Best Barefoot Shoes
Buying your Barefoot shoes can be a bit tricky if you don’t know what to look out for. There are quite a few to choose from. So it’s best to get the right one that will meet your need for every event.
This post is stuffed full with lots of information on the right shoe to get, but here’s the short version of my recommendation: Its worth the money you spend to get the right barefoot or minimalist shoe. You may want to push and spend the big bucks to get a pair of £300 barefoot shoes, you will get an excellent pair for around £100. My recommendation for a quality pair of Barefoot shoes is the Vibram five fingers Trek Ascent(click here to see them on Amazon)
Those are the shoes that I wear and I’ve been extremely happy with the value and quality of those shoes.
The point here is not to convince to part with more money. On the contrary, I’m trying to SAVE you money because if you get the right pair first time, it will last you a lot longer depending on use. Also at this price point, you can get additional pairs for different terrain if you do want to splurge. Also, we have to remember that the primary purpose of having some a shoe in the first place is for protection. These shoes do that brilliantly for you.
Why I Chose the Vibram Five finger Trek Ascent Shoes
For me, the Vibram Five finger Trek Ascent Shoes are the perfect midway point for me. They are not too expensive and not too cheap also. There are quite a few options to choose from in the five finger range but this has become my go-to pair time and time again. I happen to have several pairs of Minimalist shoes and when I travel (which is quite a bit) and I often have to make a choice of which one other shoe to take. These win every time.
They have a little thicker sole ICETrek outsole which makes it a lot more slip resistant on modern surfaces. Vibram has done a good job of keeping the balance of sole thickness and feel. They are billed as a Trekking shoe but they are perfect for my everyday needs. The fact that they are billed as insulated as well may put you off from getting them but don’t let it they are brilliant.
I can head to the gym and train in them, or get on a plane in them too. They are insulated with wool which means I can navigate temperature changes easily from cold early morning gym starts, getting on a plane or my favourite thing walking the dog for me they are perfect.
Comparing the Vibram Trek Ascent to Cheaper entry model Barefoot shoes there are some obvious differences. The first thing you will notice is that the five fingers have a distinctive glove-like look or finger look. But once you put them on they will seem strange at first but they are soooo comfortable to walk in.
Compared with a traditional shoe like the Merrel vapour glove or an innov8 where your feet are all in one toe box. I find that shoes with a toes box have become more and more uncomfortable as time goes by. I think I have got used to the fact that I can wiggle my toes in the five fingers too.
One could also argue that the traditional zero drop shoe has more protection but the trek ascent in my option has just as much protection.
The trek assent has a little bit of ankle protection to help keep out the cold in the colder times of the year. they are lightweight and sturdy which make them very versatile too. This you don’t get from the Merrell. I use them for walking my dog daily so I can get some extra foot exercise in.
I also like the insulated feel of the material the TreK Ascents are made from. The material is a technical fabric that makes it easy to clean. Some of the other barefoot shoes I have had were made from materials and rubbers that I felt were more difficult to clean and began to fade after a while
These shoes are not perfect, however. I don’t like the fact that it has traditional tie up laces that are on the thicker side keep coming undone. I get that they are made to be a bit thicker and tougher but the fact that they are prone to unravelling mid-activity can be annoying. This in practice means I have to stop and do them up several times during a dog walk in the cold for example. The normal Trex ascents that are not insulated however have a rope system that works fine. I have that one too but I still go for the insulated version.
I have worn several other barefoot shoes so when getting a new pair I always go back to the Five Fingers. at just about £100 I think the price is just right.
I find that the sizing of the Trek Ascents matched my normal shoe size, bear in mind that I wear mine without socks on most occasions. If you are going to wear socks with them, then bear this in mind with your sizing. My Insulated version is a little snugger than the non-insulated version but would work with socks also. For me, I wear a size 47 and its perfect in any of the models I go for. So I felt comfortable buying these shoes from Amazon as they were often times cheaper than going into a physical shop.
Safety and Barefoot Shoes
The number one reason for you to wear Barefoot shoes is for protection- they are safer. Wearing shoes is one level up from pure barefoot activities with no shoes. The shoes protect your ankles when you are in the gym moving weight around its a nice touch having your ankles covered – believe me I know. They have the Vibram ICETrek sole which I find makes a difference to my surefootedness. This is important when transitioning from one surface to another during a workout that involves varying indoor and outdoor surfaces. Getting the right shoes is the single most important purchase in your barefoot journey.
Wearing barefoot shoes will protect your feet and keep you from slipping on modern surfaces. The Trex have a thicker sole than my V-Run so you get a little bit better sole protection.
As with all shoes, unfortunately, even with proper protection you’re not guaranteed you won’t be injured,
If you step on a nail, it will go through your barefoot shoes just as it would I pair of trained so in some respect that cannot be avoided. Over the years I have had my share of slips and falls that why I say that the best allrounder for me are the treks.
When it comes to buying a new pair of barefoot shoes, be sure they fit your feet correctly and they are comfortable. There are tonnes of different styles and brands out there in the barefoot market. Many have all the features but if you have feet like a gremlin and the best looking shoes you try will give you nothing but pain and discomfort.. don’t buy them! You may have to try on a number of different styles before you find the right barefoot shoes for you, but taking the time to do this will reward you with barefoot training.
A key part of shoe comfort is flexibility in the ankle, which does more than just keeping you comfortable–it allows you to get into the squat position easier or give you the correct mobility on a run.
This shouldn’t be a problem finding a fit that works correctly to allow for all of this. Comfort is important not only to keep you happy but to make you a better barefoot runner or trainer.
Ensure that they have the correct ventilation so that your feet can breathe. Wearing barefoot shoes makes your feet sweaty even if you wear socks. so be prepared to give them a wash regularly.
What About the Other Barefoot Shoes?
If you are looking the best money can buy I would recommend a combination of the Vibram V-Trek ( click to check out on Amazon) more for Weightlifting, Jump rope, Trekking, Walking, Climbing, Urban Sport. The Second choice is the V Run formerly called Evo Bikila click here to check out on Amazon which I find are lighter and I use more for runs when it is really hot in the height of summer.
Another solid choice for a barefoot shoe is Merrel Vapor Glove (click to view on Amazon). They are toe box shoes that are also a good choice for running. If you can quite come to terms with the five finger singular toe sensations, then this zero drop shoe is an excellent choice.
If money is no object then there is the Gost barefoot shoe range. They make what is popularly called chain main shoes that retail for £300. I haven’t been able to try these on so I can’t tell you for sure of they will meet you barefoot training needs. I would recommend that you go for the Trek Ascent as the entry level all-rounder.
Features To Look For in barefoot shoes
- Zero Drop Soles.
- Lightweight construction and weight.
- Breathable uppers.
- Quick Release Laces.
- Durable Material construction.
- High grip rubber outside soles.
- Washable shoe Inners/linings.
As with my other recommendations on buying barefoot gear – When purchasing from the internet see if you can try on the exact pair of shoes you have chosen first to get the right fit. Not every shoe is cut the same and therefore some will provide more comfort than others. The amount of time you will spend in the shoes is a factor. Training or running for long period of time or distance in shoes that cut into your feet and cause blisters sucks, so make sure you buy the right ones!
Maintaining & Getting The Most Out Of Your Barefoot Shoes
Here are a few tricks to help stretch the time between purchasing new boots.
- Clean them regularly especially if you don’t wear them with socks.
- Be sure to air them out naturally in between runs and workouts.
- Wash them as cool as possible I have put mine in the washing machine on the cotton setting and was in tears when they came out as the adhesive had come apart- Cooler washes only.
- A wipe down with a damp cloth post run is a good idea.
- Use essential oil to keep them smelling fresh… I use tea tree oil on mine just a few drops in each shoe is fine.
- Avoid leaving them in the sun during summer. Extended periods of direct sunlight denature the rubber and the adhesives in the shoe.