Best Minimalist Running Shoes Reviewed and Tested

Our Top 3 Picks
Inov-8 F-lite 240
  • Inov-8 F-lite 240
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Sticky rubber outsole
  • Price: See Here
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New Balance WX20v3
  • New Balance WX20v3
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Vibram sole
  • Price: See Here
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Merrell Vapor Glove
  • Merrell Vapor Glove
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Sticky Vibram outsole
  • Price: See Here
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1. Inov-8 F-lite 240

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The Inov-8 F-lite 240 Shoe was designed for serious athletes needing a shoe that could withstand the rigors of off-road running and exercising that would punish lesser athletic shoes.
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As one of the best minimalistic shoes available for athletes, the F-lite 240 is lightweight and conforms to the shape of the foot, working with the body's natural anatomy instead of against it.

Materials used to create the F-lite 240 were carefully chosen for maximum durability, flexibility, and toughness. The mesh covering allows the shoe to breathe, increasing comfort and friction.

Inov-8 has implemented the use of their patented Meta-Flex technology to give the wearer the ability to more naturally, decreasing the chance for injury and assisting with balance and ease of movement.

2. New Balance Women's WX20v3 Minimus

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The best minimalist shoes for women support the foot, do not inhibit movement, look good, and feel good.
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This can be a tall order, but the New Balance Women's WX20v3 Minimus meets all the required criteria. Made from a synthetic and mesh blend, the Minimus is breathable, flexible, and durable. In addition, the materials are also antimicrobial, lending to odor reduction.

New Balance designed these shoes to be lightweight and flexible to make running and climbing accomplished with more natural movements than traditional, thicker athletic shoe designs. The shoes are available in two color schemes, black and hot pink or white and pink. The feminine coloring adds a little flair to an otherwise minimalist athletic shoe that was created for maximum performance and not aesthetics.

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The lightness of the Minimus increases movement and allows the foot to sit in the shoe in its natural posture. Some wearers compare wearing this shoe to walking around barefoot, because the material is almost unnoticeable. This is an advantage when running or doing exercises that require a lot of footwork.

The lack of weight and bulk makes the flexing of the foot easier and endurance can be increased without the added encumbrance of a bulky shoe.

The Minimus is an athletic shoes, but can be worn by anyone with an active lifestyle who needs to be mobile constantly and comfortable. Minimus has the edge by incorporating functionality in an attractive design.

3. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

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When you’re hiking through a trail, having the best grip possible on the ground below you is tremendously important.
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Whether you’re trekking through a dirt trail or clambering through jutting rocks in a stream, having a secure and solid hold on what you’re standing on or running through can make or break your adventure through the great outdoors. To ensure that you have the best possible grip on your surroundings, going with the Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe just might be your best bet.

The Vapor Glove 2 features zero-drop ground contact for your feet and utilizes a breathable mesh in the upper molds of the shoe to ensure that your feet don’t get caught up in your shoes when making your way outside. Additionally, Vapor’s usage of the M Select Fresh material creates for an environment in your shoe that gets rid of any annoying sweat and moisture that accumulates around your feet throughout the day. The M Select Fresh uses a special antimicrobial agent whose top priority is to target and eliminate any reproducing bacteria that creates for odor within your shoes. And, to round out the list, the Vapor Glove 2 features lug patterns along the bottom of the shoe that give your foot unprecedented grip and stability – no matter what kind of environment you find yourself in. Since the Vapor Glove 2 does not have any lugs located under the arch of the shoe, your foot has the ability to flex more than you ever thought possible while wearing a shoe. Dry or wet, day or night, the Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe has got your back.

The Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe comes in 4 colors, including Black/Castle Rock, Grey/Spicy Orange, Racer Blue/Bright Green, and Dark Orange. While it may not have the most extensive color options available, all of them look great and are distinctly stylish in their own unique way.

4. FitKicks Men’s Active Lifestyle Footwear

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However, what if you’re in the market for something that’s even more minimalistic? The shoes we’ve looked at so far have all been great choices, but they still are very much reminiscent in their appearance to that of an actual shoe.
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What if you’re looking for something that’s even more discrete? If you are, FitKicks’ Men’s Active Lifestyle Footwear might be the minimalistic shoe for you.

Unlike all of the shoes on our list so far, the FitKicks Men’s Active Lifestyle Footwear minimalist shoes don’t feature any laces at all. In fact, they’re actually resemble a sock more than anything! And while that may seem like an odd design at first, there are quite a lot of features baked into this unique minimalistic shoe. One such feature is the durable FlexForm sole that’s used in the shoe. This special sole technology has the ability to form specifically to the contours of your foot, allowing you to have the freest motion possible when wearing these shoes. Better yet, the sole and design for the shoe allow yo to fold them up just like a pair of socks for great convenience when packing them in a bag and taking them anywhere with you.

Another great feature that’s included here is the form-fitting construction that lets your foot breath freely. Gone are the days of having your toes and feet get muggy and hot when venturing outside or around the house, as the FitKicks Active Lifestyle Footwear will make sure your feet stay cool and comfy at all times. Along with this, there’s a protective toe guard that keeps your toes safe from excessive wear points and any dragging that the shoes may encounter. Thanks to the original design and technology that is used within the shoes, they can be used for virtually anything. Walking, exercising, hiking, hanging out by the pool or at the beach, doing yoga, and more is all possible while wearing these shoes!

Perhaps the biggest downside with the FitKicks Men’s Active Lifestyle Footwear are the extremely lacking options when it comes to color choices. You have the choice between Black and Navy, and that’s it. The colors don’t look bad by any means, but if you aren’t a fan of these colors in the first place, they aren’t going to do anything to change your mind. As much of a bummer as that might be, we haven’t even gotten to the best part about the shoes yet – the price. Depending on the color and size that you choose, the FitKicks Men’s Active Lifestyle Footwear can be yours for a truly affordable price, making these a true steel for anyone in the market for a new pair of minimalistic shoes.

5. New Balance Men’s MX20BS4 Cross Minimus

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That last shoe is definitely unique to say the least, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more standard when it comes to the looks of your shoe.
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That’s fine and dandy, but what if you love how lightweight the previous shoes we looked at are? If only there was a way to combine the extreme lightweight design and the classic minimalist shoe design into one single product? With New Balance’s Men’s MX20BS4 Cross Minimus Training Shoe, that’s all possible! This pair right here combines both the look of a standard shoe with an extremely lightweight design like what we saw with the FitKicks Men’s Active Lifestyle Footwear above. It’s a wonderful combination that could make for the perfect minimalist shoe for you!

New Balance has been making athletic shoes for quite some time, so you can rest easy knowing that these shoes are made by the pros. The Cross Minimus Training Shoe is made out of a synthetic construction, features lace-up trainer with a no-sew mesh upper area, and has the ability to stabilize your foot with a 4mm drop. All of this is included with a Vibram outsole that creates for phenomenal durability. Basically what we’re getting at here, is that this shoe doesn’t sacrifice any major features or minimalist characteristics just because of its lightweight nature.

A number of reviewers on Amazon have reported that these shoes, whil not the most ideal choice for running or hiking, are excellent when it comes to weight lifting and other similar activities. We’ve already looked at minimalist shoes that are the best for those previous activities, so having a shoe that’s made for pumping iron at the gym is important to have if that’s an activity you take seriously. And, when you’re at the gym, you can rest assured with shoes that both feel comfy, will keep your feet safe, are lightweight, and have a nice appearance at the same time. The primary color options are all black, but there are numerous accent colors to choose from that bring in nice splashes of color while still retaining a nice, laid back look.

If you’re a gym nut, these are going to be the shoes for you. You want something that’s lightweight, secure on your foot, and something that’s going to provide amble grip and security for all of your activities.

6. Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe

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We’ve been looking at quite a few men’s shoes for our past few items, so let’s get back to talking about shoes for the ladies for a minute.
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Running is one of the best ways to keep your body is shape. Getting all that cardio can do wonders for your heart, lungs, and legs. It’s an excellent way to keep your body in shape, but when you decide to go for a long run, you need to make sure that you’re taking the proper precautions when doing so. More specifically, having the right shoe for the job is critically important before going out on a long jog, run, or fast walk. If you’re a woman and have been trying to find a minimalist shoe that is designed specifically for running, don’t look any further than the Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe.

Merrell’s Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoes are made out of a fabric and synthetic material. A rubber sole allows for great grip, the breathable mesh material lets your toes and feet breath while on a run to prevent them from getting hot and sweaty, and the integrated microfiber soft footbed creates for a nice and comfy cushion for your foot. All in all, these shoes by Merrell let your feet be comfy, cool, and provide for excellent grip – all at the exact same time! Even better, the Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe is very easy to take care of. Simply wash the shoe in cold water whenever you need to, and use a gentle cycle and air dry to finish up the cleaning process.

If this sounds like something for you, you’ll like these shoes even better when we take a look at the design of them! There’s a nice swooping pattern on the sides, and the color choices are both fun and subdued. With that said, the Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe does have a higher starting price than most of the shoes on our list today. These shoes have a pretty steep starting price tag, but considering everything that these shoes bring to the table, we think it’s rightly justified with that price point.

7. Reef Men’s Reef Ridge Fashion Sneaker

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All of the shoes on our list so far have been geared towards people who want minimalist shoes to hike, trek, run, or workout at the gym.
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That’s awesome for people who are into those kind of things, but what if you’re looking for a shoe that’s minimalistic, but is also made for simply wearing around town, and not necessarily for working out or being very physically active? If you want a minimalist shoe that’s main priority is for fashion, you just might be interested in the Reef Men’s Reef Ride Fashion Sneaker.

Since this isn’t a shoe that’s made for heavy activity, you won’t have all of the same features that we’ve seen in the past shoes we’ve been taking a look at. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing since this shoe doesn’t really require all of those fitness centric features. Instead, we’re looking at a low-top sneaker that uses a heavy gauge canvas, along with a patterned collar and stitching that is tonal along the sides of the shoe Additionally, there are molded rubber soles that provide for traction on the outsole of the shoe.

That’s all great stuff, but one of the best things about this shoe is its appearance and design. The shoe comes in a plethora of great designs, with the different options changing both the fabric and rubber sole sections of the shoe. And along with the awesome color selections, the overall look for the phone is just fantastic. The minimalist body keeps the phone compact and lightweight, and the classy design keeps everything looking fashionable at the same time.

If this sounds like a product for you, the Reef Men’s Reef Ridge Fashion Sneaker varies quite a bit with its price. All of this is dependent on the size and color you choose, so the actual price will vary based on the shoe you select. Either way, no matter what price you end up paying, there’s no denying that this is an awesome minimalist shoe if you want a shoe that’s compact and fashionable at the same time.

8. Fila Men’s Skele-Toes Ez Slide Drainage Shoes

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One of the best part about minimalist shoes are how compact and lightweight they are. They get the job done that you want them to, but they also get out of the way and let you forget about them while you’re getting on with your life.
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While all the shoes on our list have done a great job at that, they’ve all had the standard shoe design. But what if you want something that’s a bit different? Something that’s great for any outdoor activity, provides protection against anything your feet come into contact with, and something that provides for top notch grip on your surrounds. If you’re looking for a shoe along those lines, the Fila Men’s Skele-Toes Ex Slide Drainage Shoes might be the perfect minimalist shoe for you.

The design is shaped to your foot, so rather than the basic look of a shoe, there are cutouts and such for your toes. It’s definitely strange when compared to standard shoes, but they’ve gotten a great deal of praise for how functional they actually are. These specific ones by Fila are made out of a textile and synthetic construction, provide protection against sharp objects, hot sand, mucky lakes and mud, and have cushioning in the footbed with open air mesh. Also included here is a lightweight design and with a very flexible and comfortable build. Unlike the previous shoe above we just looked at, this one is made specifically for adventuring outside.

These types of Skele-Toes shoes aren’t for everyone, but they definitely fit in the category of minimalist shoes. If you think that this is something you’d like, the shoes start out at a very affordable. Additionally, you can purchase these shoes in a wide variety of bright and vibrant colors that really do look quite fantastic. Again, not everyone will be into the design of these shoes, but if you are, they’re some of the best you can get for running, hiking, trekking, etc.

9. Xero Shoes Barefoot Sport Sandals

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Looking at this shoe at first, you might be slightly confused. We’re talking about the top minimalist shoes after all, so why are there a pair of sandals on the list? Don’t dismiss the idea just yet!
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While they may technically be sandals, they still fall into the category of minimalist shoes. The main goal with the Xero Shoes Barefoot Sport Sandals is to provide you with all of the freedom and joy that comes with talking around barefoot, but also providing excellent protection for your feet at the same time. So, essentially, this shoe is providing the best of both worlds. The feeling of walking around barefoot is one of the best out there, but ensuring your toes and feet have the best protection possible is extremely important to your physical health.

Despite being sandals, these are a great choice if you enjoy hiking, walking, running, working out at the gym, jogging, doing yoga, rafting, canoeing, fishing, running marathons, and pretty much anything else that you can think of. These sports sandals are 70% lighter than most other sport sandals out on the market, and are just 5.5mm thick at its thickest point – making it incredible lightweight and portable for all occasions. Some features included here are a zero-drop non-elevated heel that allows your foot to have a natural posture, fast-drying when they come into contact with water, excellent traction and grip on virtually any surface, and z-style webbing that keeps the foot held to your foot very snugly and securely.

Unfortunately, the Xero Shoes Barefoot Sport Sandals only come in three different colors, but they’re neutral enough so that they should match just about any outfit of yours. However, you might be able to forgive the lack of colors when we talk about the price. These shoes come at a really solid price for just a functional sandal, and if you’ve been in the market for something like this, it might just be the perfect option for you.

10. TF-BK30 Tesla Men’s Trail Running Barefoot BK30

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While some of the shoes we have been taking a look at on this list have been trying to stand out from the crowd and be unique in their own special way, the TF-BK30 focuses on the basics when it comes to the classic design.
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In their purest form, a minimalistic shoe should be lightweight, compact, provide ample protection for your feet, and – most importantly – get out of the way and let you focus on the activity you’re taking part it.

With the TF-BK30 by Tesla, the company has done their best to make an excellent, bare bones running shoe for a crazy low price. Some of the features that we see with this shoe are a zero-drop heel-to-toe design whose main focus is to keep any and all pressure off of your foot. The 2mm midsole uses an arched footbed that only adds to the comfort that is added to your foot when in the shoe. A breathable mesh fabric keeps your feet and toes cool and comfy when adventuring in the hot and muggy weather, and a ultra-lightweight design of just 6 ounces per shoe means that these will be incredibly lightweight when worn on your foot – the point where you might even forget you’re wearing the shoe!

The TF-BK30 by Tesla comes in four different colors, and whether you want something that’s colorful or more professional, there’s something here for your specific taste. This isn’t the largest color selection we’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t really matter when we talk about the price. Tesla’s Men’s Trail Running BK30 come at one of the lowest prices you’ll ever find when it comes to a quality minimalist shoe, making it an absolute steal.

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