The 8 Best Barefoot Running Shoes for Men to Buy in 2018

Minimalist shoes that will go the distance

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Ever since the minimalist running movement really took off about a decade ago, active people have embraced barefoot running shoes for many different reasons. Some men run in them to achieve a more natural running style and feel more of a connection to the ground. Others like to wear them for weight-training and other cross-training activities such as Cross-Fit, hiking, or even watersports. Some men prefer to just walk in barefoot running shoes since doing so can help build foot strength to avoid future injuries.

If you want to try barefoot running shoes, keep in mind that they may not work for everyone. For running, it’s important to start with a slow and gradual build-up. Begin with walking or doing cross-training activities in barefoot running shoes and build up to running short distances in them. If you notice pain or discomfort, take a couple days off from wearing them. Your body will need some time to adjust.

When choosing barefoot running shoes, it’s important not to skimp, since you could really injure yourself if you don’t run in a high-quality, well-made shoe. Look for ones that are flexible, lightweight, and have a high degree of ground feeling and good foot protection. Browse through this list of the best barefoot running shoes for men to find the perfect ones for your needs and preferences.

Best Overall: Vibram FiveFingers Men's KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe

The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO barefoot running shoe gets our top ranking for its comfort, versatility, affordability, and performance. A versatile and flexible barefoot running shoe, it can be worn on the roads or trails, but also works well for cross-training, walking, and other activities. With just the right balance of responsiveness and protection, the KSO EVO lets you feel the ground beneath your feet, while still keeping them safe from debris. The FiveFingers design features individual toe slots that allow your toes to splay, which is a huge plus for runners who often feel crammed in traditional running shoes.

With a sole that’s less than 5 millimeters thick, this shoe encourages a natural style of running, but still provides enough traction and durability to protect your feet. The KSO EVO also features a breathable and flexible upper and a lacing system that makes it quick and easy to get them on and off. They’re available in several different color combinations, including black, gray/black, blue/black, and black/red.​

Best Budget: Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 3 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe

The Vapor Glove 3 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe from Merrell is a solid, affordable choice, especially for barefoot running newbies. It provides some more support than the five-finger shoes, so it’s easier to transition from traditional running shoes. If you’re not into barefoot running, it’s also a nice option for cross-training, hiking, Cross-Fit and other activities.

The durable outsole features good traction, even in wet conditions. With a breathable mesh upper and Merrell’s odor-reducing treatment, you don’t have to worry about your feet getting sweaty and stinky. These shoes are available in some fun color combinations, including Molten Lava and Shaded Spruce, so you can pick one that best suits your style.

Best for Road Running: Vibram FiveFingers V-Run Running Shoe

Another FiveFingers option from Vibram, the V-Run shoe features an 8-mm thick sole and provides the right amount of cushioning and protection for running on pavement. It’s also a solid option for runners who are used to traditional running shoes and want to transition to barefoot running shoes. Your feet stay cool and dry, thanks to the polyester Lycra stretch mesh fabric. These lightweight shoes are designed to be worn barefoot, but can also accommodate toe socks when running in colder weather.

Best for Trail Running: Vibram FiveFingers Men’s V-Trail Runner

If you plan on hitting the trails in barefoot running shoes, you need a shoe that offers the right amount of protection from rocks and other debris. The Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail barefoot running shoe delivers in that area, and also provides enough ground feel for a minimalist running experience. It features an extended rock protection mesh under the sole that helps reduce the shock when you run over stones or roots. With padding around the heel, toe bumpers at the end of the toes and an aggressive tread design, these shoes are sure to keep your feet comfortable and protected on the trails.

Best for Distance Running: Merrell Men's Bare Access 4 Trail Running Shoe

Merrell’s Bare Access 4 trail running shoes allow you to run naturally, but still provide the toe to heel cushioning and protection that distance runners need. This shoe is perfect for neutral runners who want a lightweight, yet durable, barefoot running shoe. It’s also a nice option for those who are brand-new to barefoot running. With a breathable mesh upper, your feet will stay cool and comfortable, no matter how many miles you’re running. These shoes come in a few different colors and also feature reflective details for running in low light conditions.

Best for Hiking: Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent

Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent
Courtesy of Zappos

These Vibram Fivefinger Trek Ascent shoes are built specifically for those who want a barefoot experience while hiking. The shoe’s 4-mm EVA midsole provides lightweight cushioning and shock absorption, while the Vibram rubber outsole offers excellent traction and grip. The upper securely hugs the top of the foot, so you don’t have to worry about pebbles and dirt getting in. These shoes also feature a speed lacing system so you can adjust them quickly and easily.

Best for Walking: Vivobarefoot Men’s Stealth 2 Men’s Walk Shoe

Walking in barefoot running shoes can help strengthen your feet and hopefully prevent future foot injuries. The Vivobarefoot Stealth II men’s running shoe is a nice choice for casual or fitness walking, and also works for running, if you eventually want to give it a try. The shoe features a 3-mm thick rubber outsole that provides flexible traction, even in wet conditions. The thin, breathable fabric lining offers a comfortable, snug feel, while keeping your feet dry and cool.

Best for Cross-Training: Vibram FiveFingers V-Train

Vibram FiveFingers V-Train
Courtesy of Zappos

If you’re looking for a barefoot running shoe for cross-training activities such as lifting, yoga, or Cross Fit, the Vibram FiveFingers V-Train is a solid choice. These shoes feature the feel and flexibility of barefoot shoes but have a bit more structure and protection. They provide excellent traction, even in wet conditions, and the shoe’s lug patterns offer added grip that’s ideal for rope climbing or lateral movements. A highly versatile shoe, you can use these shoes in the gym, on the trails or at the beach for watersports. The shoe’s speed lace system and secure Velcro closure make it easy to get in and out of them.

For more running shoe options, read reviews on the best men's running shoes for neutral runners.

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