Barefoot & minimalist running shoes - help!

Please help me choose some barefoot running shoes!

16 messages
21/06/2012 at 17:27

Hey there. Last running season I ran in the Saucony Kinvara 2's and absolutely loved the light sensation and suffered no injuries. Now I would like to go for an even more barefoot approach, perhaps with a 0mm toe-heel drop. I've been lookig at all of the shoes out there and I'm pretty overwhelmed. I'd rather not wear the Virbram Five-Fingers and would prefer a more "normal" looking shoe such as the VIVO barefoot shoes.

I'm 15 years old, 5'10, 135lb and run 20 miles a week. Does anyone have any tips or favourite shoes which they would recommend? Thanks

21/06/2012 at 20:09

I've got some Vivo trail shoes, and while I've only tried them out a couple of times, I thought they were pretty good - planning to start transitioning after my half marathon this weekend. 

I also have some Vibrams for road, but I'm considering getting some Vivo road shoes as I really liked the fit of the Breatho Trails.

21/06/2012 at 21:15
Merrell gloves have good reviews..
22/06/2012 at 09:27
Minimal shoes suffer from the same problems as cushioned shoes in that what feels great for one person doesn't feel so good on another. I don't think there are any that are universally accepted as being better or worse than any other. So maybe go to a web shop such as (or maybe a real shop - though I don't know of any with a decent minimal range), order a few and see what you like the fit of. The site I've mentioned there does a no risk trial where you can run a few miles in em and still return them if they don't suit.
BTW, I've no connection with the site, just a satisfied customer.
22/06/2012 at 10:11

I use the Merrell ones and think they are really good. would like to try the Vibrams but cannot get a good fit! The merrells have a good roomy toe box and wash well too.

22/06/2012 at 11:09

Vivo's are good but the Evo's I had started cut (not blister) my toes when I upped the miles. In my opinon the material on around the toe box is not soft enough. There newer range (Neo) seems better.

Just got a pair of Inov-8 Bare X Light 150's but not used them yet. I use the Baregrip 200's off road and love them and have done a couple of off road marathons and a 40 mile ultra in them, so hoping the Bare X Lights work out similar.


22/06/2012 at 11:46

I had prob's with my heel tendon with the Vivo Evo II shoes but the Neos were mostly fine (would be better if in half sizes for me). I didn't get on with the Merrell Trail Glove mainly as they have a toe spring, perhaps that's just me.

Those are written up in "Running Desperado" (Kindle book)

I also tried some "Invisible Shoes", jury still out on those.

22/06/2012 at 15:40
Merrell trail gloves - I run in these and find them good, but nothing beats my Luna sandals. But be prepared for people to ask why you're running in flip flops
22/06/2012 at 18:59

If you're anywhere near Newcastle, Start Fitness have a decent range to try out.

22/06/2012 at 20:00

I had the Inov8 155's recommended, however I have not tried them myself.  Still using the Puma H lite

23/06/2012 at 09:26
I had that with the Evos. The plastic mesh takes a long time to wear soft. Also, I must take about 3 sizes larger than my normal fit in those shoes.

The original Lunas are just lovely. The Leadvilles I find are a bit much rubber to be strapped to my feet: they'd work well as trail shoes if this country wasn't regularly so wet.

Really, minimalist shoes have to fit you perfectly to work. You might manage with a little extra room in the toe-box, but that's about it.

I have some Merrell 'glove' shoes (they all have the same sole). I get on okay with them, but some people don't like the instep - they feel that it's supporting their arch, and isn't truly minimalist.

Overall, I think Vivos are the best shoe to transition in. They feel truly mimimalist, but the insole offers just the right amount of cushioning, and you can remove it down the line, if that is your preference.

VFFs will only fit well if you have a cross between Egyptian and Roman toes. I'm full-on Egyptian shape, so my little toe slops in and out of its toe pocket sometimes.
23/06/2012 at 21:33

Thanks for the feedback. I'm currently considering the New Balance Minimus Road Shoe MR00 with a 0mm differential. Is the jump from a 4mm differential to a 0mm differential a big one and should I perhaps spend another year with a shoe like the Kinvara 3? I have been running with the Kinvara 2s solidly for 8 months or so and have had no problems.

24/06/2012 at 18:32

Another vote for the VivoBarefoot Neo shoes here. I wear these for most of my runs now, up to marathon distance - and intending to wear them for a 30-mile race in a fortnight. I have the normal version and the trail ones with the 4 mm lugs, which are great on all surfaces (grass, mud, chalk, sand packed trail etc.) except they don't protect on very rocky surfaces. If you have a narrower foot, you may prefer a different shoe.

TRY THEM ON before buying.

24/06/2012 at 23:09
As a guy, if you have a narrower foot, I would suggest trying women's styles.

Most of my Vivos and all my VFFs are women's sizes / styles. As a comparison, Adidas shoes tend to fit my feet well.
03/04/2013 at 19:10

I have to say that now I've been barefoot/minimalist running for two and a half years I now need a wider toebox. The more you do it the more your feet spread out which is why having a shoe with a wide toebox is such an important issue for barefoot and minimalist runners. 

The kigo drive is a really great option as an enclosed shoe as it does have a wide toebox but it has a brilliant elasticated lacing system which means that you can pull them tighter if your feet are on the narrowre side. Or you could try something like a huarache (like in born to run) Barefoot Ted's Luna sandals or Xero shoes (wear with toe sox in cold weather) or even go for something like sockwa.

08/04/2013 at 17:10


If you loved running in the kinvaras and suffered no issues, then why try and change things?

Removing 4mm of eva foam won't make you quicker.

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