my 6 Best barefoot shoes for travel & backpacking

Less is more and if you’re looking for one shoe to do it all, this list is for you. I’ll cover what are IMO the 6 best barefoot shoes for travel and hiking-related adventures (like backpacking).

This means compact, comfortable, versatile, and attractive – able to tackle trails, mountains, restaurants, ruins, and anything in between without soaking up precious room in your bag.

Without further ado lets hop right in!

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Vivobarefoot Primus Trail – Best all-around barefoot shoes

Vivobarefoot-Primus-Trail-All-weather-review

Everyone who knows me knows I love my Primus Trails for they’re capable, durable, comfortable, and attractive. With a slightly thicker sole and a great tread pattern, these shoes are my absolute #1 do-it-all pair and are only 420g.

Climbing up gnarly scrambles, nighttime raves, or trail running in the heat – there is really nowhere I haven’t taken the Primus Trails yet. All-weather variant for colder & wetter occasions.

Devils Head Alberta
Primus Trails on my feet during the dangerous Devils Head hike in Alberta.

No doubt in my mind, if there’s one barefoot shoe to rule them all, it’s these. Wholly well-rounded and fine to wear 20 hours a day, I’d recommend reading my full Vivobarefoot Primus Trail review for more info.

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View current price of Primus Trail here

Wildlings – Best stylish barefoot shoes

Wildlings-barefoot-shoes-review

If you’re not doing as much off-road adventures and rather have a bit more aesthetic refinement, then the Wildlings lineup is absolutely worth looking into.

Attractive, comfortable, ethical, and reasonably priced, I would absolutely recommend these if city and urban exploration are the main focus. Sustainable, warm-hearted, and very cozy overall is how I’d describe them.

Wildling-shoes-review

That’s not to say Wildlings aren’t able to hold up in the wild – they absolutely can and do, but IMO they’re a bit too beautiful for some of the things I’d do to them – I rather leave that to my workhorses.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite – Best city barefoot shoes

Vivobarefoot-primus-lite-review

Agile through the streets & comfort on your feet? If that’s what you’re after, the Primus Lite are about as good as you’ll get. Very lightweight, great at managing temperature/moisture and weighing in at barely 300 grams for the pair, they’re excellent overall.

While I definitely wouldn’t be taking these off-road for any scrambles or heavy hikes, they can certainly go off the beaten path for a chunk of time due to their effective yet minimal tread and serve excellent as pavement running shoes.

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Packs super small and can definitely take a beating!

As a secondary pair to stow in your bag or as an all-day city pair I reckon they’d suit you well. Not to mention the modern aesthetic, they’re well-ready for the trials of travel and daily life.

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View current price of Primus Lite

Xero sandals- Best all-around barefoot sandals

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Hot weather? Experienced with going around unshod already? Consider barefoot sandals! Super lightweight and compact, these sandals easily pack up and can either be a primary or secondary piece of footwear at only 150g for a pair.

People comfortable with their feet can absolutely hike trails and mountains, however I would say the majority of people wouldn’t be keen on that. Too, going out at night and colder climates impact their practicality.

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My DIY barefoot sandals

I personally bring my DIY barefoot sandals everywhere since they’re so light and versatile. I recommend the Xero sandals since they’re affordable and already-made – unlike the DIY sandals.

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG – Best hiking barefoot shoes

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG Review

While I love the Primus Trail a ton, you’d be better off with some weather-resistance and a bit more strength if you’re planning on doing a lot of scrambling, hiking, adventuring etc in cold and/or rough conditions.

Mountains, hills, bogs, trails, bushwhacking – the tougher and conditions-resistant build quality of these lends them to being more hardy overall. Attractive and leather too – what’s not to love?

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Good for hiking in the snow and mud

However, I struggle to find them as good all-day shoes once the conditions get above ~15°C as they’re quite warm and not as versatile for daily-use as the others. I find the Primus Trail better in most cases anyways unless I’m doing heavy amounts of deeper adventure.

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View current price of Tracker FG here

Overall

Should you bring 2 pairs of shoes when travelling? It depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing of course. For me I’ve exclusively used my Primus Trails for the last 6 months in Portugal with weather between 5-30°C doing biking, climbing, running, sprinting, raving, swimming, etc.

Are you going Nordic or deep into the Rocky Mountains? You’ll probably want something robust and have lightweight clean-pair (Primus Lite) for non-adventure moments. For backpacking you’ll want shoes that you can wear all day.

Anyways, I hope you like my list of IMO the best barefoot travel and hiking shoes around – any questions please leave a message – I’ll reply within hours most of the time! 😉

Check out my related articles on my complete digital nomad gear setup for some more travel & adventure-related inspiration.

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