barefoot/minimalist trail shoes?

I currently do all of my running in Vibram fivefingers trail shoes, and I love them. But they are limited editions and I can't replace them, and the washing machine ate them. image.

I'm willing to try something else, not necessarily Vibrams. I like barefoot/minimalist shoes and my body is used to running in them. I do full marathons in cushioned Saucony's but would like to do a full in minimalist if possible. I like the trail soles as I do a fair amount off road, and will be doing a trail half marathon and a trail full marathon later this year.

Any recommendations? Thanks!


  • I was very fond of the New Balance Minimus shoes. I ran on the MT10 but they are also available in zero drop shoes. Very versatile since you can also run on the road on a mixed route.

    I completely changed shoes and run in Hoka shoes now but last year it was my nr1 trail shoe!

  • I like the Merrell pace glove - you can get last years model quite cheaply now, about £40. have run a couple marathons in them, they are quite good for offroad apart from really muddy stuff.

  • So, after much procrastination, I've ordered the Merrell Pace Glove. Another question - I'm used to running in Vibrams without any socks. Should I wear socks with the Merrells? If so, what sort? Thanks!

  • I don't wear socks with mine but you could if you can find thin ones.
  • Hi MM, looking at a pair for myself and wife, would you say these are good for off road fell runs and bit rocky out crop type runs?



  • Hi Tim.

    They are ok for normal trail, gravel, rocky paths, dryish rock, wet grass and trails and a certain amount of mud but for serious fell running she might be better off with some Inov8s

    There are no 'serious' lugs on the Merrells, and the grip only goes so far.

    There are a lot of Inov8s with zero drop. I have a pair of bare grips which are very nice.
  • OK, you have a few options. 

    There are still some variants of the five fingers with a pretty aggressive trail tread. 

    Alternatively you might like the Merrel Trail Glove. 

  • I am not convinced the trail glove is going to be agressive enough for fell type running Ben.

    Prob depends on how muddy a surface you are planning to run on Tim image
  • Just be careful to look after inov8 bare grips if you use them a lot in the mud. You must wash them well or they will fall apart. Mine have covered about 50 miles and are looking like they might tear any second. That said, they are light weight racing shoes so you could say they aren't built for massive milage.
  • I'm not sure about the Merrells for "real" fell running, but I took them on a fairly muddy, rocky and steep run today and liked them. The grip on muddy ground is good but not amazing. I like the feel they give me, very similar to my beloved Vibrams. Only issue now is the right one rubbing my Achilles, which I hope is just a breaking in issue. 

  • Ps. The Vibrams I had were a prototype, bought at a marathon expo, and were a real trail shoe. Sadly they didn't go into full production, and I'm not sure about the existing Vibrams trail shoes that are available now.   

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