Best Toe Running Shoes Reviewed

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Barefoot toe running shoes have brought an interesting and unique addition to a Runner’s milieux of options out there. So what are these shoes exactly? One large perk of these shoes for some is that they offer people the feeling of running barefoot, or at least, with minimal bulk on your feet. Soles in these particular types of shoes do not allow a lot of protection from the ground and any hazards that are on it. So it bears to ask, why would someone want this barefoot experience?

For many, they have realized how new cushioned running shoes are to our experience. In a study created by Harvard University, it was found that showed that those who ran barefoot could not only run but that they could still land naturally, comfortably, and safely in very minimalistic footwear. This study along with other personal factors had many people eager to try out this shoe wear.

If running in barefoot shoe wear interests you, it is suggested that you start gradually and don’t rush it too fast. To get you started, we have put together the following list to offer you some fantastic selections. It is also suggested that you talk with a professional about when and how to wear these types of shoes so that you can begin your barefoot running experience properly.

Last Updated: August 13, 2018
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By Maja Beier:

The last update we made for this article brought the Bybram Spyridon MR Elite, and this current refresher brings you fresh content to keep you properly educated on barefoot toe running shoes.

Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
  • Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Seamless 2mm Footbed Insole
  • Price: See Here
Vibram KSO Evo
  • Vibram KSO Evo
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Serrated Blade Lug Design
  • Price: See Here
Vibram Bikila Evo
  • Vibram Bikila Evo
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Cushioned footbed
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Toe Running Shoes

 

 

1. Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport

1.  Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport Multisport shoes are our number one go to shoe when it comes to all the factors that an athlete desires. It is durable, breathable, and odor free. It has stretch proof panel technology that help keep out dirt and rubble.
It has both secure straps and the usual rip and stick closures for both support and a secure fit in any activity. They are light on your bottoms of your feet and have the rubberized grip for traction and slippage and are completely washer friendly. If you're looking for an all around shoes for running, light hiking and beach running then this shoe is a toe runners dream.
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The toe separators in the Vibram Five Fingers are comfortable and have an incredible breathability. The upper portion of the shoe is made of both synthetic and natural coconut fibers and can be used for both trail and road running, hiking, walking and even traveling.

When it comes to odor and dampness the Vibram shoe has a patented AEGIS Microbe Shield that will keep your feet both clean and free from outdoor environmental damage and is a odor stopper in the most intense sports out there.

Cost and Value:
Best overall value for what you get.
Pros
  • Uppers Durability.
  • Rubber Enhanced Vibram TC1 Performance.
  • Breathable.
  • Secure Strap.
  • Supportive Fit.
  • Fast Air Dry.
  • Odor Protected.
  • Lightly Cleated.
  • Light Cushioning.
  • Size Accurately (Refer to Size Chart on the Company Website).
Cons
  • Good for Short Hikes
  • Sizes can be Tricky.
  • Use for Initial Short Treks and work your way up to gain Maximum Results.

2. Vibram KSO Evo

2.  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.
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The Vibram KSO sole has give 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:
On the higher end but worth the value.
Pros
  • Great Cross Trainer
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Washable
  • Odor Free
  • Six Colors Choice Selection Size Up for perfect fit.  (Visit the Vibram Website for more information)
  • Easily Packable
Cons
  • Size accordingly for toe length (Fit Chart on Website)
  • Sole May Be to Thin for Some

4. Vibram Bikila Evo

4. 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.

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Vibram has made the adjustment from regular shoe running to natural barefoot running a cinche. 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 piece of mind from injuries.

Cost or Value:
Moderate to Expensive.
Pros
  • Synthetic
  • Extra Cushion
  • Durable Traction
  • Light and Airy
  • Firm Rubber Sole
  • Lace Ups
  • Eye Popping Color Selection
  • EVA Foam Midsole
  • Inner Drilex Sock liner
  • Anti Microbial

 

Cons

Size up for a More Comfortable Fit

  • Not Designed for Long Distance Running
  • Fits a More Narrow Foot

3. Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail

3.  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.
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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-Trail's are also extremely durable and strong enough to handle trail terrain--without sacrificing either comfort or protection.

Cost or Value
On the Higher Affordable End.
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Can be worn without socks
  • Glove like fit
  • Padded
  • Strong gripping system to prevent slips
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • Takes some time to break them in
  • Narrow fit

5. Vibram Spyridon MR

5.  Vibram Spyridon MR
The Vibram Spyridon MR Trail Running Shoe was created and designed with a Foot Sensory Impact Mechanism to prevent injury while walking or running on rugged surfaces. With a 3.5mm rubber sole you are provided the protection to the feet that is needed in natural running.

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The Spyridon MR Trail shoe has a Vibram 3D Cocoon technology implemented into the sole that give you a prime grip for those strenuous sports and activities.

The durability of the Spyridon will by far outlast some of the other shoes sold by Vibram. They are made of heavy duty rubber but still feel light on the feet and they do very well in for water activities, although they are not waterproof they dry fairly quickly due to the in liner mesh.

Cost and Value:
Range from Reasonable to Expensive depending on Color
Pros
  • Durable Rubber Sole
  • Bungee Lacing
  • Multi Directional Design for Traction
  • Wave Grip Out sole
  • Three Contrasting Muted Tones
  • Quick Air Dry
Cons
  • Fit is Tight due to Thicker Rubber Material

6. Vibram Spyridon MR Elite

6.  Vibram Spyridon MR Elite
The Spyridon MR Elite Running Shoe is a 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 in step brace and is completely washable for those times when you just can’t stay out of the mud.

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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:
Moderately Reasonable
Pros
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Washable
  • Water Resistant
  • Comes in Women's Sizes (Refer to Vibram Website)
  • Ankle Hugging Support
  • Hook and Loop System
  • Durable Mega Grip System

 

Cons
  • Only Two Colors
  •  Some May Have to Size Up

7. Vibram FiveFingers KMD LS Sport

7.  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 or to the gym and optimize your workouts.
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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. This shoe also incorporated the AEGIS Microbe Shield in order to prevent the shoe from developing any odor overtime. Lastly, Vibram used a polyurethane footbed for additional shock absorption and underfoot friction reduction.

Cost or Value:
Pricing is on the higher end of Affordable Pricing
Pros
  • Flexible
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Vibram XS Trek for increased stability and traction
  • Easy to wash
  • Lightweight
  • AEGIS Microbe Shield for odor prevention
  • Polyurethane foot bed for underfoot friction reduction
Cons
  • Stiff at first 

8. Vibram V-RUN

8.  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 mid sole for cushioning where it is needed the most and the popular Vibram XS run out sole 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.

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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 to the ground while in movement. It is made with an all durable out sole for all the road terrain you can handle keeping you from injury to the bottoms of your feet

Cost or Value:
Moderate to Expensive Cost

Pros
  • Comes in Four Colors
  • Sizing Down is Highly Important
  • Smoother Run
  • Comfortable
  • Vibram VLite for Softer Shock Absorption
  • Light and feather weight
  • Great for Low Temperature
  • Machine Wash Cold
  • Rapid Air Dry
Cons
  • Not Good for Wider Feet
  •  Tends to be on The Tighter Side

9. Vibram FiveFingers Speed XC

9.  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.
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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:
On the Higher End in Price.
Pros
  • Water Resistant
  • Insulated
  • Stylish
  • Mid Sole Plating Protection
  • Cleated
  • Mesh
  • Moisture Free
  • Machine Washable
  • Lace Ups
  • Gusseted Tongue
  • EZ On System
Cons
  • Perfect Fit Comes with Gradual Wear

10. Vibram FiveFingers EL-X

10.  Vibram FiveFingers EL-X
The Vibram FiveFingers EL-X are the best first time toe running shoes to start out with. They are perfect for both running and workouts and provide the closest experience to barefoot running--making these a favorite among those who already run barefoot!
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These shoes are the closest thing to running barefoot! They will provide you with all of the benefits and comforts of running barefoot--without sacrificing protection from road or surface you decide to run on. They are also breathable, lightweight, and flexible which delivers a comfortable and reliable fit for your runs. Lastly, these shoes are also equipped with adequate traction for road and indoor running.

Cost or Value:
Affordable.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Washable
  • Fast drying
  • Adequate traction
Cons
  • Smaller fit 

These lightweight toe like lizards are hands down better and faster for all active lifestyles.  They are almost all rubberized for weather and some are waterproof for beach running and running on those days when the weather is not the greatest.  They dry quickly and they are completely washer friendly and odor free.  They even make socks for those who need more warmth on their feet,  What is not to like about these?

You can hike in these, run and walk.  You can wear these in the cold weather and in the water.  They may be just the all-around shoe for you have been looking for. They are definitely an all-around sports activity shoe for close to barefoot running as you can get with Vibram being the best shoes on the Market. Take a look at how we picked the choices on our list.

 

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What We Look for When Choosing the 10 Best Toe Running Shoes:

Emulation Of The Human Foot

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!

The Incredible Benefits Of Barefoot Running

We went through as much data as possible when it came to researching the benefits of barefoot running. A combination of strong user feedback and clinical recommendations from professionals report enhanced speed, balance, and comfort levels. There is also evidence of better distribution of pressure as the foot flexes the way that nature intended. We came across tons of user feedback that also boasted about the increased development of leg muscles. When all the data is taken into consideration, barefoot running becomes a very tempting option for those who seek a new level in their workouts.

Getting To Know Dorsiflexion

Dorsiflexion is the backward bending of the hand or foot. It’s something that even seasoned runners are mostly unaware of. In the last couple of years, however, its importance has come to the forefront of high performance running. Higher levels of dorsiflexion have been shown to be directly attributed to higher speeds and fewer chances of injury. Toe running shoes, no matter the brand, give the wearer increased dorsiflexion and thereby can lead to a faster, healthier run. The natural range of motion can be significantly stifled by those bulky, heavily cushioned running shoes, which make toe shoes a great choice for those who want more agility from their footwear.

How They Work Across Different Terrain

Our readers like to take their running shoes on a wide range of running surfaces, and we enjoy providing options that are ideal for standard road running, gym workouts, and the great outdoors. For our trail runners, our buying guide contains solid options that are tough as nails and can handle anything that Mother Nature throws their way. In fact, user feedback was remarkably high in the ability of toe shoes to give them increased traction and more sensitivity to the terrain beneath their feet. This is because the lower drop and separation of the toes give you a stronger connection with your running surface. The same can be said for our treadmill and road running options. They gave testers incredible comfort and range of motion that helped them with endurance levels and transitioning between surfaces. There is something for everyone on our list.

The Latest Looks And Styles

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 colour ways in our guide, so make sure to look for the different colour options once you click through over to Amazon.

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Important Things to Consider When Choosing Yours

Without question, these toe running shoes made a real splash when they entered the running shoe market. It’s important to note that they lasted as long as they did because they really work, they are not a passing fad or gimmick. We know that you must be eager to make a selection, however, before you go, take a look at the wide range of feedback and data we went through when compiling our selections. This will help you choose a toe running shoe that’s right for you. It’s important that you make a selection that makes sense for your purposes and what you plan to do with them. Below you will find some personal factors to take into consideration when making your choice.

Make A Selection Based On Your Running Surface

Most of these toe running shoes will feel the same on your feet because of their barefoot running design, so one of the biggest considerations that you will make is running surface or terrain. We were careful to list the best options for outdoor and trail running and which ones were better for standard road running and gym workouts. This is where you will find the biggest variation like added traction and slightly stiffer rides, so take a moment to consider your surfaces before you add items to your cart. If you plan on mixing it up, it’s a good idea to select two different pairs that suit your needs. Most seasoned runners maintain a solid rotation of running shoes for different purposes.

Know The Limitations

There are some things that simply don’t cross over into the world of toe running shoes; one of those things are orthotic insoles. Quite simply, they just don’t work well with this type of footwear. While we have seen some feedback that states that using a heel insole is fine, we wouldn’t recommend it because it interferes with the barefoot running style of the shoes. Additionally, keep in mind that these shoes will not give you high levels of support, stability, or motion control. Barefoot running makes the runner rely primarily on their own leg and foot muscles for those things.

Make Sure To Improve Your Foot Strike

One of the biggest advantages of barefoot running is training your foot to properly strike the ground. Most runners are used to a heel strike, which places pressure on your knees and hips. Barefoot running promotes a forefoot strike, which is a great and natural way to run. As you make the transition, start off a little slower and focus on how you are striking the ground. User feedback demonstrates that after a few outings in your new toe shoes, you will start to notice a positive difference in your striking pattern.

Use Them For A Lot More Than Just Running

We at Runnerclick are always excited to introduce our readers to new and innovative products that can broaden their horizons, and toe running shoes are a perfect example of a product that can do just that! They 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.

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FAQ

We’re confident that by taking some of these factors into consideration when making your choice, you’ll find a toe running shoe that is perfect for you. Before you get out there and run, we’ve also compiled some frequently asked questions that commonly arise when searching for a new barefoot running shoe.

Q: Are toe running shoes really that different, or is it just looks?

A: Make no mistake; these shoes are all performance and no hype. Positive user feedback is through the roof on the selected toe running shoes and those who made the transition to barefoot running have never looked back. They are loving the increased strength, speed, and range of motion that these toe shoes have provided them with.

Q: What’s the idea behind the barefoot running trend?

A: The theory is that overly supportive and cushioned footwear interferes with the natural way that your feet move and strike the ground. Additionally, all data demonstrates that you incorporate a larger amount of muscles and joints when you’re barefoot running, so people are drawn to the increased muscle engagement. Overall, it’s simply a much more organic way of running, if you haven’t tried it, you should give it a shot.

Q: What is the water resistance on these toe running shoes?

A: They are highly water resistant. Don’t confuse that with waterproofed, like trail boots that are designed to keep your feet dry. These toe runners are for activities and people that have no problems getting their feet wet, the shoes themselves will not get damaged in any way from getting wet. In fact, most of them can air dry with very little care needed.

Q: What are the biggest considerations to take when switching over to barefoot running?

A: Start slowly and remember that you will engage a lot more muscles and joints that you are used to. It’s a great idea to start at half speed and half distance to give your feet and legs time to adjust to your new footwear. Most testers reported that after a few weeks, they were able to get back to their usual routine, and after a month started noticing gains in muscle growth and endurance levels.

Q:  Whats the best way to get the foot comfortably into a toe shoe?

A: When you put inside, your foot lead with your big toe towards the big toe area, this will line up the shoe with your other toes, with a little practice you will master putting on the shoe nice and quickly.

Q: I am fully sold on my toe shoes so just one question, the shoe can give odor problems, any suggestions?

A: The good news is that toe shoes and especially the Vibram brand are fine for machine washing, after washing they can be hung up to dry.

Q: I bought a new pair of toe shoes and took them for a run, my feet ached is that usual?

A: When you change over to toe shoes, you need to gradually break in the shoe and let your foot muscles adjust to this different type of running shoe style.

Q: Why are more and more shoe outlets promoting toe shoes?

A: To fully understand the interest in the Toe running shoes we need to consider the claimed pros: the design of the toe shoe gives a freedom to the foot, the foot is not encased in a cushion and other structural techs, this gives more range of motion for toes, feet, and ankles. It is claimed that the shoes will give stimulation for strengthening muscles in both feet and lower leg muscles. The style of the shoe enables the toes and feet to move naturally. By encasing each toe separately, neuron receptors in the feet send more informative information to the brain which results in better agility and balance.

Posture and spine alignment is improved due to eliminating heel lift, this all serves towards enabling your body and feet to work in conjunction naturally. It is worth noting that so far there has not been any in-depth long-term studies on the benefits of toe shoes and the increasing popularity of the shoes appears to be due to runners showing interest.

Q: How soon can I start wearing my new toe shoes for longer runs?

A: It’s all about gradual build up to allow your feet to strengthen, some feedback suggests up to three months for a full transition over to toe shoes for long-distance running. Your feet need to adjust to the different shoe style so no 5km runs as soon as you start wearing the shoe, gradually build up your foots adjustment to the shoe style.

 

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This was our approach when selecting the right pair of toe running shoes. Remember that selecting the right pair of minimalist running shoes is a significant change that can offer you a ton of benefits as long as you do it right. We hope this guide provided you with all the information you need when making your choice and let us know how your barefoot running journey is going for you. Thanks for following along with us. Now make the perfect selection for you and keep running!


 

Here are some sources we used while conducting our research

It’s important to use a wide variety of sources to ensure quality information. We like to utilize trusted running enthusiasts and manufactures when providing our readers with the most up-to-date statistics found in all our buying guides. We are also very interested in taking what everyday users have to say about specific products like toe running shoes, and we perform our due diligence to make sure that quality research goes into every guide. Here are some sources which helped us with this guide:

Sources

  1. Amazon, Amazon, Product Reviews,
  2. NPR, NPR, News Interview,
  3. Ivy Rose, Ive Rose, Clinical Website,
  4. Harvard University, Harvard University, Medical Journal,
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