Barefoot shoes

Flexibility, stability, style and strength; here’s our favorite tested and worthy foot stuff.

From the ground up

How we connect to the ground effects every movement.

1

flexibility

Can your shoe move the way your foot does? 

2

protection

Poke and puncture protection, durability, product life-span.

3

zero drop

Achilles tendons are connected to the… whole chain of movement. 

4

Toebox Width

This little piggy… is codependent. Don’t smush em’, let em’ spread. 

5

Aesthetic

Style that doesn’t scream “ask me about bitcoin” if you don’t want it to.

Walking is good medicine

“A shoe is not only a design, but it’s a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes.”

~ Christian Louboutin

Flux Shoes. Clean, comfy AF.
Origa Shoes. Current everyday favorite.
Lems Chillum. Excellent pick for your first barefoot shoe.

Basic Casuals: doable everyday casual shoes.

  • Flux Shoes: super normal looking, extraordinarly comfortable and breathable. Fabric upper, very flexible sole, really nice texture on the inside sole. Cushy yet minimal. Warning: I got my white ones dirt stained pretty quickly.
  • Feelgrounds: available in mesh and faux leather. Very simple, decent build, lots of colors. They also have a loafer slip on that’s nice to have around the house. These are very lightweight, simple and easy.
  • Vivo Geo Court II: excellent build and materials. Favorite insoles ever.
  • Origo Everyday Sneaker (USE CODE: CHASE): great eco values, classy looking shoe, available in vegan canvas, vegan cactus material, and Leather Working Group certified Mexican leather. Solid build quality. Wipes clean easily.
  • BeLenka Champ: definitely a funky wide toe look, but I often wear these due to excellent comfort and a fun, sporty kind of design. Solid build quality and breathability.
  • Mukishoes Cloud (USE CODE: CHASE10): all canvas, very humanistic look, solid build quality. A cozy, simple, unassuming shoe. I like it.
  • Wildlings Tanuki and Blackbird: The Tanuki has a black version and white version in a very unique “stretch washi” material. Super lightweight, very comfortable. In the same style, The Blackbird shoe has a wool liner for colder climates. I love the Tanuki in white, personally.
  • Xero Hana: canvas shoe with solid build quality. Available in black and grey. Nice mix of regular looking shoe with a little uniqueness. Breaks in well.
  • Lems Chillum: very cozy and a very regular looking shoe with the benefits of a wide toebox and zero-drop. Definitely more of a formed footbed, nice cork insole. Very lightweight even though the materials look more substantial than many others on this list. Lem’s Drifter shoe is a slip-on loafer with a similar feel.
  • Birchbury Bramfords: quite comfortable, nice materials, solid build.
Altra Superior. Excellent trail shoe.
Xero HFS. A surprisingly solid shoe, cozy, lightweight, minimal.

Athletic Shoes — CAREFUL: it takes time to get used to athletic activities in zero drop shoes.

  • Altra Superior: my go-to trail shoe for running and hiking. Slight padding, great tread, wide toe box, minimal drop, excellent buld quality. When I wear without socks my big toe nail gets caught on an annoying seam inside the toe box… socks recommended.
  • Xero HFS: a lightweight road running shoe. I never fully connect with Xero’s designs, but this one has become quite popular due to its colors and build. It’s a very good shoe.
  • Wildling Nebula: extremely lightweight knit shoe with the most minimal foot experience possible, basically. Excellent running shoe for those who have worked on their form. Wouldn’t recommend it for dirt or mud terrain or for sports due to the very flexible sole and the knit top (which the foot can shift in a little bit in rapid direction changes).
  • Inov–8 Bare-XF: slight drop shoe with good gummy soles and good support for the foot in rapid direction changes. Still a very lightweight shoe with quite a lot of sensitivity to the surface beneath you. Very capable shoe for crossfit and more.
Lems Boulder Boot. My personal favorite and an absolute workhorse of a shoe.
Lems Boot also available in nylon.

Boots and Hi-Top Shoes

  • Lems Boulder Boot: my absolute favorite and most trustworthy shoe of all time. Excellent build quality, super comfortable. I like the full leather boot; also available in canvas and waterproof leather as well as a mid-length boot. Flannel inner is extremely comfortable. I backpacked in very intense terrain for 7 days in these and they were excellent.
  • Vivo Boots and hi-tops: they make excellent footwear with great values. Check out what’s currently in stock. I stick with the Lem’s boot.
  • Wildling Panther Boots: holy crap these are cozy. Very minimal sole. VERY high ankle; like, ridiculously high. VERY comfortable hemp flax twill lining; like putting on a cozy thick sock. A little intense looking, but they feel like foot sex… can I say that? A great shoe for a colder place, but not great for rain and snow due to the fabric outer (though you could apply a DWR spray once a year). They have another shoe called The Marten, which is a low cut shoe with less comfy twill inside.
  • BeLenka Stellar Hi-Top: I’ll bet few of us can really pull these off, but I have loved wearing them. Solid build quality. Great wide toe box and zero drop. I wore them very loose-laced and felt like an extra in those diner scenes from Back to the Future. Where’s my hoverboard?? They also make a very well-built boot called The Nevada that could likely handle some serious outdoor work (but it’s got a pretty wide clown-like toe box).
  • Davinci Shoes: very classy, well built shoes with zero drop. Worth a look; not my personal style.
  • Muki Shoes Boots (USE CODE: CHASE10): they make Quercus, Igneous and the Chelsea. I’ve used the Chelsea and it’s a nice slip-on high top boot that doesn’t fit my style but your mileage may vary.
  • Muki Shoes Hi-Tops (USE CODE: CHASE10): the Raw Leather Brown looks like an interesting hi-top, but I haven’t used it personally.
  • Xero Boots: the Alpine is a well insulated winter boot suitable for snow. They have a few other boot-like shoes that would work well for hiking and other above-the-ankle uses.

Sandals

  • Shamma Sandals: these are my go-to for hiking, running, river days, and a surprising amount of everyday life. Super lightweight. Can take some adjustment to get the straps where you want them, but once it’s right you’ll never need to fiddle with them.
  • Bedrock Sandals: beefier than the shamma, but surprisingly comfortable and nice to hike in.
  • Earth Runner Sandals: I have several friends who swear by these.

Barefoot Shoe Tips

  • Take your time with barefoot. Literal tendons and joints and muscles need literal time to stretch and get used to a whole new balance. Injuries are possible.
  • Shoes that wipe clean easily can look good for a long time. Leather and faux leather are great for this.
  • Lace up loose for better breathability. I don’t wear socks unless I’m doing something serious. But your mileage may vary on the foot funkiness.
  • Vivo insole: I take the insole out of my Vivo Geo Court shoe and put it into many similar shoes. It’s my absolute favorite because it’s textured, cooling and stimulating. Flux Shoes have something similar built in. Texture under the feat is surprisingly nice.
  • Ongoing Research: here’s a good place to look for research about this. Or, you know, the last 3 million years of the fossil record and a hint of the thought that Nike changed how all of us move 60 years ago (a miniscule amount of evolutionary time).

Barefoot Research

Vivo keep a pretty good page up with research here.

As I find more I’ll report back here.