Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Minimalist Running Shoes

Nike Free Flyknit 4.0

88

2014

Nike Free Flyknit 4.0

The Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 is more flexible than Nike’s Free 5.0 and more cushioned than the Flyknit 3.0—it falls into the sweet spot where natural biomechanics intersect with high performance. 

New Balance MT 110v2

86

2014

New Balance MT 110v2

The New Balance MT 110v2 proved to best suited for midfoot runners seeking protection and comfort for technical conditions, and just enough cushioning and heel support to bomb down long descents. 

Brooks PureGrit 3

84

2014

Brooks PureGrit 3

Runners looking for a solid but not overbuilt trail shoe with protection and comfort for technical conditions will appreciate the Brooks PureGrit 3. 

Topo Athletic ST

87

2014

Topo Athletic ST

The Topo Athletic ST meets all the key criteria for high-performance minimalist footwear, and is ideally suited for fast running–either in training or on race day.

Skora Fit

88

2014

Skora Fit

The Skora Fit is an attractive choice for athletes who frequent the gym as much as they hit the road or trail, and want one shoe that serves these demands equally well. 

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra

88

2014

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra

Salomon’s S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra is a racer’s shoe; it’s an attractive option for runners looking to bust a fast trail 10K 50K, or minimalist runners looking for increased protection and support for longer ultra distances. 

Newton Running Motion III

83

2014

Newton Running Motion III

The new five-lug technology on the Newton Running Motion III represents a major upgrade from past models. Runners who have loved Newton trainers in the past will be extremely happy with the updated Motion III.

Brooks PureFlow 3

84

2014

Brooks PureFlow 3

The Brooks Pureflow 3 is well suited to runners looking for a good all-purpose road training shoe that is light enough for speed work.

New Balance Minimus Zero v2 Road

90

2014

New Balance Minimus Zero v2 Road

New Balance’s new Minimus Zero road shoe combines barefoot features with comfort and protection for high speeds and high durability.

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO

85

2014

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO

A top-to-bottom revision of Vibram’s dedicated road running model, with a new outsole, modified upper, and marginally thicker platform underfoot.

Merrell Barefoot Ascend Glove

85

2013

Merrell Barefoot Ascend Glove

Best for dedicated trail runners who are almost-but-not-all-the-way minimalists, or minimalist runners who need increased comfort for extended trail days or highly technical conditions.

New Balance Minimus HI-REZ

84

2013

New Balance Minimus HI-REZ

Best for barefoot devotees and experienced minimalist runners who want pure biomechanics and proprioception with a moderate amount of protection.

Topo Athletic RR and RT shoes

85

2013

Topo Athletic RR and RT shoes

There's a lot of buzz around Topo Athletic. Donald Buraglio takes the test, and delivers the review.

Skora Phase

Skora Phase

The Skora Phase is best for experienced natural-form runners looking for a high-performance road trainer or race day shoe, or high-mileage runners who like a small measure of cushioning on long training days.

VivoBarefoot Evo Lite

VivoBarefoot Evo Lite

VivoBarefoot Evo Lite is best for dedicated minimalist runners who want a durable, all-purpose running shoe that can handle all but the most rugged or sloppy surfaces.

Vibram FiveFingers EL-X

92

2013

Vibram FiveFingers EL-X

The lightest and lowest shoe in Vibram’s already light and low FiveFingers lineup, with a stretchy thin mesh upper and durable rubber outsole, suitable for a wide variety of uses.

inov-8 Trailroc 150

86

2013

inov-8 Trailroc 150

The most minimalist trail shoe to date from a company known for specializing in low and lightweight performance shoes.

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove 2

85

2013

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove 2

A refinement of Merrell’s wildly successful debut trail running and general-purpose outdoor activity shoe, with a zero-drop midsole and moderate protective features.

Merrell Barefoot Road Glove 2

72

2013

Merrell Barefoot Road Glove 2

The second generation of Merrell’s flagship minimalist road running shoe, built on a zero-drop platform with moderate cushioning and protection for high-mileage or high-intensity use.

Merrell Barefoot Vapor Glove

92

2013

Merrell Barefoot Vapor Glove

Dedicated minimalists will find a lot to love about the Vapor Glove, and will be able to use it for a wide variety of conditions. There’s just enough shoe to provide a bit of protection and comfort, and nothing else to get in your way.

New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail

86

2013

New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail

New Balance had a winner on its hands with the first generation Minimus Trail shoe, and the 2013 version provides improvements in weight and comfort without compromising performance. It’s an attractive middle ground between minimalism and high intensity demands.

Brooks Pure Drift

75

2013

Brooks Pure Drift

The most minimal shoe in the Brooks Pure Project line works much better as a transitional 4mm drop shoe than a zero-drop shoe for true minimalist runners.

New Balance Minimus 10v2 Road

76

2013

New Balance Minimus 10v2 Road

The Minimus 10v2 Road's light weight and overall comfort provide a nice ride, but long-term durability of the outsole area may be questionable with high mileage use.

ZemGear Terra Barefoot Running Shoes

88

2013

ZemGear Terra Barefoot Running Shoes

ZEM’s Terra performs quite well as an all-conditions running shoe. The Terra is pure minimalism: there’s nothing transitional and very little protective about it. This is great news if you’re an experienced minimalist, but should be used cautiously by beginners.

Vibram FiveFingers Lontra

83

2013

Vibram FiveFingers Lontra

The Lontra gives you all the protection you need to make it through the winter. They’re more cumbersome to use than other FiveFingers models, but maintain all the design and performance features that make this footwear so fun to wear.

SKORA FORM

76

2012

SKORA FORM

A luxury-model 8.2-oz natural running shoe with flat midsole platform and soft leather upper for increased comfort and durability.

New Balance Minimus Zero Road

82

2012

New Balance Minimus Zero Road

Donald Buraglio takes the New Balance Minimus Zero Road out running, and notices some minimalist friendly improvements.

Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa

83

2012

Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa

Want to shave weight for a race or a hard workout? Donald Buraglio says the SeeYa may be your shoe. But only experienced minimalists need apply.

VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail

92

2012

VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail

Donald Buraglio takes the VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho for a 200 mile trail test to see if the shoe lives up to its name.

Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS

92

2012

Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS

On the trail with Donald Buraglio and the Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon.

New Balance Minimus Zero Trail

80

2012

New Balance Minimus Zero Trail

Donald Buraglio gets a first look at New Balance's next step in the lightweight trail running revolution.

Merrell Barefoot Road Glove

90

2012

Merrell Barefoot Road Glove

Low, flat, fast—and fun for road and trail.

Merrell Barefoot Sonic Glove

90

2011

Merrell Barefoot Sonic Glove

Donald Buraglio hits the trail hard with the Merrell Barefoot Sonic Glove. Read the full review.