A lot of people really like the idea of going barefoot. The problem, however, is that a lifetime of wearing shoes has done a poor job of training your feet for the abuse that something like barefoot hiking can inflict. So barefoot hiking shoes are a good compromise. They protect your feet from the sharp rocks, thorns and other debris that you often find on the typical hiking trail, but get rid of all of that excess material between you and ground, and let you feel what you’re hiking on.
Barefoot Hiking ShoesWhat to consider when buying barefoot hiking shoes.
- Toes – Many people’s first introduction to the idea of barefoot anything are Vibram FiveFingers. They’re good for walking around town, for running, and also for hiking. Vibram makes a few models that are specifically made for hiking, but the basic models also do a great job of giving you a barefoot hiking experience.
- Thickness – The thicker the material between you and the ground is, the less you will be able to feel what’s underneath you. If you’re just starting out with barefoot hiking you might want a little padding, but for those more experienced barefooters, a thinner sole is a lot closer to the barefoot hiking experience.
Best Barefoot Hiking ShoesSome of the best options for barefoot hiking shoes for men and women.
- Inov8 F-Lite 195 Shoes - With just a 3 millimeter footbed, these are a great way to get close to the ground, without actually walking on the ground. Even better, they weigh just 6.8 ounces, or 195 grams, which is alluded to in the name. So if you want barefoot shoes that are also extremely lightweight, these are an ideal choice. They're just mesh on top, there's no waterproofing to speak of, and they're actually unisex, so these are both the men's and women's model.
- New Balance MT10 Minimus Shoes (Women's) - These are a bit thicker and sturdier, and a good starting point for someone looking to get started with barefoot hiking. The soles are quite thin, but do offer some amount of support, which is ideal if your feet aren't used to a lack of padding just yet. They're also just mesh on top, so plenty of ventilation. But at 14.2 ounces, or 402 grams for the pair, they're the heaviest barefoot hiking shoes on the list.
- Vibram FIveFingers TrekSport Shoes (Women's) - The Vibram FiveFingers are what most people think of when they think of barefoot hiking shoes. They're the ones with individual toes. These, however, are a little different from the basic FiveFingers. They actually have a slightly thicker, 4 millimeter footbed, and also some added traction on the bottom of them, so that you can be sure about your footing on uneven and slippery trails. Of course these are ideal if you plan on getting wet in the course of hiking, because they will dry quickly, and you probably wont be wearing socks with them. The original barefoot hiking shoes, and still an excellent option.