Best Minimalist Running Shoes 2021 Reviews

Minimal running shoes allow runners to feel that the trail better than any other category. But they aren’t for everyone. These are the best minimalist running shoes

Take it slow if you’re new to the world of minimal shoes. Barefoot-curious runners should gradually introduce these sneakers into their running patterns through brief runs. Making the switch too quickly could boost your risk of injury.  Check out the shoes we have listed below. 

Best minimalist running shoes

1. WHITIN Men’s Minimalist Trail Runner

The Whitin Barefoot features a removable insole that you are able to take off for a more”barefoot” feeling. The outsole provides good traction on both flat terrain and mountain paths, while the upper part is made of comfortable, stretchy materials. It does not offer as much durability as higher-end versions, but it is a good value for the cost, and it’s available in a number of colors.

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2. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 5 Sneaker

Merrell’s fourth Trail Glove was released in 2017; because of time, the brand has overhauled the shoe to mimic a foot’s natural movement. As a result, the zero-drop Trail Glove 5 has a more anatomical fit with an arch-cradling service zone through the midfoot.

But despite that layer of protection underfoot, the shoe still flexes freely and adjusts quickly to changing terrain–equally on twisty, rutted singletrack and paved uneven sidewalks.


3. New Balance Men’s Minimus 10 V1 Trail Running Shoe

The first Minimus Trail 10 was an early entry into the minimalist running globe and gave runners the flexibility and grip of a Vibram only at a more conventional-looking upper (as compared to Vibram’s popular FiveFinger sneakers ).

New Balance stopped the revamped second version of the shoe also has now returned to shape, re-adopting the original Minimus’s outsole with round rubber nodes for grip and grooves for flexibility. The lightweight, breathable upper receives positive reviews from testers: A midfoot ring holds your foot in place, while two layers of net behind a thin layer of foam provides you a barely there, sock-like fit.

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4. Merrell Men’s Bare Access XTR Trail Running Shoe

The Sweeper is all about providing you immediate ground connection than loading up on cushioning. (The on-foot feeling is nearly identical to the Sweeper model; the only distinction is that one-tenth of its zero-drop platform is currently made from sustainable algae-based foam referred to as”BLOOM.”)

If you enjoy a light and flexible shoe that could still take the sting from hard landings, the XTR will serve you well, since it did for one tester who wore it runs up to 12 miles. But when feeling a few rocks underfoot is a hard”no,” you will stand with our runners who assigned the shoe for racing, runs less than five kilometers, and stints on the treadmill.

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5. Inov-8 Men’s Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoe

Even if you like running on rocky trails, this shoe’s aggressive lugs and rock plate protection on its outsole will protect your feet from sharp rocks and rough terrain and improve your stability on uneven ground. And, despite the superb protection, it offers enough flexibility to feel like you are operating in a minimalist shoe.

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6. Altra Men’s Superior 3 Running Shoe

The Altra Men’s Superior trail running shoes provide a mixture of great floor feel, excellent traction, and versatility, which makes it a fantastic option for people who enjoy hiking in chic shoes. They are also a great alternative for obstacle course racing and track running in case you’re searching for a versatile, comfortable minimalist shoe.

The shoe also excels in its stability and traction, providing protection in all directions. The TrailClaw outsoles attribute lugs below your toes for excellent grip and impact protection, while the StoneGuard stone protection plates protect your feet from sharp rocks and are removable for running on demanding terrain.

With a wide toe box, this shoe is a great alternative for those who have wider feet who have endured cramped toes in other minimalist shoes.

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7. Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe

The Vibram KSO EVO is a great option for track running, gym workouts, and walking on level terrain. That’s probably why it has been in the marketplace for quite a while now. The slim, flexible sole provides great traction and responsiveness.

But, remember that it is not suggested for rough terrain. Please, don’t get into rugged, irregular trails, as otherwise, your feet will endure. A lot of people need some time to get used to very responsive barefoot models (such as this one), however after a couple of weeks, many are really pleased. Other benefits: It’s inexpensive, powerful, and durable.

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8. Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Ii

I received my first pair of Vivobarefoot shoes at the end of July and I’ve been wearing them solidly ever since. The Primus Lite is super level, so I’m in contact with the ground. While the broad toe box makes for healthy, happy feet.

Perhaps best of all, they’re made from recycled material and are 100% vegan-friendly. They are pretty much ticking all my hippie boxes. Winning.

Best minimalist shoes I’ve since added a more durable pair of Primus Trail runners into my toolbox as we lately relocated to a farm a couple of hours out of Cape Town. Here, dirt streets are the standard, which did not bode well for my white town sneakers.


1. Flexibility

Flexibility is an important aspect to consider when you’re looking for a good pair of sneakers. Flexible footwear permits you to freely move your toes, ensuring natural movement and preventing injuries. A highly flexible set of sneakers will readily adapt to the anatomical variations of every runner.

Minimalist shoes can be produced with different materials offering varying degrees of flexibility. If this is your first time consuming this kind of footwear, I really don’t advise that you choose a very flexible version, as you are going to have trouble adjusting to it. A medium-flex model could work well for a beginner runner, although this depends on the runner’s taste.

2. Comfort

Once you have selected a pair of sneakers with all of the attributes that I just mentioned, make sure they’re comfortable once you walk. The concept is that they allow you to feel the ground under your feet, while your body feels balanced when walking or running.

If you are not utilized to this kind of footwear, you’ll probably feel a little funny when walking. Do not worry, as this is completely normal, even if you’re wearing the most expensive models on the market. In reality, some people feel quite uncomfortable when they break in their new shoes.

But don’t stop trying. Keep wearing them and in a couple of days, you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. Your feet and your body simply need time to adapt to your new shoes.

best minimalist running shoes

3. Water Resistance

Waterproof models stop water from getting into your feet. This makes them the perfect alternative for running in moist weather and winter running. But this water security also makes them breathable, which can result in sweaty feet.

When most models aren’t fully waterproof, they can defy light-to-moderate rain for 15 to 30 minutes prior to your socks begin to become wet. These versions are not made with Gore-Tex membranes or sealed seams as they are not designed to withstand heavy rain.

To choose the best water resistance, you have to think about your exposure time to rain, the weather, the humidity, etc.

4. Breathability

Most minimalist versions do not consist of waterproof membranes (which may substantially reduce breathability) because they’re intended to keep your feet dry and fresh. This feature is essential to operate comfortably and avoid blisters, which are normally formed by excess moisture.

Minimalist Running Shoe FAQ

Minimalist running shoes are not for everybody. Here is our advice on common questions for this type of pursuit.

1. How long do minimalist running shoes last?

Each model has distinct durability based on its materials, the type of single, the thickness of the only, etc. The durability will also be based on the intended use, the sort of tracks you’re running on, how frequently you run, etc. Generally, for city use and short runs, most versions can last around a couple of years. This durability can be considerably reduced when you wear the shoes for hiking and trail running.

2. How Should Minimalist Running Shoes Fit?

Minimal running shoes must fit snugly but comfortably. Minimal shoes should fit like a great glove. You need them to be snug enough to wrap your foot but have enough space to stretch and move with your foot as it strikes the ground. Don’t purchase them so tight as to restrict your foot’s natural movement through your running stride, however, they need to be tight enough to not go around your foot.

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3. Is it safe to wear minimalist running shoes?

Ordinarily, these shoes should be secure to wear for almost all kinds of runners. But you need to make a gradual transition from regular footwear to minimalist footwear. In other words, if you have worn regular footwear your entire life, you shouldn’t wear your new minimalist shoes and get into specialized trails, marathons, and the like.

Take it easy, try on your footwear, and start with short runs so that your body gets used to it. Otherwise, you may suffer from muscle overload or injury (although this would be from the worst-case scenario, and is usually due to abuse ).

The best threat of harm is typically through the first few weeks. Once you adjust to a new footwear, you’ll have the ability to complete longer paths and run faster.


Hope that you will like this article and you can choose the best minimalist running shoes.

We also have separate articles for the best trail running shoes, the best running shoes for men, the best running shoes for ladies, and also the best road running shoes for women. You can read them on our website. 

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