Having been wearing minimalist and barefoot shoes and sandals for the past 5ish years, you could say that I’m a fan.
I want to take my experience of the barefoot sandals I’ve been wearing these past few years and tell you my impressions of them. Specifically, we’ll be talking about Earth Runners, Xero Shoes, Bedrock Sandals, Luna Sandals and Shamma Sandals. In no particular order, let’s jump in...
I’ve come to love my Earth Runners (as you can probably tell from my review here). They’ve become my go-to sandals. They’re just so comfortable and the canvas footbed plays a huge role in that and a lot of thought has gone into the design of the straps. They just work great. Once you’ve got your set up honed, they break in fast and grow in comfort.
Especially with the canvas footbed, they can start to look a little dirty but they scrub up well after a cleaning.
A big feature of Earth Runners is the ‘grounding’ element due to the copper in the sole. The science is inconclusive and I’m not sure if I’ve felt anything either way personally to have a more firm opinion so I’d encourage you to do your own research.
Z-Trail - Xero Shoes
My Xero Z-Trails are the only barefoot sandals I own that have a horizontal strap across the toes instead of between the toes. The only downside of these for me is that I find they take just a little longer to put on than the others with the strapping setup they have. It’s literally only a couple seconds so not a big deal at all, but thought I’d mention it.
The first minimalist sandal I tried from Xero was the cloud. Whilst it’s super minimalist with a much thinner sole, I much prefer the Z-Trail. It feels more durable and solid.
The Z-Trails are also really comfortable and a feature I like is the slight rise around the edge of the sandal. At first, I thought this was a design choice, but I realised it helps a lot to keep stones (and everything else) out from underneath your foot.
Overall, they’re just great lightweight and comfortable sandals! One tiny gripe is that this strap requires you to really slide your feet all the way up on the sandal before being able to get it on. Not a big deal. Just takes an extra second to get that heel strap on.
Cairn - Bedrock Sandals
Bedrock Sandals offer something a little different to the completion which is a slightly thicker sole for more comfort. Sort of a halfway house for people looking for a little more comfort or starting the transition. That’s why you’ll see them on the feet of a lot of through-hikers out there.
Don’t get me wrong, the soles are still highly minimalist and zero drop but just have a more rugged, all-terrain feel to them that makes them such great barefoot hiking sandals.
This ruggedness does make them slightly heavier on the foot than the other models. Not by a lot but it’s important to note if that’s important to you.
Bedrock has designed its own lacing system from the ground up and not only is it unique, it also works incredibly well. The great thing about all of the minimalist sandals mentioned is once you hone in the straps, you never have to think about them again.
Oso Flaco - Luna Sandals
Luna sandals are really one of the OG barefoot sandals out there. In fact, the Luna company was created by a guy called Barefoot Ted from the classic book barefoot running book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
It’s no surprise then that these are probably the best designed for some serious barefoot running of all the minimalist sandals on the list. They’re very high quality and super durable. The strapping system, as you’d expect, is very well thought out and the small ‘wings’ on the side really do keep them securely in place without the use of a tech strap.
Luna has one of the biggest selections of sandals available. Once you figure out what you want from a sandal, Luna will probably have a model to suit your needs.
Mountain Goats - Shamma Sandals
Similar to Earth Runners, Shamma Sandals just seem to get it right with the balance of being light but too light, comfortable without sacrificing any of the basics of being barefoot. They get the fundamentals right and don’t do anything fancy.
The soles are pretty durable but I think the treads could be a little deeper which would increase the lifespan and the overall traction of the sandal.
So there you have my top 5 barefoot sandals that I’d recommend to you all. Which would I recommend? It’s impossible to say, I think you’ll be happy with any of them it’s hard to go wrong. Whichever road you go down, be sure to check our sales & discounts page as we have unique discounts for pretty much all the brands mentioned.
Hope it helps, Adam ✌️