Whether you are an ambitious barefoot runner or just want to get in touch with your own feet, "barefoot" shoes are an excellent option for strengthening your legs and improving tactility. Here we outline some of the best in minimalist footwear.
There are many articles out there about why you, as a trail runner, should try barefoot shoes. But if you're not a runner, should you even bother? Well, sure!
Not just for skiers
We've broken our feet with modern shoes. Thick soles and arch supports have made the feet soft and weak ̵
Throughout much of human history, the ancestors had simple shoes with minimal support, such as sandals or leather socks with a little extra layering on the sole. They also wore things like kilts, tights and three-quarter pants. Why? Because they wanted to show off the impressive leg muscles they developed and wandered around and didn't have covered shoes.
For us, there is a small learning curve to switch to minimal shoes. Without a cushioning of a thick heel, you are forced to take advantage of your natural cushioning mechanisms: ankles, toes and foot muscles, rather than just landing on the heel bone and allowing it to bump up the knees and back.
But the challenge is the advantage. You will use your feet more, make your legs stronger and absorb the shock where it was meant to go (the muscles), instead of where it is usually absorbed now (by the shoes, legs and joints). Having barefoot shoes even when walking around the city can strengthen your legs. You will also feel quick enough to skip a candlestick, and every other shoe will feel like a ski boot for comparison.
But everyone is different. If you have had trouble with your feet, please contact someone who has spent seven years at the school before donating minimalist shoes. You will also find out what your dog already knows: pavements are not as fun to walk on as dirt and grass.
Are you interested in trying barefoot shoes? Here are some of the best challengers.
Best premium shoes: Merrell Vapor Glove 3 ($ 50- $ 150)
While not the latest iteration of this line, Merrell Vapor Glove 3 is, perhaps, the most popular barefoot, one-toe shoe out there. It has been successful enough with different material options (cotton or net), and a Vibram sole with a low profile that rises just in front of it, to protect your toes from stubbing on a root, pavement or anything else terrible.
The fact that these are top sellers means that they also come in a variety of colors. This is great because sometimes sports shoes manufacturers only give you a khaki or safety vest yellow alternative, forcing you to choose the smallest of two bad ones.
The disadvantage of this shoe (and most with minimal construction) is even the higher brand tends to fall apart from regular use. We are not sure what the fix is for this (make the net of spider silk?), But it is in line with shoes that are not as covered as those we are used to.
Vapor Gloves 3 comes in both men's and women's styles. There are also many user reviews that help you decide if this shoe makes sense to you.
Best Budget Shoe: FITKICKS ($ 20- $ 25)
Is Merrell's too rich for your blood? Well, these FITKICKS cost much less. Instead of looking for the cross-trainer look, they are more like Vans Old Skool grinding barefoot shoes. They are super simple and there is only one model, but it comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
They look a bit like water skis or slippers that the spacecraft can in the near future wear around the artificial nature.  But don't let their unassuming, simplistic design and low price fool you: Garrett Busch on breakingmuscle.com says his first couple lasted 900 running miles, and he has also successfully used them to a half marathon. So they are serious sneakers if that's what you need. Busch also notes that these shoes force you to leave mistakes in your walking or running forms, as you can really feel the ground through them.
FITKICKS also comes in both men's and women's size.
Best Five-finger Shoes: Vibram KSO ($ 55- $ 90)
This list would not be well rounded without including a couple of the somewhat more divisive, five-finger style barefoot shoes. For those uninitiated, these weird foot-wear poster shoes are for the barefoot running zeitgeist.
When Vibram is not busy making soles for Merrell, he makes his own shoes. Perhaps their most iconic creation is the FiveFingers line. KSO is one of the more modern FiveFingers models. It boasts the dense fit you only find in a shoe that lovingly embraces every toe in the net and rubber. Why not give each of your toes some privacy?
However, FiveFingers is a preference. It is difficult to figure out what benefits you get in relation to a single-toe shoe. Either you love the idea and the feeling, or you don't. If you love it, Vibram KSOs are a good bet and are available to both men and women.