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11 Best Barefoot Hiking Boots (2023 Reviews & Buying Guide)

a closeup of Xero Denver, some of the best barefoot hiking boots on the market

The barefoot revolution has long since begun, and it’s taken us from funny looking five finger designs all the way to bonafide hiking boots that function on the trail. It’s a remarkable change that points to the benefits barefoot hiking can offer.

I’m a fairly recent convert (barefoot shoes will always take some time to break in), and I can attest to the undeniable uniqueness of the sensation of walking without soles, of actually having some kind of connection to the forest floor that extends past occasionally tripping on a rock.

It’s something everyone should try if they can. So to save you the time and money of trialing various designs yourself – we’ve come up with this handy guide to the best barefoot hiking boots and shoes.

Best for Men
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc, Mens Off-Road Hiking Boot With Barefoot Sole
Best for Women
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc, Womens Off-Road Hiking Boot With Barefoot Sole
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc
Special Features
Michelin© Esc Sole, Super Breathable & Flexible, Foot Shaped
Michelin© Esc Sole, Super Breathable & Flexible, Foot Shaped
Best for Men
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc, Mens Off-Road Hiking Boot With Barefoot Sole
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc
Special Features
Michelin© Esc Sole, Super Breathable & Flexible, Foot Shaped
Check Price
Best for Women
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc, Womens Off-Road Hiking Boot With Barefoot Sole
Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest Esc
Special Features
Michelin© Esc Sole, Super Breathable & Flexible, Foot Shaped
Check Price

The Best Barefoot Hiking Boots of 2023

1. VivoBarefoot Tracker Forest Esc

Men’s | Women’s

In my mind, the VivoBarefoot Tracker Forest Esc (short for escape) places easily among the best barefoot hiking boots: fantastically functional, and designed specifically for the trail.

The sole – manufactured by tire company Michelin – offers both superb flexibility and a superior grip when compared to other minimalist footwear.

In practical terms, this means an immense level of dexterity, something vital for countering a nasty trip or fall on rough or icy terrain.

It’s specifically designed for more high-intensity hikes, though it remains versatile with that tough but tactile sole – I’ve worn it in a variety of places with little issue.

You’ve also got excellent breathability when compared to most minimalist hiking boots, without missing out on warmth.

The boot’s (naturally water-resistant) leather uppers are supplemented by an internal breathable mesh. Just be aware that it may get a little sweaty during long hikes in the hot summer months.

Aside from some warm weather issues, the boot is only water resistant, not waterproof, so don’t be surprised if you experience occasional leakage.

I used to counter this by using a spray on the boot’s leather uppers – but I’ve since learned that such chemicals might be harmful to the environment, and fortunately, the boot dries pretty fast.


  • Superior grip with a Michelin-designed sole
  • Water Resistant
  • Excellent Breathability
  • Practical for Use on Hikes of Various Intensities
  • Tough and Durable Material.


  • Not Entirely Waterproof.

2. Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion

Men’s | Women’s

The Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion is also among the best barefoot hiking boots on the market, and an excellent alternative to the Forest Esc for instances when a waterproof boot is a must.

The Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion is indeed a fully waterproof hiking boot, with a gusseted tongue that will keep your feet dry (unless water enters at the very top).

It also shares almost all the features with the Forest Esc, including the essential wide toe box and zero drop soles (though without that incredible Michelin design). The lack of leather uppers also means that it’s made from exclusively vegan-friendly materials.

The sole is still fantastic – effortlessly flexible and completely flat for great ground feel, not to mention durable. It’s a definite improvement over the last Xero Shoes iteration, which, while a great hiking boot, was a little more rigid.

The whole thing is lighter too, at only 13.3 oz.: that’s an astonishing drop in weight compared to the typical 32 oz. of traditional hiking boots.

The best pair of barefoot hiking shoes have to feature plenty of toe room, allowing us to stretch out our stiff foot muscles – so I was disappointed when I found that the toe box in my pair of Xero Shoes ran a little narrow for me (admittedly) wide feet.

I might recommend buying a half size up if you’re someone with wider feet like me who could do with the extra room. If you have narrow feet, they’ll probably be a good fit.


  • Completely Waterproof
  • Excellent Ground Feel
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan Friendly.


  • Runs a Little Narrow.

3. WHITIN Cross-Trainer

WHITIN Cross-Trainer
WHITIN Cross-Trainer | Barefoot & Minimalist Shoe | Zero Drop Sole

Men’s | Women’s

Moving on from beloved barefoot hiking boot brands like VivoBarefoot and Xero Shoes, and onto retailing titan Amazon’s offering.

Naturally, this is about as affordable as a barefoot hiking boot can get (though there is a cheaper one on this very list), as Amazon’s massive shipping operations and access to labor reduce its overall cost.

But despite being comparatively cheap, it ticks all the necessary boxes of a barefoot shoe: wide toe box, zero drop soles (which are indeed flexible), and breathable material – making it perfect for warmer weather workouts.

It’s also a good pair for transitioning from trail running and onto the road, which is sometimes necessary during a hike. Its soles are durable, and the removable thermal insole can be purchased separately online in case it degrades.

Like the Xero Shoes offering, it’s also ‘vegan-friendly’, made from ‘0% animal products’.

We have to admit, this isn’t entirely a hiking boot. If anything, they’re lightweight hiking shoes, and appropriately, they’re more useful for light hiking.

It’s not waterproof, and it has limited traction (so you should avoid rocky trails), though as with all barefoot shoes, the rubber outsole still offers a decent grip.


  • Affordable
  • Great for Transitional Use
  • Flexible Zero Drop Soles
  • Breathable Material.


  • Not Waterproof
  • Limited Traction.

4. Chaco Ramble Puff

Men’s | Women’s

The Chaco Ramble Puff is like wearing a hug – and while it looks like a camping slipper (and indeed, serves that role fantastically), it’s got a surprising level of versatility that ranks it highly amongst its competitors.

This barefoot hiking shoe is among the most comfortable on our list – exceptionally so. It also excels in keeping your feet warm in cold conditions, and despite appearances, it’s eminently cleanable and doesn’t pick up too much dirt even on muddy terrain.

The design itself is also stylish and utterly charming. Overall, it’s a good choice for a casual lightweight hiking boot, at a feather-like 7.06 oz..

You should expect a lower level of traction and note that the low profile makes it susceptible to water getting in through the top.

I’ve found it to be best utilized not as a set of trail shoes, but instead, as a pair for commuting around a campsite, for slipping on when I get back to base, where that extra warmth is vital in cold evenings.

It’s also worth buying a half size up, as the interior has more cushion than some of the other barefoot hiking boots on our list.


  • Amazingly Comfortable
  • Highly Insulating
  • Super Lightweight
  • Stylish Design.


  • Not Completely Waterproof
  • Comparatively Low Traction.

5. ALTRA Lone Peak 5 Trail Running Shoe

Men’s | Women’s

The Lone Peak 5 has a conventional profile: on the surface, it appears to be a lightweight shoe used for performance running. However, it’s got a zero drop sole and a wide toe box (with plenty of space for our toes to spread out).

Only a few changes have been made to the design of this shoe in regards to its predecessor – but they’re important ones. The midsole is more durable, and the (only slightly) modified outsole is smaller around the ankle and more flexible.

Pressingly for us as hikers; it has better traction compared to conventional running shoes, retaining a great grip on its fair share of trails.

As referenced above – it lacks the traditional hiking boot profile of the VivoBarefoot or Xero Shoes offering, which is more than just an aesthetic concern. It’s not very insulating, nor is it waterproof, and therefore it doesn’t work great in particularly cold or wet conditions.

Plus the thicker sole provides very little ground feel – which in my mind is one of the reasons minimalist hiking is so unique compared to conventional hiking in the first place.

Regardless of these disadvantages, with good traction and durability, we’d still consider it one of the best barefoot hiking shoes.


  • Greater Traction Than Conventional Running Shoes
  • Durable Sole
  • Lightweight.


  • Poor Insulation
  • Little Ground-Feel.

6. ALEADER Barefoot Trail Running Shoes

Men’s | Women’s

This Aleader offering makes for an affordable first pair of barefoot hiking shoes, and are worth considering if you’re just starting on your minimalist hiking journey. Though of course – they’re not without their downsides.

They feel great around the feet (for their price), and their grippy rubber soles are appropriately flexible whilst providing support to the ankle and protecting the toes – something that I know is a common worry for fledgling minimalist hikers.

Their zero drop design is nodding to the older model, ‘five fingers’ style of minimalist footwear (though the new sole is fused in the style of similar lightweight shoes). Beyond aesthetic concerns, this may help you to adjust to the wider toe box.

They’ve got a good ground feel too, and feature a breathable mesh so you can feel comfortable on the move in those warm months.

Being a shoe, they lack the high profile of a barefoot hiking boot, and they’re not at all waterproof. This is less of a worry given that they dry exceptionally fast.

Overall, a great choice for a new hiker who doesn’t want to spend too much money on hiking gear.


  • Very Affordable
  • Decent Ankle and Toe Support
  • Good Ground Feel.


  • Not Waterproof.

7. Oranginer Barefoot Shoes

Men’s | Women’s

Oranginer is one of the most popular barefoot hiking shoe and minimalist hiking boots manufacturers on the market, though popularity isn’t always an indication of quality.

The outsole is however remarkably flexible despite the slightly raised toe box. The whole profile of the shoe is a little unconventional compared to some of the others on our list, with a design that’s also not dissimilar to the five fingers minimalist hiking shoes of the past.

Like such shoes, it is however fantastically light – only 12 oz, and while it’s also not waterproof, it does dry incredibly fast.

If you’ve been up close with this shoe you might have seen this coming.

It’s not quite got the zero drop faculty that we’d hope for – the raised toe box is an issue, in fact even without buying the product yourself you’ll see on the website that it’s only ‘barefoot inspired’. They also don’t offer much ankle support.

That said, it may make for a fantastic transitional shoe for new barefoot hikers, plus it’s quite cheap.


  • Incredibly Light
  • Quick to Dry
  • Great Transitional Pair.


  • Not Truly Zero Drop
  • Limited Protection Around the Ankle.

8. Be Lenka Ranger 2.0 Minimalist Hiking Boots

Be Lenka Ranger 2.0 hiking boot

We’ve covered a lot of trail shoes on this list, so let’s get back to a proper boot in form and function.

The Be Lenka Ranger certainly has the aesthetics down. Though we hate to admit it, some barefoot shoes can look a little goofy with the zero drop sole.

This isn’t the case with the Lenka, it’s got an attractive, outdoorsy design that keeps its form whilst still being flexible.

It’s also got exactly the kind of durability you want from a boot – with a sole tough enough to ensure that it’ll stand the tests of time. But the best feature, in our view, is warmth, with a woolly lining that is fantastic for most practical purposes.

There is a slight downside to this, however. A lot of hikers employ two pairs of socks in particularly chilly conditions, I certainly do, and pretty much buy all my conventional boots at least a half size up to compensate for this.

With all that woolly padding, you’re not going to get this kind of choice. It might not beat out a traditional pair when it comes to the extreme cold.


  • Attractive Design
  • Insulating Wool Lining
  • Tough Sole.


  • Padding can be a little tight with two pairs of socks.

9. SoftStar Switchback Minimalist Hiking Boot

SoftStar Switchback Minimalist Hiking Boot

The SoftStar Switchback is another minimalist shoe with traditionally boot-like stylings – but how does it hold up on the trail?

Well, pretty fantastically – you’ve got an excellent level of grip in that sole.

The boot itself is also waterproof and has an attractive ‘military style’ design that swaps out the classic leather finish for something more refined.

Like the Be Lenka Ranger, it’s also got a wool lining, meaning you can take on tougher environments – I’ve had no problems weather-wise whilst wearing these shoes.

Everything looks great so far – so what’s the drawback? Each shoe on our list generally excels in some areas at the expense of others, for the Switchback, it’s a ground feel.

That sole is robust, but inflexible, and you’ll get a better sensation with some of our other selections.


  • Excellent Grip
  • Attractive Design
  • Insulating Wool Lining.


  • Limited Ground Feels.

10. Joomra Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes

Men’s | Women’s

It’s not déjà vu, Joomra’s offering to this list is aesthetically quite similar in appearance to our Oranginer selection, but more importantly, how do they function when put to the test?

Like the Oranginer, they make for a brilliant transitional pair, as you go from conventional shoes to barefoot hiking boots. They’re outfitted for trail running, so they’re not completely useless on challenging terrain, with decent traction and grip.

Plus, they’re incredibly easy to clean, a not inconsiderable factor if you’re going to be using these in several environments. You could easily wear these to the gym as well as take them onto the trail. I have.

Plenty of these ‘trail running’ type shoes aren’t designed to be waterproof, but they make up for this by drying fast. The Joomra – not so much.

Its particular design simply allows more water to collect around the shoe, and it’s not unheard of for these more affordably priced pairs to go moldy if not taken care of.

Another (albeit anecdotal) gripe is that someone I know purchased a couple of these exactly for transitional use and the fit differed depending on the color ordered. We’ll put this down to the complexities of international shipping.


  • Excellent for Transitional Use
  • Decent Grip
  • Easy to Clean.


  • Doesn’t Dry Well

11. Weweya Barefoot Shoes

Men’s | Women’s

Weweya is a Chinese shoe manufacturer retailing on Amazon, which puts them into competition with Whitin, Amazon’s in-house barefoot manufacturer brand. So, how do they hold up against the competition and the rest of the barefoot hiking shoe market?

The answer is pretty well – these are a comfortable, affordable set of shoes. And we mean affordable, retailing on their website at only $39.99 for the cross-training set, which is the one you’re going to want to buy if you have even a remote interest in hitting the trail.

Aesthetically, they’re more like a five fingers design than a traditional boot, but there’s still a reasonable degree of space in there compared to conventional footwear.

They come in all kinds of colors if that’s your thing. It’s certainly mine, if I’m going to have a pair of barefoot I want them to look good – though when it comes to the trail, it’s functionality over beauty any day.

On the topic of functionality, they’re not necessarily appropriate for longer hikes. I’ve been wearing these casually and they’ve topped out at six months. If you’re taking more challenging trails, it’s worth buying a higher-end pair.

That toe box is also not as wide as some other barefoot options, you might have to mess around with sizing before you get the right fit, which inevitably means the hassle of sending a pair back. You still can’t beat them for the price, however.

If you need wide-foot hiking footwear, please check our guide for the best wide-foot hiking boots where we reviewed and compared different types of shoes.


  • Very Affordable
  • Reasonable Grip
  • Plenty of Aesthetic Choices.


  • Narrow Toe Box
  • Limited Durability.

Barefoot Hiking Boots Buyer’s Guide

Xero Denver minimalist hiking boots

We’ve distilled the factors worth considering when picking up your new pair into a neat 10 points. When we picked out each of the barefoot boots on this list, it was with these 10 things in mind.

We tried to be attentive to each one of them, though naturally, some of the more extraordinary (or substandard) ones gained prevalence. Here are the areas we think some of our picks particularly excel in.

Quick Drying

Not all hiking boots are waterproof, and if they don’t have that faculty, the ability to dry quickly is the next best thing.

Barefoot shoes are unique in that they draw more attention to each of your movements – the uncomfortable soggy sensation of saturated boots is more evident, and paradoxically, less of a problem as there’s plenty to distract you from it.

Our pick for the fastest drier has to go to Aleader Men’s Barefoot Trail Running Shoes. Yes, they might be designed specifically for the mountain trail, but Aleader’s history of making water shoes shines through here. The upper material dries in an instant.

Zero/Low Drop

zero drop hiking shoe

Ideally, our barefoot soles would be completely flat. Many conventional shoes curl up at the toe, even though our feet aren’t shaped that way when firmly placed on the floor.

What we’re looking for here is a shoe that stays level with the ground, if not completely touching it.

So for this pick, we’ve chosen the SoftStar Switchback Minimalist Hiking Boot.

No – it doesn’t have the most fantastic ground feel, but it does run almost parallel with the ground, without looking ridiculous.

Thin Soles

Thin soles aren’t always the best for hiking, but so long as they’re resistant to punctures and have good traction, they have a decent utility – not to mention that all-important ground feel.

We’ve gone for the Lone Peak 5 here: those slight modifications from its previous incarnations have made a difference to the performance of this shoe – primarily because you’re getting a thinner, less intrusive sole.

We’ll tip our hat to the R&D department of ALTRA for taking consumer concerns into account.


Weight is always a concern when buying hiking boots, you absolutely will notice the difference between a heavy pair, no matter how snug they feel or how fantastic the traction of the soles is.

Take my word for it: you do not want to embark on a long trail and suddenly realize the effort in each step.

Barefoot shoes are always lighter than their conventional counterparts – they’re described as minimalist for a reason. But is there a particular shoe on this list that was as light as a feather?

Yes: and it’s the Chaco Ramble Puff. At an unbelievable 7.06 oz (even with its warm lining), you’ll get all the comfort of a woolly interior with none of the weight of a heavy sole. It’s like walking on a cloud – I cannot recommend these for casual outdoor use enough.

Water Drainage

Drainage is slightly different from drying, in that it’s something that occurs on the go, as opposed to when you remove your shoes after a hike.

It’s determined by the particular material used, and whether it can evacuate water as you put pressure on the sole.

The winner for this one is, unsurprisingly, the Aleader.

One of the reasons’ it dries so quickly is because it drains so quickly in the first place – as soon as you step out of the water, this thing is sopping.

An absolute positive if you’re taking hot weather hikes with lots of wet terrains.


Moving on to the material. There are two things ultimately to consider here: does the material fit its purpose, and is it of high quality? It’s function and durability we’re after, but we’re keeping a keen eye on aesthetics as well.

If it’s drainage you want, you’ve got Aleader’s nylon uppers. If it’s waterproofing – the Xcursion Fusion or the Switchback.

But taking those three principles into account, we had to settle on the Forest Esc. That authentic leather is unmatchable in style, it’s resistant to water, can survive the toughest of scuffs and holds the boot together well. Plus, it comes in black if you’re after a more modern look.


Comfort is king when it comes to hiking boots, and there’s plenty that goes into this as well. Fit, form, and interior padding are all factors.

You’ll want a calf that doesn’t rub, a sole that protects you against the terrain, and padding that keeps the top of your foot insulated and in place.

You might assume we’d head straight for the Ramble Puff – and we have. It is unbelievably comfortable. But we’d also like you to consider the Xcursion Fusion.

Despite some issues with the toe box (which can be remedied by buying a half size up), in comparison to the Puff you can go much faster and harder without your feet starting to sore.

We wouldn’t recommend you run a marathon in any of these shoes – but the Xcursion fusion will keep you going for about as much distance as a barefoot shoe can.


VivoBarefoot Tracker Forest Esc

Performance is vitally important. Will your boot serve as a compliment to your leg (and foot) muscles, or a hindrance.

It’s probably tied with comfort as the most valuable asset in a hiking boot.

Even if you’re not going at a strenuous pace (even fitness freaks like myself do ultimately hike for pleasure, you know), performance is going to affect every step you take.

It’s another point towards the Forest Esc. You are never going to get that feeling of bounce with a barefoot boot as you do a conventional one, so you’ve got to go for the shoe that makes the most out of your foot.

That’s exactly what this shoe is designed for.


Fit is always tricky with hiking boots. A tight fit will become painful pretty fast, and a loose fit can do all kinds of damage to your ankles, not to mention massively undermining your dexterity.

You’ve also got to bear in mind the type of socks you’re going to use (we’ve got more on that later on in this article), including those thick insulated ones.

For fit, we’ve chosen the Switchback. We’re not sure what makes these shoes such an effective fit over a range of sizes, but we’d speculate that it’s because of those high running laces, which keep your calves in place.

The cushioning isn’t too tough either; it molds quite nicely to the top of your foot.


The tread of your hiking boot is where you’re getting most of your traction from, helping keep your feet firmly on the ground even in the most extreme of conditions.

It’ll also affect your dexterity: it needs to be flexible enough to move freely with your foot, but tough enough not to roll over when in contact with debris.

Turns out as well as making good tires, Michelin also makes a fantastic sole, which is why we’re also giving this one to the Forest Esc.

It is undeniably tough without compromising on ground feel. It’s flexible without undermining the grip. Seriously, just rub this thing over your hand and you can feel the quality that you’re getting.

What Are Barefoot Hiking Shoes?

Barefoot shoes are those which feature flat soles, minimal padding and a wide toe box, allowing for unrestricted movement of the foot. The sensation is said to be like walking with bare feet, which is where this minimal approach to design gets its name.

Barefoot hiking shoes are simply those which are adapted for all-terrain purposes, typically with a thicker sole, some kind of water resistant membrane, and a breathable shell to improve performance and traction.

The unique experience of wearing such shoes in the dynamic and sensory environments of the outdoors – as opposed to, say, the concrete of the pavement or the carpet of your office – is a deeply rewarding one.

Not to mention there are a range of health benefits that arise from optimizing your movement, including simply improving muscle strength. It’s worth considering that for much of human history, we went without shoes.

What’s the Purpose of Wearing Barefoot Hiking Boots?

hiking sign in the woods

Advocates argue that the unrestricted movement and flexibility that barefoot hiking boots provide can help to improve your grip on even the most rugged of terrain.

They also make you more aware of the act of walking itself, adding to the unique sensory experience of feeling the rocks, twigs, and earth beneath your feet as you move.

Though not recommended for marathon-style runs, the lack of arch support is also said to improve your foot strength over time, and perhaps improve performance if you have a running style that responds well to a barefoot shoe.

I’d largely agree with this view, and in no small part because I’m a middle-foot runner with extra wide feet who has benefited from less restricted movement. Plus, I am enamored with the tactile sense of barefoot hiking, but that might not be for everyone.

Should Barefoot Shoes Be Worn With or Without Socks?

According to barefoot shoe designer VivoBarefoot, for the best barefoot hiking experience you should go entirely without regular socks or hiking boots insoles, as these add another level of restriction to the movement of the toes.

But if you’re still inclined to wear socks, they’d recommend a lightweight, non-restrictive pair. You might consider bamboo socks, as these offer a greater level of breathability on top of the less restricted movement – some barefoot brands even create their socks specifically for use in their shoes.

You might also consider socks if you’re using your new shoes in particularly cold conditions, where greater warmth is essential for performance and comfort.

Some wearers also find that cheaper, well worn barefoot shoes can get a little gross without socks, as sweat begins to collect. The well-regarded brands on this list typically use high-quality materials that have breathable properties to counteract this unfortunate side effect.

What’s the Difference Between Barefoot Hiking Boots and Minimalist Shoes?

minimalist vs barefoot hiking shoe

Barefoot hiking boots are a particular type of minimalist shoe designed specifically for use on trails. That means that they share the reduced padding and ‘zero drop’ soles of other barefoot footwear, plus that unique sensory feel, but are better suited for performance on difficult terrain.

In practice, this usually means thicker soles, more support (than is usual in a barefoot shoe), and some kind of waterproof mesh or layer.

If there is any difference, it’s that minimalist footwear typically resembles a running shoe, not a boot, hinting towards its more common application. As a whole, barefoot shoes are tremendously versatile – however, they do require some ‘breaking in’.

Benefits of Barefoot Hiking Boots

There are myriad benefits to barefoot hiking shoes when compared to conventional footwear. They strengthen the ankles and can encourage better performance when trail running (particularly for those who run on the midfoot such as myself).

Your toes can spread out as they naturally do when you’re not in shoes, giving you greater dexterity and eliminating that potential pinching pain.

Though this is purely anecdotal, I know people with foot problems who choose minimalist boots because of the excessive pain caused by conventional footwear.

You’ll also be able to enjoy the brilliant sensation of the ground touching your feet due to the zero drop sole while remaining protected from harsh trails and unforgiving concrete that would otherwise cause blisters.

Disadvantages of Barefoot Hiking Boots

a pair of merrell barefoot hiking shoes

That said, there are still some downsides. First of all, not many barefoot hiking boots are waterproof whereas conventional boots generally are, which may be a major factor if you’re taking on particularly soggy trails.

The flat sole can also make them look a little strange, if we’re being honest – though this depends on the boot.

But more pressingly than aesthetics, let’s talk about function. People indeed used to run marathon lengths on their bare feet, but you’re probably not ready to shift straight into that kind of distance without a pair of cushioned shoes.

Ultimately then, Barefoot shoes might limit the distance of your hikes.

Also, the dexterity they offer is great, but with some of the thinner soles, you can feel those large rocks underneath you. It’s always worth taking on a light trail first to see how they perform.

That raises another point: preparation. You’ve probably spent your whole life wearing conventional shoes, the adjustment from solid soles to zero drop ones isn’t going to be an easy transition.

Those with high foot arches might have a little more support as they’re used to putting pressure on the heel and toe, but it can be a painful period for some. Regardless of the pair you get, you’ll need time to break them in.

Our #1 Pick

Men’s | Women’s

You’ve read our reviews, and hopefully picked up some useful know-how en route. But we’ve reached the end of the trail, and now we’ve got to decide which pair we’re sticking with.

It hasn’t been an easy choice, there are plenty of different hiking scenarios to take into account after all, not to mention time spent doing casual walking or just chilling on the site if you’re taking a pair camping with you.

But for the pure hiking experience, we’ve chosen the VivoBarefoot Tracker Forest Esc as the best barefoot hiking shoes.

It eventually came down to a toss-up between them and the Xero, and while we took waterproofing into account, ultimately that Michelin sole pulled through.

Its traction is really among the best I’ve felt using any hiking boot, and only supplemented by the freedom that barefoot movement allows. Plus, it does just look gorgeous with that leather.


Are Barefoot Shoes Good For Hiking?

Barefoot shoes may not be suitable for all types of hiking, as they lack certain features like ankle support and protection from sharp objects, increasing the risk of injuries.

Are Minimalist Shoes the Same as Barefoot Shoes?

Minimalist shoes are designed to mimic barefoot movement but may still have some cushioning or support, while barefoot shoes have zero cushioning and support and allow for full range of natural motion.

Are Barefoot Shoes Better for Your Feet?

Wearing barefoot shoes can improve foot strength and balance, but may also increase the risk of certain injuries due to lack of support and protection.

Advocates of barefoot shoes argue that by creating more toe room and reducing the amount of arch support provided by the outsole, you’re allowing the muscles in your feet to become less stiff and grow stronger.

Are Barefoot Shoes Better than Normal Shoes?

It depends on what you’re using them for, and the shape of your foot. They may be effective during workouts and short trails, but despite the example of famed runner Abebe Bikila, marathon runners today still ultimately opt for conventional shoes with greater cushioning for such long distances.

Looking for more hiking boots guides? Check our reviews for

Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API