Best Minimalist Running Shoes (Best Barefoot-like Experience)

Strengthen your lower limb, improve running form, and use the best minimalist running shoes with the best barefoot-like feel

Featured shoe: Merrell Vapor Glove 3 (Top Pick, OutdoorGearLab)

If there’s one type of shoe that can rapidly improve your running form, it’s the minimalist shoe. Typically, an excellent minimalist running shoe can encourage your lower leg muscles to work and strengthen which can deliver greater balance and help prevent various foot problems that can dramatically reduce physical capability.

But minimalist shoes are not for everyone because they have more contact with the ground and don’t deliver excellent arch support. So, it’s best to try it if you’re a runner with neutral foot motion (or neutral pronation) and no known foot problems. Supinators should avoid minimalist shoes, especially if they experience foot pain because supinators are prone to having pain in the heel and forefoot because of the lack of flexibility in their feet.

If you tend to overpronate, you will not like the minimalist experience because they don’t have that needed arch support for overpronation. Shifting to a minimalist shoe may also require a slow transition to avoid getting injured. If you’re new to a minimalist running shoe, gradually increase your mileage but be ready to stop and not go any farther if you experience muscle pain in your foot, shin, and calf.

You should avoid minimalist shoes if you have foot problems like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs or calcaneal spurs, hammertoes, Morton’s neuroma, and bunions or deformity of the joint.

RELATED: Best Shoes for Neutral Pronation

What are the best minimalist running shoes?

The best minimalist running shoes are significantly lighter than any conventional shoe. The minimalist shoe has a support system that can give you the freedom and empowers your natural stride with a protection from road debris and road imperfections.

The best minimalist running shoes can also be used on light trails. The best part is when you get used to a minimalist shoe, shifting back to a cushioned shoe won’t be a problem.

Runderwear – Prevent chafing when running by wearing the best of Runderwear!

Table of Contents
  1. Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Women
  2. Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Men

best minimalist running shoes

Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Women

Here’s a list of the best minimalist running shoes for women (in no particular order):

1. Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 Trail Runner
2. Merrell Vapor Glove 4 Trail Runner
3. Merrell Pace Glove 3 Trail Runner
4. Merrell Bare Access Flex Trail Runner
5. Vibram KMD Evo Cross Training Shoe
6. Vibram KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
7. Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail Barefoot Shoe
8. Topo Athletic ST-2 (best in test, Men’s Running)
9. Newton Tri-Racer MV3 (best in test, Men’s Running)
10. Saucony Endorphin Racer 2 Track Shoe

Another minimalist running shoe to consider is On Cloudflash which is best in test according to Men’s Running.

You can get more muscle power, more endurance, and more muscle oxygenation using engineered gradient compression clothing.

RELATED: 10 Health Benefits of Compression Clothing During Workout and Post-Workout

If you have difficulty shifting from conventional to minimalist shoes, use New Balance REVlite foam cushioning – this technology sits between conventional and minimal designs. Great examples of New Balance running shoes with REVlite foam compound are:

best minimalist running shoes

Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Men

Here’s a list of the best minimalist running shoes for men (in no particular order):

1. Merrell Bare Access 4 Trail Runner
2. Merrell Vapor Glove 4 Trail Runner
3. Merrell Glove 4 (best barefoot, OutdoorGearLab)
4. Xero Shoes Prio (best buy, OutdoorGearLab)
5. Vibram KMD LS Cross Training Shoe
6. Vibram KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
7. Vibram V Trail Runner
8. Topo Athletic ST-2 (best in test, Men’s Running)
9. Newton Tri-Racer MV3 (best in test, Men’s Running)
10. Saucony Endorphin Racer 2 Track Shoe

Another minimalist running shoe to consider is On Cloudflash (best in test, Men’s Running).

You can get more muscle power, more endurance, and more muscle oxygenation using engineered gradient compression clothing.

RELATED: 10 Health Benefits of Compression Clothing During Workout and Post-Workout

If you have difficulty shifting from conventional to minimalist shoes, use New Balance REVlite foam cushioning – this technology sits between conventional and minimal designs. Great examples of New Balance running shoes with REVlite foam compound are:

  • New Balance 1400v6
  • New Balance 996v3
  • New Balance Minimus 20v7
  • New Balance 890v6 (best update, RW)

Having the right shoe can also prevent corns and calluses from forming.

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