10 Best Barefoot Running Sandals Rated In-Depth

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Runners take their shoes very seriously, and this is why the idea of running sandals may sound a little ludicrous. In truth, there are some fantastic products that may change the way you think about running in sandals. When we run or participate in any high-impact sport, our footwear is of the utmost importance. We trust it to absorb shock, outlast the miles, and stand up to some punishing conditions. Running sandals have become increasingly popular in the athletic circuit. They’re frequently used by ultra-marathoners and people who are looking for a more natural alternative to traditional running gear.

When considering running sandals, 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.

The concept of running sandals has been around for thousands of years. Experts have looked at the way that ancient athletes adapted to their surroundings and used this to design a modern-day version of the same footwear. We looked at some of the most highly recommended products on the market and come up with a set of criteria to identify the best running sandals for our readers.

Last Updated: August 17, 2018
By Patricia Howard:

We used this update to provide our readers with valuable information on the benefits of trying running sandals as an alternative to traditional running shoes.

Luna Sandals Oso
  • Luna Sandals Oso
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Monkey Grip Technology
  • Price: See Here
Xero Amuri Z-trek
  • Xero Amuri Z-trek
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 70% lighter than others
  • Price: See Here
Bedrock Cairn
  • Bedrock Cairn
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Regolith Vibram® sole
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Barefoot Running Sandals

 

 

1. Luna Sandals Oso

1. Luna Sandals Oso
Founded by the famous Barefoot Ted McDonald featured in Born to Run , Luna sandals hold the top position on our running sandals list. Not only do they have the ultra-marathon (50 miles) example of their founder to endorse the product, but many marathon and ultra marathon runners also testify to the durability and appropriateness of these shoes.
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Style
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 foot bed to hold the sandals to your soles.

Comfort
The super comfy nylon strapping system with the heel cushioning and the easy grip soles make these sandals very comfortable. The comfort improves with time as the sandal conforms to the natural shape of your foot.

Value
These are quite pricey for sandals, but as it seems close to impossible to wear them out, the objective price must be compared to the subjective investment.
Pros
  • Extensively engineered for ideal design
  • Excellent terrain grip
  • Comfortable straps
  • Anti-slip soles
  • Zero drop sole
Cons
  • Some runners are critical of the challenge of adjusting the laces.
  • Some runners feel the shoe runs is expensive for a sandal.

2. Xero Amuri Z-trek

2. Xero Amuri Z-trek
Xero Amuri Z-trek sandals 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.
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Style
Available in three color combinations for both men and women, the Amuri Z-trek sandals are 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.

Comfort
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 the sandal zero-drop for natural posture support.

Value
At half the price of many running sandals, these are a good value investment.
Pros
  • Excellent flexibility
  • Easy on/easy off
  • Easy strapping
  • 5000 mile warranty
  • No toe post
  • Comfortable straps
  • Zero drop
  • Anti-slip soles
  • Adjustable to individual comfort
  • Function well on land and in water
Cons
  • Some runners find they dislike the slapping sound as the sandals strike the surface.
  • The standard size is not appropriate for wide feet.

3. Bedrock Cairn

3. Bedrock Cairn
Our third running sandal, though advertised as an all adventure sandal by Bedrock, is the Bedrock Cairn. Like the Lunas, these feature an exclusive Vibram® sole design. Bedrock designed these shoes for hiking, water sports, camping – any adventure you can name – though many people like them as running sandals.
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Style
Weighing only 7.8 oz., these shoes feature Bedrock-specific Vibram® soles with triangular traction for dependable grip in dry, wet and rough terrain. The strap system includes three adjustment systems for ideal fit, supported by a sole hugging fit. Held in place by US military grade Velcro®, these sandals feel a natural part of your feet.

Comfort
Lightweight and conforming to your natural sole, these sandals deliver comfort every step of your run.

Value
Closer in price to the Lunas than the Xeros, Bedrock supports their sandals with a warranty against any manufacturing defect and replaces the laces for a reasonable price.
Pros
  • Regolith Vibram® soles that hold the surface
  • Durable rubber soles
  • Conforms to the shape of your feet
  • Go Far springy midsole
  • 14mm
  • Grooved triangular sole pattern for grip wet or dry
  • Excellent air circulation
  • ¾” strap with 3 separate adjustment systems
  • Foot-cradling soles for comfort and security
Cons
  • For cooler weather you need to find toe socks to use with these sandals.
  • Some runners find that these sandals hold mud.

4. Vivobarefoot Achilles Sports Sandals

4. Vivobarefoot Achilles Sports Sandals
You can identify Vivobarefoot sandals by the cool red “V” logo placed at various strategic points on the shoes. These sandals, featuring a 3mm sole, have a distinctive look. They do 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.
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Style
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 sandals also leave a cool-looking imprint in moist or sandy soil like an ungulate.

Comfort
Intended to anchor the foot into the foot bed, 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 foot bed.

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.
Pros
  • Heel cup
  • Contoured, anti-slip foot bed
  • Zero drop
  • 100% Vegan
  • 3mm
  • Very flexible
  • Split toe
  • Protective toe caps
  • Removable nylon strap
  • Puncture resistant
Cons
  • Some runners find the toe division with protective caps unattractive.
  • Some runners find that toe division requires a very large separation of big toe from the rest of the toes.

5. Vivobarefoot Ulysses

5. Vivobarefoot Ulysses
The anatomically shaped foot bed of the Vivobarefoot Ulysses employs an unusual 1.5mm, three-layer sole system enabling almost invisible strap-anchoring by nesting the anchor points between the layers. These minimalist sandals get rave reviews from both runners and outdoors enthusiasts, though, as with all shoes, they are imperfect.

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Style
The Ulysses do not have the unusual split toe feature of the Achilles. The Ulysses is more conventional in appearance and Vivobarefoot offers it in many bright, spring-ish colors so it has a more park than track vibe, though many do employ them as running sandals.

Comfort
Ulysses do not have any toe spring nor is the edge of the sole curved up so some intrusion by small trail and road particles is inevitable, though these sandals more readily transition from running to general summer wear than most running sandals.

Value
These cost in the average range for running sandals. Because they lack some valuable features to protect the feet and exclude road debris, they are not the bargain other running sandals are.
Pros
  • Attractive – easy transition from running to everyday wear
  • Perforated, cushioned strap
  • Easy on/easy off
  • Zero Drop
  • True barefoot feeling
  • Flexible
  • Puncture resistant
  • 100% synthetic
Cons
  • Some runners find that these give off an unpleasant odor when wet.
  • Some runners report that the bright colors are difficult to clean once exposed to mud so for mud runners, black may be the wise color choice.

6. Vivobarefoot Eclipse

6. Vivobarefoot Eclipse
These attractive, Vegan sandals 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 foot bed.
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Style
Intended as an all-purpose sports sandal, these have a fashionable edge to them while retaining their sporty construction. Available in attractive colors, these sandals have a fun vibe but the anti-puncture sole and dimpled, anatomical foot bed ensure their performance on the road and trail do not suffer because of their good looks.

Comfort
The dimpled, anatomical foot bed keeps the foot from shifting in the bed in both moist and dry conditions. Vivobarefoot anatomical foot bed contains dimpling for stability and comfort and the slight arch is a welcome addition.

Value
These are mid-priced action sandals and are durable and washable, a good price for these sandals.
Pros
  • Dimpled foot bed for anti-slip comfort
  • Puncture-resistant soles
  • 5 mm sole
  • Strap cushioning and breathability
  • Curved sole for foot protection
  • Slight arch
  • Heel bed
Cons
  • Some runners find the strap too springy.
  • Some runners find the toe post uncomfortable.

7. OOfos Original

7. OOfos Original
Beyond encouraging the minimalist, barefoot running aficionados, Oofos takes the next step in this foot ware trend by creating sandals that actually claim to encourage recovery. The molded, cushioned foot bed absorbs shock so every aspect of your gait can recover.
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Style
Stylish to the point of loud, these are not low-profile sandals. Oofos creates the foot bed 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 foot bed is dimpled to prevent sliding in any direction.

Comfort
OOfos cradles the foot for maximum comfort. Though a hybrid of comfort/recovery sandal and workout sandal, OOfos anatomical foot bed is a sweet, comfortable ride, cushioning the entire running mechanism for recovery and performance.

Value
These hit the mid-point of this type of sandal. If this is your style, these are a good price for an established, well-known product.
Pros
  • Achilles tendon support
  • Arch support
  • Anti-slip sole
  • Comfortable straps
  • OOfoam foot bed
  • Durable
Cons
  • Some runners find running in these a challenge because the straps are not adjustable.

  • Some runners find these shoes have quality issues.

8. Amuri Z-Trek

8. Amuri Z-Trek
This running sandal is so comfortable you'll forget you even have them on.
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Style
While these sandals may not be the most stylish, they do come in different color options. They are minimalistic and simple in design.

Comfort
These sandals lack a toe strap, which allows you toes to freely move and not be constrained. They are highly flexible and very similar to the Vibram 6 finger barefoot shoes. They're adjustable, lightweight, and have a wide toe box.

Value
These shoes are pricey, but well worth the cost--they even come with a 5,000 mile warranty.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • 5,000 mile warranty
  • Zero drop
  • Water Resistant 
  • Adjustable 
  • Rust proof
  • Durable
  • Wide toe box
  • Improves foot pain
Cons
  • Expensive 

9. Teva Northridge Sandal

9. Teva Northridge Sandal
Though not developed by Teva as a running sandal per say, this hard-working and hard-wearing sandal fits the bill without being super minimalist.
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Style
Made from Teva’s nearly indestructible spider rubber, these sandals hold the sole very well though in water that hold is less strong leaving room for the foot to slide on the foot bed. These are basic sandals, seemingly conceived without exterior attractiveness on the storyboard, but they do have a rugged, outdoorsy appearance that is appropriate.

Comfort
The molded foot bed provides minimal support and the zero drop heel is just what barefoot runners want. These reliable sandals hold moist and dry surfaces well. The challenge in this model is the straps.

Value
Because these were adopted running sandals rather than created running sandals, they are pricey.
Pros
  • Zero drop
  • Excellent grip
  • Very good surface connection
  • Soft EVA midsole
  • Good proprioception
  • Hugs soles well
Cons
  • The sandal straps do not breathe and consequently collect moisture.
  • Sand and small articles can lodge themselves between the straps and the foot.

10. Atika Maya Trail

10. Atika Maya Trail
These modestly-priced sandals are another example of hybrid running sandals. 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.
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Style
When we enter the category of multipurpose hiking sandals, 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.

Comfort
The molded foot bed of the Maya sandals 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.

Value
This is another adopted rather than designed running sandal. The price is so affordable that they are worth trying in case they are a good match for you.
Pros
  • Molded EVA sole
  • Multi-directional lug pattern for excellent grip
  • Comfortable nylon straps
  • Straps adjust at two points for comfort and hold
  • Arch support
  • Slight heel elevation
Cons
  • Some runners think they run narrow.
  • Some runners reported blistering issues.

Running in sandals isn’t necessarily for everyone. It takes a dedication to changing 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. We’ve chosen a wide variety of sandals that can offer you different levels of comfort and attractive features.

Criteria Used To Select The Top Best Bare Foot Running Sandals.

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.

Comfort

Many runners report that barefoot running or running in sandals actually results in fewer injuries then 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.

Style

We’ve been transitioning to a more natural version of 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 are highly fashionable and can appeal to your aesthetic senses as well. This means that you can enjoy your favorite footwear just about anywhere.

Lightweight

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 strain on your shins and knees. The running sandals that we looked at are incredibly lightweight and can offer you a unique experience.

Thin soles

Here the question is how barefoot do you want to go or feel? The more barefoot 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.

Flexibility

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.

Quality/Durability

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.

 

Other Stuff To Think About

When in the hunt for a barefoot sandal trade 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. When getting the right factors we venture deep in looking for what is required in a sandal and some we categorize as the major ones then we go to the side and look for extras factors that are equally important after considering the first lines and that is how we get to the other factors to consider, some of them have been listed down below have a look and tell us if they did help.

Cost/Value

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.

Fit/Size

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 put this in mind when going hunting for barefoot sandals, in most cases consider the straps too because they come as one and the fitting should be comfortable generally.

 

FAQs

Q: Is it okay to run barefoot in cold?

A: As much as it might sound like a fun thing to do,Avoid running barefoot in the cold as your feet can get numb to a point you will not be able to sense if you are hurting yourself and you can notice when the damage caused is worse, which should never be the case, please do not have fun at the cost of your well being.

Q: How Can I start Using these sandals?

A: Well it is good that this question is asked by many clients,first of all you need to inform your physician before having the actualize the idea, if the go-ahead sign is given then lucky for you, secondly you need to know if it is your first time you will have to go slowly with this a step at a time till the end. Gain experience first before going all in as it might not be as smooth as they tell you it is.

Q: Can Everyone run on barefoot sandals?

A: Not really would be the ideal answer for this,kindly 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 to use this sandal, sometimes you might be having an injury or a previous one that hasn’t fully recovered so ensure you are clear of all these before engaging in these sandals.

Q: Which Running surface can I run on?

A: This depends on the level you are in, if entry stick to the more leveled and smooth surfaces that will make you have an easy time, if you are an expert with the running sandals, then I think that is a choice you will make,but make sure that the choice you pick is best for you and that you have considered factors like the sandals stripes and the material of the sole as this will help you know if it is the best or not .

 

Sources

  1. Bill Hendrick, Barefoot Running Laced With Health Benefits, Fitness & Exercise , Jan 27, 2010
  2. Bretta Riches, Best Barefoot Running Sandals, Running Guides., Aug 10, 2015
  3. Adventurous Habits, THE Guide to Minimalist Sandals, Running guide, May 21, 2013
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