If you’re into hiking, then you definitely should invest in one of the best minimalist hiking shoes. There are many reasons why hikers prefer these shoes to other types of hiking shoes. First of all, they are lightweight, which is why it’s less tiring to walk with these shoes on.
Furthermore, they come with thin soles, which will make you feel connected to the ground even more. It’s like walking barefoot but in utmost comfort!
Best Minimalist Hiking Shoes Reviews
There are several good reasons why you should consider getting a pair of minimalist hiking shoes. In this guide, we’ll address all your questions about minimalist shoes and help you choose the best pair to buy.
But before that, take a look at our reviews of the best minimalist hiking shoes on the market.
One of the best rated hiking shoes is this Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe from Merrell. Although it’s not really the best choice for long-distance hiking, there are plenty of things to love about this pair. A lot of customers love the lightweight design of the shoe, which offers a comfortable fit for the wearer.
Merrell updated its Moab range of hiking shoes just a few years ago. They added an upper that’s more durable and provides better cushioning at the footbed. Yet, the concept is still the same. The Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe is highly recommended to hikers who want to stick to established trails when hiking.
These shoes are truly one of the best minimalist hiking shoes on the market, but they do come with their own disadvantages. For one, these shoes aren’t too stable when used on muddy and rocky trails.
And although they have a weight of only 1 lb., they still feel a bit cumbersome to wear. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of great things to love about this pair of hiking shoes and we would strongly recommend these to everyday hikers.
When it comes to hiking products and accessories, The North Face brand is usually on top of the list. One of their most popular pairs of hiking shoes is this Ultra 110 GTX Hiking Shoe. However, although the company markets this shoe as a trail runner, some customers don’t seem to agree. This pair has a tendency to get very hot, which can make the runner feel uncomfortable.
But when it comes to hiking, the Ultra 110 GTX shoes should be comfortable enough to wear. You can wear them all day long and you won’t feel sore on your feet even when you’re carrying a heavy backpack.
What’s great about these shoes is that they feature an ESS shank underfoot, which prevents your feet from stinging, especially when walking on rough trails where there are sharp rocks around. This pair of hiking shoes is like a low-top version of hiking boots.
This next pair of hiking shoes on our list is made by Vibram, an Italian company known for creating rubber outsoles for footwear. If you’re looking for a good pair of hiking shoes, the Vibram Men’s V 2.0 Trail Running Shoe is a great choice. In fact, this model has earned lots of praise not only for being a good pair for hiking but also for trail running.
Featuring a good balance of brawn and minimalism, this pair of hiking shoes is durable, lightweight, and stable enough to support your ankles and feet when walking on uneven terrain. Its upper is fully wrapped and can work perfectly in making your feet stay dry even when passing through creeks.
This pair of hiking shoes may not do well in terms of providing a ground-feel to the user. Nevertheless, they are still comfortable enough for walking plus their non-removable insole features 2 mm of EVA foam that enhances comfort. However, the outsole features a relatively thick rubber that wraps the front portion of each toe and restricts flexibility.
Nevertheless, users who have tried this pair have said that they enjoy wearing this pair on the trail and would strongly recommend them to barefoot runners who need a pair of shoes that can provide their feet with ultimate protection on the trail.
Featuring a stylish design with an excellent ground feel, the Vivobarefoot Stealth2 is our top choice for running. This pair works well when walking on the road and is truly the best in terms of barefoot feel.
Weighing only 8.4 oz., these shoes belong in the mid-range category in terms of weight. Yet this pair is tougher compared to the other hiking shoes on this list. Furthermore, this pair of hiking shoes features an outsole that’s puncture-resistant and will keep your feet protected from glasses and rocks.
This pair of minimalist hiking shoes may not be the most excellent pair on this list, but it’s still worth checking out for those who need a reliable hiking shoe that can give them a barefoot feel. It’s also worth noting that this pair of shoes is more expensive than the other pairs in the same category. Nevertheless, if you are a road hiker, these shoes will work best for you.
If you need a pair of hiking shoes that you can also use for everyday wear, the Xero Shoes Prio would be a perfect choice.
Created by a brand that’s known for its sandals, these hiking shoes are the company’s first venture into the hiking shoe industry. Customers love the wrap-around straps of these shoes that are fully adjustable. Plus, you have the option to get a removable insole with this pair.
However, this pair is perhaps the heaviest of all the hiking shoes in the list, with a weight of 18.6 ounces for each pair. Yet, it still belongs in the lightweight category for trainers. Those who just transitioned to wearing minimalist shoes either for hiking or something else, we would suggest starting with this pair.
It can help make your switch so much easier. You can wear this on the trail, at the gym, when running, or when doing your daily errands.
If you are a big fan of Adidas, you’ll be happy to know that the company has its own range of quality hiking shoes and one of these is the Outdoor Men’s Terrex Swift R2 GTX. This pair features a sleek design and is perfect for all types of trail.
And with a weight of 1 lb. and 8.6 oz., they are even more lightweight compared to the other pairs on this list. The sole of these shoes resembles that of the hiking boots. Plus, it comes with a Gore-Tex lining that gives the shoe waterproofing abilities without your feet feeling swampy.
Although we believe that the Terex Swift R2 is one of the best minimalist hiking shoes, it’s a little bit stiff and has the tendency to loosen up after a few days of wearing it on the trail.
Also, even though the Lace Bungee System of these shoes is functional, we think it’s not as smooth compared to the other pairs here. As for stability and support, the R2 is fairly weak.
The La Sportiva TX4 may not be your traditional pair of hiking shoes, but there are lots of great things to love about this pair.
For one, it’s designed as a type of approach shoes and, therefore, it’s tough and stable enough for long hikes. It can also work well as a climbing shoe and when walking along rocky and steep terrain.
Featuring a Vibram outsole with a rand that’s made from full rubber, this pair is perfect for smearing, scrambling, and when edging on the rocks. However, what’s really impressive about this pair of hiking shoes is its versatility.
It works really well on the trail, thanks to its relatively flexible construction and ultra-lightweight. In fact, it’s one of the best minimalist hiking shoes to wear for everyday use.
Just like with the other approach shoes, this pair of hiking shoes from La Sportiva comes with its own drawbacks. Although the dotty tread grips perfectly on dry and wet rocks, they don’t work well when used in the presence of mud and dirt. Nevertheless, this pair is perfect for a few days of hiking.
The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is a versatile pair that has the robustness of a pair of go-anywhere hiking shoes. Yet, its chassis is that of a running shoe.
Thus, this pair is comfortable and stable enough to walk on the trail. With almost 3 lbs. in weight, we wouldn’t really recommend this pair for a 3-season trip. However, if you need a good pair of hiking shoes for a backpacking trip in winter, this may be a good option.
In this updated version of a popular pair of hiking boots, the manufacturer designed the lug pattern to be a bit more aggressive in order to provide excellent traction.
Even though it features a Gore-Tex lining that can help keep your feet dry even when you walk on muddy conditions, it has the tendency to get worn out. Also, the shoes tend to take longer to dry once they get wet.
In order to compete with Merrell after the brand released its Moab range, KEEN released its own range of Targhee shoes last year.
Although the product range isn’t that groundbreaking, the company has done a great job modernizing its classic design of shoes. Above all, they have trimmed down the super-wide footbed of their previous models of shoes, making them less sloppy when used over rocky terrains.
When it comes to day hiking shoes, we would strongly recommend the Keen Targhee III. This pair is very comfortable and provides plenty of traction and support, when used on non-technical trails. In fact, they can also work well for short-term backpacking trips.
Compared to Moab’s mesh upper, the leather upper of the Targhee III is more durable. However, at this price, it seems that this pair doesn’t offer the best value for your money.
Made by a company that’s based in the United States, particularly in the state of Montana, the Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoe is known for having the best traction and stability.
This model is an updated version of their Sawtooth Hiking Shoe and was built to withstand rough and rocky trails. While this may not be the most lightweight of all hiking shoes in the market, this pair can work well for fast hikers. However, we also find that it’s suitable for those who needed a pair that’s stiffer than the Moab range of Merrell shoes.
Thanks to its patented heel counter, this pair of hiking shoes is sturdy enough and can hold up well on uneven terrains. But this added support gives the shoes a bulky built. Furthermore, their waterproof version is extremely warm so you could find yourself overheating when wearing them on modest temperatures.
Nevertheless, Oboz offers a non-waterproof version of this model, which is cheaper. Overall, this pair of hiking shoes is a good choice for those who need a well-built pair of hiking shoes that feels secure on the feet.
How to Choose the Best Minimalist Hiking Shoes
So, now that you’re convinced that the minimalist shoes are truly a great investment, you should start looking for the best pair.
But before you start shopping, refer below for some of the most important things to consider.
The materials used in making your minimalist hiking shoes play an important factor in their overall durability. These shoes are made from a wide range of materials. Each material has different features and some are more waterproof than the others.
The material also plays a part in how the shoes will be maintained. For instance, those that are made from leather will require more maintenance in order to preserve quality.
Comfort should be your number one priority when buying a pair of minimalist hiking shoes. Sometimes, you will not know if the shoes are comfortable until you put them on and walk them in the trail.
If you have the opportunity to try them on before buying, go ahead and do so. The pair should be as comfortable as possible so you’ll be able to enjoy your hiking adventure.
Just like with buying any type of footwear, you need to make sure that you’re getting the right fit. The main purpose why you’re getting these shoes is because you want to feel comfortable when hiking. But buying something that’s too loose or too tight on your feet will defeat the purpose.
It’s important that your hiking shoes are able to hug your feet snuggly, while still allowing you to wiggle your toes inside. However, there shouldn’t be a lot of extra space inside or your feet will slip-up, and you could hurt yourself in the process.
The best pair of hiking shoes is one that can provide utmost support to your ankles and feet. Hiking shoes have different cuts and they also provide a varying level of support. It’s important that the ankle support can extend to different levels up your legs and ankles.
The higher the support, the better. But sometimes, shoes with more support tend to be heavier and are more expensive.
If you’re going for a gentle hike that doesn’t involve walking on terrains, the lower cuts should be enough. But if you’ll be walking on rough terrains and you’ll be hiking for a long time, then choose a pair that can provide more support.
No one wants to wear a pair of horrible looking shoes even if they are meant for hiking. Therefore, aesthetics are another important factor to think about when looking for the best minimalist hiking shoes.
People have different preferences when it comes to how they want their hiking shoes to look so this factor will mainly depend upon your personal preferences.
Although minimalist hiking shoes are known for having thin soles, the thickness of the soles will vary, depending on the type of shoes. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to the soles of the shoes before buying. Most hiking shoes have rubber soles.
When it comes to the soles, two things to think about are the lug pattern as well as heel brakes. Lugs refer to those grooves and bumps on the soles of the shoe, which provide grip on the trail.
You should choose a pair of shoes that has thick and deep lugs since they offer more traction, especially on rough grounds. On the other hand, the heel brake is that part of the sole that’s right underneath your heel. It must be designed in such a way that it will prevent you from sliding when walking downhill.
Minimalist shoes usually have barefoot designs that resemble a real foot so you’ll feel like you’re walking directly on the ground. Thus, they tend to have thinner soles. And since they are zero-drop shoes, they won’t have any height on the front or back.
A stiff pair of shoes might sound unappealing to others but this will actually depend upon how you’re going to use these shoes. If you’ll be walking on rough terrains and over long distances, a stiff pair of shoes might work best for you.
Flexible pairs of shoes that bend easily are known to provide minimal support. With these shoes, you could literally feel the bumps and rocks as you walk. But minimalist hiking shoes usually have lower stiffness compared to other footwear.
Traction is another important factor to think about when getting a pair of minimalist hiking shoes. Just think about that moment when you’re walking on a narrow ledge while lifting some gravel on your feet.
Wearing the best minimalist hiking shoes with good traction means you’ll feel confident about walking in it without slopping. Therefore, always think about traction when choosing the right pair of hiking shoes to buy.
If you want your shoes to be comfortable on your feet, then wear something with good breathability. Remember, your feet will be sweating as you hike, especially if the weather is warm.
You definitely don’t want moisture to build up inside your shoes or your feet will stink. This can also make your feet susceptible to blisters. That’s why you should always choose a pair of minimalist shoes that’s breathable.
The good news is that a pair of good quality minimalist hiking shoes isn’t really that expensive. Besides, there’s no point buying the most expensive pair when you can have a cheaper brand of the same quality.
Consider your hiking shoes as an investment. Sure, you’ll probably find something that’s worth $50 or less, but it may not last long, which is why you’ll end up spending more to purchase another pair. You’ll find a good pair without spending more than $300.
Most of the shoes that we featured in this review aren’t that expensive. Yet, they are the best hiking shoes to invest in since they come with excellent features that can help make your hiking adventure safer and more enjoyable.
What is a Minimalist Shoe?
So, you might find yourself wondering how minimalist shoes differ from the other hiking shoes out there. But first, what is a minimalist shoe? Usually, any shoe that has minimal padding is considered a minimalist shoe.
There’s really no rule as to what constitutes a “minimal shoe.” In fact, the size of the shoe padding to be considered a minimalist shoe hasn’t been clearly defined. But generally speaking, a minimalist pair of shoes is something that’s lightweight.
That’s because this pair has thin soles and allows you to make full use of your muscles when walking. Wearing this pair will feel like you’re going barefoot, except that you’ll feel comfortable since there’s padding and some protection.
Some people often get confused between the zero drop shoes and minimalist shoes since both pairs have almost similar features.
But the zero drop shoes are those types of shoes where your feet’s ball and heel will have the same height when you wear the shoes. And although the best minimalist hiking shoes are considered zero drop shoes, not all zero drop shoes are a minimalist type of shoes.
Benefits of the Best Minimalist Hiking Shoes
There are many benefits that come with wearing a pair of minimalist shoes, which explains why a lot of hikers would prefer this pair.
Here are some of their main benefits:
Foot Pain Prevention
When going hiking, you need to ensure that your feet won’t suffer from injury or pain. Otherwise, you’ll feel uncomfortable during the entire journey. This is why you should wear a pair of minimalist hiking shoes since it helps to prevent possible foot injuries and pain.
In fact, these shoes are also capable of minimizing and totally alleviating any pain that you’ll feel on your feet.
Minimalist hiking shoes are lightweight. Wearing a pair of lightweight shoes when hiking can help increase your speed and endurance. Each shoe weighs less than a pound.
However, this will also depend upon the user because some people will feel more comfortable having a little more weight on their shoes for a better grip. But most people would opt to wear the lightest possible shoes.
Versatility is another reason why many people would invest in the best minimalist hiking shoes. You can wear these shoes anywhere you want and for different purposes. Aside from hiking, you can also wear them when running. In fact, you can use them as daily wear to work or when doing errands.
What About Hiking in Sandals?
Some hikers find themselves asking why they should choose a pair of minimalist hiking shoes over a pair of sandals when hiking.
The biggest problem that you could face when wearing a pair of sandals on the trail is that some foreign objects could get into your feet. You have probably experienced moments when you got tripped on some rocks or twigs when walking with a pair of sandals on.
Wearing sandals on a trail could land you in an emergency situation in the event that splinters get trapped underneath your toenail that might get infected later on.
You definitely don’t want this to happen when you’re out in the woods hiking with your friends. So, ditch your hiking sandals now and invest in the best minimalist hiking shoes!
The Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe is one of the top-rated hiking shoes online because customers love its excellent features.
First of all, this pair of shoes is very light, so they’re not too tiring to walk on. They provide excellent comfort on your feet, which is exactly what you need from a pair of hiking shoes. Furthermore, the shoes have a protective rubber toe cap as well as a breathable mesh lining, which improves the comfort that it gives to the wearer.
This pair is also known for durability, yet it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag, which is why we think they are the best minimalist hiking shoes to invest in.