Best Barefoot Running Shoes?

Hey, I was wondering if anyone (experienced) could advise me on barefoot running shoes (e.g. minimalist running shoes). I usually run about 10-13.1 miles at about 6-8 minute miles and wanted to know what barefoot running shoes would be best? I do know about aqua socks and there benefits but wasn't sure if I needed something that is actually meant for running e.g. Vivo Barefoot evo's or Vibram Five Fingers Belinkas. Any help welcome...


  • I did try to suggest to RW that they instituted a "Barefoot Style" forum because so many people keep asking similar questions and the threads and answering posts get lost in the general hubub. They didn't even bother to answer...........

    No poke meant towards you Olly, but try searching "VFFs", "Barefoot" etc. There is already a lot of information available.

    The main thing you need to know is that, no matter what you get in the barefoot/minimalist line, you will not be able to go out and run more than a couple of miles at the very most to start off with (without getting injured). There is no reason at all why you can't start with cheap aqua shoes to see how you get on. I started with Vibram Five Finger Classics and then got a pair of KSOs (you meant "Bikila", not "Belinka") and get on really well with them but have not tried running in Evos and so can't comment on which is best.

    Check out 



    Or the American RW site which is rather more enlightened



  • or you could ditch the shoes completely and start off learning barefoot by being barefoot, that does help a great deal in the long run.

    My shoe of choice for when not barefoot is the Vibram fivefinger KSO, but they're not overly cheap so if you're only just starting out I wouldn't recommend them yet

  • I don't know much but i do know to start off very very slowly. Tiny runs.
  • I would get yourself a pair of aquashoes to start off with just incase the bf thing isn't for you. I got a pair of kso Treks a month ago for the knobblier bits of Dartmoor after a year of building up off-road milage (or kilometrerage, I s'pose). Apart from the grip and lots of folding stuff, not a lot of difference between the two.

    Start off small, be patient and enjoy image

  • Thanks to everyone who responded. I think I am going to get a pair of Terra Planna VivoBarefoot EVO's since they are a present and I would rather get a pair of expensive shoes out of my mum and buy some aqua socks with my own money. I also just want to say hello to all your guys and gals on the forums since I am new here.
  • I fancy some EVO's too but can't really justify buying yet another minimalist shoe. My wife would go ballistic.

    Let us know how you get on with them though

  • I bought a pair of the Terra Plana Vivobarefoots a couple of months ago and I love them. The feeling of running barefoot or in minimal shoes is amazing, and for me it meant I was tempted to go too far and too fast, too soon. image

    I'm now having physio for compartmental shin splints and a possible stress fracture, so I've learned that it's essential to build up barefoot running extremely slowly. If you're already a forefoot striker it might be easier (I was a heel striker).

    I was used to running 6 or 7 miles, so I figured 3 or 4 would be OK: it was way too much.

    However, on the plus side it's true that barefoot running does teach you to understand your running style and its faults better. I could feel something wasn't right on my right leg, and the physio has now confirmed I'm misaligned on that side as a result of an accident I suffered years ago. If it wasn't for my barefoot running (and the resultant injury), I would have gone on running incorrectly for years!

    Now I'm learning how to correct the imbalance, and hoping to return to barefoot running soon!


  • That sounds rough. Change of plan people I was passing by a shop in Washington DC (I am on holiday in the states) and they were literally the only place on the east coast who actually stock VFF bikila's so I got a pair of them for a discount price of $90. I am pretty pleased with them seeing as I save like $60 overall... enough to get a Nathan Sports running belt? image
  • I bought a pair of vibram fivefingers last week.  i went for the 'classic' version figuring that i may as well go the whole hog.  imho some of the more complicated versions fall between two stools (giving just enough protection to encourage impact whilst not having any counteracting technology).

     i've runfour or five times in them now (on hampstead heath) working up from an initial 30 minutes to around an hour.  i love them!  you get the feeling you can run forever (since you cannot go fast enough to get tired;)) and grip is suprisingly good even on slippery mud.


  • Anyone know where you can buy the VFFs in the North of England so I can actually try them on?

  • I had trouble finding places to try them on. In the end I did some research and carefully followed the measuring instructions on the vibram site and got the correct size. I got a set of Bikilas and I am very happy with them. Very comfortable and I can do about 5 miles in them. I am not a heel striker anyway so may have been less of a transition for me but I still took it slowly. Starting off at a steady pace over 2.5 miles.

     A lot of online places are good with returns, ok you will lose the £5 it costs in postage to return them.

  • Only one I know of is naked ape in Sheffield
  • Thanks YR.
    I'll try there.
    I was in Sheffield last Saturday, Doh! I shall have to make another visit.

  • I bought some KSOs in June and found them interesting.

    It does really add a different dimension to you running. I found that you do feel a little too much of the ground in them as the sharp stones tend to be felt a bit more

    I bought some bikinis last week from base layer in Orpington online and they were delivered next day and they are a joy. They are really comfortable and you still get the feeling of barefoot running without the discomfort of sharpies. I also get less toe slap

    Best shoes I have ever run in and they reallydo put the enjoyment and novelty back in to my running. No problem running 13 mies or so off or on road
  • I went for VFF Bikilas in August and run 30-40k a week once I got over the transition from heel strike pronating runner to midfoot VFF runner (and my calf muscles got used to doing a lot more work).

    I also swapped my work shoes for black leather Vivo Barefoot Aquas (which I can get away with wearing with a suit) to further increase the time I am "almost barefoot" to strengthen muscles etc.

  • I'm interested in trying minimal shoes but I wonder if there is any advantage to doing so. If my feet are used to some support why change and risk injury?
  • "barefoot running shoes"

    oh the irony
  • In response to Sarah41:

    It doesn't matter so much at an earlier stage what shoe you wear. The most important thing to work on is your running form. Get this right and you can then look at either barefoot or minimalistic running shoes. I recently ran a half marathon using the POSE method, which is what barefoot running is all about. I was wearing trainers instead of my usual Vibrams KSOs as I am unable to do that sort of distance in VFF. I am now slowly training barefoot over the winter and taking it one step at a time. The Vibrams only come out for longer distances or night running.

  • darn someone beat me to it

    if you are wearing shoes
    you are not barefoot

  • Whilst there is obviously no shoe substitute for barefoot running, I reckon there's something in the Inov-8 range to suit most people. The F-lites in particular offer a good halfway house for those who are introducing some barefoot running to their training and want to move away from the more protective shoes available.They also have a new road range on the way too.

    I also find using a really old (and I mean old) knackered pair of neutral shoes a great way to embrace the concept of 'less is more' —  It's a far cheaper option too.

    I'll echo what others have said about being careful. There's certainly anecdotal evidence of benefits to running some miles barefoot, but there are also some very real dangers too, especially the increased risk of Achilles tendon damage and stress fractures to bones in the feet that may have been cosseted over the years by well-cushioned shoes.

  • firstly runners world depends heavily on sponsorship from shoe manufacturers hence the silence about barefoot running. take a look at most articles and they will raise one product or another and if you're experienced you'll realise that this is marketing rather than journalism. the only reason i subscribe is for the race info I never actually read the magazine for this reason.  

    for barefoot running I have tried vivo barefoots which are great although you are still wearing shoes really. you certainly dont get any support although the heel is nicely rounded so if you do heel strike it may help to correct your strike. good to start off with , get a cheap pair off ebay like i did.

    Ive tried vibram five fingers and they are horrible! not like being barefoot at all , my foot was cramped and restricted and it wasnt due to size. more marketing and being an american company hence the american runners worlds interest and not the british. my pair are on ebay already.

    trie barefoot, this is easy on smooth tarmac typicaly found in the states, in britain we have spiky patchy rough pavement that is agony to run on at any speed. I have tried it and ripped skin off my soles. if you have a fairly smooth area of pavement then go for it , you dont need shoes, if not you need something to protect your skin.

    huaraches , ive ordered a kit for these from the USA if they are good enough for the tarahumara then they are good enough for me, they wont restrict movement just protect my feet from rough or sharp surfaces. they cost about £25 delivered so you can work it out for yourself.

    good luck and ignore the critics and meatheads image

  • Colin - I believe Vibram are Italian rather than American. Did you get a genuine pair of Fivefingers? reason being there has been quite a lot of fakes around recently and the fakes are very stiff and poorly made which can make them uncomfortable (I know because I bought some by mistake).
  • aha! I think mine are genuine, ive actually changed my mind today as I failed to sell them on ebay and thought what the hell stick them on and go for a 10 mile run. once i was running the stiffness went and although i'm not a fan of the moulded sole shape they felt fine. so apologies Virbam image I still prefer my Vivo's though as the sole is thinner. and I think the Huaraches will be better still.
  • If it is dry I have run in just socks, they are enough to stop your feet getting cut up and better than wearing shoes, I love my Vibrams though image
  • I tried running in pure barefoot once, god! the pain! might as well run a cheese grater across your feet image i didnt think of keeping my socks on , that would probably have helped as you say
  • I've just purchased Huaraches, they arrive last weekend. Quick review would be that tension in the laces is really important, I'm not sure I have found the sweet spot yet, I keep experimenting! I bough mine from invisble shoes and am using the 'slip on' method. They are extremely good to run in - they completely vanish when you get going and it's like not wearing anything at all!
  • The nearest I want to get to bear feet are these. Why on earth would anyone want to run on the road with no shoes on? I did run on the beach once barefooted but soon put my flip-flops back on when I trod on a shell.image

  • image  image image excellent !

    I have bought a huaracehs kit from invisble shoes and as bangbang banks says they are pretty cool, cant feel them once they are on right and the tension makes all the difference.

  • Rather than try and express it in words, if you want to know why BF has advantages, go to Youtube and have a look at Zola Budd running. Note how smooth she is compared the shod runners. Look at some of the great African runners and how smooth they are; they all started out BF. Mind you, they didn't start out running in Croydon image

    edit- if you are making the jump to BF, or even just to forefoot striking, a foam roller for your calves is a wise investment. They will get tight and will need plenty of gentle stretching and massage.

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