5 Minimalist Hiking Shoes Reviewed in Great Detail + Buyer’s Guide

Last Updated: Mar 1, 2021 @ 3:05 am

Are you looking for the best minimalist hiking shoes on the market? There are several reasons why people go hiking. The benefits are amazing. You can get a total overhaul in terms of your physical and mental health. The great thing about hiking is that you get an all-around experience. Your lungs will thank you for the fresh air, and your body will be in great shape.

  1. Are you looking for the best minimalist hiking shoe on the market today?
  2. Perhaps your pair has run its course.
  3. Or perhaps you have heard how great hiking in minimalist shoes is and you want to give it a try.
IMAGENAMEAVERAGE RATINGLink
Vivobarefoot Men's Gobi II M Leather Walking Shoe 3.9 out of 5.0 stars
Merrell Women's Trail Glove 4 E-mesh Sneaker 4.3 out of 5.0 stars
Luna Sandals OSO Flaco Winged Edition 4.4 out of 5.0 stars
Xero Shoes Xcursion 4.6 out of 5.0 stars
Merrell Women's Siren Edge Hiker 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

But here’s the thing, going hiking in the wrong shoes can cost you a whole lot more than a few aches and pains. If you are not adequately prepared then you will have a tough time manoeuvring the terrain. Hiking can be rough on the feet.

This means that you will need to protect your feet as much as you can. Many hikers prefer to use minimalist shoes when on the trail. This is probably because they are versatile, and they feel great. Not only do they feel super amazing on your feet, they actually are good for your feet. How many times can you say something good for you to feel good?

Before you go out shopping for your next great minimalist shoe, you will need to understand what constitutes a minimalist shoe. Is it how thick it is or how heavy it is? If it has to do with thickness, is there a standard that needs to be met before a shoe can be said to be a minimalist shoe?

In a Hurry

Are you in a hurry and do not have the time to sift through all the minimalist hiking shoe options available? There are a few factors you will need to keep in mind. Since you will need to be on rough terrain, make sure the shoe is made of a material that can protect your feet properly.

Look for a shoe that has great traction on the sole, and that fits you well. If the fit is bad, it will keep slipping and you will not have the great time you are out to have on the trail. We have done our research and found the top picks on the market today.

Our Top Pick

Vivobarefoot Gobi II Canvas

Our Top Pick

One of our favourite picks is the Vivobarefoot Men’s Gobi II M Leather Walking Shoe. This shoe has a rubber thermal sole and is made of one hundred per cent leather. There is a more detailed review below.

Our Round Up Minimalist Hiking Shoes

Vivobarefoot Gobi II Leather Walking Shoe 

The Gobi II is marketed as an everyday shoe. It is a minimalist desert boot that delivers both style and performance. As you know, we absolutely Vivobarefoot shoes. This is one of our absolute favourite ones. The simplicity of the design is what we love the most.

The upper part of the shoes is made out of naturally scarred leather that comes from free-roaming cattle. As you are on the go and want shoes that are minimalist, you will also be thrilled to know that they are extremely lightweight. Pair that with the barefooted nature of them and you will find yourself forgetting that you have shoes on at times. 

The ethos of Vivobarefoot is to allow your feet the freedom to move as they were naturally intended to. That is what you will find in these as well. The soles are just as flexible as the upper part of the shoes. Everything about it is kept as thin as possible while remaining as functional as possible.

The upper part of the shoes is naturally scarred which adds to the product’s longevity. Underneath the soles of the shoes is a great grip. While remaining thin, they ensure that you still get the barefoot sensation under your feet when walking. The soles offer good protection.

Pros


There are three designs that you can choose from.

They come with thermal insoles.

We absolutely love the brand.

Overall build quality is great.

They fit very well.

They are very comfortable.

Cons


There are some quality control issues.

The laces could be much better.

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Merrell Trail Glove 4 E-mesh Sneaker

If breathability is one of the factors that you are considering in your ideal minimalist hiking shoes, these may be a great pick for you. The name clearly shows the direction that Merrell was looking to go with the product. It was designed for hitting the trails.

We have found that shoes that do well on the trails fare just as well when used for hiking. It is with this revelation that we chose the Trail Glove 4 E-mesh. The upper part of the shoe is made out of fabric/textile. As the name already alluded, they are of a mesh variation. This ensures that there are no issues with airflow as you hike.

The soles are made out of rubber. There are pronounced grooves across the bottom of the shoe. They guarantee that you get the traction that you need at all times. You will also be protected from sharp objects that you may tread on. Each shaft measures low top from the arch. TPU firm heel has been used to make the heels more secure.

They are in turn more stable as well. As you will see in the image above, both the design and construction of the shoes are minimalist. This does not come at the cost of performance. You will have a shoe that protects your feet and holds up. This is enhanced by the TrailProtect pad that is designed to be at its best when you are off-road. That makes it ideal for hiking.

Pros


They are fairly easy on the eyes.

Merrell’s customer service is exceptional.

Provide good underfoot protection.

They are highly breathable.

They give you good traction.

Cons


There tends to be excess room in the shoe.

Quality control could be better.

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Luna Sandals OSO Flaco Winged Edition

There is hardly anything more minimalist than going with open shoes. As a hiker, I have found that when taking long walks in warm weather sandals can be your best ally. Luna Sandals is a fairly new brand on our radar. The product caught our attention immediately. It is either the look of the soles or the look of the upper part.

Neither of them leaves you with any doubt as to what you are getting. The quality is visible from the first moment you see the shoes. Let us start with the soles. They are Vibram soles made out of Butyl rubber. It combines the Megagrip with Luna Sandal’s very own Monkey Grip Technology. This is what makes the shoe ideal for day to day use.

If you are familiar with other shoes that Luna Sandals have made you will be able to tell the difference. These ones have a more aggressive tread pattern for enhanced grip. They are not too rigid. You get that flexibility that you desire when hiking.

This does not come at the loss of comfort. You will also retain your freedom of movement at all times. Your feet will not slide across the surface of the footbed. This will mean that you can move around at a quicker pace. You are walking on a 7mm thick sole. That provides you with underfoot protection as well. 

Our favourite part of this shoe is that it can be customised to your perfect fit. The upper strap of the shoes is made out of climbing grade webbing. Durability will not be an issue for you. The buckles can then be pulled tighter or loosened. They are made in Seattle.

Pros


The sandals are adjustable to size.

The design is purpose-built.

They are durable.

The soles provide great underfoot protection.

They provide you with traction under both wet and dry conditions.

They dry up incredibly quickly.

They provide great value for money.

Made in the USA.

Cons


Not the prettiest shoes out there.

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Xero Shoes Xcursion

Xero is another top brand for minimalist shoes. They look like any other shoe that you may come across. Once you have the shoes on, you will first notice that they are lightweight and extremely comfortable. The comfort is largely from the cushioning on the inside of the shoes. The Xcursion wraps itself around your foot to hold it in place without restricting your movement.

This is obviously essential when you go hiking. They are zero drop shoes that provide no elevation between your forefoot and hindfoot. While they are not barefoot shoes, they are barefoot-inspired shoes. That is the minimalist nature of the design. 

As you are out on your hike, you will be pleased to find that the shoes are waterproof. The soles of these Xeros are flexible. The bend and roll according to the needs of your feet. Your feet are allowed to move in the way that nature intended them to. They are both affordable and durable. There is a 5000-mile warranty on the soles. That is the power of the FeelTrue rubber sole. Whether you decide to run or to walk in these shoes, they will perform well.

Pros


The soles come with a 5000-mile warranty.

They are incredibly comfortable.

They provide good arch support.

The design is simple and elegant.

There are two colors to choose from.

They are waterproof. 

They are zero-drop.

Cons


The soles’ barefoot-inspired design may take some getting used to.

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Merrell Siren Edge Hiker 

Our final pick is from a brand that we adore. This one has 17 designs and colours that you can choose from. How is that for spoilt for choice? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let us look at some of the shoe’s key features. The whole upper is made out of mesh. It sits on a Vibram sole. If you are after a stylish shoe, this is one that you will love.

There are a variety of bright colours that you can choose from. Even the pickest of shoe snobs will find one that they like. There are seamless overlays on the upper part of the shoe. The colour-pop webbing and ghillie laces pull things together. The shoes are very comfortable and have an athletic look to them. This is a look that is matched by the performance.

There is a bellows tongue that is designed to minimise the entrance of debris into the shoes. The footbed of the shoes is contoured. Finally, the odour is also taken care of. This is cared for organically. The Merrell air cushion absorbs shocks and provides much-needed stability. There is a 4mm lug depth. The air cushion in the heel absorbs impact. The Vibram traction outsole will meet all your traction needs.

Pros


This is a brand that we absolutely adore.

The soles provide great traction.

They are very comfortable.

There is ample toe box room.

Great for foot pain when hiking.

They run true to size.

Cons


Some pairs are reportedly not as traction-providing as others.

There are some quality control issues. 

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Minimalist Hiking Shoes Buyer’s Guide

A minimalist shoe is a lightweight shoe that has a thin design. This special design, helps you use your foot muscles to the fullest. You will feel like you are almost running barefoot, but your feet will be protected and have a bit of cushioning.

There is quite a bit of confusion when it comes to minimalist shoes and zero drop shoes. One of the major co-relations between the two is that a minimalist shoe is always a zero drop shoe but a zero drop shoe is not always a minimalist shoe

With such subtle differences between the different types of shoes, it is easy to get confused or caught up. This is why it is important to be able to separate them and know which ones to choose out of the pack. A good minimalist shoe will have no elevation in it. It is lightweight but has a bit of cushioning. This is one of the major differences between minimalist shoes and barefoot shoes.

They both give the wearer the feeling of walking barefoot, with the foot having a considerable amount of freedom to be flexible and natural. 

The point of going hiking is to be able to be as close to nature as possible. It can seem like an impossible task to go through natural territories barefoot. The next best thing is to walk the trails with shoes that allow you to convene with nature whilst your feet are protected.

How do you pack for hiking?

Packing for hiking can be somewhat simple if done run. Having done this well and not so well in the past, there are so many things that I have learned that would come in handy for you. One of the first things that you would want to consider is that you bring all of the things that you may need. To ensure that you get this right, consider how long you will be out.

Once you have the dates right, consider the space that you have to play with. This will mean taking into account the size of your bag as well. Consider rolling up your shirts and trousers as a way to save space. Shoes can be tied to the sides of the bag. Do not take more than you need. Creating a checklist may be the way to go.

What should you be looking for in a good hiker’s minimalist shoe? Here are a few factors to keep in mind.

Elevation

Firstly, you will need to make sure that the shoe has no elevation. A minimalist shoe has the least amount of material, especially when compared with regular hiking shoes. You will find that it has little cushioning.

Material

Check to make sure that the material the shoe is made of can allow your foot to follow its natural course. You want to make sure that the shoe is not restrictive in any way but allows the foot to feel the ground as much as possible.

Do the shoes come with any additional features? 

Some shoes come with extra insoles that will provide extra cushioning when you need them and when you do not, you can remove them. This way, you can get the best of both worlds in one shoe. When you remove the insoles, you can be as close to the barefoot feel as possible. 

Durability

Even though most minimalist hiking shoes will not break the bank, they can also last you a pretty long time and carry you across hundreds of trails. It is easy to assume that they will not last too long because they are not too pricey, but do not be fooled. Check on the quality instead of judging this book by its sleeve.

How versatile are they? 

Are you able to wear them on the trail and off it? Isn’t it great when you can switch up to something from your wardrobe and get dual purpose out of it? Most minimalist shoes are great in this regard. They allow you to wear them down the street and also going hiking. Either way, you look good, and they serve their purpose. 

Traction

You will be wearing these shoes on trails that you do not totally know, and you want to keep your balance. Like most good hiking boots, minimalist hiking shoes need to have a good grip so you do not slip off the trail.

Conclusion

Minimalist shoes when hiking can give you a really great experience and encounter with nature. They allow you to feel the ground beneath your feet more than when wearing other hiking boots or shoes.

Minimalist shoes will keep you protected and in tune with nature in more ways than you can imagine. You would have to experience it first hand to understand! We have rounded up our best picks, and we hope that they help you pick yours out. Happy shopping!

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.

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