The best barefoot/minimalist running shoe

The best barefoot/minimalist running shoe

And no they're not the ones you're thinking of...

"Invest in your shoes and your sheets. When you're not in the one, you'll be in the other."

Truer words are rarely spoken. For the runner, there is no piece of equipment as important to performance as the running shoe. The right pair of shoes can mean the difference between a pleasant joy filled jog of zen-like focus and a blister laden journey of toil and woe. But running shoes are highly subjective.

If you're looking for a shoe with loads of cushion and padding, waterproofing, added arch support, or anything that will let you maintain that long held heel strike...keep looking. This isn't the shoe for you.

This is the shoe for the runner who would honestly rather wear nothing at all; the runner that seeks to perform in the most natural, primitive state possible; the runner who wants to strengthen not only their legs but their feet as well; the runner who wants to experience all of the surfaces and seasons through their soles whenever they lace up. If this sounds like you, then the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is the shoe for you.

Let's take a look at why they're so good:

They're Light

At 5.8 ounces, the Vapor Glove is by far the lightest pair of shoes I've ever owned.They roll up into a ball and are the easiest pair of shoes to pack you'll ever lay eyes on. If you like to be as light as possible for your sunset jog, these'll do the trick.

They Breathe Like Nobody's Business

If you're a barefoot enthusiast (and who the heck isn't these days) you may have been really excited at Vibram FiveFingers phenomenon. I know I was very excited to try something out that could potentially replicate being barefoot. But upon actually trying a few models, I was disappointed to find that the experience was more akin to wearing a thin sock or water shoe. I still love my pair of FiveFingers but not because it reminds me of being barefoot.

The Vapor Glove, on the other hand, is the closest I've come to experiencing true barefoot running. If you wear it without socks you can actually feel the breeze. They dry quickly and as a result take a long while to garner any odor. Due to their breathability it's also easy to throw them in the washing machine and hang them out in the sun. In about an hour, you're ready to roll. Or run, actually.

Thin, Zero Drop Soles

Studies show that running barefoot or with zero drop shoes (i.e. shoes that lack arch support) encourages a healthier foot strike and takes pressure away from the knee joint and into the muscle. This means less injury and more years of running. For those of us that enjoy the feeling of various surfaces throughout a run will also enjoy the thin, 2.0 mm lug depth. This allows you to feel every twig and pebble without the danger of puncturing your skin or having to go through the process of building up callouses. It is important to take it slow at first though. If you're not used to walking barefoot it can take your muscles some time to adjust.

They Look Normal

Another benefit of the Vapor Glove is that they're relatively normal looking. Many barefoot shoes either come in odd shapes or colors. I wear my FiveFingers when I want to stand out. I wear my Vapor Gloves when I want to fit in.

Wide Toe Box

The toe box is - you guessed it - where your toes go. A wide toe box lets your feet splay out in a relaxed fashion. This also helps you balance correctly and doesn't mess with your natural foot shape.


As I said before, these shoes are not for everyone. But if your looking to go as minimal as possible with your next marathon, check out the Merrell Vapor Glove 2. You won't be sorry.

Latest Articles from Topdust