The Best Barefoot Hiking Shoes of 2023

Best Barefoot hiking shoes reviews

Anyone who has ever enjoyed barefoot shoes will no longer want to be without them, not even when hiking. The best barefoot hiking shoes offer a smooth feeling of walking and the toe gain freedom, not like readily traded bulky or stiff boots.

The focus of barefoot shoes is freedom of movement of the foot and unhindered rolling. Here is our guide and recommendation that makes it easier to choose the right barefoot hiking shoes for hiking. Because we have researched the most popular models for you.

Best barefoot hiking shoes of 2023

Our five favorite barefoot hiking shoes:

Also interesting: The most popular hiking shoes under 100 dollars

1. VIVOBAREFOOT Tracker II – Best barefoot shoes for hiking with a high shaft

 

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Material: leather, textile | Sole: Firm Ground Sole | Closure: lacing | Shoe Width: Wide | Heel: 0 cm

Pros:

  • Hiking for beginners, as it is a bit firmer
  • Suitable for narrow feet (women’s model)
  • Waterproof
  • Removable thermal sole
  • Stable eyelets and laces
  • Very easy to wear

Cons:

  • Turns out small
  • Sole is glued
  • Stiff sole

VIVOBAREFOOT Tracker II hiking shoe keeps your feet dry with a waterproof and breathable membrane. Thanks to a removable thermal sole, the shoe is also suitable for the cold season and ensures warm feet. The barefoot shoe is very light and offers good support in the heel area and space for the toes in the front area.

Although it is robust due to its stiffer sole, it does not offer the classic barefoot shoe experience. This model is also suitable for beginners. Because the shoe is stiffer and has a high shaft, it is also good for beginners.

Overall, a high-quality barefoot shoe with a high shaft that provides sufficient freedom of movement. And it offers protection against environmental influences and is a good companion in rough terrain.


2. Skinner’s 2.0 Hybrid Sock – Best barefoot shoes for short hikes

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Material: Textile | Sole: rubber coating | Closure: slip-on shoe | Shoe Width: Flexible | Heel: 0 cm

Pros:

  • Structured like a sock
  • Affordable
  • Rubber sole for perfect grip
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Nothing for beginners for hiking
  • Order one size larger
  • Rapid odor development

Skinners 2.0 is the successor to the popular Skinners shoe socks. These barefoot socks are non-slip due to the coating on the sole. It goes beyond the sole of the foot and therefore also protects the toes and sides on rocky terrain, and provides good abrasion protection and long durability. Due to the low weight, changing shoes can be packed in the backpack without extreme additional load.

It could be a very light alternative to classic trekking shoes with a non-slip coating. And with a little practice, this barefoot shoe can also be used for longer hikes.

We recommend Skinners Hyprit Sock for everyone. But the barefoot shoe for beginners is not suitable for long hikes as it offers full foot freedom and everything has to be balanced with your own muscles.


3. Vibram Five Fingers V-Trail trail running shoes – Best toe shoes for hiking

Vibram Five Fingers

Material: synthetic | Sole: rubber | Closure: quick release | Shoe Width: Narrow | Heel: 0 cm

Pros:

  • Simple to wear
  • The separation between the toes gives plenty of freedom of movement
  • Good fit with quick release
  • Vibram sole provides good grip

Cons:

  • The separation between toes can chafe
  • Needs practice getting dressed

Vibram V-Trail barefoot hiking shoes are suitable for trail running and convincing with their good fit. The Vibram sole ensures a firm grip on any surface and the quick-release fastener ensures that the shoe fits snugly on the foot. There are women’s and men’s models. These differ mainly in the shoe width.

This model also works well with casual cycling. The shoes can be ordered in your own size. Insoles can be worn in the Five Fingers, but then the meaning of the barefoot shoes is partly lost because the ground is no longer so noticeable.


4. Merrell Vapor Glove 4 Trekking Shoes – Best low-cut barefoot hiking shoe

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Material: Cloth | Sole: Vibram | Closure: lacing | Shoe Width: Medium | Heel: 1 cm

Pros:

  • Rubber toe cap
  • Breathable
  • No animal ingredients
  • Stable sole

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Slight heel of 1 cm

Merrell Vapor Glove 4 barefoot shoe impresses with its lightweight design and additional toe protection that protects against bumps and debris. It has a structured Vibram sole that ensures a good grip on straight to rough terrain.

The mesh fabric is breathable and quick-drying. With this equipment, the barefoot shoe is very well suited for short and intensive hikes. Since it is not waterproof, it can be used primarily in good weather.

The half-cut trekking shoe is well suited for tours in summer due to its low weight and breathable material. The sole, which goes beyond the toes, protects them well.

Merrell Vapor Glove 4 barefoot shoe is also breathable thanks to the mesh fabric and dries quickly. To ensure a good fit, make sure to choose one size larger.


5. Vivobarefoot Esc Tracker Forest – Best sturdy barefoot shoes for hiking

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Material: leather, textile | Sole: Firm Ground Sole | Closure: lacing | Shoe Width: Wide | Heel: 0 cm

Pros:

  • Stitched sole
  • Water repellent
  • Breathable
  • Stable and non-slip
  • Extra insole for cold days

Cons:

  • Difficult to wear
  • Not for narrow feet
  • Stiff

Vivobarefoot barefoot hiking shoes with a sewn sole and riveted lace eyelets are very durable and robust even on long tours. The 3 mm thick sole is puncture-resistant and offers good grips on any surface. These trekking shoes are breathable thanks to a special mesh lining and thus ensure a dry feeling in the shoes. The outside is water-repellent due to the processed leather.

The leather is water-repellent, which keeps your feet dry if you take good care of them. Overall, a high-quality and well-made shoe with a sewn sole, which makes it very durable in addition to the leather. You can rely on these barefoot shoes, specially made for hiking, even on long trekking tours.


What to consider when buying barefoot shoes for hiking?

Before buying barefoot hiking shoes, the following characteristics should be considered:

Type: What forms are there?

There are barefoot shoes with individually sewn toes and classically shaped shoes. Many swear by the better grip and greater mobility of the individually wrapped toes. Others are uncomfortable with this and resort to hiking boots with a toe box. The decision depends on the preferences of the users.

Good to know: Flexibility comes with practice. Even if your feet don’t use the toe freedom you’ve gained at first, it makes sense to give them some time to get used to the new conditions. Foot training also helps here.

When is a barefoot shoe suitable for hiking?

Forest and meadow or mountain and valley? The terrain and the length of the tour ultimately decide which features the new barefoot shoe needs for hiking.

➤shaft height

Low or high cut is the question here. Models with a high shaft support the ankle on longer trekking tours and hikes with heavy luggage, and barefoot shoe beginners in particular benefit from this.

➤material

Leather is the classic material for hiking shoes. It is good for the foot climate and if it is well cared for, it is water-repellent, resistant and durable.

Lined with a membrane, leather shoes are also waterproof. For short and easy hikes, the water resistance can be neglected. This is primarily important for long hikes where changing shoes is not so easy.

➤sole

The sole determines the friction of the barefoot shoe. The profile and the material influence the longevity, the grip and how robust it is. Many shoes suitable for hiking and trekking have toe protection to absorb shock and prevent abrasion from the ground.

It is also important whether the sole is sewn or glued to the shoe. The sewn version is more robust and is an advantage, especially on long tours or multi-day tours.

What should the barefoot shoe be able to do?

Wet feet are no fun when hiking. Protection from rain, snow and other environmental influences is therefore particularly important on trekking tours or hikes. The season plays an important role here.

➤Winter?

If the shoes are intended for winter, then a warm layer on the sides and a thermal sole in the shoe is an advantage. Water-repellent material is highly recommended for the cold season. This keeps your feet warm and dry even on longer tours.

➤Summer?

In summer it is important that your feet do not sweat too much and that excess moisture does not remain on the skin to prevent blisters. Breathable models are therefore a good choice.

To ensure that your feet stay dry even on long hikes and multi-day tours, you can pack another pair in your backpack. Because they are lightweight and flexible, they don’t take up much space.

Find the right size

Plenty of room for your toes is an important criterion when buying barefoot hiking shoes. As with classic shoes, buying shoes that are too small is the most common mistake when buying shoes.

➤shoe length

The rule here is that the shoe must offer at least 1 to 2 thumb widths more space than your own foot length. This extra length is needed for rolling because the bent foot is longer than when standing normally on the ground. Also, the extra length compensates for the fact that the foot becomes wider and longer when running due to blood circulation.

➤shoe width

The width of the shoe is also important. The foot does not lie on the seams of the sole but is framed by it. The width can be easily checked on the insole of a shoe. If the foot completely covers the sole, the shoe is too narrow.

What should be considered when switching from classic hiking shoes to barefoot shoes?

Is it commonplace to walk barefoot, or are your feet always wrapped in classic shoes? If you have not had much experience with barefoot shoes or walking barefoot in everyday life, it is not recommended to take part in a long hike in the mountains.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hiking pro or a beginner: Anyone who has rarely or never walked barefoot before, even in barefoot shoes, will overwhelm their own feet.

Make fun on your first hike with barefoot shoes, good preparation is important. Anyone who observes these five points will make it easier to start running with barefoot shoes:

  • Start slow: Walking barefoot a lot, or walking in barefoot shoes, is the best preparation for a barefoot hike. Here the credo applies slowly and continuously. Like training in the gym or jogging. The training intensity gradually increases.
  • Exercising feet: In addition to regular barefoot walking, foot exercises can support the development of muscles and train the mobility of the feet.
  • Take breaks: Rest breaks are important for regeneration. In the resting phases, the body builds muscles and the like in order to be prepared for the next load. It is important to listen to your own body. When your feet hurt, you need a break.
  • Note fit: In order to make the rolling movement, the foot needs space. Pay attention to freedom of toes and sufficiently wide shoes. The shoe should be 1 to 2 thumb widths longer than the foot.
  • Enough prep time: A little more stress every day, every week. First short distances, then longer. In the beginning, easy straight paths, then gradually into the terrain. Depending on the level of training, the preparation time should last 1 to 3 months.
Tip: As soon as your muscles are no longer sore on the easy paths, you can start with the uneven paths in the terrain.

Final Thoughts

Going barefoot is good for you, trains and stabilizes your feet. Barefoot hiking shoes protect them from sharp objects without losing ground contact. The right size is important because only the right shoe size brings the advantages of barefoot shoes. If the shoe is too narrow or too small, these will be lost.

FAQs

Which barefoot shoes are suitable for hiking?

The main factor is your own training level. If you regularly walk barefoot and are looking for hiking shoes, you can also fall back on minimalist models. These protect against injuries caused by sharp edges and others but offer a full barefoot feeling.

Are barefoot shoes for hiking waterproof?

Models that are waterproof have a membrane built into the shoe. This protects the foot from water from rain and mud and allows vaporous moisture, such as sweat, to escape. However, pure leather shoes can also be kept dry on the inside with a wax treatment and additional impregnation spray.

How much do good barefoot shoes cost?

There are now models for less than 20 dollars, but the workmanship is rarely good and durable. High-quality products cost between 100 and 250 dollars. Seasonal offers from manufacturers also make high-quality products available at lower costs.

Can you hike with barefoot shoes?

Yes, but it’s important, to be honest with yourself about your fitness level. If you rarely walk barefoot and wear classic shoes, you cannot expect to master a whole hike with your own feet. As with many sports, the same applies here: practice makes perfect.

Which barefoot hiking shoes are the best?

The best barefoot hiking shoe depends on the level of training and the shape of the foot. There are sock-like barefoot shoes and those with a noticeable sole that still gives a good feeling on the ground. It is important for all barefoot hiking shoes to have enough room for the toes and a flexible sole so that your feet are not passive but actively involved in fast walking or running.

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