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

Less is more with these top-performers

Minimalist running shoes have gained in popularity over the past decade as a hybrid between barefoot shoes and traditional running shoes. Some runners like the natural style of running that the shoes’ lightweight, minimal construction encourages.

When shopping for a high-quality minimalist running shoe, look for ones that are flexible, lightweight, have a high degree of ground feeling, and offer enough foot protection. Depending on what type of running you’re doing, you may also want some light cushioning. To help you sort through all the options, we’ve compiled this list of the best minimalist running shoes for men.

Keep in mind that minimalist running shoes are not for everyone. Some people have a better experience than others, depending on their age, weight, foot type, running efficiency, and style, strength, mileage base, and more. If you’re used to heavier, more supportive running shoes, you should slowly transition to minimalist running shoes by starting with shorter runs and gradually increasing your distance and frequency. 


If you’re looking for a lightweight, well-rounded minimalist shoe, look no further than the New Balance Men's MT10V1 Minimus trail running shoe. The Minimus gets the overall best on this list for its superior comfort, traction, ground feeling, foot protection, and durability. Whether you like running on the roads, hiking or running on trails, or competing in obstacle course races, this extremely versatile shoe offers the right traction and support for various surfaces and activities.

The shoe features premium foam support and a midfoot wrap to help keep your foot stable and comfortable, while the shoe’s wide forefoot and large Vibram hexagonal treads on the outsole give you outstanding grip, even on ascents and descents. They’re comfortable right out of the box, unlike some other minimalist shoes that require a break-in period. This shoe is also treated with an antimicrobial solution to help reduce shoe odors.


With the durability and performance of a higher-priced minimalist shoe, the Skechers Men's GOrun running shoes are a great value and you’ll definitely get a lot of bang for your buck. They’re a light, fast, and neutral trainer that’s perfect for speed workouts, although the cushioning and traction are suitable for long runs, races and even light trails. Users love the shoes’ springy feel and responsiveness, as well as its durability.


From hard-packed trails to rough terrain and steep descents, the very versatile Inov-8 Men's Terraclaw trail running shoe performs well on a wide range of trails. Even if you like running on rugged trails, this shoe’s aggressive lugs and rock plate protection on its outersole will protect your feet from sharp rocks and rough terrain and improve your stability on uneven ground. And, despite the excellent protection, it still offers enough flexibility to feel like you’re running in a minimalist shoe.


The Brooks Men’s PureFlow running shoe is made for the neutral runner who wants a lightweight, minimalist feel but still has some cushioning for running on the road. The shoe’s Omega Flex Grooves allow for more natural forefoot movement and flexibility. Another great feature is the BioMoGo DNA LT midsole, which delivers adaptive cushioning without being too heavy or bulky. With blown rubber pods on the outsole, the shoe provides reliable grip and traction if you want to take it off-roading. 


Known for its comfort, the Vapor Glove from Merrell is a solid minimalist running shoe that’s a great option for daily use. It features a precise and snug, but comfortable, fit, and a durable outsole for maximum support and traction. The shoes’ footbed has been integrated as one unit with the outsole, which allows for a very minimalist experience. They also have some midsole cushioning, offering a comfy fit even if you’ve been walking around in them all day. The breathable mesh lining and footbed have been treated with M Select FRESH, which reduces shoe odor.


The Altra Men’s Superior trail running shoes offer a combination of great ground feel, superb traction, and flexibility, making it a fantastic option for those who enjoy hiking in minimalist shoes. They’re also a great option for obstacle course racing and trail running if you’re looking for a versatile, comfortable minimalist shoe. The shoe also excels in its stability and grip, providing protection in all directions. The TrailClaw outsoles feature lugs under your toes for excellent traction and impact protection, while the StoneGuard rock protection plates protect your feet from sharp rocks and are removable for running on a less demanding terrain.  With a wide toebox, this shoe is a great option for those with wider feet who have suffered from cramped toes in other minimalist shoes.


Courtesy of Zappos

Another fantastic minimalist shoe option from Brooks, the PureCadence Men’s running shoe is built for the mild to moderate overpronator who wants a lightweight, minimalist shoe while still getting the stability they need. The rounded heel promotes better alignment, helping to reduce joint stress. If you need additional support, the foam insole is removable so you can add a different insole or custom orthotics. The rubber outsole provides reliable traction and grip, so you can take these shoes on the trails as well as the roads. The fabric is mesh and lightweight, so it’s perfect for warm weather running, but may be a bit too thin for colder weather. 



While not as well-known as other makers of minimalist running shoes, Xero offers a high-performance product in the Prio. Although they have the traction and protection needed for trail running or hiking, they’re also a comfortable, lightweight option for those who want a minimalist shoe for cross-training activities such as Crossfit or strength training. They offer a comfortable sock-like fit and a wide toe box, so your foot has room to flex and spread out. They’re also low-to-the ground for improved balance and agility.  


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