Looking for comfortable, casual barefoot sandals for summer? This round-up includes my favorite minimalist sandals for women that feature flexible, zero-drop soles and straps that don’t squish toes!
Casual sandals seem like one of the easiest types of shoes where you might be able to find barefoot friendly features at popular retailers. After all, many casual sandals feature thin and flat soles, and open toes means you don’t have to worry as much about tapered toe boxes that press on your toes.
I’ve been wearing my barefoot hiking sandals whenever I opted for sandals since last summer, so it had been a while since I looked at my old casual sandals. The soles were thin, but they were nowhere near as flexible as any of my barefoot shoes. I tried to bend a few of them and they were stiff as a board! And though they were open toed, they were narrow with straps that squished my toes.
I’ve been revamping my closest shoe by shoe, and with summer coming, it was clear that casual sandals were next up!
Looking for more barefoot shoe reviews? Check out these posts:
- 9 Casual Barefoot Sneakers (That are Comfortable and Stylish)
- The Most Comfortable Barefoot and Minimalist Hiking Sandals
- 7 Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids (Great for Exploring the Outdoors)
- Barefoot Sandals for Kids: The Best Summer Sandals
Criteria for barefoot sandals
Here are the main criteria I looked for in women’s minimalist and barefoot sandals, which is what I look for in all of my barefoot shoes:
1 Thin, Flexible Soles – You need both! Thin soles don’t always mean flexible. Soles should provide protection, but still allow for a sensory connection to the ground beneath and easy movement.
2 Wide Toe Box – Look for shoes that fit the natural shape of the foot, including the toes. There should be enough room for your toes to properly splay. This means your toes shouldn’t be falling off the edge, and they shouldn’t be pinched together if the sandals have straps that go over the top of the toes. The most barefoot options are typically huarache style sandals with a strap between the big toe and smaller toes.
3 Zero-drop Platform – A zero-drop platform means a flat sole, just like our feet. Even a lot of minimalist casual sandals add on a small heel.
How to choose the right size
Most of the companies have a sizing guide with either a printable foot template or note the length of the sole. I’ve noted the size I ordered for the shoes below. I’m typically a size 7 or 7.5 in US sizes, or 37/38 in EU sizes.
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Women’s Casual Barefoot Sandals
1 Be Lenka Leather Sandals
Be Lenka was founded in 2017 by Lenka Cenigova, a former long jump Paralympian that is passionate about barefoot shoes. The company quickly expanded its barefoot shoe line, which now includes several handmade leather sandals for the 2021 summer season. Be Lenka currently offers four different women’s barefoot sandal styles, and each style has several color options.
All of Be Lenka’s summer sandals for women have a 4 mm high-quality rubber barefoot outsole. The soles are zero drop with no toe spring or heel, and quite flexible. Make sure you get the right size without too much extra sole sticking out in front of your toes (see the sizing chart here). Because of the flexibility, the soles can catch a bit if there is too much space between your toes and the edge of the sole.
If you order directly from Be Lenka, shipping within the EU is free, and costs about $28 to the US and the UK. US online retailer PedTerra stocks several Be Lenka styles and offers free shipping and free returns within the US.
Sizing for Be Lenka Sandals
The sizing runs a bit different from their closed toes shoes, so make sure to check the chart at the bottom of the sandals you’re interested in. The soles on these sandals are slightly longer, so double check to see if you need to size down.
The Promenade leather barefoot sandals are a thong-type sandal with a strap around the ankle that helps them stay put. The strap between the toes is soft and thin and feels really comfortable. This sandal comes in sandy tan, black, red and pastel purple.
➳ Retail: $119
➳ Shop Now: Be Lenka
Appropriately named Summer, these cute sandals are perfect for warm beach days, even if you’ll be doing a lot of walking! The two thin toe straps are adjustable with velcro, so you can size them based on the width of your own foot. They are available in 4 colors: black, brown, red and turquoise.
➳ Retail: $109
➳ Shop Now: Be Lenka
The Grace sandals are similar to the Summer, but with one larger leather strap instead of two thinner ones. These are great to wear with summer dresses. And I love the colors on these – gold, white, pastel pink, and a light natural brown.
➳ Retail: $119
➳ Shop Now: Be Lenka
The Flexi barefoot sandals have a bit more of a sporty vibe, with fabric straps that cross over the foot and two velcro straps to fully adjust for comfort. These casual barefoot sandals are available directly from BeLenka, and from online retailer PedTerra, which offers free shipping and free returns. You can receive 10% off your first order with PedTerra using code NOMANBEFORE.
These felt great from the moment I put them on — with two adjustable straps, you have more room to get the right fit for your foot while making sure they’re really secure. They soles themselves fit best for people with narrow to average width; if you have wide feet, you might find your foot hanging off the sides.
I ended up sizing down to a 37 (I’m a size 38 for the Be Lenka Prime sneakers). I was concerned that the front might catch with how flexible the soles are. I think they fit just right with enough room in the front and back.
➳ Retail: $119 (use code NOMANBEFORE for 10% off at PedTerra)
2 Vivobarefoot Kuru II
Vivobarefoot has been selling barefoot shoes since the early 2000s, and it’s one of the largest and most well-known barefoot shoe companies.
The Vivobarefoot Kuru II is a leather barefoot sandal with two straps across the foot and a big toe loop. With these straps, they stay securely on your feet. The Kuru sandals have gone through a few style iterations over the years. For the current season, the sandals are all leather and only come in black, which gives them the look of a dressier casual sandal (in prior years, some of the straps were nylon and looked more sporty or casual).
Vivobarefoot sources the leather materials for these minimalist sandals from production scraps in an effort to make them more sustainable. As part of Vivobarefoot’s initiative to keep its shoes on feet and out of landfills, you can send your worn-out shoes to revivo.com where they’ll be cleaned, repaired, and revived to be sold again.
Sizing for Vivobarefoot sandals
I think the perfect fit for me in Vivobarefoot shoes would be between 37 and 38. I go with size 38 for closed toe and size 37 for these sandals. In sandals, I don’t have to worry about my toes hitting the edge of the shoe, and I didn’t want too much overhang beyond the toe that could lead to the sole bending and catching.
➳ Retail: $120 (use code NMB10 for 10% off)
➳ Shop Now: Vivobarefoot
3 Softstar Solstice Sandals
These handmade leather sandals called the Solstice are crafted in Softstar Shoe’s workshop in Oregon. They are very similar to Softstar’s Merry Janes, but with cutouts around the toe and the side. They were so comfortable right from the start – so squishing, rubbing, or breaking in! These are zero drop sandals with a 6mm flexible Vibram sole. The footbed is lined with soft suede, which makes them even more comfortable.
Pictured is the Aged Whiskey color, but the fun thing about Softstar Shoes is that many are completely customizable, including these! You can choose leather color, thread color, and add a large flower design to the front of the sandal.
Sizing for Softstar Solstice Sandals
Sizing on these can be a little tricky. I’m usually a size 7/7.5, but based on their recommendation I went with size 5U with the wide width (and I would say I do not have wide feet). They generally say to go down a size and order wide. There’s a short video on their website with tips for sizing, or you can reach out to customer service and have them give you a recommendation based on a photo with their sizing template.
➳ Retail: $105
➳ Shop Now: Softstar Shoes
4 Zeazoo Nymph Sandals
The Zeazoo Nymph sandals are somewhat reminiscent of gladiator sandals with crisscrossing straps and laces above the ankle. The uppers are made of cowhide vegetable tanned leather. The 6 mm flexible Vibram sole allows for good ground feel, but still provides some protection and cushion.
Zeazoo is a small barefoot shoe company based in Bulgaria, but these sandals are available in the US from online retailer Pedterra. Pedterra stocks the wide size, which is great if you’re going for a barefoot fit that won’t squish your toes.
PedTerra offers the free shipping and free returns. Plus, receive an extra 10% off your first order with code NOMANBEFORE.
➳ Retail: $96 (use code NOMANBEFORE for 10% off)
➳ Shop Now: PedTerra
5 Luna Sandals Roots
Luna Sandals are known for their barefoot running sandals, but they have a few casual barefoot sandals for women too! You can build your own Rooted Sandal to customize exactly to your taste. The soles (ranges from 9 mm to 13mm) and are meant to mold to the shape of your foot as its worn.
You can get these as a slip-on version, where the laces cross over the foot instead of around the ankle, making them very easy to slip on and off. The thin leather laces are customizable with a handful of color options. The Rooted Multi-Wrap takes a bit longer to lace up with its extended laces around the ankle, but it means they’re very securely attached to your feet.
➳ Retail: Start at $65 with options to customize for additional amount
➳ Shop Now: Luna Sandals
6 Unshoes Saffron Sandals
Unshoes is a small company based in Southern Utah that makes several outdoor minimalist sandals inspired by classic huaraches.
The Unshoes Saffron sandals are similar to their popular Wakova design (I use these for light hiking). But with delicate leather straps, these handmade barefoot sandals are easily dressed up. They are available in three colors: black, platinum, and turquoise.
The soles are 8 mm and lined with a cork footbed. The Saffron sandals are available in standard and slim width.
Sizing for Unshoes Sandals
Unshoes has a printable template for each size. I opted for size 7 based on the template and they’re the right fit.
➳ Retail: $82 (use code nomanbefore10 for 10% off)
➳ Shop Now: Unshoes
7 Etsy Handmade Leather Sandals
Etsy is a great place to start if you’re looking for handmade leather sandals. I’ve had a lot better luck using the search term “minimalist leather sandals” versus “barefoot sandals.” Barefoot sandals tends to turn up more beaded ornamental wear for beach weddings and not actual shoes. Here are a few options on Etsy that offer handmade minimalist sandals where the soles are flat and wide, and the straps securely attach the shoes to your feet:
Astir Sandals – Andros sandals are a barefoot huarache style with thin leather soles and straps
Calpas – Valeria Sandals with 4mm flexible rubber soles
TreadLightGear – Activator sandals with 6 mm Vibram sole and leather laces