These casual barefoot shoes and minimalist sneakers are perfect for every day wear. Your shoes can be comfortable, promote healthy feet, and look great too!
I started my barefoot shoes journey while looking for hiking shoes that were lightweight and perfect for travel. After researching the barefoot movement I was a bit intimidated, like I had to be an ultramarathon runner that wore huarache sandals or Vibram five fingers for hiking. I wanted shoes that were comfortable and better for my feet, but didn’t want to hate how they looked.
Barefoot shoes are simply shoes that are made to fit human feet. This means they can be comfortable, casual, and look great too. The barefoot shoes category has expanded a lot in recent years, and now there are so many stylish options for casual barefoot shoes.
After finding barefoot hiking shoes and hiking sandals, I turned to my casual shoes. As I’ve been swapping out my every day shoes for casual barefoot options, and I’ve found so many versatile shoes with clean, classic and simple styling. Plus, my feet have never felt so comfortable. After a lot of research and testing, I’m sharing the best barefoot casual shoes.
If you’re new to barefoot and minimalist shoes, here’s a quick review of what to look for:
1 Wide Toe Box – Look for shoes that fit the natural shape of the foot, including the toes. There should be enough room to freely move and wiggle your toes.
2 Thin, Flexible Soles – Soles should provide protection, but still allow for a sensory connection to the ground beneath and easy movement. Thin soles also mean the shoes will be lightweight.
3 Zero-drop Platform – A zero-drop platform means a flat sole, just like our feet. Many traditional shoes have a raised heel (yes, even causal sneakers), which can cause strain on our body from the unnatural position and make injury more likely.
4 No toe spring – A toe spring is the curve of a shoe’s toe box above the ground. This is incredibly common in sneakers and athletic shoes, most featuring a 15 degree curve. Toe springs were added as more and more cushion was built into shoes, trying to compensate for the lack of bend in thick soles. Your feet shoes be flat, and with flexible minimalist sneakers, you don’t need a toe spring to help your foot roll forward.
Besides being incredibly comfortable and promoting healthy feet, these are a few more reasons to buy casual barefoot shoes:
Supports small business – Most barefoot shoes brands, including the ones on this list, are small businesses. Several of these companies just launched within the last few years. These entrepreneurs are working hard to create innovating products and continue expanding the barefoot shoe space which means more options for you and me!
Sustainable business practices – As small businesses that are promoting a healthy lifestyle option (healthy feet!), most of these business are also conscious about their sustainability practices. I’ll highlight the companies below that use sustainable and renewable resources and employ local companies to craft their shoes to support their local economy and avoid long transport distances.
All of these shoes use high-quality materials, are carefully crafted, and made to last. In the US, approximately 300 million pairs of shoes are dumped into landfills each year, where they’ll spend 30 to 40 years slowly decomposing. The best way to reduce this kind of waste is to buy fewer, better things, like quality shoes you can wear for many years.
How to choose the right size:
Most of the companies have a sizing guide with either a printable foot template or a list of measurements. 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. As a point of reference, here are my sizes for a few pairs of traditional casual shoes and sneakers: Vans Old Skool 7; Converse Chuck Taylors 6.5; Nike sneakers 7.5; and Adidas sneakers 7.
Casual Barefoot Shoes
1 Feelgrounds Originals
My go-to pair of shoes used to be a black pair of Vans Old Skools, but they were quickly replaced once I tried a pair of the Feelgrounds Original barefoot shoes. Feelgrounds’ mission is to make barefoot shoes available and appealing to more people, and they did that with their clean, cool styling. The company launched in April 2019 and has quickly gained popularity. Besides the Original, Feelgrounds also sells Droptop slip ons and Highrise sneakers.
Starting March 9, 2021, all Feelgrounds sneakers are 30% off for a limited time!
The Feelgrounds Original are a casual lace-up shoe made with a breathable, 100% recycle mesh upper. They’ve been perfect for summer as they’re easy to slip on and wear without socks. I recently took them with me an a laid-back cycling trip through Napa Valley and they were great.
Feelgrounds just launched new knit fabric shoes, so you can get the same great styles with a water-repellant treatment for fall and winter.
The rubber sole on these barefoot sneakers are super flexible at 5 mm thick; such a huge contrast to my old Vans with a stack height over 20 mm, much less flexibility and a lot more weight.
The toe box is wide, but doesn’t look too square or odd. A wide toe box is one of the styling giveaways of a barefoot shoes that seems hard to do well, and this shoe has a great balance between enough room for your toes and a nice curve to the shoe.
Feelgrounds’ focus on sustainability means most of their vegan materials are recycled. They also note that their shoes are manufactured under fair conditions in Vietnam.
I used the sizing template on the Feelgrounds website, and opted for a size 38. I double checked this by measuring both of my feet, taking the longest measurement (23.4cm) and adding 0.5cm. You should usually add 0.5cm to 1.2 cm to your foot length to determine your shoe size. I compared my measurements to the length insole on the sizing chart and that put me just above a size 37. With the 38 I have enough room for my toes and it doesn’t feel too big.
They’re currently offer free shipping promotion worldwide.
➳ Retail: $149 (30% off sale starting March 9, 2021!)
➳ Shop Now: Feelgrounds Original
2 Vivobarefoot Geo Court
Vivobarefoot launched in the early 2000s, and is one of the largest and most well-known barefoot shoe companies. The goal of Vivobarefoot is to create shoes that allow the feet to do what’s natural. The company offers an extensive range of barefoot and minimalist options, including some stylish barefoot sneakers.
The Vivobarefoot Geo Courts are clean and simple and offered in several different materials. You can opt for leather, nubuck leather, or the eco edition made from recycled canvas.The 3mm barefoot outsole is light, flexible, grippy and durable.
Vivobarefoot has several other minimalist casual shoes, including the Opanka slip ons, and the Addis, a minimal retro lace-up design that is handmade in Ethiopia as part of Vivobarefoot’s Soul of Africa range.
➳ Retail: $150 (use code NMB10 for 10% off!)
3 Wildling Shoes
Wildling is a small company out of Cologne, Germany that only makes barefoot shoes, both for children and adults. It’s rare to find goods where the quality of the materials and craftsmanship holds up, even after extended use. We’ve long been fans of Wildling shoes for this very reason – natural, sustainable fabrics and innovative materials are handcrafted into shoes that are good for your feet and made to last.
Wildling barefoot shoes are the closest I’ve experienced to being barefoot while still using footwear. The 2.5mm outersole is just enough protection and there’s a thin layer of cushion for comfort. Wildling uses vegan materials for the shoes uppers, including organic cotton, linen, and hemp. The winter shoes use wool for natural warmth and its water-resistant properties. All Wildling shoes are unisex, and they have a FitKit on their website to help with sizing. They typically have the same models available from toddler through adult sizes, with small changes to adjust for smaller sizes (like elastic drawstring laces for kids).
➳ Retail: $81 to $121
➳ Shop Now: Wildling
4 BeLenka Barefoot Prime Sneakers
Be Lenka was founded in 2017 by Lenka Cenigova, a former long jump Paralympian that is passionate about barefoot shoes. Be Lenka currently sells five different styles of casual barefoot shoes for both men and women. They also have a great selection of summer sandals for women, and recently launched their kids sneakers.
Be Lenka’s barefoot sneakers are all designed and made in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where they are sustainably and ethically manufactured under EU laws.
The Prime is Be Lenka’s classic, low top minimalist leather sneaker. These come in black and white, but you can also get these in bright yellow and red if you’re looking for more color. DHL shipping from Europe to the US is $19.90, and in my experience very fast.
➳ Retail: $120
5 MukiShoes Raw Leather Cloud
MukiShoes was founded in 2019 by Madlen and Marta, whose goal was to create a minimalist shoe out of natural materials that looked great. MukiShoes features several low cut and high top minimalist casual shoes in a range of colors, from classic white and black to some fun bright pops of color, like the sunny yellow Sol, seafoam Moss high top, and a cantaloupe colored Rust high top.
Mukishoes uses local, organic and fair-trade materials as much as possible. The shoes are manufactured in Portugal, which is where the company is located. Its shoes are made using organic cotton, vegetable tanned leather, and hemp, and the cork and wool used are sourced from Portugal. Read more about their sustainability policy here.
I’ve been searching for the perfect, minimalist pair of white leather sneakers for forever, so I was excited to try out the Mukishoes Raw Leather Cloud, an all-white leather minimalist sneaker. The leather is a beautiful creamy white as opposed to a bright white, and the laces and outer sole are slightly whiter. The design is so simple and clean, these look great with everything.
The 3.5 mm sole is made out of recycled rubber, and easily folds over and balls up in your hand. The inner lining is made of organic cotton, and the leather uppers are REACH certified, which means it does not use chemicals that are harmful to humans or the environment. All the materials feel high-quality, and the stitching looks strong, I can see these shoes lasting a long time.
I followed the Mukishoes sizing chart and opted for a size 38. They do note that this particular model (the Raw Leather Cloud) tends to be 2-4mm smaller than the other fabric models due to the materials used.
Shipping is €16 worldwide outside of Portugal.
➳ Retail: €120 (about 135USD). Cotton canvas version is €95. Use code NOMANBEFORE10 for 10% off.
➳ Shop Now: Mukishoes Raw Leather Cloud
6 Groundies Orlando
Groundies is another company from the EU that makes barefoot shoes for men and women. They launched in Germany in 2019 with a mission of making only as much shoe as needed. Groundies has several styles of classic tennis shoes and casual shoes.
Groundies uses the same zero-drop sole on all of their shoes. It’s a thin, lightweight 6.3 mm base plus tread made of TPU, which is a rubber-like material. The sole contains no harmful substances, is durable, non-slip, flexible, and provides great ground feel.
I’ve recently been wearing the Groundies Orlando, and I love the classic tennis shoe styling. The Orlando style is available for both men and women. Its uppers are suede, leather and mesh, and the inners are lined with a soft microsuede. At first glance these almost didn’t look wide enough to be barefoot shoes, but my toes have plenty of room to splay. I compared these to several other barefoot shoes, like Wildlings and Feelgrounds, and the toe box is about the same width. The difference is that the Groundies are a bit wider at the ball of the foot, so they can move in slightly towards to the toes without making the toe box too narrow.
I love the styling and the fit of these shoes, plus they feel really high quality and like they’ll last for a long time. All Groundies barefoot shoes come with a 3 year warranty for wearing through the sole. I ordered the Orlandos in my typical size 38, and they fit just right.
➳ Retail: $160 (Use code NOMANBEFORE10 for 10% off your purchase)
7 Lems Chukka
Lems were my first foray into minimalist shoes when I started wearing the Mesas, a minimalist hiking shoe. Most Lems shoes are geared towards the outdoors, but the Chukkas can be dressed up. They’re a great option if you’re looking for barefoot shoes for work.
The Chukkas come in canvas, suede, or corduroy uppers in earthy tones like brown, grey, black, olive green and a deep maroon. The zero-drop outsoles are 9mm, but lightweight and flexible thanks to the use of air-injection rubber.
Lems commitment to sustainability means using vegan, organic, and recycled materials as much as possible. The canvas Chukkas use organic canvas and recycled lining and laces.
➳ Retail: $120
8 Lems Primal 2
The Lems Primal 2 sneakers are more on the sporty side of casual. I included these on the list because they’re a bit more athletic and versatile if you want a shoe that works for running, workouts, and light hiking too. They make a great travel shoe if you’re planning on doing a little of everything and want something super comfortable.
These zero-drop sneakers have an 8mm air-injection rubber outsole, wide toe box, and weigh less than 7oz. The Primal 2 shoes are made of all vegan materials, including microfiber and breathable air mesh uppers.
I have these in my typical size of 7.5, and they fit just right. I’ve been wearing these for a lot of hikes this summer when it’s a bit too rocky or cold for sandals. They didn’t need to be broken in at all and I love how lightweight and breathable they are.
➳ Retail: $105
9 Xero Shoes Hana
Xero Shoes focuses on running and hiking shoes, but they have several zero-drop casual shoes too. The Hana is a low-top casual canvas shoe. The fabric is treated with a water-resistant coating, which can help if you get caught in the rain.
The outersole is built on Xero Shoe’s high-performance FeelTrue sandal base, which is 5.5 mm rubber with great ground feel. Xero Shoes tend to be a bit more budget budget friendly than most barefoot shoes brands. They’re a great option of you’re not ready to drop over $100 on a pair of barefoot shoes. I’ve often seen older models go on sale for 50% off or more, so search the Xero Shoes website for a really great deal.
➳ Retail: $79.99
10 Xero Shoes Toronto Hemp Canvas Comfort
For a high-top barefoot casual shoe, check out Xero Shoe’s Toronto. The uppers are made of hemp canvas, and like the Hana, this shoe also features the 5.5 mm rubber outsole.
➳ Retail: $99.99
I hope this helps you find a pair of barefoot shoes you’ll love to wear everyday! Please let me know if you have any questions, or have a new barefoot shoe brand to share.