Also known as minimalist trainers, barefoot running shoes are a lightweight alternative to traditional running shoes that seem to share the common problem of holding you back. Whether your current trainers are just too heavy, too clunky, or just don’t fit right, wearing the wrong trainers can stop you performing your best.
However, with lightweight barefoot running trainers, all these problems are a thing of the past. With all sorts of styles and designs available, you can be sure you’ll find the ones that are right for you.
Nevertheless, to help you get started when it comes to finding the best, today we’re going to explore the topmost amazing barefoot running trainers while detailing why these could be everything you’ve been looking for. Let’s get straight into it!
View The Best Barefoot Running Shoes Below
1. JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail
Kickstarting our list, we’ve chosen the awesome minimalist trail running shoes designed specifically for women who want the freedom to run outside to their heart’s content. These shoes come with a durable rubber sole to protect your feet against any kind of terrain, despite being incredibly lightweight.
These outsoles are designed to provide an optimal amount of friction and traction while you’re running, which is ideal for more challenging and diverse terrain. If you’re planning on running basically anywhere outside and not in a gym, these are the trainers you’re going to need to keep your feet safe.
Unlike some other barefoot trainers, these come with shoelaces designed to ensure that extra level of security that your shoes won’t fall off, which is complemented by the thicker top layer. All in all, these trainers tick all of the boxes when it comes to comfort, performance, and durability, and make an excellent choice for runners of any skill level.
+ Come with removable insoles to ensure there’s not too much pressure on your feet
+ Designed with slight elasticity to fit your feet perfectly
+ Lightweight weighing in at only 1.1lbs per pair
– Don’t come with individual toe slots
Why We Like It – Why not treat yourself to a barefoot trainer that doesn’t just perform, but also allows you to look and feel great while doing it? There are over ten different designs and color patterns to choose from, making it easy to select the one you’ll love!
2. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Runner
Merrell is an industry-leading when it comes to running trainers, and their Trail Glove 4 Runner is no exception to the rule. Made using 100% textiles and synthetic materials, this is one of the most lightweight trainers on our list weighing in at just 1.8lbs per pair.
With a patented Vibram sole and a dedicated Trail project pad in the underfoot, and a TC5 outsole, these trainers are also one of the most protective. Despite their small appearance, these shoes guarantee to keep your feet protected, regardless of the terrain you’re running over.
Finally, you won’t have to worry about sweaty or wet feet while you’re running thanks to the breathable materials used on the main body of the shoe. This means you can be completely comfortable while running, ensuring you can focus on what’s most important.
+ 100% vegan-friendly
+ Breathable mesh to help you stay comfortable while you run
+ Trailpad to offer your feet ultimate levels of protection
– Slightly more expensive than typical barefoot running trainers
Why We Like It – Easily one of the most loved benefits of these shoes is that they’re produced from 100% animal-free and cruelty-free materials. This makes them morally amazing and entirely suitable for vegans!
3. WHITIN Men’s Cross-Trainer
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of barefoot trainers that don’t just keep your feet protected, but also don’t break the bank, WHITIN trainers make a fantastic choice. These shoes pride themselves on their anatomical shape, which is designed to ensure you get the perfect fit.
This continues thanks to the zero-drop design found from the heel all the way to the toe. This means you can quickly achieve a much more natural stride while you’re running to minimize the risk of injury or strains, especially when traveling over more diverse terrains.
Unlike other trainers, these trainers also actively prevent compression on your toes. This means you actually have room to spread your toes, rather than feeling them crushed at the end. Less stress on your feet means more energy to keep going!
+ 100% vegan-friendly
+ Thin and flexible sole to protect your feet and keep you comfortable
+ No toe crushing!
+ Perfect for gyms or outdoor trail running
Why We Like It – As you can see, the WHITIN’s trainers are all about balancing comfort and performance. It doesn’t matter what environment you’re running in; you’re going to be able to focus on your run, rather than trainers that just feel like they’re holding you back.
4. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner
Another entry from Merrell Men’s Glove series, this time focusing on the Vapor 3 Trail Runner pair. These are a series down from the Merrell trail runners we spoke about above, but they still contain many of the fantastic features you’ll need and all for an affordable price tag.
These barefoot trainers have been created from 100% mesh materials, which means they’re comfortable and supportive around your foot; particularly on pressure point areas. What’s more, these trainers are incredibly lightweight, which is perfect for running trails and outdoor paths.
In true Merrell style, these trainers come with the Trailprotect pad as standard, which helps you to maintain the soft underfoot area, keeping the shoes durable, your performance up, and your feet protected, no matter where you’re running or what kind of style you have.
+ Hailed by many critics as being the ‘must-haves’ when it comes to barefoot trail shoes
+ Comes with Merrell’s standard Trailprotect underlying pad
+ Made from 100% durable and breathable mesh materials
– Size guide can be a little confusing
Why We Like It – The thing you’ll love the most about the Merrell trainers is, indeed, their comfort. While there’s not much padding in the shoes due to their minimalist design, these are shoes designed to nurture your feet and ensure you’re protected and cushioned where it matters most.
5. Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner
Hand in hand with the Merrell barefoot trainer we’ve listed above, if you’re looking for all the same benefits that the shoe provides, but this time in a female-suitable form, these are the trainers you’re going to want to keep your eyes on.
Of course, you get all the amazing benefits that the men’s version comes with, including the coveted Trailprotect pad, a breathable mesh design, and highly durable materials; all to make sure you’re having the best experience while you’re running any kind of outdoor trail.
In fact, the only thing that is different here is the slight difference in design which aims to give your feet a more comfortable fit, and the multiple designs and colors you can choose from. This all comes together to make sure you have everything you need to run trails in the best way for you.
+ Multiple designs and colors available for female trail runners
+ Highly durable design that can stand the test of time
+ Lightweight, breathable, and designed for comfort
Why We Like It – What don’t we like about these trainers? They literally come with everything you’re looking for, including zero-drop ankles, Merrell’s patented barefoot technology, and a ton of comfort features. If you’re looking for a trainer that ticks all the boxes, this is it.
6. TSLA Men’s Trail Running Minimalist
TSLA has always been a popular name in the trainer industry, and while they may not be the biggest, they’ve always been renowned for their great quality, affordable price tags, and a customer service team that’s there whenever you need them,
If you’re looking for a barefoot running trail that includes all these amazing benefits, you may not need to look further than this. Featuring zero-drop insoles and durable nylon bands around the shoe, both comfort and functionality have been maximized in these designs.
Uniquely, there are over 20+ styles, colors, and designs to choose from, making it effortless to find which one best suits you and your personal preference. With dust and dirtproof features to help your trainers stay clean for longer, it’s easy to see why so many people opt for TSLA.
+ Numerous designs, colors, and styles to choose from
+ Zero-drop sole for the best grip and maximum comfort
+ Durable sole for safely crossing any terrain
+ Dirtproof technology to ensure your trainers stay cleaner for longer
– The size guide has recently changed so make sure you’re checking to see what’s right for you
– Always check the size guide to make sure you’re getting the right one
Why We Like It – Easily one of the best features we adore on these trainers is the non-slip grip on the sole of each trainer. Since you’ll be running over diverse and unpredictable terrain, you never know what’s going to lie ahead. Fortunately, thanks to the grid design, you won’t have to worry about the risks associated with crossing it.
7. Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
When it comes to the world of running trainers, the more you spend, the more you get. This is relevant to every aspect of trainers, including the quality of the materials used, how well designed the trainers are, and how well they perform.
Those looking for a quality experience and are happy to invest a little extra in themselves should consider the Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Running Trainers. Produced using polyester fabrics that ensure breathability and lightweight design, these are trainers that go above and beyond the call of duty.
These trainers feature the classic black rubber sole to help keep your feet protected during any trail runs and contain cushioned areas in pressure areas to protect your feet. However, these aren’t everywhere, as to make the trainer too heavy and ultimately hold you back.
Nevertheless, with multiple sizes to choose from, a great product warranty to ensure you’re never wasting your money, and dozens of five-star reviews from satisfied customers around the world, why would you want to run with any other trainers?
+ Machine-washable so you can easily keep your trainers clean
+ One of the highest rated trail running trainers on the market
– Slightly more expensive than other trail running shoes on this list
Why We Like It – With a sole thickness of just under 5mm thick, these shoes are incredibly lightweight, and only weigh in at 2lbs per pair (with packaging). However, despite this small sole, it’s still incredibly protected, and ensures the maximum amount of grip, no matter what surface you’re running on.
8. WHITIN Men’s Minimalist Trail Runner
WHITIN is another industry standard when it comes to barefoot running trainers, and their men’s minimalist style running shoe is no exception to their rule when it comes to quality, affordability, and the level of performance it offers you.
Available in 12+ different designs and styles, the WHITIN is a dedicated men’s running trainer specifically for outdoor trails and environments. This is all thanks to the durable rubber sole on the bottom, plus the removable interior sockliner, which is designed for comfort but can be removed if you’re looking for more control.
A fantastic feature of these trainers which is a huge upgrade when compared with traditional trail running shoes is the wide toe area. Whereas with traditional shoes you probably find your toes crushed and sore after running continuously, the WHITIN trainers have taken this into account and made the problem a thing of the past.
+ High-performance rubber sole base for maximum protection and grip
+ Many designs and styles to choose from
+ An affordable price tag suitable for all budgets
– Not as light as the other barefoot running trainers on our list
Why We Like It – What we, and you’ll love the most about these trainers is just how affordable they are. Despite all the amazing design features and functions that come with these trainers, they’re still one of the most affordable pairs on list. This ensures you have easy access to the most premium experience without having to pay to the premium price tag.
9. FEIFAN Women Men Unisex Lightweight t
One of the biggest oversights a lot of start-off trail runners miss is the fact that running on trails isn’t as simple as running on dry land and then up and down a few hills. Instead, in many trails, you’ll need to cross puddles, ditches, rivers, and traversing just generally wet terrain.
This is where traditional trainers fail hard, simply because they’re not massively waterproof and running through wet conditions is only going to result in soggy feet, and an uncomfortable runner, which isn’t going to leave you feeling very happy.
However, if you’re a runner who regularly finds themselves in wet conditions, the FEIFAN trainers could be exactly what you’re looking for. These are quick-drying and waterproof trainers to help ensure that, no matter what, your feet always stay dry.
Suitable for any kind of runner in any generation, there are over 30 unique styles, colors, and designs to choose from, and with such fast-acting properties, these could be the only running trainers you’re going to need over the next few years.
Whether you want to use these trainers for running, or even swimming, jogging, walking, or even just going about your day to day life, these are the trainers that have everything you need to keep up with you and allow you to get on and do what you have to do.
+ Waterproof and quick-dry design to prevent wet feet
+ A vast number of styles and designs to choose from
+ Suitable for any kind of runner of any generation or running style
+ Fully breathable material to prevent sweaty, uncomfortable feet
Why We Like It – The grip you get from these trail running trainers is unlike any other trainer on this list. Instead of the typical grid grip pad on the bottom, these trainers have unique grip studs which are far more effective when walking up slopes and traversing wet terrain.
Of course, if these are the kind of trail conditions you’re going to be running in, these are going to be the trainers you’ll want to have on your feet for the best experience.
10. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running
Last, but certainly not least on our list of the best barefoot running trainers available right now, we’re going to head back over to the Merrell brand, this time for one of their original Vapor Glove lines that continue to set the standard of what’s expected in a trail trainer in the modern day.
While these are a similar price to the other Vapor Glove lines on our list, these lines contain all the impressive benefits we’ve spoken about above, including the Trailprotect protective pad on the bottom, and breathable material all the way around the outside.
There’s also a lace-up vamp and a pull tab in the middle of the shoes which make it easy to tighten your shoes while you’re running and helps you to maintain comfort from start to finish without having to fuss around or get out of your focused mindset.
All in all, there’s not too much difference in this edition of the Merrell trainers. Of course, there are improvements to materials and design in the more up-to-date versions, but if you’re looking for something affordable and simple, this could be everything you’re looking for and more.
+ Comes with Merrell’s patented Trailprotect pad
+ Uses special plastics on top to improve shoe lifespan and durability
+ Many sizes to choose from so you can find the perfect fit
– Doesn’t include some of the slight improvements from newer models
Why We Like It – Perhaps the most important feature worth touching on here is the materials used on these trainers. Of course, the trainers come with the traditional mesh materials on the outside, but also a thermoplastic polyurethane exterior, all designed to enhance durability and give you trainers that are built to last.
Barefoot Running Shoes Buying Guide
As you can see, there are plenty of barefoot running shoes out there for you to choose from, but when it comes to picking the pair that are right for you, it’s important to make sure you’re thinking about what you need so you get it right.
Below, we’ll be going to explore the core features you need to think about when buying barefoot running trainers, so you’re spending your money in the right place. Let’s get straight into it!
The greatest benefit of barefoot running shoes is just how lightweight they are, so you’ll want to make sure you’re thinking about this depending on what kind of runner you are, and what you need.
If your shoes are too heavy, you’re going to feel held back and unable to perform your best. However, you need some substance to ensure your feet are protected. As a rule of thumb, the 2lbs mark per pair is about right.
It’s so important to consider what kind of materials your trainers are made from when you want to perform your best. Ideally, you’re going to want breathable materials as a standard so heat and moisture can escape the trainers while you’re running to ensure your feet aren’t going to become uncomfortable.
If you’re looking for a better experience, you can look for materials that improve durability and will stand the test of time. You’ll also want to consider how much freedom the materials give you, so your feet don’t get crushed.
The most crucial area of a barefoot running trainer is the material and structure of the sole. Since trail running shoes are typically a lot thinner and less bulky than traditional trainers, the risk of stepping on something and its hurting is a lot higher.
However, with the right material and a well-designed sole, this doesn’t have to be so much of a problem. Look for a high-quality sole that’s going to protect your feet as a priority.
Finally, the last thing you’ll want to think about is what kind of style you want for your trainers! Trainers these days come in all kinds of different shapes, styles, and colors, so why not pick one that suits you and makes you happy?
- A wide toe box lets your toes spread and relax.
- Produced using animal free products and processes.
- Removable sockliner (insole) if you want a “more barefoot” feeling.
- Padded rear collar pad for achilles comfort.
- 5 mm POWER FOOTBED for underfoot cushioning.
- Engineered knit upper for a sock-like fit and flexible feel.
- Open engineered knit upper offers enhanced breathability and comfort.
- Zero-drop, non-elevated sole for proper posture and balance.
- Removable sockliner (insole) if you want a "more barefoot" feeling.
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