Last Updated: 12/15/11

After wearing and testing minimalist running shoes for the past two years starting with the Vibram Five Fingers KSO (keep stuff out), I still haven’t found the perfect road, trail, casual, and dress shoe. But I found many ‘almost perfect’ shoes for each occasion and the list below is what I am currently comfortable wearing for running and walking based on all the minimal shoes in my vast collection. Remember, all your shoes should have wide toe boxes, zero drop or close to it, flexible, and have low stack height for all occasions!

I’m biased towards wide toe boxes as I have a 2E+ width feet so for a lot of the selections below, if those footwear manufacturers come out with width sizing, the game changes dramatically. So I expect this list to change every month as new and better (hopefully) minimal shoes comes to the market. I will remember to update this list monthly (see Last Updated date – top of this post).

* Notice there are many options but if I have to pick two go-to shoes, the selections are indicated by asterisks in that category. Those are the ones not sitting inside my closet or garage in boxes or shared with fellow athletes (runners and triathletes) in the Bay Area!

Minimalist Running Shoes for Non-Technical Trails

Altra Instinct
Merrell Trail Glove
Merrell Sonic Glove *
New Balance Minimus Zero Trail
New Balance Minimus Trail MT10 *
New Balance MT110
VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra

Minimalist Running Shoes for Technical Trails

Inov-8 Bare Grip 200 *
Inov-8 X-Talon 190
New Balance MT110 *

Minimalist Running Shoes for Roads

Altra Adam
Altra Instinct *
Merrell Road Glove *
Merrell Trail Glove
Merrell True Glove
Merrell Sonic Glove
New Balance Minimus Zero Road
SKECHERS GOrun
VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite
VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra

Minimalist Running Shoes for Speed Work (Rubber Track)

Altra Adam *
Mizuno Wave Universe 4 *
New Balance Minimus Zero Road
Somnio NADA
Teva Nilch
VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite
VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra

Minimalist Shoes for Casual & Recovery

STEM Primal Origins *
Teva Nilch
Teva Zilch
Urshuz Brax
VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite
VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra *

Minimalist Shoes for Dress & Business Casual

Patagonia Loulu *
VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite *
VIVOBAREFOOT Dharma

The following selection is mostly from my wear testers. I have also tested all these shoes and confirmed their selections.

Minimalist Running Shoes for the Transitioning Runner (Gateway or Bridging Shoes)

Altra Instinct/Intuition *
Brooks Green Silence
New Balance Minimus Trail MT10 *
Nike Free Run +2
SKECHERS GOrun

 

If you cannot decide on where to start looking for a pair of minimal shoes, I hope I’ve saved you time, money, frustration, and injuries.