There are so many options to choose from when purchasing a pair of barefoot shoes. How do you know which one to go for? In spite of their inclination towards minimalism, the price is rarely minimal. Somehow it seems that less material leads to more cost! With this in mind it’s worth giving some thought to your reasons for wanting barefoot shoes, so that you make the right choose when you buy.
What do you want them for?
Perhaps you’ve recently heard about barefoot shoes and are just intrigued by the idea. You’ve seen some pictures of crazy shoes with toes, or people running marathons in sandals and want to know more.
Perhaps you just want something more comfortable to walk around in having spent your life with your feet crammed into narrow hard leather shoes. You just want something that you can walk around in, to find your feet, both literally and metaphorically.
Perhaps you are an experienced runner who wants to transition to a barefoot/ natural running style. But you’ve been running with giant cushions on your feet for a long time and need to get the right shoe for you.
Are you experienced?
How much time have you spent barefoot? Are you coming straight to this from six inch heels or have you been running around in zero drop shoes for twelve months and looking to take things to the next level. Perhaps you are an experienced barefooter just looking for a bit more protection.
What are your feet like? Have you got hammer toes? Are your feet as soft a baby’s bottom?
How heavy are you? Do you need to lose a bit of weight? Are you fairly light on your feet regardless of your size? These are all important considerations.
What are the options?
Depending on how you responded to the statements above, you will fit into one of the following categories.
This is your first pair of barefoot shoes. Maybe your feet are in good condition, maybe your toes cross all over the place. Or the skin on the sole is super delicate. Either way it’s worth getting something like a transition shoe. See our post on the best transition shoes here. In the meantime, take your shoes off at home and walk around barefoot to build up foot strength.
Now this is actually an area where you need to take care. If you are an advanced runner but new to barefoot, you need to transition slowly because you will be inclined to overdo it, underestimating the adaption required. We would recommend something like the Saucony Kinvara as a first step and build from there. Or else your calves will never forgive you!
People hear you coming from miles off. You’re a foot stomper who likes to leave prints in the tarmac. This is not a size thing, it’s just some people, big or small seem to have a problem with the ground and want to give it a good kick all the time. You need to work on improving your footfall.
There are two options here. Go barefoot and be careful. This is the best way to improve the lightness of your step because there is no cushioning. When we say be careful, that means don’t go out on a 10k run without shoes on, your feet won’t thank you for it. Instead spend some time at home and in the garden walking around without shoes on. If you want to be more active then go for a shoe like the Altra Torin as they have more cushioning than many other minimalist shoes. Once your gait adapts you can up the activity and lower the protection levels by going with some Vibram Five Fingers. Or you can stick with the Altras, many people do.
An All Rounder
Perhaps you just want a shoe that you can walk around in on a daily basis, not something for running, just something for comfort. In that case you should consider something like the Vivobarefoot Gobi II .It looks like a normal desert boot. Nobody is going to point at you because of your weird shoes but you’ll still be getting the benefit of a zero drop shoe every day.