You were born barefoot, and a growing body of evidence suggests you should have stayed that way. The technology and cushioning of modern shoes protect your feet, but the protection isn’t always what you want. Feet are made to stretch, flex, roll, and bend, and allowing them to do what they evolved to do can reduce impact injuries and provide a number of other benefits.
That said, please don’t buy a pair of these barely-there shoes and start walking or running the way you always have. This will fail and may result in injury. You have to ease into all things barefoot, and to some extent you have to learn to walk and run again. In this guide, we’ve got tips on how to make the transition from cushioned shoes to ‘barefoot’ shoes (also known as minimalist shoes or flat shoes), and we’ve rounded up our favourites. They’re as close as you can get to the barefoot feeling without running into the “No T-shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs.
Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including our Best Running Gear and Best Snow Gear reviews.
Updated June 2022: Added Xero Aqua Cloud Water Sandals and updated prices and links.
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