There are many, many barefoot running shoes on the market, and the one that you choose will be entirely down to personal preference. It will also change depending on what stage you are at in your barefoot running career. If you are a beginner, you will want something that is a bit more transitional from a traditional shoe. If you’ve been at it a while, you will want something closer to nothing. Perhaps you are a true barefoot runner who just wants something to take you through really long runs on rough terrain. These are all things to think about when making your choice. Here are three of the best.
Vibram Five Fingers will always be at the top of any barefoot running shoe list. They really are the original, and still the best. Their top line product changes from year to year, with their current best, the Spyridion. Quality materials make this a durable choice. The unique five toed shoe gives great freedom of movement. Vibram have moved more towards laces rather than a velcro strap in recent years. this does give a slightly better fit and to some extent makes them look more like shoes, if that is a concern for you. The ground feel is excellent. Vibram have developed a number of different styles of grip for their shoes over the years. Their current incarnation is enough to take you anywhere, from running on the sidewalk to completing a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race. As one of the most barefoot shoes on the market, you do need to go carefully with these at first. Build up to running slowly and only do short amounts to begin with if you don’t want your calves to lock up!
The Merrell Glove builds on Merrell’s long experience in building hard-wearing shoes for all occassions. Like so many of the barefoot shoe makers on the market, they have trusted in Vibram to produce their soles, giving you comfort and assurance that you’re not going to get a hole in these any time soon. They are completely zero drop and at five oz are very light. The toe box is wide and accomodating to allow your foot to move well. These come a close second to Vibrams. If you don’t like the look of the five toed shoes, then perhaps these are a better choice for you. People do tend to report that these can be a bit small for size so make sure that you get a size bigger, or compare the UK, US, EU size charts to make sure you are getting the right option.
I’m a big fan of VivoBarefoot. They seem to manage the tricky balance of creating innovative, minimalist shoes whilst also making shoes that look great anywhere. The Primus is their current offering and comes in road and trail versions. The usual quality elements of VivoBarefoot are there. The puncture resistant sole, ethically produced materials (these are vegan shoes) and the great overall look. These sneakers look equally good worn around the house as they do out on the streets.