Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

Cross Training Shoes/ June 17, 2020/ Foot Wear/ 18 comments

I guess you got here because you`re looking for the best minimalist trail running shoes.

You`ve come to the right place because this post is filled with tips on what to look for when buying trail minimalist running shoes.Trail minimalist running shoes

If you want footwear that offers minimal interference during any natural foot activity then minimalist pair of shoes is what you need.

 They provide high flexibility, weight, and stack weight.

The minimalist shoes have 5 individual features- flexibility, stack height, drop, weight, and motion control.

Bur we`ll first need to answer one question in detail.

What ARE Minimalist Running Shoes?

To those unfamiliar with barefoot running, minimalist running shoes are probably a new concept.

Since running barefoot poses certain risks to the feet, shoe companies have designed “minimal” footwear to keep the benefits of barefoot running and walking without getting rid of the protection a normal shoe generally offers.

With the increasing popularity of the barefoot running concept, some shoe companies have tried to replicate the barefoot running experience while still giving your feet protection.

Some of these shoes, if you can even call them shoes, are mainly to provide a minimal amount of protection and traction to keep the barefoot feel intact.

Here is a list of the best minimalist trail running shoes available in the market. You can find them to be budget-friendly and versatile in the activities.

New Balance Men’s Minimus 10 V1 Trail Running Shoe

New Balance Men’s MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoes are a perfect choice when you want trailing shoes that are light in weight.

Not only the lightness but the comfort and fit too are great. The shoes are durably designed and offer excellent ground feeling and foot protection.

These minimalist shoes are apt for people who look for versatility. You can walk, hike, or go on a trail, and even try this for obstacle race course challenges.

Several activities can be done while wearing these shoes. The shoes are also designed to offer the right traction for any of these activities. So you do not need to be worried about comfort or pain.

Although these are barefoot shoes, your foot is stable when you wear these shoes, and they come with excellent foam support. The grip is outstanding. 

The best aspect is that there is no break-in period required. Additionally, there is no odor because the shoes are treated with an antimicrobial solution. 

Skechers Men’s GOrun Running Shoes

Performance, durability, comfort, and best price are all combined in the Skechers Men’s GOrun running shoes.

The shoes are light in weight, and best for the neutral trainers. If you are wondering if you can use these shoes for speed workouts, yes, you can.

A must-have for anyone looking for affordable trail minimalist running shoes that do not disappoint in performance.

This is because of the cushion and traction features provided for the long runs, light trains, and also for races. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 4

When you are looking for a minimalist trainer that offers high barefoot accuracy on all the roads and trails, then Merrell Vapor Glove 4 is the best choice.

The shoes provide maximum responsiveness because there is no midsole cushioning.

Barefoot shape shoes with a glove-like fit that offers natural comfort with minimalist construction.Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes that feels like bare foot

Zero drops from heel to toe for a natural stride.

These are Trail running sneakers you should not miss on as the price is also quite affordable.

The shoes come with a short stack height and are best for the barefoot running category, and it can also perform gracefully when transiting the discipline.

These flexible shoes offer a comfortable grip. The protective wrap does not make the user feel uncomfortable. These ventilated shoes also have excellent traction.

Xero Shoes Prio

This is a versatile training shoe option for users. This is unique and durable. These sturdy shoes are much barefoot when it comes to design.

But, you need to remember that these shoes are bulky and heavy in weight.

However, this is one of the best and high performing minimalist trailing shoes available in the market.

The shoes have a removable sole and offer enough room for comfort. They weigh under 10 ounces,  and the best choice for barefoot running. 

Check an earlier post for other choices of cross-training and running shoes.

Nike Free Run 5.0

The Nike Free Run 5.0 is an updated and modified flex groove. Unsure what’s the need for flex groove then you can find more info here.

Flexibility and cushioning are not compromised and the shoe creates a barefoot feeling with every step you take.

The upper part of the shoe is stretchy and moves with your foot while still supporting your feet, the breathability is also taken into consideration in the upper part of the shoe.

Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes for that barefoot feeling

The Free Run 5.0 from Nike has a synthetic sole and offers excellent flexibility that is multi-directional.

You feel connected to the ground always, thanks to the heels to toe grooves, and the low foam density.

A seamless fit is offered by the bootie construction that integrates the tongue for providing a snug.

Nike has made a name over the years as a go-to for sports shoes, so you`re sure of getting the best if you purchase these shoes or any other Nike product.

Norvan SLkb Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

These shoes are made to be durable and constructed to be light in weight a must-have for anyone looking for no-nonsense trail running sneakers.

They are perfect for the trails that are rugged and easy. The shoes can be put on for the entire day, as they are built to be worn for extended hours.

 The shoes come with a synthetic cap for more protection. An ideal shoe choice if you are looking for excellent comfort and support. The shock absorption and support are fantastic, thanks to the EVA foam midsole.

 It is light-weight and weighs only 7 ounces. The ergonomic patterns ensure there are ultimate comfort and excellent traction. The integrated clip-in is at the heel helps in attaching the harness with ease. 


Vibram Women’s V Trail Runner, Black

Finding the perfect trail minimalist running shoes can be as hard as buying any other shoes, but on this list, I wanted something that ladies and men will find the right footwear.

Vibram women’s V trail runners are minimalist shoes for women to help in making your adventure easy and comfortable. The shoes are designed to offer the barefoot experience.

The shoes are the best fit for water sports, hiking, and running. You can find climbing the mountains, and running around a great experience.

The polyester and spandex fabric make the trail running shoes great comfort wear for varied activities. and different weather conditions.

Benefits of Barefoot and Minimalist Running ShoesBest Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

There are several benefits to barefoot running that I would like to explain.

One of the largest reasons barefoot running is becoming so popular is due to the claims that it eliminates the risk for overuse injuries that are so common in traditional running.

People that have had chronic injuries from running in the past have found that they are able to run barefoot after some training and not have any pain or at least less pain compared to regular running.

Since landing on the heel is bad both for efficiency and runner, especially when running barefoot, the body will become accustomed to landing on the mid and forefoot.

However, beginning to run barefoot without any training or transition time can also lead to injury. Most shoe companies recommend limiting use to 10% of your initial workout while gradually increasing it over time.

Using minimalist footwear to transition into barefoot running is generally the safest way to reduce the risk of injuries.

Why Are Minimalist Shoes So Expensive?

Despite all this advanced design and technology the new minimalist shoes provide, the cost is surprisingly competitive with regular running sneakers.

Most lower-priced minimal footwear is around $80-$100 and I have seen some on the expensive side as much as $ 200 or more. So it`s fair to say they are fairly priced as regular running shoes.

Obviously, higher quality shoes will be more expensive but with such a large price range, one should not have a problem finding a pair to fit their budget.

When purchasing your first pair of minimal or barefoot running shoes, it’s important to keep in mind your current running technique.

If you are accustomed to the “regular” style of running, try to incorporate it slowly into your schedule.

Over time, you will adapt to running without the larger heels and cushions of traditional running shoes and get the most benefit.

Conclusion On Buying The Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

There are many brands of shoes and sneakers, however, the best choice depends on each person’s individual needs.

I hope this post helped explain what minimalist running shoes are and when you should consider buying them, and how much you can expect to spend.

You should choose minimalist trail running shoes based on your convenience.

But, you need to be careful about the size. When selecting the size, follow the instructions of the manufacturer as your regular size might be a bit tight. 

Leave your comments below and let us know your experiences with these trail running shoes!

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  1. Hi, I’m always looking for high flexibility in the running shoes I want to wear. And I think I can have that with New Balance Men’s Minimus 10 V1 Trail Running Shoe.  Traction and a good grip are also very important points for me. I recently almost injured myself because the running shoes I was using didn’t meet this criteria.

    1. Hi there

      thanks for stopping by, running is the cheapest form of keeping in shape, all you need are a good pair of running shoes so I do find it hard to understand that people still manage to buy the wrong pair of running shoes.

      Glad you found this article helpful and I hope it will help you make a good selection for your next pair of running shoes, be they minimalist running shoes or whatever pair you go for.

  2. Shoes are very important to me as an athlete and most times I don’t really mind if it’s a guy’s of ladies shoes as long as it fits I. Good to go. For I would go with the Nike Free Run 5.0 it looks very solid and would help me gain more flexibility in my feet and they go for a decent price…I would definitely check them out.

    1. It`s rare to find ladies running in men`s shoes, but if it works for you, why not.Just keep your feet safe, they still have miles to run.

  3. Wow this is an amazing review you’ve got here. The features of these minimalist shoes are super unique especially that of Merrell Vapor Glove 4 as it has no midsole cushioning. I can’t just wait for this whole pandemic thing to be over so I can place an order. Thanks for sharing this review with me.

    1. Amazon and most online stores still ship if you want to purchase, there might be a delay in receiving your ordered running shoes but I know for a fact they still take orders and ship.

      Having said that, I don’t know where you`re going to place your order so all the best.

      Stay safe.

  4. I definitely was looking for running shoes haha. Looks like I found the right place !

    My wife and i are hiking joggers and wandered where we could purchase the best shoes for the best price online. I’ve looked through the list and Vibrams women running shoes sound great because of that barefoot experience, we are usually thin sock wearers so that would be great for my partner. For myself I’m pretty sucked in by the v4 new balance men’s. I did want to know however, would it cost more for high top to protect my ankles or would I be looking at the same price?

    Thanks so much, looking forward to your response.

    1. Hi there Taine,

      thanks for stopping by and I`m glad the post helped you find the right kind of minimalistic running shoes you were looking for.

      Many people do get swayed just by big brand names like Adidas or Nike running shoes, but less familiar names do have just as good quality running or sports shoes and other sporting products.

  5. Love how much information you’ve provided. Very helpful.

    1. glad you found the post useful.Hope you`ll keep coming back for more tips on running sneakers or other kinds of sports shoes.

  6. I love a trail runner that grips the trail, so traction is important for me. I am not sure I am a true minimalist when it comes to a running shoe, but have always wanted to try. I know there are a lot of benefits, such as a more natural gait and form, which is appealing. But I tend to be a clutz on the trails, so also like more protection on my feet. Great post.

    1. It`s ok to want more protection on your feet, most runners do.But I do find that many who have never tried minimalist footwear think that they are not protective enough but believe me they really are.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Merrel vapor glove 4 seriously kill it for me and I would really love to have a pair of those. Not every time does one come across such as this post and seeing things like this, they need to be taken advantage of. I actually like the fact that this trail running shoe is exceptional in its build and I really like it personally too. Good one

    1. Glad you like the shoe, there are many sneakers out there that are great for runners or for just walking, you just have to look around and find what running shoe meets your needs.

  8. New Balance is my favorite brand and I’ve used their running shoes and other sneakers since my high school. This was the time when I first time tried them and ever since – I am their loyal fan.

    The only sneakers and running shoes which can be compared to NB are Asics. They are really top quality when it comes to feet and joint protection.

    Thank you for showcasing the prices as well. I will check the new NB minimalist design running shoes.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, many people do go for big brand name running shoes but smaller names have just as good hiking,running or cross training sneakers.

  9. Very interesting content, I haven’t ran in awhile and these shoes look like the perfect thing to get someone like me back to it. I appreciate that you listed the links to a variety of styles. What makes these styles the best? Do they all have close competition with one another? 

    1. Hi Ray

      What works for you must not necessarily work for the next person, this is why there is a large selection of running sneakers in the market, otherwise, there will be just one brand for all. Luckily, there are sneakers for tennis, sprinting sneakers and all that.

      It makes decisions making not so easy at times, but to me, this is the only way we all get the right kind of running shoes of our choice.

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