Skip to Content

9 Barefoot and Minimalist Hiking Shoes Perfect for Travel

9 Barefoot and Minimalist Hiking Shoes Perfect for Travel
We’re pretty light packers by nature, but I’ve always had a hard time with shoes. Most of our travels include a combo of hiking, surfing or swimming at the beach, and walking down little town streets. I used to find myself trying to pack a different shoe for each situation. In the past, I opted for hiking boots, which were a bit overkill if we were only hiking for a few miles, or compromised with an old pair of tennis shoes that didn’t really work well for any of these situations. I started looking for a pair of versatile, minimalist hiking shoes that would easily transition between outdoor and urban adventures.

The versatile hiking shoes listed below are lightweight, packable and comfortable, making them perfect for your next trip that includes hikes in the mountains, treks down to the beach, jaunts about town, or all of the above. Looking for comfortable hiking shoes is what got me started on my barefoot shoe journey in the first place. All of these barefoot hiking shoes feature a wide toe box, a zero-drop platform and get you as close to the earth as possible while still giving your feet a bit of protection.

Most of these shoes are great for summer, spring and fall. If you’re looking barefoot hiking shoes more geared towards cold weather and snow, check out this post with the best barefoot winter boots that are warm and waterproof.

Check out more posts on barefoot hiking shoes and boots here:

Save on Pinterest to Read Later ↡ Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on one of them, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, read our full disclosure. Thank you for supporting brands that make No Man Before possible.

Versatile, Minimalist Hiking Shoes

Minimalist Hiking Shoes - The Lems Mesa and the Lems Trailhead

Lems Mesa (L) and the Lems Trailhead (R)

Lems Trailhead

Lems Shoes came about when its founder saw a gap in the market for minimalist hiking shoes that would make the “mountain to town” transition. The Trailhead hiking sneaker does just that, all with cool 90s retro styling. These sneakers follow the natural shape of the foot to create a wider, more comfortable toe box. They have a minimal 4mm heel drop (a traditional shoe is around 12mm) which means this isn’t a true barefoot shoe, but it’s a great compromise of you want something minimal but also a bit more mainstream.

The second generation of the Lems Trailhead was recently released which responded to customer feedback to make the shoe more flexible, simpler, and all-around more comfortable. Aaron switched over to these this summer and keeps remarking about how comfortable they are. Lems has a photo on their website of the Trailhead completely folding over itself — we’ve put this to the test and it’s true. The flexibility doesn’t compromise the ruggedness and sturdiness of this shoe though; they offer the grip and protection of a high-end hiking shoe without all the bulk and extra weight. The Lems Trailhead upper is made out of microfiber and air mesh so it’s both super lightweight and vegan.

Lem’s also makes a few other shoes we’re fans of, including the waterproof and super packable Boulder Boot which is great for winter, and the Lems Mesa, an awesome summer hiking shoe (see below).

Retail Price: $130

➳ Shop Now: Women’s Lems Trailhead /// Men’s Lems Trailhead

Lems Trailhead Hiking Shoe | Minimalist Hiking Shoes perfect for travel

Lems Mesa

The Mesa is another minimalist hiking shoe made by Lems, but it’s a little less retro and a little more streamlined. Just like the Trailhead, it easily makes the mountain to town transition. It’s lightweight and got a sock-like fit. It’s also got plenty of mesh, so you’ll keep your feet cool on a warmer day or dry out quickly if they happen to get wet. The Lems Mesa are my go-to hiking shoe, and the wide toe box is what I love most. I don’t think I realized how crammed my toes were in most shoes until I tried out barefoot shoes. I’ve got a full review of the Lems Mesa if you want more information about why I love these shoes so much!

Most hiking shoes come in browns, greys and blacks, but the Lems Mesa has some fun and punchy colors, like coastal blue and rosewood.

Retail Price: $125

➳ Shop Now: Women’s Lems Mesa /// Men’s Lems Mesa

Lems Mesa Minimalist Hiking Shoe

Altra Lone Peak

Altra makes running shoes, trail runners and a few hiking shoes. Their hiking shoe line is the Lone Peak, which comes in a regular low-top and a high-top version for more protection against weather and the elements. The Altra Lone Peaks have a wide toe box with a good tread and a stack height of about 25mm, so plenty of cushion for those that tend to prefer more protection.

Retail Price: $140

➳ Shop Now: Altra Running

Altra Lone Peak, wide toe box hiking shoes

Barefoot Hiking Shoes

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG

The barefoot movement continues to gain momentum, and Vivobarefoot has been leading the charge for over 10 years. Vivobarefoot is all about doing what’s best for your feet and helping you establish a more sensory connection to your surroundings. If you’re used to wearing traditional shoes with a lot of padding and a regular heel-drop, then it may take some time to transition to barefoot footwear. These trail runners are super lightweight and flexible, but still provide the traction and toughness you need for long runs (or hikes) through rocky terrain, making them one of the best options for barefoot hiking shoes.

Retail Price: $160 (use code KELLY10 for 10% off!)

➳ Shop Now: Women’s Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG /// Men’s Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG

Vivo Barefoot Primus Trail FG | Barefoot Hiking Shoes Perfect for Travel

Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Luna Leather Sneaker

Merrell is well known for their traditional (bulkier) hiking boots but created a great barefoot running and hiking shoe option with the Vapor Glove 3 Luna Leather Sneakers. These shoes are seriously slimmed down with almost zero ground-to-foot separation and literally fit like a glove. The leather uppers and grippy Vibram outsole mean they’re great for dealing with cold and wet weather.

Retail Price: $109.95

➳ Shop Now: Merrell /// Zappos

Merrell Vapor Glove Hiking Shoe | Minimalist and Lightweight Hiking Shoes perfect for travel

Lems Primal 2

Lems gained a cult following from their first foray into the market, the Lems Primal 2. The Primals are a true barefoot running and hiking shoe with an extra-wide to-box and a zero-drop platform. The elimination of the raised heel bed helps with spine alignment and proper posture. The Lems Primal 2 are made with vegan materials and are super lightweight; they clock in at under 7 oz in an effort to getting you close to that barefoot feeling as possible.They make a great travel shoe if you’re planning on doing a little of everything and want something super comfortable.

Retail Price: $105

➳ Shop Now: Women’s Lems Primal 2 /// Men’s Lems Primal 2 

Lems Primal2 Barefoot Shoe | Barefoot shoes perfect for travel

Xero Shoes Prio

Xero shoes is another leader in the barefoot movement, with the founder inspired to make a better running shoe after repeated injuries. The Xero Shoes Prio use the company’s signature FeelTrue rubber that provides adequate protection but still allows you to feel the ground underneath. Barefoot options are typically pretty expensive, and Xero Shoes create some of the most affordable barefoot hiking shoes.

Retail Price: $89.99

➳ Shop Now: Women’s Xero Shoes Prio /// Men’s Xero Shoes Prio 

Xero Shoes Prio Minimalist Barefoot Hiking Shoe | Best Minimalist Barefoot Hiking Shoes for Travel

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 Best Hikes in San Francisco – Enjoy the Outdoors Without Ever Leaving the City

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

[…] Hiking Shoes: Most of these trails are pretty short and easy, but they can get muddy. It’s a good idea to have a shoe with some decent tread (though traditional hiking boots would be definite overkill). I’m a fan of minimalist hiking shoes from Lems; they’re comfortable and work great for both nature and city walks. You can see more of my favorite hiking shoes here. […]

Hike the Cleetwood Cove Trail to Swim in Crater Lake

Tuesday 6th of October 2020

[…] Hiking shoes: Something lightweight and comfortable is best. Lems makes my favorite hiking shoes that are really comfortable and don’t crowd your toes. Read this for a full review of some of my favorite minimalist hiking shoes. […]

Theodore Roosevelt National Park: A Complete Guide

Thursday 13th of August 2020

[…] these lightweight hiking sandals. Bulky hiking boots are a pain to travel with, so I recommend more minimalist options like these ones here (these Lems shoes are my […]

Julie A. Goold

Sunday 19th of July 2020


I am looking for a pair of barefoot shoes to use for hiking and everyday life (which in my case are often intertwined) and for travels. A pair of versatile shoes to take both on the trail and in town. I am completely new to barefoot but so excited! At the moment, I am in between the Vivobarefoot Primus Trek Leather and the Merrell Vapor Glove Luna Leather 3. I'd like to have a pair that could function more of less throughout the seasons (with winter as an exception). I'm from Denmark and have to deal with a certain amount of rain. I don't expect them to be waterproof but at least to be able to keep out a bit of water and not get drenched too quickly. I asked around and got the answer that Merrell Vapor glove does not keep out water/is not water-resistant at all. In your review you write "The leather uppers and grippy Vibram outsole mean they’re great for dealing with cold and wet weather." So I was just wondering, in the hopes that there is still a chance they could work, if you have had a different experience? Have you treated them with some spray, or?

I appreciate any help immensely and thank you for a helpful and interesting website! Regards



Sunday 19th of July 2020

Hi Julie, the Merrell's are nubuck leather, so that have some natural water resistance. However, I would use a waterproofing spray if you're going to wear these often when it's wet. These are probably the best bet on this specific list since almost all the other hiking shoes have a lot of mesh, but if you're going for something that will hold up during three seasons in Denmark, I'd look for another option. The Vivobarefoot Treks are leather and neoprene and are more specifically made for wet weather, so I think that would be a much better choice for you. Hope that helps!

8 Casual Barefoot Shoes (That are Comfortable and Stylish)

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

[…] healthy feet, and look great too!   I started my barefoot shoes journey while looking for hiking shoes that were lightweight and perfect for travel. I was a little intimidated after researching the barefoot movement, like I had to be an […]

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.