Best Toe Shoes for Running | 2023 Buying Guide
Also known as barefoot, minimalist, or naturalist running shoes, they provide runners the ability to run nearly barefoot without the significant risks involved with complete barefoot running.
If you're new to the concept, it may be worth it to test out a pair and see if they deliver a better running experience or help you achieve your personal goals.
To get started, we put together a list of the best toe running shoes on the market. Take a peek at our top picks below.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Running shoes are often designed for durability and support but for many brands this means giving up breathability. With our search for the top ten shoes for this list we made sure to focus on breathability and shoes that have good airflow design as well for maximum comfort.
The first thing we looked at before compiling our list is breathability--because it is absolutely essential for those of you who like barefoot running shoes. Proper ventilation. Breathability is especially important because it prevents blisters from forming, chafing from occurring, and ensures your feet stay cool and dry. This also increases the shoe's comfort levels and makes your running more enjoyable.
Running shoes have to be comfortable in order to be efficient and beneficial. Toe running shoes are made with added support and comfort in the key areas and are designed to be comfortable for long or short duration runs.
Think back to the first time that you ever noticed someone wearing shoes with the individual toes separated. Did you roll your eyes, stare in confusion, or giggle slightly to yourself? Whatever your reaction, let’s take a moment to go over the simple design elegance that quite intelligently emulates the human foot. Individual toe separation and zero-drop are as barefoot as you can get without being barefoot. This minimalist design has gained popularity and spread like wildfire for good reason; there are countless reviews that demonstrate increased performance and comfort. Adding technological advancements to the natural way run will give you a type of instinctive movement that can only be felt with minimalist running. Let’s take a look at the highest-rated and most recommended toe running shoes and what they can do for your run, you may just find a new favorite runner!
Running shoes are designed to be lighter than regular shoes. Runners want to carry as little extra weight as possible and even their shoes need to be as light weight as possible. The shoes on this list are some of the lighter shoes we have found.
These shoes are minimalistic, which means they are incredibly lightweight and are perfect for yoga, trekking and hiking, water sports, and high-intensity cardio programs. Their versatile properties can give you more grip, water resistance, and flexibility than most other footwear so they allow you to do more in them. We encourage everyone to get out there and try something new.
There are countless styles you can choose from when it comes to running shoes. We made sure to include a range of styles so that you can find the shoes that are right for you and that meet your wants and needs and style preferences.
There’s no denying that these are some funky looking running shoes, and that’s a good thing! The best part is that these cool looks and designs are purpose driven for results, not just to make a fashion statement. But you won’t be able to stand out in the crowd of boring running shoes when you’re wearing any of these selections. Get ready to have people asking you about how well they work and much you like them! We’ve included all the latest styles and colorways in our guide, so make sure to look for the different color options once you click through over to Amazon.
10 Best Toe Running Shoes
1. Vibram FiveFingers KMD LS Sport
The Vibram FiveFingers KMD LS toe shoes are the perfect option for athletes looking for a multi-functioning race shoe. These shoes provide the perfect amount of flexibility, comfort, and breathability for runners, racers, and athletes who take part in all types of workouts. Take these shoes for a run, to the gym, a walk around the neighborhood or just lounge around at home, and you'll realize how toe shoes can provide a unique experience.Read more
The KMD model incorporates Vibram XS Trek for increased flexibility, stability, comfort and excellent traction for running outside or on wet surfaces. Vibram also used a Polyester Mesh for the Upper part of the shoe to make it breathable, easy to wash, lightweight, and to keep your feet cool and dry during your runs and/or workouts.
It also incorporated the AEGIS Microbe Shand in order to prevent the shoe from developing any odor over time. Lastly, Vibram used a polyurethane footbed for additional shock absorption and underfoot friction reduction.
Cost or Value
Pricing is on the higher end but is still very much affordable.
2. Vibram V-RUN
This moderate distance gem in the rough from Vibram gives you the benefit of running almost if you are truly barefooted. It has a midsole for cushioning where it is needed the most and the popular Vibram XS run outsole giving you the maximum stability for those tougher terrain treks and runs. The mesh on the upper part of the shoe gives you maximum breathing to your feet and the feel is soft and light.Read more
Keeping your feet nice and dry is important for long runs and treks. The V-Run is designed with a breathable polyester mesh upper and the lace-up design hold your foot with comfort and stability.
This all-weather terrain shoe will keep its grip on the ground while in motion. It is made with an all durable outsole for all the road terrain you can handle keeping you from injury to the bottoms of your feet
Cost or Value
Even when considering this product's moderate cost in comparison to other toe-style running shoes, it comes across as quite expensive. This isn't to say that it isn't worth the price, just that there may be cheaper options that could also suit your needs.
3. Vibram Spyridon MR Elite
The Spyridon MR Elite Running Shoe is an in your face grip action toe wonder. So much so, Vibram was named the 2015 Warrior Dash official footwear sponsor under the Elite name. This shoe gives you the desired stability needed in extreme running for all elements. It includes an instep brace and is completely washable for those times when you just can’t stay out of the mud.Read more
These shoes are so light and airy one fan of the Vibram shoe line said that they were like walking on soft fluffy pillows. The durable mega grip system hugs the bottom of your foot through every step.
Vibram has introduced a higher hugging ankle style with a higher hook and loop system to act as an ankle stabilizer. It also manages to keep the dirt and road debris out of the shoe while mud running or sand sprinting.
Cost or Value
It's a moderately priced product, certainly more expensive than you may expect based on its appearance. However, this price tag is ultimately quite reasonable when considering all of the appealing features it provides.
4. Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail
The Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail running shoes are the perfect toe shoes for experienced trail runners who are already relatively accustomed to barefoot running. These shoes are perfect for trail running because they can withstand the terrain, weather, and additional conditions and elements that come with running in rougher terrains.Read more
These comfortable, breathable, and flexible shoes are the perfect companions for your trail runs. They provide a glove-like fit that adjusts to your feet and lets you experience the comfort of barefoot running even on the roughest trails.
These shoes also prevent slippage due to their enhanced gripping system. Lastly, the V-Trails are also extremely durable and strong enough to handle trail terrain--without sacrificing either comfort or protection.
Cost or Value
Although these shoes are affordable, even when compared to other forms of footwear on the market, it is on the higher end of the term. That means it comes very close to crossing the line between "affordable" and "somewhat expensive."
5. Vibram KSO Evo
The Vibram Women’s KSO Evo is another great five-fingered shoe to come from the Vibram, a company that was created in 1937 and evolved into one of the leading industries in Sole Technology. The KSO Evo was created under the umbrella of the original KSO shoe. It has an enhanced synthetic sole for grip and is both stable on your toes and legs giving you the comfort support and durability for those longer treks.Read more
The Vibram KSO sole gives you the grip that you need to take on the road as well as sand dirt and those rocks that you have been wanting to climb. They can even be used for indoor play as well due to their non-marking bottom.
The 5 millimeter sole along with the lightly padded tongue and lacing system make these an easy put on with five-fingered socks for those colder weather climates. They are machine washable, lightweight and stay odor free. Plus, did I mention they come in six very cool colors.
Cost and Value
Although these shoes are very much on the higher end of the price spectrum, they are well worth the value. Rest assured that you will not need to replace these Vibram toe runners for quite some time.
6. Merrell Trail Glove 4
These shoes are among the best barefoot running shoes. While they don't have the individual toe enclosures, they provide the same benefit and feel that the Vibram toe shoes provide. These shoes will make you feel one with the ground and let you feel every stride.Read more
These shoes feature a breathable mesh in their upper which allows them to provide optimal breathability and ventilation. They are lightweight--although it is important to note they are not as light as the most popular minimalistic shoes out there. These shoes provide a comfortable, secure fit and minimal padding--which is perfect for those of you who like that barefoot natural feel.
These shoes feature a Trail Protect pad to ensure you have the right support and stability--although don't expect these shoes to provide a whole lot of support. They also have rearfoot lugs to help you plow through technical terrain and are really flexible to encourage your foot's full range of motion.
As far as durability, these shoes hold up if you use them in outdoor, technical terrain. They do wear and tear on the road--so don't be surprised if you notice lack of durability if you are taking them on the road or for a jog around your neighborhood.
Cost or Value
These are priced at a normal price range.
7. New Balance Minimus
These New Balance shoes are a great option for those of you looking for a more versatile option. These are perfect for the trail, but you'll find they will work great on the road, at the gym, and most other places.Read more
The mesh upper on these shoes ensures their breathability and helps keep your feet cool and dry during all of your runs. These are minimalistic shoes, so don't expect a ton of cushioning--although these do offer a little bit of. These shoes are comfortable if you enjoy natural running and feeling every stride along the way. This also makes them a good candidate for work shoes if you're standing a lot.
These are pretty durable--but not as durable as many other options.
Cost and Value
Pricey, but worth it if you want a versatile and solid pair of shoes.
8. inov-8 f-lite
While these are not designed for hitting the trails, they are an excellent choice for runners looking for a versatile training shoe that feels just like they favorite toe running shoes. While some love to run in these, many don't recommend long distance.Read more
These are comfortable for all training--whether it's running, gym training, or your favorite sport. These are breathable, lightweight, and perfect for those who love to encourage their natural stride.
these are really durable thanks to their sticky grip rubber outsole and 360-degree ROPE-TEC system. They also offer great traction and grip during your workouts.
Cost and Value
These are pretty affordable and don't come in a lot of color options.
9. Vibram Bikila Evo
Ladies, if you're looking for a shoe that has that barefoot feel but would like to have a bit more cushion than the Vibram Women’s Bikila Evo Road Running Shoe is your best bet. Vibram has redesigned the Bikila to provide maximum cushioning for minimal runs.Read more
Vibram has made the adjustment from regular shoe running to natural barefoot running a cinch. The newly redesigned Bikila had a slightly thicker sole but without all the weight that creates drag and soreness to the lower legs and calves.
Traction is important on both road and dirt terrain and on the Bikilas’ they have placed a mega grip pod system to provide in those times when you need that peace of mind from injuries.
Cost or Value
There's no getting around the fact that this moderately priced product is expensive, both in terms of toe shoes and in general footwear terms. Still, there are worse things to spend your money on.
10. Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC
If you enjoy minimalist or barefoot running and still enjoy the look of a regular running sneaker the Speed XC gives you that. It provides style, comfort and of course the barefoot running feel. It still obtains the maximum grip and traction, is insulated and it looks pretty stylish and durable as well.Read more
A special 4mm midsole plating was implemented into the shoe for protection from rocks and debris that may bruise the bottom of the feet. The outer sole is manufactured with a TC=1 dura material to give you the increased traction on a number of surfaces.
The Speed XC has a water-resistant mesh system along with a gusseted tongue and laces. Inside there is a polyester lining to keep your feet and toes moisture free insulated and dry.
Cost or Value
Although on the higher end of the spectrum when referring to the price of Vibram running shoes with a minimalist style, the Speed XC offers something to wearers that more than justifies this price.