Your Guide to the Best Barefoot Sandals [2023]

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Sandals are an excellent footwear choice for improving foot health. Because most sandals are typically minimal in nature, they tend to let the feet function naturally without being influenced by arch support, heel elevation, toe spring, or other injurious footwear features. The best barefoot sandals are flat, thin, and flexible – it protects the sole of the foot, while still allowing the foot to move and function as nature intended.

Sandals can also help with improving and maintaining good foot hygiene. While the upper of a conventional shoe or boot will trap heat and moisture inside, the openness of sandals does the opposite. Fungal skin & nail infections, like Athlete’s foot and fungal toenails, thrive in dark, damp, warm environments. Open airflow and splayed toes help to evaporate excess moisture from sweat, helping prevent foot odor that comes from fungal and bacterial growth on the skin. Additionally, UV rays from sunlight help to kill fungal infections of the skin and nails.

 

Transition Barefoot Sandals – 9 Best Barefoot Sandals

 

If your feet are used to supportive shoes and sandals that have arch support and cushioning and are generally stiffer/less flexible, then barefoot sandals and minimal sandals might challenge your feet to work harder than you’re used to. Transitioning to best barefoot sandals can help guide you to safely build stronger, more functional feet. A transition barefoot sandal will have a thicker sole and less flexibility than a barefoot sandal or minimal sandal. Barefoot sandals with a stack height from about 9 mm to 15 mm are typically a safe starting point for most people. Active sandals designed for hiking and trail running with deeper tread and lugs tend to be great barefoot transition sandals.

Active Barefoot Sandals for Hiking and Running

Luna Mono Winged (15 mm)

Luna Mono Winged

Luna Sandals (Seattle, WA) is one of Correct Toes’ all-time favorite sandal brands. Barefoot Ted, the founder of Luna, was inspired by the huarache sandals worn by the legendary Tarahumara tribe of the Copper Canyons in Northern Mexico. The Tarahumara are exceptional runners that run through winding canyons in simple sandals. The story is famously chronicled in Christopher McDougall’s best-seller, Born To Run. 

The Luna Mono Winged is a trail-running sandal with a 15 mm thick treaded Vibram sole. A single adjustable strap attaches between the big toe and second toe and runs around the outside of the ankle, heel, and inside of the ankle, before fastening back on top of the midfoot. These sandals are secure to the foot and perform incredibly well on all terrains.

Shamma Chargers (9 mm)

Shamma Chargers

Shamma Sandals (Santa Cruz, CA) started with a simple idea: make minimalist sandals that were suitable for running. Shamma Sandals is a small, family-owned and operated business that believes running is the standard for human movement. The Chargers have a 7-8 mm thick sole without tread and about a 9 mm stack height altogether. There are two adjustable velcro straps — one on the heel and one on the inner midfoot — to help create the perfect fit. Check out Correct Toes interview with Shamma Sandals.

Bedrock Cairn Adventure (14 mm)

Bedrock Cairn Adventure

Bedrock Sandals (Missoula, MT) were made for people looking for a lighter-weight, more freedom-feeling sandal for our outdoor and everyday needs. The award-winning Cairn Adventure sandal is built on a 14 mm Vibram XS Trek Regolith Outsole. The exclusive strap system with three adjustment zones and a super comfortable toe post is really what sets these sandals apart. They come in a bunch of different colors so you can express yourself while on hiking trails, bike tours, or just kicking around town.

Casual Barefoot Sandals for Walking and Leisure

Ahinsa Comfort Sandals 

Ahinsa Comfort Sandals

Ahinsa Shoes (Czech Republic) are made by physiotherapists who were seeking healthy, high-quality, and ethical shoes. As physiotherapists teaching people to walk and move better, the team at Ahinsa came to the same conclusions as many others in the natural foot health world: it’s impossible to improve foot health without healthy footwear. So Ahinsa focused on making light, flexible barefoot shoes that stimulate the feet to become stronger and more functional. Ahinsa has two versions of their shoes: “barefoot shoes” that are minimally supportive, and “comfort shoes” that have a little more cushion to help people transition until they’ve learned how to walk healthy. Ahinsa Comfort Sandals are cushioned with ultra-lightweight cork added to a durable, non-slip outsole. Check out the Correct Toes interview with Ahinsa Shoes.

 

 

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Minimal Barefoot Sandals

Minimal barefoot sandals are best for feet that are used to spending time barefoot or wearing unsupportive shoes. These sandals simply protect the soles of your feet, yet still allow them to function as nature intended. Walking, running, and hiking in minimal sandals are some of the best ways to strengthen muscles to build resilient feet and legs.

Active Barefoot Sandals for Hiking and Running

Xero Z-trek (6 mm)

Xero Z Trek

Xero Shoes (Boulder, CO) were also inspired by Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book Born to Run.  Xero founder Steven Sashen is a sprinter who struggled with injuries and long-distance runs until he dove into the barefoot running world. Xero started out with simple huarache-style sandals made of Vibram rubber and cord and now has a robust catalog of sandals, shoes, and boots. The Z-Trek has a “Z” strap that crisscrosses the top of the foot with no toe post or thong between the big toe and second toe. It’s super lightweight and built on a 6 mm FeelTrue sole with chevron tread. From the trail to the city, on water and on land, set your feet free with Z-Trek.

Shamma Cruzers (6 mm)

Shamma Cruzers

Shamma Cruzers are the Shamma Chargers’ more minimal sibling. With an even lighter 6 mm outsole, the Cruzers lacing system uses an entirely new buckle that locks the strap into place keeping adjustments secure and the Powersleeve keeps the heel strap up and in its proper position. This best barefoot sandals are great for walking, hiking, and running on the streets, the mountains, and the trails.

 

Casual Barefoot Sandals for Walking and Leisure

Feelgrounds Pathway (6.5 mm)

Feelgrounds Pathway e1687802447679

Feelgrounds (Germany) was founded by a young team to make the best  barefoot shoes that are stylish and cool. All of their shoes are vegan (100% animal-free) and they use recycled materials whenever possible. As a member of the European Business Social Compliance Initiative, sustainability, fairness, and transparency are essential values for Feelgrounds. The Pathway is one of two sandal options for this growing company. It features two adjustable hook and loop cushioned straps at the heel and instep, which can accommodate a variety of foot shapes, ensuring a personalized fit.

Vivobarefoot Opanka Sandal (4 mm) — Tan / Obsidian

Vivobarefoot Opanka Sandal

Vivobarefoot (London, England) was founded by two seventh-generation cobblers based on one simple insight — barefoot footwear is regenerative to human health. Vivobarefoot is a certified B Corp that meets the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Recycling and sustainability are paramount for Vivobarefoot and its diverse catalog of both active shoes and casual shoes. The Opanka sandals waste not — their premium leather comes from production scraps of other projects. The natural rubber 4 mm barely-there sole provides the ultimate fit, feel, and flexibility for natural stability, sensory feedback, and strength.

Be Lenka Grace (4 mm) 

Be Lenka Grace

Be Lenka (Slovakia & Czech Republic) believes in “slow fashion” and encourages their customers to buy less often and choose quality products. Each pair of Be Lenka barefoot is precisely cut and put together by local skilled craftsmen using only the highest quality material. All Be Lenka barefoot shoes aim to have four key features: a wide toe box, flexible & thin soles, a “zero drop” sole, and as lightweight as can be. The Be Lenka Grace is one of the best barefoot sandals because of its elegant and trendy leather design with adjustable leather straps to ensure all-day comfort.

 

Barefoot Sandals and Toe Spacers

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Did you know you can wear Correct Toes with sandals? Correct Toes can be an incredibly helpful tool that helps promote healthy toe alignment while engaging the foot muscles to strengthen. The wide toe splay that Correct Toes help achieve creates stability in the toes and forefoot, making it much easier for the rest of the foot (like the arches) to function properly. Correct Toes are an ideal tool for aiding the transition process from supportive footwear to minimal and barefoot sandals. You can even wear toe spacers with barefoot shoes; flip flops and other sandals that feature a thong strap or toe post.

 

 

 

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