Your Barefoot Inspired Running Shoes Guide

Inov-8 is a British company that's passionate about specialist off-road running and extreme sports products. But they have taken an alternative approach by creating a range of shoes (Road-X 233, 255, 238, Road-X Lite 155, EvoSkin) that offer a gradual transition towards a more natural running style that requires less cushioning but reducing injuries and improving performance.

Merrell is the world's largest company in outdoor gear, but they have dived into the running space by teaming up with Vibram to create minimalist running shoes. The result is their Barefoot Collection (Trail Glove, True Glove, Tough Glove, Pace Glove, Pure Glove, Power Glove), a line of minimalist, lightweight, versatile and efficient footwear. And they will be making major noise by shaking up the running shoe industry.

New Balance is launching their NB Minimus, a collection of lightweight, versatile, minimalist footwear designed to provide a "better than barefoot" experience. A three shoe collection, NB Minimus will include road running (Minimus Road), trail running (Minimus Trail), and wellness/recovery (Minimus Life) styles.

Of all the major running shoe manufacturers, New Balance is the first one off the block and aggressively introducing products in this category.

Somnio Running believes that shoes should adapt to the individual and improve biomechanics. They have been offering customizable footwear in the heel strike and ball of the foot area thus allowing runners in bulky and heavy motion control shoes to run in Somnio's lightweight racing flats or trainers.

Customizable footwear could be the wave of the future. Watch out for their lightweight minimalist running shoe starter kit, No Anterior Drop Applied (NADA), for runners who want to incorporate minimalist training into their running routine and NADA-based running shoes (Runaissance, Exact Change).

Terra Plana Vivobarefoot is probably one of the earliest manufacturers to come out with minimalist shoe collection (walking and dress shoes) in Winter 2004. Made out of recycled, locally sourced materials, with efficient and eco-friendly production techniques, their new line of shoes (Evo II, Neo, Ultra, Achilles) is designed to be the ultimate minimalist running shoe on the market.

ZEMgear creates "Performance Protection for Bare Feet" by delivering minimal footwear with maximum protection to men, women and children. While wearing ZEMs you can spread, flex and articulate all parts of your foot—getting everything you need and nothing you don't.

Keep a look out for the ZEM O2, a barefoot training shoe, and ZEM 360, their super-lightweight barefoot running shoe.

Visit Minimalist Running Shoes for updates from manufacturers.


Minimalist Running Shoes Examiner Nicholas Pang is a competitive Northern California road runner.

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