Barefoot shoes put your feet and body in a more natural position compared to standard shoes. They tend to bring your feet closer to the ground with minimal soles, and they often feature a zero drop design that stays flat from the heel to the toe rather than dropping or slanting. Many offer a wider toe-box than normal, allowing toes to spread rather than crunch. These features together give the essence of going barefoot while still wearing shoes. Let’s get into the factors to think about when going for barefoot shoes, and scroll to see our list of top barefoot shoes for men in 2024.
What to Consider When Choosing Barefoot Shoes for Men
The features you look for differ when choosing barefoot shoes compared to choosing standard shoes. For instance, people often check for cushioning or classic styles. Fashion has often come at the expense of comfort. But when you look for barefoot shoes, there is generally a lack of cushioning and the style tends to be a bit unique and modern. In general, comfort and proper foot form are factored in without sacrificing a stylish design.
So, what factors do you consider? Think about the following when you compare barefoot shoes.
Just like with standard shoes, barefoot shoes come in a range of designs for different purposes. You can find ones for casual everyday wear, for work, for dressy events, for exercise and for outdoor wear in different weather conditions.
As you would with regular shoes, you might pick out numerous pairs of barefoot shoes to fit a range of purposes. For instance, you might need dress shoes and winter boots. Match the features with the purpose you plan for the shoe, or if you want an everyday shoe, choose a more versatile option.
Some barefoot shoes are bulkier than others. Some have barely there soles, while others have a bit more sole or the appearance of larger soles. Some have thicker uppers, while others have streamlined ones that hug your feet. Also, some fit low, while others extend higher to the ankle. Think about the type you would prefer, or simply look through different options to get a better idea of what’s out there.
The style of the shoe is no less a factor with barefoot shoes than with any other type of shoe. You should pick shoes that you like and that fit your personal preferences. It’s also a consideration of whether they would match with outfits you have and whether they are right for certain occasions or settings. For instance, you might need dress shoes for a wedding or shoes for work, and you can find barefoot versions of both.
The materials and design play a role in the style of the shoe. Also, you may want to consider the materials you prefer. Some barefoot shoes are made of leather, some are vegan and some are crafted with environmentally friendly materials.
Of course, comfort is a factor when comparing any type of shoe, unless you only care about style. Barefoot shoes tend to have comfortable features to begin with. Nonetheless, there are other considerations regarding comfort. Barefoot shoes have less cushioning than standard shoes, so keep that in mind. Think about whether you’re okay with the most minimal cushioning or whether you would prefer ones that include a bit more. Some also have a removable insole to provide options. Other comfort factors can include things like design, fit, breathability and flexibility.
Barefoot Shoes for Men for 2024
We crafted a list of barefoot shoes for men that are great for the upcoming year. We included different types of shoes and styles. You’ll find a description of each shoe below.
This shoe is designed for people who train, yet it’s also ideal for transitioning from regular to barefoot shoes. The process can take some getting used to at first, and this pair can ease that transition. Whether you want to walk, train at the gym or do CrossFit in these shoes, they’re perfect for the job. The design promotes optimal movement and other markers for training.
These shoes have a sneaker design that can look good in and out of the gym. Plus, you can choose from a range of colors to fit your style. They keep you close to the ground but have strong, puncture-resistant soles to protect your feet while you’re out and about.
This is a great pick for walking, hiking and running in a barefoot shoe. They have deep tread on the bottom for outdoor trails in different weather conditions, while you can wear them on human-made surfaces as well. These shoes put you close to the ground and feature a zero drop style. You can even remove the insole for a better barefoot experience, or keep it for added cushion during adventures.
These shoes have features for an ideal fit to move with you naturally. They have a wide toebox for the toes to spread as they would barefoot, they come with laces to perfectly hug the feet and you can add socks or wear them without.
Our OAKAs are designed to improve mobility and comfort. In addition to this, they're exceptionally versatile because they're travel-friendly and machine washable.
We designed OAKAs to be extremely flexible, so they’re weightless on your feet and can fit in any bag. For this reason, they're made of breathable fibers that enable comfort and high mobility.
Not only that, but we also enhanced the toe-box of the OAKAs to be wider than the average dress shoes while keeping a professional silhouette. The toe-box's mobility is even better because of the flexibility of the shoe's breathable material.
Last but not least, our OAKAs have an anti-slip outer sole and a zero-drop inner sole allowing for good posture. Instead, they've faux heels that allow the foot to stay flat and connected to the ground while maintaining the classic look of the elevated dress shoe heel.
Additionally, OAKAs are highly versatile and have a reasonable price within their category. Plus, they're appropriate for both casual and formal wear.
This is a great men’s shoe selection for walking through snow, as well as other cold weather conditions. These shoes have an outdoor boot design with the barefoot style for foot strength and natural movement, and the thick tread keeps your grip on slippery areas.
The lightweight design helps you move with more ease through snow than heavy winter boots. These shoes have a fleece lining and heat-reflective insole to keep your feet warm in the cold, and they are waterproof to ensure warmth and dryness in the outdoors.
This is an ideal shoe for those who are excited about barefoot, zero drop shoes. It has a very minimalist design with a barely there sole that puts you almost on the ground. The upper is thin and close to your foot as well, so these shoes hug your feet as you move without adding much bulk at all.
These shoes come with laces with an expanded lacing area and a padded tongue for an ideal fit. They also have a wide toebox, so your toes can spread out naturally.
This shoe has a casual sneaker style that’s great for everyday wear. It has the features you want in a barefoot shoe, including the zero drop style and a wide toebox to stretch the toes. The upper is made of mesh that stretches to fit your feet, while the design also hugs and holds your feet as you move.
These shoes have a sporty, low-to-the-ground and minimalist design. They have a slip-on design and include laces for style. They also have good traction with high grip rubber. This is a 2.0 version that features multiple improvements over the first iteration.
These shoes give a casual sneaker style that resembles skate shoes. They have a slim upper that hugs the feet and a minimal sole for a good barefoot style. This is the second generation of this shoe, so the company made improvements like better sizing and higher quality leather that should give it a longer lifetime.
These shoes are unique because they come with three pairs of insoles. You can get closest to the barefoot, zero drop style with the 3mm ones or go slightly higher with 4mm zero drop insoles. The package also includes an insole that goes from four to nine mm, so you have plenty of options. Plus, you get toe spacers to help create a natural foot position.
This shoe is unique because it has a knit upper, which has the bonus of being made from recycled materials. The knit has a coating to make it water-repellent, making this shoe perfect as an outdoor option. You can pick from numerous colors to fit different outfits and your own personal style.
These shoes are stylish, modern and perfect for everyday wear. They give you a high fit that goes to the ankle and laces up all the way for a snug fit. These shoes feature slim soles, a zero drop design and a wide toebox, so you get the natural feel you’re after in a barefoot shoe.
These barefoot shoes have a classic leather sneaker style that’s great for everyday wear. These shoes are made with full-grain leather for quality and durability. The classic black makes them versatile enough to wear with a range of outfits, in different settings and for various occasions.
In terms of barefoot wear, these shoes come with an insole that’s flexible and gives cushioning, with the 3mm thickness not adding too much height. You can also wear these shoes without the insoles to get a better barefoot experience.
The Bottom Line
Barefoot shoes tend to provide comfort, support and good form, so they’re a beneficial type of shoe to use. In addition to these health and wellness benefits, many of these shoes include a great style and are made to fit a range of activities. Think about the features you’re looking for when you compare current barefoot shoes.
You'll find great options on our list. If you're looking for a barefoot version of snow boots, we recommend the XeroShoes Alpine. Alternately, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III or the Freet Feldom are good options for exercising in barefoot shoes. There are plenty of other options on the list to fit the activities you plan to do while wearing your barefoot shoes.
Michael Plater is an authority on barefoot shoes, having spent years reviewing and testing products as well as modifying and ripping out soles to find the healthiest options.