Top Minimalist Running Shoes for Men & Women in 2020 |
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Top Minimalist Running Shoes for Men & Women in 2020

By May 7, 2020 No Comments
Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Men and Women

Sometimes it can feel like every running shoe you look at has some unnecessary bits stuck to it for no good reason. We’ve covered all manner of minimalist sneakers here before. Oh sure, the advertiser will insist they are helping you reach new feats of running glory. But let’s face it, most of these great features are absolutely useless. When it comes to running, you already have the best technology out there, your feet. What a good pair of runners should do is help you make the most of what you have. Your shoes should add some protection, some structure, and optimize your natural movement. Which is why I always recommend finding a good pair of minimalist running shoes. And, while I love barefoot runners, they’re not for everyone, and sometimes I even like to switch it up. So here is my list of excellent minimalist running shoes for men and women.

1. Vivobarefoot - STEALTH III MENS Running Shoes

Vivobarefoot seemed to come out of nowhere, but if you’re into minimalist, barefoot-style runners, these shoes are the holy grail you’ve been searching for. And, now, with some recent design tweaks, they also look incredible. The Stealth 3, with the signature 3-mm barefoot sole, provides maximum sensory feedback and minimum interference. However, if you are new to barefoot runners, let me warn you, the first few outings are going to leave you with ridiculously sore calves. Fear not though, this will pass in short order, and you will start to love these sick looking kicks all over again.

Key Features

 Durable hex-mesh upper
3mm barefoot sole
100-day trial


 Brand: Vivobarefoot
 Model: Stealth 3 Men’s
 Sizes: 7.5 to 12

2. TSLA - Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

TSLA Men's Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

Although if you’re new to the barefoot runner, these TSLA Trail-Barefoot shoes are a great place to start. Well built, with a tight fit to prevent any trail debris from getting inside, these shoes are also very affordable. They may not be quite as sophisticated as a Vivo. Still, the quality for the price of the TSLA brand, means that you can adequately test out a pair of barefoot runners before you make a substantial commitment.

Key Features

Slightly cushioned zero-drop sole
Dura Nylon Band, for instep support
Dirt Proof Upper


 Brand: TSLA
 Model: Men’s Trail Running Minimalist Barefoot Shoe
 Case Size: 7.5 to 12

3. Allbirds - Men's Tree Dashers

Allbirds - Men's Tree Dashers

You have probably seen Allbirds pop up several times on all of your social media feeds. That’s because the Kiwi company, now only six-years-old, went for a direct to consumer approach instead of dealing with retailers. They’re also a certified B-corp and make their shoes using sustainable methods. Of course, that’s all well and good, but they also happen to make great-looking shoes. These runners are made from fibres harvested from FSC® Certified eucalyptus trees, which are then knitted into a unique one-piece upper, that’s flexible, lightweight, and incredibly breathable. Perfect for keeping your feet cozy on your runs.

And, being propper Kiwis, they’ve included their signature ZQ Merino wool along the heel counter to center, support, and lock your foot in place. Clean lines, comfortable, and eco friendly. What more could you want?

Key Features

Durable And Breathable Tree Material
Supportive Dual-Density Sugarcane Midsole
Designed For Maximum Energy Return


 Brand: Allbirds
 Model: Tree Dashers
 Sizes: 8 to 14

4. WHITIN - Men's Minimalist Trail Runner

WHITIN - Men's Minimalist Trail Runner

With these minimalist trail-runners, Whitin has provided your feet with precisely what they need, space! The extra-wide toe box allows your digits to naturally spread out as your foot flexes with the ground. The natural rubber sole gives you the right amount of protection and yet still allows you to feel the terrain. These shoes also come with a sock-liner to keep your foot extra snug. However, it can be removed if you want an even more authentic barefoot run experience.

Key Features

A wide toe box
Produced using animal-free products and processes
Removable sock-liner (insole)


 Brand: Whitin
 Model: Minimalist Trail Runner
 Sizes: 8 to 14

5. New Balance - Men's Fresh Foam Roav V1 Running Shoe

New Balance Men's Fresh Foam Roav V1 Running Shoe

Just because you want clean lines and minimalist style in a runner, doesn’t mean you want to jog around feeling like you’re wearing no shoes at all. Enter, the New Balance Fresh Foam Roav V1. These guys will make you feel like you’re running on a cloud. Also, New Balance strategically-designed the ultra heel to hug the back of your foot for a much more supportive fit. Still, their design is simple and abstains from any of the flashy accoutrements that many shoemakers seem to want to stick on these days.

Key Features

Fresh Foam midsole
Durability in high-wear areas
 Ultra Heel design for a snug fit


 Brand: New Balance
 Model: Fresh Foam Roav V1
 Sizes: 7 to 18 (Wide-sizes available)

6. VIBRAM - V-Run Men's

Vibram - V-RUN Men's Running Shoes

Vibram’s are the shoes you make fun of until you try a pair. Designed like gloves for your feet, these minimalist sneaks separate your toes, which allows them to move naturally as they hit the ground. And while you probably wouldn’t wear them out with friends, if you’re a serious runner, buying running shoes should be all about, well, running. While the V-Runs are a dedicated barefoot runner, they are also quite comfortable. The sole employes their VI-LITE technology, which is ultra-lightweight, and yet still provides shock absorption for maximum energy conservation. Not to mention, the soft, perforated uppers offer maximum breathability to keep your tootsies happy on your runs.

Key Features

Anti-Microbial Drilex Sockliner
 True barefoot running experience


 Brand: Vibram
 Model: V-RUN
 Sizes: 38 to 50

7. Adidas - Men's Lite Racer Adapt Running Shoe

Adidas - Men's Lite Racer Adapt Running Shoes

One of the best ways to build yourself a minimalist shoe is to simply get rid of stuff. And at first glance, with the Lite Racer, it seems Adidas deleted a lot of things. However, with this shoe, they actually took a completely different approach. The plan here was to start with a sock and kit it out for performance, just enough, that you had the most comfortable shoe possible. The stretch-mesh upper is incredibly breathable and hugs to your foot. The addition of the reinforced top-band adds an extra layer of fit. And the Cloudfoam midsole provides step-in comfort and delivers superior cushioning, whether you’re out for an intense run or a casual stroll.

Key Features

Rubber sole
Boot-style opening
Stretch mesh upper


 Brand: Adidas
 Model: Lite Racer
 Sizes: 6.5 to 14

8. Nobull - Dark Grey Knit Runner Men's

Nobull - Dark Grey Knit Runner (Men's)

No Bull is another excellent example of a shoe company with innovative ideas going direct to consumers via the internet and with select proprietary retail locations. The entire company is focused on making sturdy shoes for athletes and aspiring. The upper is a single piece of soft, breathable knit. The outsole lug pattern, on the other hand, is tough and designed for multi-environment usage. Treadmill, streets, track, these bad boys are going to be your new best friends.

Key Features

 Seamless, breathable and stretch knit sock upper
Reflective laces for visibility
Higher durometer medial post


 Brand: No Bull
 Sizes: 8 to 18

9. York Athletics - The Frank Running Sneaker (Unisex)

York Athletics - The Frank Running Sneaker Unisex

There was something very cool about the seventies’ interpretation of minimalism. (Although they may not have been calling it that at the time.) These classic-looking sneakers by York take the very best of the lunar-landing era and update it for the current period. So while the look is very retro, the finished product is all modern running shoe technology. The full-grain leather cage is containing a custom-engineered air-mesh upper. While the rubber outsole with roll-up toe provides for considerable traction and durability.

Key Features

 Durable rubber outsole for traction
Custom engineered air-mesh upper with full-grain leather cage
 Nylon heel pull tab for easy access


 Brand: York Athletics
 Model: The Frank
 Sizes: 5 to 13 (Women 6.5 to 14.5)

10. Mizuno - Men's Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit Running Shoe

Mizuno - Men's Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit Running Shoe

Oddly enough, these sneakers look like a bit of a nineties’ throwback. And to be honest, I can get behind that sort of revival. The nineties were a great time for shoes (Reebok Pumps, anyone!). That said, these Mizunos are pretty loaded with new innovations. They’re equipped with the new Mizuno Wave®. This plate disperses energy from your foot as it impacts the ground to a broader area providing a stable platform and a superior cushioning. The WAVEKNIT upper construction offers both stretch and support for dynamic, natural movement.

Key Features

Premium Sockliner
Mizuno Wave® plate disperses energy
Stable platform with a superior cushioning


 Brand: Mizuno
 Model: WAVE INSPIRE 16 
 Sizes: 7 to 16

11. Nike - Men's Free RN 2018 Shield Running Shoe

Any list of minimalist running shoes has to include a pair of Nike Free Runs. This ultra-lightweight styling with no unnecessary add-ons has been garnering massive attention from the running world since it was launched some years back. While not a barefoot shoe, per se, the Free Run does bring you much closer to the road. The mesh uppers are breathable and soft. And while they don’t provide a lot of structure, the lacing mechanism allows you to securely lock your foot to the rubber sole. The slope of the shoe, pitches you forward ever so slightly, moving you away from striking the ground heel-first. These are runners to transition towards a barefoot-style with. Of course, you may love them so much that you never go all the way to a barefoot shoe.

Key Features

Rubber sole
Sealed seams help keep water out
Auxetic shapes allow natural foot splay


 Brand: Nike
 Model: Free Run

12. Merrell - Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

If running for you means getting off the streets and hitting the trails, you couldn’t ask for a better shoe for it than this guy. The simple mesh, Vegan-friendly, upper portion vapour locks to your feet to keep out any bits of the trail that you happen to kick up. The Vibram made high-performance rubber sole has unmatched durability, stability, and slip resistance, providing you lots of confidence on your feet. And Merrell’s attention to recycled materials and sustainable manufacturing means you can feel good about where these barefoot kicks came from.

Key Features

Breathable mesh and thermoplastic polyurethane upper
Sticky Vibram outsole for traction
 Pull tab at counter


 Brand: Merrell
 Model: Vapor Glove 2
 Sizes: 7 to 15

13. Xero Shoes Speed Force - Women's Barefoot Minimalist Shoe

Xero Shoes Speed Force - Women's Barefoot, Minimalist, Lightweight Running Shoe

If what your looking for is a pair of runners that are going to give you a little bit of grip while letting your feet do what they are naturally supposed to do when you run, these are your shoes. As the name suggests, Xero’s are not laden with fancy technology that sounds clever, but rarely helps performance. Instead, they have a wide toe box so your feet can splay the way they are meant to. A non-elevated, zero-drop heel that allows for proper posture. And a slightly stretchy, breathable mesh upper, with a silky smooth, moisture-wicking lining, to give the Speed Force slipper-like comfort. Not to mention, the patented, non-marking FeelTrue® sole is backed with Xero Shoes’ 5,000-mile sole warranty. Which is a lot of miles before you need to think about replacing them.

Key Features

Lightweight, perfect for travel


 Brand: Xero
 Model: Speed Force
 Sizes: 5 to 11

14. Mizuno - Peachtree 50th Rider Waveknit Womens

Mizuno - Peachtree 50th Rider Waveknit Womens Running Shoes

You could buy these sneakers because they’re amazingly designed running shoes. Or because you’re very patriotic. Or even, just because they’re super cute. All of these are entirely respectable reasons. These special-edition runners are themed for America. Left foot stars, right foot stripes. And, while you could imagine some gaudy designer taking this idea way too far, this one didn’t. Using a white base imprinted with subtle blue stars on one and equally tasteful red stripes on the other, they actually still qualify as minimalist shoes. The sole comes equipped with Mizuno Wave technology that provides incredible cushioning and foot guidance. The Knitted upper portion fits snug and is comfortable straight out of the box, with no need to break them in.

Key Features

Solid Rubber Outsole
Mizuno Wave technology
New Premium Sockliner


 Brand: Mizuno
 Sizes: 6 to 12

15. New Balance - Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Cross Trainer

New Balance Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Cross Trai

While these are road-runners of the highest pedigree, you could be forgiven if you decided to keep them as your everyday kicks. The minimalistic styling pairs seamlessly with almost any outfit. Jeans, dresses, shorts, it almost seems a shame to only wear them pounding the pavement with no one around to appreciate them. The cloth upper portion is lightweight and breathable, while inside the shoe is a memory foam insole for ultimate comfort. And of course, the rubber sole is comfortable, supportive, and low-profile. Whether you’re thinking form or function, this shoe just works.

Key Features

NB Comfort Insert Memory Sole
REVlite cushioning
 Easy on, easy off sneaker


 Brand: New Balance
 Model: FuelCore Nergize V1
 Sizes: 5 to 12 (some wide sizes available)

16. Allbirds - Women's Tree Dashers

Allbirds - Women's Tree Dashers

Yes, these are made by the Kiwi B-Corp that’s been overloading your social media feeds with ads, every time you logon. Of course, this is because they’ve gone with a direct-to-consumer model that allows them to avoid middlemen, markups, or overhead. And yet they still manage to design and produce innovative quality footwear. Just how innovative, you ask? These adorable runners are made from fibres harvested from FSC® Certified eucalyptus trees and knitted into a unique one-piece upper, that’s flexible, lightweight, and incredibly breathable. Making them perfect for keeping your feet cozy on your runs. Moreover, being propper Kiwis, they’ve included their signature ZQ Merino wool along the heel counter to center, support, and lock your foot in place. Clean lines, comfortable, and eco friendly.

Key Features

Designed For Maximum Energy Return
Machine Washable
Minimizes Odor


 Brand: Allbirds
 Model: Women’s Tree Dashers
 Sizes: 5 to 11

17. Saucony - Originals Women's Bullet Sneakers

Saucony Originals Women's Bullet Sneaker

This low-profile jogger has a distinctly 1980s feel to it. The rubber sole has a slight lift from arch to heel for comfort but looks overall like a flat. 100-percent Nylon, the brushed finish at the toes and heel complete the super-cool retro finish. Based on the original 1985 Bullet Track shoe, this new version, without the spikes, is a great road runner but also pairs quite nicely with a pair of jeans.

Key Features

Padded tongue and collar
Rubber sole
Low-profile sneaker with a slim silhouette


 Brand: Saucony Originals
 Model: Women’s Bullet Sneaker
 Sizes: 5 to 12

18. Vibram - V-TRAIL 2.0 Women's

Vibram - V-Trail 2.0 Women's Trail Running Shoe

Serious runners only. Trust me, these are not the sort of shoes you toss on to walk about the neighbourhood unless you really to be the one everyone talks about (and not in a good way). That said, take these kicks trail-running, and you will understand why people buy them. A minimalist, barefoot-runner with separated toes, allows your feet to read the ground. Not only that, but your toes are also able to splay and grapple with the road the way they were designed to. After you get used to running in these, regular runners are going to feel restrictive. Of course, keep in mind, these shoes are going to take some getting used to off the get-go. You may notice the muscles in your arches and calves are bit sore as they get used to working in the way they’re supposed to.

Key Features

Megagrip outsole compound for grip wet and dry
Protective 3D Cocoon mesh is woven into the outsole
 Polyester fabric upper material


 Brand: Vibram
 Model: V-TRAIL 2.0

19. Inov-8 - Women's Bare-XF 210 V2 Sneaker

Inov-8 Women's Bare-XF 210 V2 Sneaker

Just because you want to go minimalist with your runners, does not mean you can’t have a bit of flash. Or in the case of these Inov-8’s in bright orange, a lot of flash! These shoes are perfect modern runners. They have a wide toe box, flexible construction, and a barefoot sole, with no unnecessary adornments. The flex groove technology in the outsole allows natural flexing in the forefoot, meaning you can do perfect standing calf raises with zero resistance. The patented sticky rubber compound on the zero-drop sole is designed with maximum surface area coverage between the foot and ground to keep you steady. And you could consider the bright orange colouring an extra safety feature. Especially if you run during the dark o’clock hours of morning or evening.

Key Features

Comes with 3mm and 6mm insoles
 Wide toe box that allows your toes to spread out naturally
 Patented sticky rubber compound


 Brand: Inov-8
 Model: Bare-XF 210 V2
 Sizes: 5.5 to 10

20. No Bull - Lemon Drop Knit Runner (Women's)


Not only are these shoes well built, with a take-no-prisoners, forged in the heart of a marathon type attitude, they are also incredibly adorable. A combination that rarely ever happens. The upper portion of these Knit Runners features a seamless, breathable, stretch-knit sock construction. While the outsole lug pattern is durable and ready to take whatever roads or trails you turn down. Of course, the lemon drop yellow finish means you’ll be easier to see, and it also makes them a serious fitness fashion accessory. Yes, you definitely can have it all if you get after it!

Key Features

Removable moulded anatomical sock liner
Reflective laces for visibility
Higher durometer medial post


 Brand: No Bull
 Model: Lemon Drop Knit
 Sizes: 5 to 11

21. Merrell - Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner

Merrell Women's Vapor Glove 3 Trail Runner

The Vapor Glove 3 takes minimalism to the next level. Dark, with clean lines, and nothing extra. This barefoot runner has a zero-drop sole, meaning it’s close as you can get to running barefoot, without, well, actually running barefoot. The entire shoe is designed to let your feet do what they do best. The toe box allows for maximum splay, which helps you to stabilize and sharpen the muscles in your foot. The textile upper portion fits snug to lockout trail debris. And the Vibram-made sole shields the bottom of your feet from the harsh realities of road stones.

Key Features

Vibram-made rubber sole
Sustainable manufacturing


 Brand: Merrell
 Model: Vapor Glove 3
 Sizes: 5 to 11

22. New Balance - Women's Coast V4 FuelCore Running Shoe

New Balance Women's Coast V4 FuelCore Running Shoe

This latest offing from New Balance employs their TruFuse technology. The end result is a running sole that uses a dual foam midsole to dynamically combine cushioning, responsiveness, and durability with a 10-mm drop. The breathable mesh upper portion makes them exceptionally comfortable, so much so that you could use them as your regular walking around kicks. However, they were designed first and foremost for performance. Entirely at home as either gym shoes or outdoor trainers, the challenge is deciding which option you’re going to use yours for. That is unless you get two pairs.

Key Features

 Synthetic/mesh upper
Perfect for indoor or outdoor running
Bootie-style Construction


 Brand: New Balance
 Model: V4 FuelCore 
 Sizes: 5 to 11

23. Brooks - Women's Running Shoes

Brooks Women's Running Shoes

A classic looking runner with a seamless upper offering style and comfort. The PureFlow 7 shoe features a flexible midsole that provides a smooth feel underfoot, protecting your feet from impact and all the roughness of the street. The stretch-woven upper and soft internal bootie allow your feet to feel comfortable and unrestricted, which guarantees a natural fit. These easy to like joggers are also a bit of a hybrid. They’re built to be an everyday runner, but the platform stability makes them a great choice to wear to the gym on lifting days. No matter where you chose to put them to work, the compact, unencumbered design is sure to look great and perform brilliantly.

Key Features

 Soft feel sole
 Breathable textile upper
Extra heel padding for a perfect fit


 Brand: Brooks
 Model: PureFlow 7

24. Vivo Barefoot - Stealth III Womens

Vivo Barefoot - Stealth III Womens

It’s hard not to love the products that Vivobarefoot is putting out these days. If you’re looking for casual shoes, they look great. New boots, they’ve got fabulous options there too. Need a solid pair of ballerina flats, Vivo’s are amazing. However, when it comes to runners that are expected to perform, they go above and beyond. With the Stealth 3, you get Vivo’s durable hex-mesh upper, constructed with support and stretch zones to assure responsive foot control and an adaptive fit. Not to mention their signature 3-mm barefoot sole for maximum sensory feedback and minimum interference. And, these particular ones are made using Animal-free materials and recycled plastic. They are practically eco-warriors. Oh, and they look fantastic.

Key Features

Signature 3mm barefoot sole
 Breathable, durable, and stretchy mesh upper


 Brand: Vivo Barefoot
 Model: Stealth 3