Our Favorite Barefoot Running Sandals Rated In-Depth
It’s really important to choose a product that’s going to accommodate you in the conditions where you plan on running. They may not be appropriate for extremely rocky terrains, or for areas with standing water. A lot of runners are looking for ways to be lighter on their feet and to get in better tune with their surroundings
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Easy on/easy off
No toe post
Adjustable to individual comfort
Function well on land and in water
- Luna Oso
- Xero Amuri Z-trek
- Vibram VI-S
- Vivobarefoot Achilles Sports Sandals
- Skechers On The Go 400
- Vivobarefoot Eclipse
- Keen Newport H2
- Teva Katavi
- OOfos Original
- Atika Maya Trail
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Favorite Barefoot Running Sandals
1. Luna Oso
Extensively engineered for an ideal design
Excellent terrain grip
Zero drop sole
Some runners are critical of the challenge of adjusting the laces.
Some runners feel the shoe runs is expensive for a sandal
Founded by the famous Barefoot Ted McDonald featured in Born to Run, Luna's Oso holds the top position on our list. Not only do they have the ultra-marathon (50 miles) example of their founder to endorse the product, but many marathon and ultramarathon runners also testify to the durability and appropriateness of these shoes.Read more
Available exclusively in black, the Oso has 13mm Vibram® Megagrip outsoles and Vibram® midsoles. The soles have 4.5 mm lugs to give you a secure grip on any surface and the shoes weigh only about 9 oz. They have a unique sure-grip footbed to hold the sandals to your soles.
The super comfy nylon strapping system with the heel cushioning and the easy grip soles make these very comfortable. The comfort improves with time as they conform to the natural shape of your foot.
Cost and Value
These are quite pricey, but as it seems close to impossible to wear them out, the objective price must be compared to the subjective investment.
2. Xero Amuri Z-trek
Easy on/easy off
No toe post
Adjustable to individual comfort
Function well on land and in water
Some runners find they dislike the slapping sound as the sandals strike the surface.
The standard size is not appropriate for wide feet.
The Xero Amuri Z-trek are half the price of our top pick in this category and offer many of the same benefits through very different design elements and using very different basic components.Read more
Available in three color combinations for both men and women, the Amuri Z-trek is a remarkably flexible, durable sport unshoe with 5.5mm rubber soles that enable excellent, natural running style and road read.
Xero uses rubber for the soles of the Amuri S-treks, rather than heavier, tire-like soles, for greater flexibility. These soles include technical elements including a slight toe curl-up for spring, modest arch support and a comfortable heel cup. The anchor points are somewhat elevated to keep the straps off the ground and the entire sole has a subtle contour to enable the sandals to hug the sole of your foot.
These are so light and comfortable you may forget you are wearing them. The sole holds to your natural sole as if it were just another layer of skin and the Z strapping system is soft and nearly weightless. These average about 6.9 oz. and feature zero-drop for natural posture support.
Cost and Value
At half the price of many running sandals, these are a good value investment.
3. Vibram VI-S
Excellent for running
Easy to use strap closure system
Not as durable as other options
If you're familiar with this Vibram you know that they've helped to revolutionize the running shoe game with their minimalist, barefoot style shoes. This is their sandal offering and has the same high level of quality and good materials as their shoes but with a more open design. Users loved how comfortable they are but you should be aware that they do run large so you may want to order a size smaller than your normal shoe size.Read more
Users mentioned again and again how good these felt on their feet and how they could wear them all day. The design is great for helping your feet to remember their natural form and function.
Most people either love or hate how these look. Most users like wearing them and even feel that they're suitable for more formal occasions than one would think based on their initial impression looking at them.
These are made from imported textiles, and have a grippy rubber sole with a serrated knife style lug pattern.
Like most minimalist shoes these won't last as long as other options simply because of the design and thinness of the materials.
4. Vivobarefoot Achilles Sports Sandals
Contoured, anti-slip footbed
Protective toe caps
Removable nylon strap
Some people find the toe division with protective caps unattractive
The toe division requires a very large separation of big toe from the rest of the toes
You can identify Vivobarefoot by the cool red “V” logo placed at various strategic points on the shoes. These feature a 3mm sole, have a distinctive look. The Vivobarefoot Achilles Sport does not have a toe post, rather feature a wide separation between the first toe and the rest of the toes with toe caps to protect those delicate digits.Read more
Offered in bright and brilliant colors or, of course, in black, Vivobarefoot Achilles feature the unusual toe separation with cap described above as well as a removable, nylon strap. The over-the-foot strap anchor includes padding for comfort. The sole pattern is of hexagons enables foot movement in any direction. The edge of these sole curve ever so slightly upwards preventing irritating intrusion of small objects under the toenails. These also leave a cool-looking imprint in moist or sandy soil like an ungulate.
Intended to anchor the foot into the footbed, the toe separation is irritating unless the division matches your foot ideally. The entire sole is curved up at the edge like a saucer and prevents small stones and sticks from intruding between your foot and the footbed.
Cost and Value
When these shoes agree with you, this is a great value. The toe division is not comfortable for many runners who must pass on this sandal, but for those whom it suits, this is a great shoe at a great price.
5. Skechers On The Go 400
Energy return footbed
Run true to size
Possible durability issues
They squeaked for some users
These are a great option for running and for people who'll be on their feet all day. These Skechers shoes offer the user a lot of support and have good cushioning. The footbed features energy return materials and they run true to size. A few users did mention that they experienced some squeaking, but it didn't seem to happen to everyone.Read more
This is one of the highest rated shoes on our list in this category. The energy return footbed and soft fabric lining of the straps help to ensure they'll feel good on your feet all day long.
These are middle of the road when it comes to looks. They don't stand out and they won't make you look like a dork either.
These feature a rubber sole and textile straps. The straps have a fabric lining for comfort that feels very soft against the user's skin.
We did find a few mentions of people who experience the sole coming apart from the footbed after a couple of months of use. This didn't happen to everyone, but it wasn't an isolated incidence either.
6. Vivobarefoot Eclipse
Dimpled footbed for anti-slip comfort
5 mm sole
Strap cushioning and breathability
Curved sole for foot protection
The strap can be too springy for some
The toe post can feel uncomfortable
The Vivobarefoot Eclipse is attractive and Vegan. They feature 5mm, puncture-resistant soles as well as a perforated, cushioned strap. The strap is particularly springy, which some runners like and others feel impedes their running by allowing too much room between the foot’s natural sole and the footbed.Read more
Intended as an all-purpose sports option, these have a fashionable edge to them while retaining their sporty construction. Available in attractive colors, these have a fun vibe but the anti-puncture sole and dimpled, anatomical footbed ensure their performance on the road and trail do not suffer because of their good looks.
The dimpled, anatomical footbed keeps the foot from shifting in the bed in both moist and dry conditions. Vivobarefoot anatomical footbed contains dimpling for stability and comfort and the slight arch is a welcome addition.
Cost and Value
These are mid-priced action sandals and are durable and washable, a good price for these sandals.
7. Keen Newport H2
Secure lacing system
PFC free materials
Some users experienced durability issues
These are a very secure option that can be used for running as well as water sports such as river rafting and stand up paddleboarding. They feature PFC free materials and have a very comfortable footbed and a great multi-directional lug system for traction. Users found them to be supportive and secure, but they do have a short break-in time and some buyers experienced durability issues.Read more
The EVA footbed keeps the user's foot feeling good even during all-day use. The secure lacing system also works well without being too tight.
Personally, we like how these look, and users felt comfortable wearing them in a variety of settings. They're also available in 12 different color combinations.
We love that these are made from PFC free sources. PFC is a inorganic compound that doesn't break down and releases harmful chemicals into the environment. KEEN shows their commitment to our natural world by going the extra mile to make products without PFC.
This seems to be a mixed bag with these. Most users enjoyed a long-lasting experience with these, while several others had the strap system fail rather quickly.
8. Teva Katavi
Secure, unobtrusive strap system
Rear loop for easy on and off
Some users feel this brand's quality used to be better
This is a solid option from an iconic sandal brand. They feature an extremely grippy rubber outsole and very comfortable footbed. The strap system works well to secure the sandal to the user's foot.
They are a little bit expensive however.
This is one of the best parts about this product. The footbed is soft and comfortable but still supportive, and the strap system is very secure but won't bit into your foot so they're good for all-day wear.
These are fairly average looking for this type of product. They only come in one color.
These feature imported textile straps. The rubber outsole is made from what the company calls Durabrasion rubber, which is their own proprietary rubber that has a lot of traction and grip but is also very durable.
Most users enjoyed long-lasting use from these but there were a few instances of early failure, mostly with the strap system.
9. OOfos Original
Achilles tendon support
The straps are not adjustable
The quality could be improved
Beyond encouraging the minimalist, exercise aficionados, Oofos takes the next step in this foot ware trend by creating a product that actually claims to encourage recovery. The molded, cushioned footbed of OOfos Original absorbs shock so every aspect of your gait can recover.Read more
Stylish to the point of loud, these are not low-profile. Oofos creates the footbed from OOfoam which is comfortable and maintains its cushioning over time. Though more technical than many shoes on this list, Oofos 1” heel provides Achilles tendon support and the anatomical footbed is dimpled to prevent sliding in any direction.
OOfos cradles the foot for maximum comfort. Though a hybrid of comfort/recovery product and workout one, the OOfos anatomical footbed is a sweet, comfortable ride, cushioning the entire running mechanism for recovery and performance.
Cost and Value
These hit the mid-point for this type of footwear. If this is your style, these are a good price for an established, well-known product.
10. Atika Maya Trail
Molded EVA sole
Multi-directional lug pattern for excellent grip
Comfortable nylon straps
Straps adjust at two points for comfort and hold
Slight heel elevation
Possible blistering issues with constant use
Atika Maya Trail is modestly-priced and is another example of the hybrid running design. They provide some arch and heel support while remaining flexible and comfortable. Not for the true blue minimalist, these shoes, designed for trails, hug the trail to prevent slippage.Read more
When we enter the category of multipurpose hiking designs, we must exempt them from most issues of fashion and judge them on their practicality. Offered in quite a few color combinations, none of the hues disguise the heavy-duty nature of these trail shoes.
The molded footbed of the Maya is supportive and light enough, though far from a featherweight. The nylon straps are adjustable in two places and are blister-resistant. The lugs on the soles hold the trail effectively without passing any discomfort on to the soles of your feet.
Cost and Value
This is another adapted rather than designed product. The price is so affordable that they are worth trying in case they are a good match for you.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The entire idea behind running sandals is to have a more connected feeling while you’re running. A lot of extreme athletes enjoy running barefoot and swear that improves their performance under certain conditions. Naturally, you can’t do this if you’re running on rocky or difficult terrain. Running sandals get you a step closer to this without putting your feet at as much risk for injury. They offer you a measure of protection while allowing you to get closer to a more natural state.
New technological innovations surrounding footwear have made the creation of running sandals possible. The soles are thin enough to give you that barefoot feeling while still protecting your feet from repetitive impact. This is a really interesting way to enjoy your run, and we’ve looked at a huge number of products to choose the best ones for your needs. On top of being trendy and functional, many of these running sandals are also incredibly stylish.
Many runners report that barefoot running or running in sandals actually results in fewer injuries than running with more cushioned footwear. This is because a person places less pressure on the soul of their foot when they’re able to feel what they’re running on. This has to do with an instinct to protect your feet from injury and the fact that you aren’t pushing against a highly cushioned surface. Running sandals are also notoriously comfortable. This is because of the freedom that they allow your foot and the breathability. The foot isn’t being restricted in any way, and this actually changes the way that you absorb the shock.
We looked at products that will offer you enough of a cushion to protect your feet while still keeping you firmly connected to the ground. There are a wide variety of different running sandals, and we tried to populate this list with products that can appeal to runners at every level.
We’ve been transitioning to a more natural version of the style. In fact, Earthier products are incredibly trendy. This means that your running sandals aren’t relegated to just the trail. You can also wear them when you’re out and about for supreme comfort and mobility. The products that we looked at are highly fashionable and can appeal to your aesthetic senses as well. This means that you can enjoy your favorite footwear just about anywhere.
Runners prefer that their footwear be lightweight. This helps with their performance, eases the stress on their knees, and improves comfort while running. Running sandals are the ultimate lightweight footwear. They give you the option of using a product that has a thin enough sole to reduce the overall weight that’s on your feet while running. Every time that you take a step you’re pulling up that weight. This requires additional energy and can place a good amount of strain on your shins and knees. The running sandals that we looked at are incredibly lightweight and can offer you a unique experience.
Here the question is how barefoot do you want to go or feel? If you want a minimalistic feel you want to achieve the thinner the soles, ensure that the soles are thin as this is exactly why you are looking for the barefoot sandals, but if you are a first timer it is good if you go slow on the thin sole try one that is about 8mm before going to the 5mm directly as this will give you the experience of what you are looking for. Thin soles, however, are the best for running sandals as there will not be the shoe feel in the sandals.
A great barefoot sandal should be very flexible as to allow your foot to move more naturally, the less weight of the sandal should be able to allow you this as you can move your feet as you want them to. Consider going for a thin sole too as this will increase the effectiveness of the sandals as well, flexibility is easy to achieve once you get the right pick of sandals.
This related to vast products and it’s not a surprise the sandals also have this. Well when talking of durability of sandals, we mean the straps and the sole, the material of the straps need to be ones that can easily be worn and ones that last long and cannot break in the middle of your run as this can pose as a life-threatening problem, as a runner ensure that you get sandals that have the right sole grip for the terrain you will be exposing them to, ensure that they are ones that can be used in every terrain and can conquer in most cases rubber soles are considered best as they have an amicable grip with them. They are able to be used to the best as they are durable. For the straps consider going for leather straps as they are comfortable and long lasting too.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Running in sandals isn’t necessarily for everyone. It takes dedication to change the way that you look at running shoes, and a little bit of adaptability. Running sandals definitely have a different feel and can take some getting used to.
It is recommended to start out running short distances and seeing how your body responds. If you're sore the next day take some time off and try again. Build up to longer distances slowly.
Other Factors to Consider
When in the hunt for a barefoot sandal look carefully, in case you have the history if an injury or bruise make sure you see your doctor first to get the go-ahead of going down the road and joining the bandwagon of barefoot feelers. This might come in when going for sandals, good news is you might find the best sandals and realize they are not all that expensive, we like to put it as it is, cost can drive your decision but never allow yourself to think that the best products are the ones with the higher prices, sometimes you will be shocked as that is not the case when getting sandals, go for ones that are durable if luck is on your side you will get them at a very affordable price. Sometimes of your creative level is up there how about you practice to make one pair on your own, just by getting the required material, you might end up being surprised on how little you will spend.
Well sandals cannot be ones that are small when you put them on, you will need one that is just the right size and fit for you, oversized sandals can be risky and can end up causing unwanted accidents that can be prevented by getting the right size, some companies produce sandals that are small, in the sense that if you put on a size 6 you might need to add ½ to get the right size for you. Keep this in mind when going hunting for your ideal pair, in most cases consider the straps too because they come as one and the fitting should be comfortable generally.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. People have been running in sandals for thousands of years if not more. The modern sandals on our list offer far more in terms of support and protection than what people have been using since the dawn of time. The caveat, however, is that because we've worn shoes for pretty much our whole lives our feet didn't develop with the natural strength, toughness, and flexibility that our ancestors did. With some time, patience, and adjustment in types of footwear we can absolutely return to our feet the ability to walk, run, and play in much less constrictive footwear than you'd think possible.
It depends. As always, talk to your doctor to make sure that your health history allows you to go with us on this adventure, we would be pleased to know that it is okay for you. If you are currently injured or have a previous injury that causes you some constraints these may be tough for you to use.
This depends on your experience and fitness level. If you are new to this type of workout, stick to the more leveled and smooth surfaces to help you work up to getting used to using minimalistic gear during physical activity. If you are experienced then you have more flexibility because your body is in tune with the feel of minimalistic running. The materials that the sandals are made of will also play a role in determining the surface you choose.
That all depends on how quickly and intelligently you make the transition from running in regular shoes, to a more barefoot style minimalist shoe. If you take your time and start with short distances at a slow pace, all while progressively reducing the supportiveness of your footwear you should be able to run in sandals or even barefoot without experiencing pain. If you go too far too fast however, yes, it's gonna hurt.