Try These 5 Barefoot Running Shoes That May be Better Than Vibram
When you hear "barefoot" or "minimalist" shoes, you probably think of the Vibram FiveFingers. Vibram has been at the forefront of the barefoot shoe market since barefoot shoes became a household name. However, there are other barefoot shoes out there, and for those who still love running "faux naturale," despite recent scrutiny, check out these five alternatives to the big daddy Vibram.Perhaps one of them will be better for you?
The Inov8 Evoskin Barefoot Running Shoes look like the foot of some half-man, half-reptilian creature. They also look like they fit a normal human foot as if they were a second layer of thicker, tougher skin, and that's what they were designed to do. Made of silicone, with a rubber sole, they flex and bend naturally with the foot. The developers at Inov8 wanted these shoes to be as minimally evasive as possible, and the silicone material does the trick.
These shoes are great for running, dance, pilates, yoga, water sports, conditioning or just about any other active or non-active enterprise. They cost anywhere from $35-50, and you can get them through Amazon.
If you're part ninja and part beach bum, you will love the Vivobarefoot Achilles Running Shoe. This light-weight, split toe shoe is super flexible and very minimalist. In fact, it's more like a sandal than a shoe. However, the removable strap keeps your foot in the shoe a little more snugly than a sandal.
The Achilles is made of an ultra thin material, which happens to be 100% Vegan (for all the ninja beach bum vegans), and a puncture resistant sole. The sole is also flat and wide, so order sizes accordingly. Speaking of ordering these barefoot shoes, they'll cost you in the neighborhood of $30-60 and can be found on Amazon.
ZEMgear 360 Ninja
Only true ninjas apply here. The ZEMgear 360 Ninja is for runners who want to be light on their feet. They are a great combination of pliable, tough and light-weight. Their phylon outsole protects them against abrasions and their gecko grip rubber pods insure a secure grip on your foot.(Update: The ZEMgrear 360 is no longer available. You can see other great ZEMgear shoe options here.)
These shoes are made with reflective tech bands, which may mean nefarious ninja plots are out of the question, but night running is a safe possibility. They, like the other shoes profiled here are available on Amazon and will cost you around $30-60.
Ok, so we have reptilian creatures, ninjas and vegan ninja beach bums covered here. How about something simple now, like a shoe designed for women? That's what Merrell had in mind with their Pure Glove Barefoot Running Shoe. This all-terrain minimalist shoe is on the higher end of the barefoot shoe price range at $75-100. However, you pay for what you get, and Merrell is a giant in the world of outdoor footwear.
Check out Amazon to get a pair of these flexible yet durable barefoot shoes. The Pure Glove is made of lycra fabric and synthetic leather, has a hook and loop strap that tightly secures your foot and has one of the best gripping soles on the barefoot market.
I saved my favorite for last. The Xero Barefoot Sandals, inspired by the huarache and the tire sandals of the Tarahumara tribe of Urique Mexico, these shoes may just be the most minimal of the minimalist. These are my favorites, because I am familiar with the tire sandals of the Tarahumara--familiar enough to have tried on a pair and to know a resident of the Copper Canyons.
To look at them, it would seem that you couldn't possibly run in these sandals, but the design of the lacing will secure your foot to the sole as if you had good ole shoe laces. And just FYI, the Tarahumara run an ultra-marathon every year (that's 50+ miles)...in their tire sandals. The Xero Sandals are also super flexible and can be folded up to dimensions that will fit in your back pocket.
You can also get these shoes on Amazon for around $40-50, however if youre so inclined, you can have them custom fit. The Xero site offers this as well as a 5000 mile warranty on the shoes (kind of like a tire--get the connection?).
The bottom line is that if you're in the market for a barefoot shoe, you don't have to go the "most popular" route and get those boring Vibrams. Get in touch with your inner ninja, pick a shoe that may have been designed especially for you or wear something tribal. Pick a shoe that fits your foot and personality.
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