist running shoes, since they do not provide any opportunity to wear socks because of its design. However, the shoe itself might come with a built-in, sock-like structure as a substitute, so as to keep you comfortable and warm as you run.

4. Laces or strap closures?

Because of their minimalist nature, such running shoes come either with quick-lace or strap closures for securing your feet to the product. Strap closures are not a bad idea to come by, although they might be more of an inconvenience when putting them on and taking them off, as well as with offering little arch support in the process.

That said, the quick-lace system is preferred by most athletes, due to its easy-access features and arch support. In the end, it is up to you just what you would like for your feet to wear when going out for a run.

5. Machine-washable or not?

It should not come as a question that you ought to try to find a pair of minimalist running shoes which are machine-washable, especially if you tend to dirty them up frequently when running trails or along the beach.

Look out for tags which read that they are “machine-washable,” for otherwise you might have to wash them by hand, which can be an inconvenience at times, but at the same time wear them down less so than through multiple washing cycles. Again, you decide!

6. Comfort.

This comes as a no-brainer, but in the end, what makes or breaks your decision to purchase a minimalist running shoe or not is its comfort. If you try it on and do not feel comfortable right away, then it is probably not the running shoe for you.

True, it might take time to break them in, but if it is noticeably uncomfortable, then it is best to keep looking in order to make sure you are spending your money wisely on the best pair out there, able to last you a long time.

For some more information on barefoot/minimalist running, check out this video here:

Top 5 Best Minimalist Running Shoes

** Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices, choose the colors and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

This specific product from Tesla offers the ultimate minimalist barefoot shoe-wearing experience that is hard to replicate in any other product. It offers a shoe which is true to your actual foot size, so that there is no room, literally and figuratively, for any space to come in and slow you down.


  • Is true to your actual foot size.
  • Fits like a glove.
  • Lightweight with zero arch support.


  • Contains small grooves in which debris can get stuck.


I found Tesla’s barefoot minimalist running shoe to be quite pleasant, especially fitting like a glove to my foot. Loved how lightweight it was and that the zero arch support helped me correct my running gait. My only complaint is that it contains small grooves which makes it easy for pebbles to get stuck inside, and I did not like that.

Coming in all sorts of different colors, Nike Women’s running shoe offers a variety of different shoes based on your personal preference, all the while giving you a minimal, 0.5-inch, Phylite midsole cushioning for just a bit of comfort. Its flex grooves offer the ultimate flexible experience, and you will find satisfaction with that.


  • Comes in all sort of different colors to choose from.
  • Has a minimal, 0.5-inch, Phylite midsole cushioning.
  • Offers flex grooves for amazing flexibility.


  • Material becomes loose and flimsy quickly.


I liked how Nike Women’s running shoe was minimalist and that it came in many different colors and designs to choose from. The thin midsole cushioning was helpful in correcting my gait while also supporting me through the most difficult of runs, which I greatly appreciated. However, the only problem with it was that the material got quite loose and flimsy after some time, which was unfortunate but expected for minimalist running shoes.

With its distinctive 3D cocoon technology, Vibram’s V trail runner offers the ultimate protection from debris and other outside materials from penetrating into your feet, all the while providing that minimalist feature that you need to run your very best. Its multi-direction lug design also offers excellent traction, as means of being able to grip onto even the slickest, wettest of surfaces for a safe and efficient running experience.


  • Has a 3D cocoon technology for protection.
  • Has a multi-direction lug design for excellent traction.
  • Comes with an anti-microbial poly fabric sock liner for built-in warmth and support.


  • Has a seam that cuts into the big toe, which is uncomfortable.


Vibram’s 3D cocoon technology was something I had not heard of before, but it worked like a charm when I slipped on the shoes and felt secured while running in them. Loved the solid grip on wet surfaces, especially since it tends to rain a lot where I am from. The anti-microbial poly fabric sock liner was pretty nice, for it kept my feet warm and blister-free. I did not appreciate the seam that cut through the big toe, though, rendering the area quite uncomfortable.

This distinctive shoe from Merrell makes it loud and clear that it is not only beneficial for going minimal, but also it is made from vegan-friendly material to help with the environment. Besides that, it has a zero-millimeter heel drop and reflective details to keep you safe while running on the road at night.


  • Is made from vegan-friendly material for the environment.
  • Has a zero-millimeter heel drop for satisfying minimalist requirements.
  • Has reflective details for safety while running at night.


  • Shoe shape might be too narrow for some wearers.


I found Merrell’s running shoe to be quite progressive in its vegan-friendly label, as well as the fact that it comes with the technology needed to keep you safe and stable whilst running. The zero-millimeter heel drop was much appreciated, along with the reflective details along the side. Granted, the shoe shape might be a bit too narrow for some runners, but I have naturally narrow feet, so it was not a problem for me.

Lightweight with a zero-millimeter heel drop, this minimalist running shoe from Merrell is bound to be a solid choice for getting if you are interested in going minimal with running. Its Omni-Fit lacing system is quick and efficient, thereby getting you ready in no time to go out for a nice, long run. It is a no-fuss running shoe, all the while helping you with running form and getting faster!


  • Is lightweight with a zero-millimeter heel drop.
  • Has an Omni-Fit lacing system for a quick and efficient slip-on, slip-off action.
  • Has a rugged lugged sole.


  • Comes with a rigid, unnatural arch support.


Merrell Men’s minimalist running shoe turned out to be quite nice in terms of its lightweight quality. Specifically, I really enjoyed the Omni-Fit lacing system, which offered a faster, more convenient way of slipping on and slipping off the shoes before and after the run, respectively. I would say, however, that the arch support could be improved on, since I found the design to be rather awkward and on the uncomfortable side.

Winner of the Roundup

Overall, the winner of the roundup goes to Tesla Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe BK31 (#1). Although it could be improved on with preventing debris from coming inside, nevertheless it offers a snug fit and the ideal, zero arch support to help you correct your gait for a smoother, more efficient run.

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