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12 Best Minimalist Running Shoes in 2022

Last Updated: July 4, 2022


Less of Shoe Power, More of You Power―that’s what sets best minimalist shoes to skyrocket in popularity. Researchers have found out that gradual incorporation of minimalist shoe into daily running/training can strengthen runners' calves and muscles in the forefoot as well as improves their plantar flexor strength with minimalist plantar fascii running shoes.

BEST RATED
Xero Shoes HFS - Men Check Price on AMAZON

Xero Shoes HFS
MINIMALIST TRAIL
New Balance Minimus TR - Men Check Price on AMAZON

New Balance Minimus TR
BEST IN WINTERS
Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 - Men Check Price on AMAZON

Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2
STRONG GRIP
Vibram FiveFingers V - Men Check Price on AMAZON

Vibram FiveFingers V Run
MOST AFFORDABLE
Merrell Vapor Glove 5 - Women Check Price on AMAZON

Merrell Vapor Glove 5

These shoes are one version old than Merrell Trail Glove 5 but Glove 6 are great for minimus. Merrell Trail Glove 6 are designed for runners who enjoy more ground feel―offering thin-cushioned heels, stiff soles, and with ideal arch support shoes. Whether you’re a sucker for minimalist shoes or a newbie scratching head, this article is for you! Fervent testers in our team have tested a bunch of best-rated and highly raved minimalist shoes in the market to help you find the best one as per your preferences and needs.

But before we dive in, let's check what features your minimalist shoes should offer.

Best Minimalist Running Shoes - Content

What to Look For in a Good Minimalist Running Shoe?

Fit: Minimalist running shoes should fit like a glove, and there should be no extra spaces.

Construction: The shoe should be breathable and the fabric should be machine washable.

Ground feel: Minimalist shoes should offer a nice ground feel with protection from hazards on the ground.

Comfort: After all, the shoe should feel comfortable no matter what terrain you hit.

Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

New Balance Minimus TR

Pros
  • ✔️ Trail yet road-ready
  • ✔️ Durable
  • ✔️ Super breathable
  • ✔️ Great shoe design
Cons
  • ❌ Thicker heels
  • ❌ Hard rubber sole

Whom is it best for?
These minimalist running shoes are super recommended for runners hitting wet trails and hiking spots.

The lineage of New Balance Minimus TR has been among the most loved entry-level minimalist trail running shoes for ages. It features a slight 4mm drop and a stout midsole that flattens all the random bumps and shit on the ground.

Furthermore, this trail shoe has a Vibram outsole with solid rugs (multidirectional) that offer amazing traction. One thing most of our testers appreciated was the lightweight upper that maintains outstanding breathability throughout. If you go from road to trail, there is enough versatility and a level of performance.

Must check them out because this one is highly recommended.



Best Womens Minimalist Running Shoes

Merrell Vapor Glove 5

Pros
  • ✔️ Breathable coverage
  • ✔️ Lightweight construction
  • ✔️ Versatile shoe
Cons
  • ❌ Flimsy upper

Whom is it best for?
These are an ideal option for minimalist runners looking for a solid trail/road running shoe.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 are super versatile barefoot running shoes, very well known among female runners for their comfort, vegan-friendly construction, and women-specific barefoot feel. This road shoe feature a comfy snug fit, compression-molded CMEVA (responsive yet flexible) midsole, and a durable Vibram outsole for maximum support and traction.

Furthermore, there is a zero-drop or heel to toe drop that promotes a more natural running style, Merrel’s signature odor-reducing solution, and a perfect close-to-the-ground feel. These women’s minimalist shoes are perfect to be the best walking shoes for achilles tendonitis taken for hiking, cross-training, road running, trail running, and walking around.

Note: They are slightly larger in size than the standard measurement, so we’d recommend checking the ½ size option to get the right length.


Best Men's Minimalist Running Shoes

Skechers GOrun Ride 9


Pros
  • ✔️ Very lightweight
  • ✔️ Plush cushioning
  • ✔️ Runs fast
Cons
  • ❌ Less grippy

Whom is it best for?
These shoes are ideal for racers, for training, speed work, and even races.

For men looking for great value for money and high-performance lightweight barefoot shoes, GOrun 9 from Skechers is a good option to look at. It is one of those handful pairs of minimus running shoes for road running in the market that offer a combination of plush cushioning and lighter weight. These are super lightweight trainers that can get you through harsh miles with quality runs.

The reason we chose best lightweight cushioned running shoes is the price like you can compare the performance & cushion of the shoe with Brooks Ghost or ASICS Cumulus, but with some $20 cheaper price tag. Our testers liked the soft yet springy cushy feel that doesn’t lose the ground feel.

Super worthwhile one to add to your rotation runs!


Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Beginners

Altra Superior 5

Pros
  • ✔️ Lightweight construction
  • ✔️ Flexible
  • ✔️ Runs fast
Cons
  • ❌ Less durable
  • ❌ Runs small

Whom is it best for?
These shoes are perfect for barefoot nuts, looking to wear as less-shoes as possible on race day.

Beginners need to pick a shoe that they will be sticking to. Key features to check are comfort, fit, and performance. One such minimalist shoe (that is sure to impress all the beginners out there) is Superior 5 from Altra! They offer plenty of room for toes to spread out, features durable exposed springy EVA with Propel Plate, have an overall lightweight and flexible construction, and grippy outsole with pods.

Our testers liked the balanced combination of cushioning, spring, ground feel, and smoothness in rides and oh―the speed though! Making the shoe fall perfect for racing and track workout.

Note: They run a bit small, so we’d suggest going for a larger size.


Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Marathons

Nike Free RN 5.0

Pros
  • ✔️ Breathable
  • ✔️ Stable ride
  • ✔️ Flexible forefoot
Cons
  • ❌ Non-durable outsole

Whom is it best for?
For barefoot runners who prefer wearing minimalist shoes for marathons, this is an ideal option.

Cushioning in a running shoe means more protection and more protection means fewer injuries, however, some runners still prefer running a marathon in minimalist shoes. Well if you are one of them, Nike Free RN 5.0 is for you!

This Nike minimalist marathon shoe is a daily trainer with minimalist features, making it perfect to be worn over 10K distances. Well, these shoes sit between 100% minimalist to foamy trainers, and the ground feel they offer is amazing.

Our testers love the fact that these shoes run true to size, are lightweight, breathable offering a secure lockdown. These aren't mainly marathon running shoes, but they are firm enough to be worn through marathons if you want.


Best Minimalist Winter Running Shoes

Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2

Pros
  • ✔️ Super comfortable
  • ✔️ Amazing grip
  • ✔️ Supportive construction
Cons
  • ❌ Expensive

Whom is it best for?
These shoes are perfect for hiking, trail running, and even for road running.

If you’re a barefoot running fan and price is not an issue, you should check out Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 shoes. The reason we chose them best is their ultra-lightweight, comfortable, and breathable rain-ready Gore-Tex covering, making the shoe perfect for your all-around adventures.

One noticeable thing is the Vibram outsole with square-shaped ergonomic lugs that offer amazing traction on wet surfaces. They offer award-winning performance and comfort that you can expect for the price you’d pay.

Highly recommended!


Best Cushioned Minimalist Running Shoes

Brooks Hyperion Tempo

Pros
  • ✔️ Runs fast
  • ✔️ Lightweight
  • ✔️ Roomier toe-box
Cons
  • ❌ Less supportive

Whom is it best for?
These best Brooks running shoes for women are ideal for minimalist runners looking for a cushioned running shoes. These are perfect for fast-paced and high-mileage runs.

Want a shoe that runs fast (race ready), engineered with minimalism in mind? Meet the Hyperion Tempo by Brooks. If you have tried their older version, you would be glad to find so much room in the forefoot which makes the shoe perfect for wide feet minimalist runners.

They feature a silicone Nav Band that hugs mid-foot, making the shoe flexible and stretchable for all foot types. This Brooks stability running shoes has midsole with a bed of BioMoGo EVA foam + DNA gel that provides a secure and supportive feel, without the bulk. Our testers love the stability / motion control, softness, responsiveness, and the upper that put wide feet runners to rest.


Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Flat Feet

Vibram FiveFingers V

Pros
  • ✔️ Solid outsoles
  • ✔️ Lessen carbon footprint
  • ✔️ Lightweight
  • ✔️ Breathable
Cons
  • ❌ Stinks

Whom is it best for?
These shoes are best for forefoot strikers and wide feet runners looking for versatile running yet minimalist hiking and workout shoes.

Want a minimalist shoe that excels in toe freedom? Flat feet runners out there, you need to check out Vibram FiveFingers V - Run running shoes. The reason we chose them (among best-rated minimalist running shoes) best for flat feet runners is the midsole—the perfect blend of cushioning and durability to support the feet with these shin splints minimalist shoes.

They are lightweight yet breathable with plenty of durability and support in the outsole for running on hard and scaly pavements. Our testers appreciated the shock-locking midsole that really helps prevent injuries and aids comfort during long runs.

Super recommended.


Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Overpronators

Xero Shoes Prio

Pros
  • ✔️ Responsive cushioning
  • ✔️ Light weight
  • ✔️ Stable shoes
Cons
  • ❌ Less breathable

Whom is it best for?
These are perfect for minimalist runners looking for a daily trainer and long-distance running shoes.

For overpronators looking for a low-profile minimalist shoe, Xero Shoes Prio is sure to impress. The reason we chose this one best for overpronators is the overall stability and lightweight guide rails that offer a neutral feel to overpronators. The shoe features a bed (midsole) BioMoGo + DNA cushioning that adapts to the shape of your foot and reduce injury rates. A bunch of our teasers love the support the shoe provides without weighing the runner down.

Moreover, there are Omega Flex grooves as rubber outsole that give you amazing traction and longer life to the shoe.


Best Cheap Minimalist Running Shoes

Merrell Trail Glove 6

Pros
  • ✔️ Lightweight construction
  • ✔️ Awesome barefoot-feel
  • ✔️ Flexible
Cons
  • ❌ Inconsistent grip

Whom is it best for?
These are perfect for trail yet road runners looking for a minimalist shoe with max ground feel and responsiveness.

Merrell Trail Glove 6 is a cheap but durable minimalist trainer that retails only for $60 only.

These shoes cut thick stack height and chunky cushioning to offer superior ground-feel and barefoot accuracy on roads and trails. Furthermore, there is a breathable ultra-light mesh upper, thin but durable outsole, wide toe box, snug heel pockets, awesome flexibility, and great ground feel.

Ground-feel suckers out there, this one's for you!


Best Rated Minimalist Running Shoes


Best Barefoot Running Shoes

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

Pros
  • ✔️ Breathable
  • ✔️ Stable ride
  • ✔️ Flexible forefoot
Cons
  • ❌ Non-durable Outsole

Whom is it best for?
For barefoot runners who prefer wearing minimalist shoes for marathons, these Vivo barefoot running shoes are an ideal option for them.

Cushioning in a running shoe means more protection and more protection means fewer injuries, however, some runners still prefer running a marathon in minimalist running shoes. Well if you are one of them, Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is for you!

It is a daily trainer with minimalist features, making it perfect to be worn over 10K distances. Well, these barefoot shoes sit between 100% minimalist to foamy trainers, and the ground feel they offer is amazing with a Vivobarefoot flat feet sole. Our testers love the fact that these shoes run true to size, are lightweight, breathable offering a secure lockdown. These aren't mainly marathon running shoes, but they are firm enough to be worn through marathons if you want.


Best Zero Drop Running Shoes

Xero Shoes HFS

Pros
  • ✔️ Stable yet supportive
  • ✔️ Breathable
  • ✔️ Lightweight construction
Cons
  • ❌ Floppy & clunky

Whom is it best for?
They are best for runners looking for cross-trainers for high-intensity circuit training, hiking, trail running and even for occasional road runs.

If you go from road to trail, Xero Shoes HFS as trail running shoe is something to check out. Their Minimus series are super known for their versatility, this one offers the same bells and whistles but with more stability. They offer a firm and responsive ride, lightweight feel, nice breathability, excellent ground traction and stability.


Conclusion


There isn’t one that fits all types of runners. What makes a shoe perfect for you depends on a bunch of factors including your foot shape, weight and experience level and personal preferences.

All of those variables mean the best shoes for you are different from the best shoes for someone else. With this in mind, this article covers 12 popular products that worked well for a bunch of avid runners in our team, so you can consider checking them out. Moreover, almost all of the manufacturers offer free returns, so you can try them with confidence.


Video Source: Andrew Folts

FAQs

Yes. Such shoes encourage blood flow and help to elongate and stretch the entire Plantar Fascia-Calf complex while relaxing the foot and arch muscle fibers.