Barefoot Shoes Kids Gear

Barefoot Sandals for Kids: The Best Summer Sandals

June 8, 2020
Best Barefoot Sandals for Kids

These barefoot sandals for kids are perfect for summer adventures! Barefoot sandals allow the foot to move naturally to help your child develop strong, healthy feet. They’re lightweight, flexible, and have plenty of room for wiggly toes. 

It’s summer! Which means it’s sandal season. Many kids may prefer to run around actually barefoot, but when they need to slip on a pair of sandals, these minimalist options are the next best thing. 

Since switching over to barefoot shoes, I’ve realized just how much more comfortable barefoot options are. My feet aren’t being squished into an unnatural shape, or trying to overcompensate for heavy, inflexible soles.

These sandals have a wide toe box so toes have plenty of room to wiggle, plus they’re zero-drop, flexible, and lightweight. When looking for the best kids’ barefoot sandals, I prioritize comfort and how easy it will be for a child to put the shoes on or pull them off by themselves.

Need a pair of shoes too?  Then check out our favorite barefoot shoes for kids!

What to look for in Barefoot Sandals for Kids

Thin, Flexible Soles  

The soles of kids barefoot shoes should mimic being barefoot, which means a minimal amount of material between your foot and the ground. These soles should also be very flexible, which allows a child to move and bend their foot naturally.

Personally, I think around 10 mm provides optimum comfort without sacrificing weight or flexibility, and 5 mm is the sweet spot for providing enough cushion and durability while still giving you a good ground-feel.


Zero-drop sandals are the same thickness from front to back. This means no raised heel bed or added padding around the arch.  


Thin soles will naturally lead to a lighter sandal which I think is one of the best benefits of barefoot and minimalist shoes.  

Child hiking in lightweight, flexible barefoot sandals for kids

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8 Barefoot Sandals for Kids

1 Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals

Xero Shoes, one of the most popular barefoot brands, makes what they call the “ultimate trail-friendly” sandal, the Z-Trail. I started wearing the Z-Trails earlier this year and they’re now my go-to for hiking, the beach, kayaking, and basically any warm weather activity.

From my experience, I think the Z-Trails are the ultimate kid-friendly sandal too. They’re just all-around great. They are durable and versatile enough for just about anything you’ll do this summer, but they’re still really lightweight and flexible so they have the benefits of barefoot shoes.

The zero-drop, 10mm sole has enough cushion to be comfortable, but still flexible. There is a heel cup around the back which helps to stop rocks and other debris from getting in between the foot and the sole.

The velcro straps are thick and easy to adjust, and my son has no problem putting these on himself. The toe box area is plenty wide and the front strap that crosses the toes isn’t squishing them. We haven’t experienced any rubbing or chaffing with the straps. They’re really secure, so we don’t need to constantly readjust or have any issues with his foot slipping around or out of these sandals.  

Sizing: Starts at Kids Size 12

Retail: $59.99

Shop Now: Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals for Kids

Heel cup on the Xero Shoes sandals for kids

Xero Shoes sandals for kids rolled up to test sole flexibility

2 Luna Sandals Lunacitos

The kid’s verison of Luna Sandals, the Lunacitos, are awesome adventure sandals. These barefoot sandals for kids are made to “go everywhere, do everything.” They’re lightweight with a super durable Vibram moreflex sole.

Sizing: Starts at Kids 12

Retail: $60

Shop Now: Luna Sandals | Backcountry

Lunacito kids barefoot adventure sandals

3 Merrell Kids Bare Steps Sandals

The traditional Merrell sandals can be a bit clunky, but these Kids Bare Steps Sandals are truly a minimalist sandal with a flat, flexible sole and wide toe box. The soles have good traction, so these are great for the outdoors. They have the dressier look of buckles, but the straps are actually velcro.

Every style in Merrell’s Bare Steps line is made of 45% recycled materials, so they’re more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.  

If you are looking for toddler barefoot sandals, the Merrell Bare Steps start at toddler size 4, so they’re great for new walkers. This line also has a regular and wide width option, so they’re perfect for younger kids that tend to have wider feet.

Sizing: Starts at Toddler Size 4

Retail: $40

Shop Now: Merrell | Zappos 

Merrell Baresteps Barefoot Sandals for Kids

4 Bobux I – Walk Scuba Sandals

Bobux doesn’t advertise itself as a barefoot shoe company, but many of its kid’s shoes are zero-drop with a wide toe box and flexible sole. Bobux has a great range of minimalist sandals for kids, including the super lightweight I-Walk Scuba. The soles are meant to mimic the benefits of barefoot feet, and the two large straps securely and comfortably hold the shoe to your child’s foot.

Sizing: Starts at Toddler 8

Retail: $55

Shop Now: Zappos | Amazon

Bobux lightweight minimalist sandals for kids

5 Unshoes Children’s Keota

The Unshoes mission is to make shoes that enable people to move naturally. Unshoes offers several casual outdoor minimalist sandals, including the children’s Keota sandal.  This kids barefoot sandal has a 5mm flexible, zero drop sole. The sole has a very slight upward pull at the toe to help prevent it catching.

These sandals are designed to be easy enough for a child to slip them on and off by themselves. It took some adjusting to get these right so that my son’s feet didn’t slip around. These are very minimalist, so the tradeoff for something so minimal is that the foot isn’t held in place as securely.

Sizing: Starts at EU Size 21

Retail:  $40, use code nomanbefore10 for 10% off your purchase.

Shop Now: Unshoes

Unshoes Keota, Kids Barefoot Sandals

Unshoes sandals for kids rolled up to test sole flexibility

6 Earth Runners

Earth Runners makes one style of barefoot sandals for kids that encourages healthy foot development and nature connection. These sandals are made-to-order out of their small workshop in Sonoma County, CA. You can select an either 8mm sole or a 9mm sole (that also has an Earth-Grip footbed). The sandals pictured below are the 8mm Vibram soles.

The bottoms have a copper plug to promote what is called Earthing, which serves to reconnect you to the earth through extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic resonances. Earth Runners are designed to ground you electrically to the Earth.

Sizing: Starts at Child Size 12

Retail: $40, use code NOMANBEFORE for 10% off!

Shop Now: Earth Runners

Earth Runners, Barefoot Sandals for kids

Copper plug and Vibram sole on Earth Runners

Earthrunners sandals for kids rolled up to test sole flexibility

7 Merrell Bare Steps H20 Sneaker

The Merrell Bare Steps H20 Sneakers are a great barefoot summer and water shoe for kids. These shoes include barefoot features like an extra wide toe box, a flexible sole, and they’re easy to slide on and off with a wide velcro strap to secure the foot.  

Hudson also has the Bare Steps sneakers, and I’m pretty impressed with the quality of this whole line. These H20 sneakers are a very similar design, just better materials for water and summer! As part of the Merrell Bare Steps line, these also start at size 4 which makes them a great option for toddlers.

Sizing: Starts at Toddler Size 4

Retail: $35

Shop Now: Merrell | ZapposBackcountry

Merrell Baresteps Kids Barefoot Water Shoes

8 Vivobarefoot Kids Sandals

Vivobarefoot typically offers a range of kids barefoot sandals, though they haven’t been released on the Vivobarefoot website yet. The Vivobarefoot Ultra is lightweight and flexible water shoe with some options currently available on Amazon.

Sizing: Starts at Child Size 9

Retail: $55 (use code NMB 10 for 10% off!)

Shop Now: Amazon | Vivobarefoot

Vivibarefoot barefoot summer shoes for kids

Where to score a good deal on barefoot sandals for kids

Barefoot sandals can be a bit pricey, especially considering that a child will likely only use them for one summer. We watch for holiday sales (Memorial day is usually a good time to snag a pair with a decent discount at the start of summer) or try buying a size or two up after summer is over for the next year. I also look for deals on discount websites like Steep & Cheap (which is owned by Backcountry), Mountain Steals (owned by Moosejaw). The selection is much more limited, but if they do have something you’re looking for, then you can snag it at a deep discount (sometimes 50% or more). I’ve seen the Merrell Bare Steps and Luna Sandals on Steep & Cheap.

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We've rounded up the best barefoot sandals for kids. They're lightweight, flexible, and have plenty of room for wiggly toes. Barefoot sandals allow the foot to move naturally to help your child develop strong, healthy feet.


I hope this helped you find a great pair of barefoot sandals for your child. If you have any comments or questions, please let me know!

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