15 Shoes That Mimic Barefoot Running

ECCO I haven't tried them yet because I can't afford a pair (hint hint).

Wilcor Aqua Shoes I bought these at a hardware store in Hot Springs, NC for $10 and they've proven to be one of the best trail and wet-running shoes I've ever had on my feet. They're like moccasins with an attitude. Get some if you can find them for sale somewhere (not in running stores). This shoe, like most shoes designed for water sports and poking around tide pools at the beach, is a great way to run close-to-barefoot without spending more than $30.

PUMA Cabana Racer II (7 oz.) This was first introduced as a lightweight racing flat in 1981. It features a leather upper, EVA midsole and rubber outsole. As far as I can tell it is the exact same shoe brought back from the dead. $45

Asics Hyperspeed 3&4 (7 oz.) I haven't run on these shoes myself, but I've heard from a number of folks that this is a good minimal shoe. It is very light and very fast. The downside of the shoe (as with many racing flats) is that they're very narrow in the toe box, so they're off my shopping list because my feet are EEE width. It's a shame they don't make racing flats in widths or they could multiply their sales by tenfold. $60


La Sportiva Crosslite (10 oz.) This is a great trail racing flat built low to the ground with extremely aggressive treads. It's not a true minimal shoe, but one of the more minimal (while still aggressive) trail shoes. It is also reasonably light for a trail shoe. $85

INOV-8 Rocklite 295 (8.5 oz.) This is a fabulous shoe for trail runners looking for a very low-profile, light-weight shoe with great traction and flexibility. It has sticky rubber soles with very aggressive lugs. They have a nice rounded toebox with plenty of room for my paddle feet. This is a more substantial trail shoe for those looking for a good, dependable, lightweight, aggressive-soled shoe. $90

INOV-8 Talon 212 (7.5 oz.) This is the stripped-down, mininal heel lift version of the 295 reviewed above. It's a no-bones-about-it-flat-out trail racer. It's a bit narrower in feel than the 295, but not uncomfortably so. It hugs your foot well and transfers the traction from the sticky rubber soles directly into your feet. I feel like a spider with them on. I haven't tried walking up the side of a brick building yet, but they tempt me to try. I feel very fast and agile in them, and I'm sure I'll be running in these at the next USATF National Trail Championships later this year. Hats off to INOV-8! (Note: These shoes have very minimal cushioning and might not be for everyone. If you run on very hard-packed trails, these might be too minimal for you unless you're minding all your ChiRunning P's & Q's. If you're doubtful, go for the 295's. Also, the numbers show the weight in grams of the shoe model.) $100

NB-MT100 (7.0 oz.) This is one of the lightest trail shoes ever made. It's very flexible and breathable and also drains well when wet. Great for most trail running, but tend to lose traction on wet surfaces, especially wet rock. Personally, I'd like the lugs a bit more aggressive for these North Carolina mountains, but they're totally adequate on dry trails. $70


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