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Walking, trail running, hiking, or just cruising around town – barefoot sandals can be extremely versatile, particularly if you want just a thin layer of protection to separate you from the floor while retaining that natural feeling.
Over the years many different barefoot sandals have come out from tried and tested brands and new players in the space. I’ll cover all the best barefoot sandals here in this buyers guide to help you choose the best ones for you!
Table of Contents
Best budget barefoot sandals
If you’re looking for just a simple barefoot sandal for walking around town, going to the beach, or light activity, there are 2 which I’d recommend:
While neither of these sandals have the performance traits I’d look for while trail running or serious hiking, they’re tough and dependable sandals which are easy on the wallet and will last many years to come.
I’d opt for the Decathlon pair if you want the traditional sandal-type strap system, while the Xero Genesis sandal is better for light trail running, and a more secure fit.
Also check my Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 review for more information on those
- Not for performance
- Lacks advanced features
Best overall barefoot sandals
Walking, running, hiking, relaxing and wallet-friendly – which barefoot sandal is the best overall?
Personally, I give it to the Xero Z-Trek. They’re affordable, tough, lightweight, minimal, and no-frills. A classic sandal through and through and with a friendly price tag! I like the open-toe sandal design because this does allow socks with sandals (a sin, I know…) for keeping toes warm on cool nights and longer hiking trips. Not as possible with flip-flop-style laces.
They’re not the expert in any particular category (as you’ll discover one which are below), however they fit the bill for being highly versatile and not emptying your wallet. If you want a sandal that does it all, simply go for these!
- Jack of all trades
- Master of none
Best barefoot sandals for road running
Sworn through and through by many people, the Earth Runners Circadian have great performance characteristics in a lightweight and practical system. The canvas footbed deals with sweaty feet and slipping better than rubber or leather, which is a huge advantage when it comes to long-distance flat-ground running.
Too, they’re one of the better-looking options out there somewhere between a sandal and flip-flop and with an attractive design. Highly recommend! Adequate grip, a secure fit, and lightweight design make them great for long distances while keeping your feet protected.
However with flip-flop type sandals which have the big toe lace, they’re incompatible with most socks out there. Unless of course you have split-toe socks or tabi socks, which, is another investment. This makes it not suitable for colder temperatures if you do want to wear socks.
- No-slip footbed
- Secure and comfortable
- Incompatible with regular socks
- Not great for slippery or challenging terrain
Best barefoot sandals for trail running
Similar in a lot of ways to the aforementioned Earth Runners, the Luna Sandals are particularly designed for the trails and off-road use with their chunkier and more textured Vibram soles. In fact each of their models from the Middle Bear to the Leadville Pacer have a distinctly different sole thickness and tread patterns.
As grip and stable on-foot feeling is crucial when it comes to barefoot sandals especially when trail running, I’m happy to announce the reliable grip and adjustment of the Luna lineup. Perhaps overkill for walking around town and casual use (and also the high price tag!), but fantastic overall.
However I struggle to recommend them for casual use due to the high price tag – they’re still tough and will last a while, but $100+ for a pair of barefoot sandals is steep as you can get barefoot shoes for the same price. You get what your pay for though!
- Excellent strap adjustment
- Grippy and great Vibram tread
- Secure and comfortable
- Very expensive
- Incompatible with regular socks
Best barefoot sandals for hiking
With a chunkier, more capable tread, the Xero Z-Trail EV is one of the best barefoot hiking sandals. Still lightweight but a little bit thicker to assist with the difficulties that gravel and loose rock creates.
The sole is particularly tough which makes it excellent for long-distance hiking and backpacking without having to replace as often while still having adequate zones of grip which excel on more tricky terrain. Having open toes is great for when conditions get cold and you want to keep your toes nice and toasty!
Personally, I’ve gone on challenging scrambles entirely barefoot and with my DIY barefoot sandals without a problem however you would be well-suited with the Xero Z-Trail EV, particularly for long distance backpacking.
- Grippy, tough, and varied tread
- Not the best for
- Slippery on wet roads
Best looking barefoot sandals
Absolutely beautiful, handmade, and made in the heart of leather products of Florence, Italy is GianLuca. I accidentally stumbled upon their shop in person and was immediately blown away by the style and build quality and immediately bought a pair. Now I can firmly say they’re my absolute favourite barefoot sandals.
From slippers to flip-flops to gladiator sandals and more, the catalogue is really diverse and the build quality is excellent. Truly handmade artisanal products and not Chinese mass-produced garbage. Well worth the price! A US-based alternative would be the Luna Earth Multi-Wrap which have the gladiator style.
For the ladies out there you have other options in the fashion department such as the Vivobarefoot Opanka sandal which is made of leather. For some reason manufacturers don’t like make attractive barefoot leather sandals for men…
- Excellent aesthetics
- Fantastic build quality
- Handmade with quality leather
- Difficult shipping
- Not for activities
DIY barefoot sandals
Inherently, sandals are quite simple things – a thin sole and some straps to keep it tight to your feet. Not so complicated to make your own, no?
Brands like Xero shoes have their own DIY barefoot sandal kit which is great, however all you really need is a chunk of leather or old tires and some paracord.
In my DIY barefoot sandals guide I give some simple instructions on how to make a set entirely from leather or an old mountain bike tire – check it out! I made 6 sets of sandals and laces with an $80 chunk of leather – very cheap, satisfying, and they perform quite well!
- The most affordable option
- Custom fit!
- Satisfying to make
- Time consuming
- Trail and error
There are now tons and tons of different barefoot sandals out there, but in my opinion those are truly the best!
The best one for you? Well, that really does depend on what you’re needing – something for intense trail running? Definitely the Lunas. Casual use around town? The budget choices will suffice. Trying to look stylish want high-class? Handmade leather all the way.
Hope this guide to the best barefoot sandals helped you out!
Think I missed some? Please let me know in the comments below and I’ll gladly check them out and consider adding them to the list.
Thanks for reading and hope you have a warm and lovely day! 🙂
Boom festival review & guide to Portugals wildest festival
my Ultimate best barefoot sandals buyers guide (2024)
Study: Barefoot shoes transition – results from switching to minimalist footwear on 65 people