Best Overall Minimalist and Barefoot Shoes
New Balance Minimus 10v3 Trail
Where to start with the New Balance Minimus 10v3 Trail
? First of all, these shoes are versatile for most outdoor activity. Even though the Minimus scored highest in only one of our six categories, they are an exceptionally well-rounded minimalist running shoe. Of the six categories, this shoe finishes as one of the top three in four of them. The Minimus 10v3 Trail earns our Editors' Choice Award for many reasons, including having phenomenal ground feeling, comfort, and traction. They are also the lightest pair in our test group. One way we feel New Balance could change the already wonderful Minimus is to add a full Vibram outsole, improving foot protection and durability.
Best Bang for the Buck
Nike Free 5.0
The Nike Free 5.0
is the most widely used minimalist running shoe ever made. The Free takes quite some credit for rekindling the public's love for minimalist running shoes. What mostly draws us to the Free 5.0 is its everyday versatility. We choose the Nike Free 5.0 for our Best Buy Award, because it is a wonderfully comfortable, reliable, stylish, and affordable minimalist running shoe. We have yet to see any other minimalist running shoe that fills this void.
Top Pick for Trail Running
Inov8 Trailroc 245
We can't imagine a better trail specific minimalist running shoe than the Inov8 Trailroc 245
. The aggressive lugs rip through any terrain we run through, and it doesn't stop there. With a Meta-shank rock plate integrated into the outsole, rocks and unexpected sharp objects along the trail don't stand a chance. This does mean that the Trailroc 245 loses significant ground feeling, scoring much lower than our Editors' Choice Award winner, because the protective rock plate cuts off most sensation with the ground. Even with this rock plate protection, the Trailroc 245 is not as stiff as you might suspect. The Meta-flex outsole provides sufficient enough flexibility to feel like we are still running in a minimalist running shoe. Unfortunately, because of the aggressively lugged outsole, the majority of your miles will be limited only to trails in the Trailroc 245.