The Best Barefoot Road Shoe – For You

Today I’m going to try and find you the best barefoot road shoe for your feet.

Not every shoe brand and model will fit your foot perfectly. Some won’t be wide enough, some won’t be deep enough, and some will plainly not stay on your feet. 

That’s why the first step in the journey to finding your perfect barefoot shoe starts with the fit. Only after that point can we start exploring individual features and durability considerations.

During the post, I’ll introduce a range of barefoot road running shoes and teach which shoes favor different foot shapes and how they perform in the real world. 

Let’s jump into it!

But before we get started, a huge thanks goes out to the “Barefoot and Minimalist Runners” group on Facebook for donating pictures of their feet! It makes explaining foot shapes much easier!

Affiliate Disclosure: By clicking through the links on this page and purchasing the products, you’ll be helping me out. This is done because I receive a kickback from the sellers at no extra cost to you! I thank you so much for helping me continue with the website!

Fit

Let’s determine your foot shape because that will define which shoes fit best. 

Toe Length

First, let’s look at your toes. Which of the following best matches your foot? 

Sloped toes

Sloped toes – The smaller toes are significantly small than the large toes.

Mortons toe

Morton’s Toe – Second toe is longer than the big toe, and tapers from there.

Square toes

Square Toes – Small difference between the big and the little toes.

All these foot types are normal! And even if your feet look different, don’t worry; every foot in this world is different. Just find the one that matches the closest and keep on scrolling through the post.

Width

Next, let’s look at the width. 

long and thin

Pencil – Thin and narrow throughout the foot.

log feet

Log – Wide in the heel and a similar width is throughout the foot.

Fan feet

Fan – Narrow in the heel, but wide in the forefoot

Square toes

Wide-Fan – Wide in the heel and even wide in the forefoot.

Again, everyone’s feet are different; just try and match your feet as closely as possible. 

Depth

Lastly, let’s look at height or depth. 

This is a little harder to determine, and the best way to work this out is to take your past experiences with shoes.

Shallow | Agreeable | Deep

When you slip on a shoe, do you often feel pressure over the top of your foot? If so, you’ve got a deep foot.

If you have to crank the laces on shoes to the point where you get bunching of the shoe material near the forefoot, then you have a shallow foot.

If neither sounds true, you’re like right in the middle, agreeable.

Describing your foot

Hopefully, now you’ve got 3 descriptive words that match your foot. From here, finding the right shoe for you is much more straightforward. 

For example, my feet are.

Sloped | Fan | Agreeable (Ignore the dirt 🙂 )

my -feet

Example Shoe Fit

Now, let’s look at some shoe models and what foot types they fit.

ToesWidthDepth
Vivobarefoot Primus LiteSlopedPencil | Fan | Wide-FanShallow | Agreeable
Xero Shoes HFSMortons Toe | SlopedLog | FanAgreeable | Deep
Xero Shoes PrioMortons Toe | SlopedLog | FanAgreeable | Deep
Altra EscalanteSloped | Mortons | Square
Log | Fan | Wide-FanShallow | Agreeable
Lems PrimalSloped | Mortons | SquareLog | Wide FanAgreeable | Deep
Softstar Primal RunAmocSloped | Mortons | SquareWide FanDeep

Obviously, there are a ton more shoes on the market. Still, this selection covers most foot types out there. And you’ll likely see it’s possible that multiple of these shoes would fit your foot shape, which is excellent! Now, you can start to look at the features of each shoe instead. 

Note which shoes match your feet the best, and keep them in mind.

Feel

Every shoe has a different feel. That’s because of the materials they use, the thickness of the materials, and the shape of the shoe. 

So if you’re looking for “as close to barefoot” as possible, you want a highly flexible, minimal material shoe. 

But if you contrast that with durability, you’ll want a more rigid material, which ends up being less flexible. 

All the shoes I list are zero-drop, meaning the heel and toes are at the same distance from the ground. But they all have different stack heights, which is the total distance from the ground. 

Some have as little as 5 mm of material underfoot, and some have up to 24mm of cushion. More cushion usually means less flexibility and less ground feel, which can be good for speed but not great for barefoot training. 

Now let’s look at how the shoes compare again.

FlexibilityGround FeelStack Height
Vivobarefoot Primus LiteMediumHigh4mm + 3mm insole
Xero Shoes HFSHighHigh5mm + 3.5mm insole
Xero Shoes PrioMediumMedium9mm
Altra EscalanteLowLow24mm
Lems PrimalMediumMedium9mm
Softstar Primal RunAmocHighWide5mm

Durability

If you’re looking for durability, you’re likely going to have to make a compromise in flexibility. Why’s that?

Because flexible materials often wear very quickly due to their suppleness. 

The type of material can make a huge difference in durability. 

Solid plastics last much longer than weaved fabric or nylon but often lack flexibility.

Softstart even takes that 1 step further and uses leather to maintain flexibility but maintain durability, raising the price and increasing the shoe’s maintenance. 

DurabilityMaterial
Vivobarefoot Primus LiteHighRecycled Plastic composites
Xero Shoes HFSLowThin weaved nylon/overlays
Xero Shoes PrioLow-MediumThick weaved nylon/stitched overlays
Altra EscalanteLowFlexible weave (Substantial cushion that breaks down first)
Lems PrimalMediumThick weave with faux suede 
Softstar Primal RunAmocHighLeather + Vibram Sole

Price

The shoes that last the longest are usually the shoes that cost the most. And well, there’s usually a reason for that. 

There’s always a tradeoff between longevity and price, but I’d recommend going with the shoe that will likely fit you the best and only consider durability/price second. 

If you want a good barefoot experience, your feet must feel good in the shoes. 

Price
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite$160
Xero Shoes HFS$119.99
Xero Shoes Prio$89.99
Altra Escalante$140
Lems Primal$110
Softstar Primal RunAmoc$175

Conclusion

I’m hoping by now, you were able to narrow down your options to 1 or 2 shoes. 

Again, pay the most attention to the shoe’s fit, and then decide which features you’re looking for in a shoe. 

Buying shoes is difficult, and the first barefoot shoe you try will likely not be the best, but over time you get to know what shoes you like, and in the future, you can sort out other shoes with the same attributes. 

Now I’d suggest taking those 1 or 2 shoes and jumping into the full reviews or navigating around the brand’s site to see if they’re a great fit for you.

Vivobarefoot Primus LiteRead the Review
Xero Shoes HFSRead the Review
Xero Shoes PrioRead the Review
Altra EscalanteRead the Review
Lems Primal
Softstar Primal RunAmoc

And if you’re ever in doubt, send me an email; I’m sure I can answer your questions. 🙂

Xero Shoes Prio single shoe

Xero Shoes Prio

A minimal shoe made to last

  • Weight: 7.6 oz/ 215 g
  • Stack Height: 3 mm + 7.5 mm outsole rubber
  • True to size
  • High volume shoe
  • Lots of toe/foot protection

Xero shoes HFS card

Xero Shoes HFS

The perfect minimal road shoe for barefoot training

  • Weight: 6.8 oz/ 193 g
  • Stack Height: 5mm rubber outsole + 3.5mm removable insole
  • Order 1/2 larger than your standard
  • Wide Toebox, high volume
  • Perfect wrap-around upper for a barefoot feel

Vivobarefoot primus lite profile

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

Good on the road, and even in the restaurant. The do-it-all barefoot shoe

  • Weight: 7.1 oz/ 201 g
  • Stack Height: 4 mm + insole
  • True to size

Altra Escalante feel

Altra Escalante 3.0

The soft casual do it all from Altra. 5km – half marathon, and still relatively flexible.

  • Weight: 9.3 oz/ 263 g
  • Stack Height: 24 mm
  • Soft midsole
  • True to size
  • Wide Toebox, fitted upper
  • Perfect heel lock

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