Less is More: The Skinny on the Best Minimalist Shoes

More and more people are opting for a back to nature approach to life and fitness. Outdoor activities like running, kayaking, canoeing have always been popular but even so we are seeing a significant shift towards outdoor activity.

Science confirms that controlled exposure to the sun's rays is beneficial to health.  And even walking barefoot, having direct contact with the land, a practice now known as Earthing purportedly offers a wealth of health benefits.

Minimalist walking shoes allow for taking advantage of the great outdoors giving a full contact feel with all the benefits without the attending hazards. However there are risks associated with even the best toe shoes. Just be mindful, start slow, and you'll greatly reduce the chances of injury. Oh and have fun.

1. Vibram Women's KSO Evo Cross Training Shoe

Vibram Women's KSO Evo Cross Training Shoe

The Italian manufacturer Vibram makes the best barefoot shoes on the market and this the Woman’s KSO trail running shoe is considered by many running enthusiasts to be one of the very best barefoot running shoes anywhere on the market, never mind it being arguably the best Vibram Five Fingers to date.

It has a glove like fit with a breathable stretch mesh. Its very light and offers great ground feel. With less than 5 millimeters of thickness, the thin sole encourages good form while running or walking and still be durable enough to absorb shock. The Vibram XS Trek technology in the sole provides stability, traction and flexibility.

2. Jambu Spin Too Ballet Flat

Jambu Women's Spin Too Barefoot Ballet Flat

Jambu Spin Too ballet flats are a great pair of barefoot walking shoes. Taking barefoot design closer to convention yet this shoe still offers the unique barefoot experience.

I just love the bungee design near the toe and a hell pull tab. The insole features EVA antibacterial cushions providing comfort without sacrificing feel. This shoe is also vegan with a nubuck upper and recycled rubber outsole. The sole gives excellent traction control and this quality ranks the Jambu Barefoot Ballet Flat among the best minimalist shoes in terms of protection on the market right now.

3. Free 5.0 Womens Running Shoes

Nike Women's Free 5.0 Running Shoe

In a departure from the five finger design, the Nike Free 5.0 Running Shoe is barefoot-like running shoe. It is the result of eight years of research and development as Nike studied athletes from Stanford University who had been training barefoot. In trying to capture that natural and weightless feel that comes with being barefoot, they produced this most unconventional shoe.

Unusually flexible with low-profile outsole for natural movement, a heel that mimics the shape of your foot which rolls with the ground promoting a more natural foot-strike. It offers cushioning, traction and lightweight support of a traditional running shoe. It sports a reflective and weather-resistant upper making it adaptable for dark or wet conditions. This shoe is truly an engineering marvel and the color customization option makes it super fun.

4. Vivobarefoot Motus Cross Fit Shoe

Vivobarefoot Motus Cross Fit Shoe

I included the Vivobarefoot Motus CrossFit Shoe because the company says this shoe is a game changer with its barefoot movement and due to the overwhelmingly positive response the men's version of this shoe has garnered. 

As the CrossFit name suggests, these shoes are great for a variety of sports like basketball, tennis, parkour. Whatever your activity the Vivobarefoot Motus CrossFit shoe offers great motion control and stability. Using an ultra-thin flexible and extra-wide sole giving the feet a natural feeling of freedom and the toe guard offering added protection.

The synthetic fabric made with a breathable mesh makes this shoe moisture resistant and the v-lock and v-strap give it a snugness without sacrificing comfort. Did I also that mention this was a vegan shoe? Go Vegan!

5.Fila Skele-Toes EZ Slide Drainage Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

Fila Skele-Toes EZ Slide Drainage Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

A Fila five finger sandal designed for toddlers and kids. Of course children will love it for the barefoot like quality alone and parents will love the protection it provides.

Drainage holes at the bottom of the sandal ensure that the foot doesn’t stay wet for a long period of time and also provides ventilation to keep it cool. The outsole is made from synthetic rubber providing firm grip making it is slip resistant for slip prone little ones. Not too much more to say about the Fila Skele-Toes EZ Slide Drainage Sandal for toddlers and kids other than to say that I just love it.

Conclusion

When deciding on the best minimalist shoes for you and your family it is important to know the safety issues (also, please check out the comments from this nytimes article) surrounding their use. These shoes are great for everyday use giving amazing comfort and support to your feet. And If you are more of the outdoorsy athletic type, even if participating in water sports, minimalist shoes were largely made with you in mind. So I hope that you find this list helpful.  Please check out our comprehensive best of list on walking shoes for women. Choose wisely and keep on trekking.

Product images via their respective pages on Amazon.com

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