Humans haven’t always worn shoes. That won’t be the most mind-blowing thing you’ll read today because of course our ancestors weren’t hunting mammoths in a pair of Air Jordans or dodging sabretooth tigers in a fresh pair of K-Swiss - it was eau naturale. Somewhere though, we lost our way and learned to find comfort in cushioned midsoles and over time our feet adapted to this comfier way of life.
The comfort has its drawbacks though, all that cushioning means our feet are unnaturally cramped, affecting our posture, how we walk and how we run (we all know how good it feels to pop off a pair of shoes after a particularly tough run/shift/workout). Barefoot shoes are gaining popularity, especially for runners, because they engage every part of the foot unlike normal shoes. They have soles, sides and laces the same as any other shoe - they’re just much thinner and much lighter. Below we’ve picked out three of the best barefoot running shoes on the market to cater to all runners...
Merrell Vapor Glove 4, £60
Closer in design to a normal shoe than the other items on this list, these aren’t a bad shout for your first pair. The Vapor Glove 4 are still ultra-lightweight and flexible making it ideal for on the road or on a trail, giving you unprecedented feedback and freedom every time your foot touches the ground. Best of all, they’re vegan, meaning nothing harmful to the planet was in the creation of these minimalist masterpieces.
Best For: Beginners, Trail-Runners
Vibram FiveFingers KSO Evo, £75
Vibram are probably the most well-known brand when it comes to barefoot running, especially their FiveFingers range, which as you can probably guess fit your feet and toes just like a glove. Now, the KSO Evo are razor-thin, so if you’re new to barefoot running then they’re probably not for you - that first run in a pair would come as a major shock to your feet when you wake up the next day, trust us! If you’re a veteran of barefoot running then these are ideal, putting you closer to the ground than ever. They work excellently in wet and dry conditions, too.
Best For: Ultra-minimalists
Vibram FiveFingers V-Run, £115
Another ‘FiveFinger’ model from Vibram, the ‘V-Run’ offers the snuggest fit on this list (Finding the right size for you can be a nightmare, mind). Thicker than most Vibram options, thanks to lightweight but super-tough extra layer of skin, it is ideal for long-distance runners making it perfect for anyone looking to transition into barefoot running. These could be the shoes that help you smash your next half marathon PB.
Best For: Long-Distance Runners