Women's Minimalist Shoe Reviews

About two years ago, I began transitioning to barefoot/minimalist shoes. If you are interested in the reasoning behind this, I highly suggest checking out Katy Bowman’s extensive writing on the topic here (you can find short blog posts, podcasts, videos, and links to her excellent book Whole Body Barefoot).

I’m writing this post because there seems to be a lot more information out there on men’s minimalist shoes, and I wanted to give some options for women.

Save money! Minimalist shoes can be quite expensive, but they all do a lot of sales. If you can wait, sign up for their newsletters and you will get a sale code around any holiday (Labor Day, etc.). Black Friday is also a great option. And don’t underestimate how much you will love #7, the uber cheap water shoe!

A quick review of minimalist shoes I own (in the order of when I bought them):

1. Sanuk Sandals: Yoga Slings

These are a very cute summer sandal, with tons of colors and prints, and are the most ‘normal’ looking of my minimalist shoes. You can find them in Nordstrom’s Rack for half their usual price. The bottom is made out of a cushy yoga mat, which is very comfy but not overly thin. The thicker soles make these a great option for someone just starting to transition.

2. Lems Shoes: Women’s Primal 2

A solid choice for a tennis shoe. I love how wide the toe box is- I can wear my yoga toe spacers while wearing the shoes. A medium thickness of sole is nice for people in an urban area walking mostly on concrete. These ones also look pretty normal and don’t get lots of comments or questions. I have worn these so much that I have worn out the soles and need to get new ones soon (although I may just get water shoes in black instead)!

3. Vivobarefoot: Rif Eco Suede

These are a good casual shoe, with a very thin sole. It took me a bit to get used to them, but I do like how they look and I really like the thin sole. Unfortunately, Vivobarefoot’s sizing is super funky and I just can’t seem to get the right fit in their shoes. These are a bit big on me, but still wearable.

4. Manitoba Mukluks: Waterproof Tamarack Mukluk

I love these absolutely beautiful handmade winter boots! I bought them as a Black Friday purchase. They had everything I was looking for: flexible sole without a heel- with the bonus of being an actual piece of art, waterproof, and they are an indigenously owned company in Canada with gorgeous products designed by local artists. They are actually waterproof so you can wear them in the snow, and they are quite warm. The traction on them is pretty good too, so I feel I can wear them out while hiking in the winter.

5. Vivobarefoot: Hiking Boots

I ended up returning these as I just couldn’t get the right size/fit. One was way too big so my foot would slide forward and my toes would hit the end of the toe box, the other way too small. I tried lacing tighter, but instead ended up with a bruise on the top of my foot (this was an issue other reviewers on their website had as well).

6. Xero Shoes: TerraFlex

I loved these shoes for backpacking! They have a much thicker sole, so not super duper minimalist  in that area (again would be a great transitioning shoe), but they are still flexible, do not have any heel (zero drop), and have a very wide toe box (I bought the men’s version for the even wider toe box). The reason I like them is that the thicker sole has more grip and traction than any of the other minimalist shoes I have tried, so I wasn’t slipping and sliding everywhere anytime the ground was moist (a must if you are hiking on natural terrain imho).

7. Water shoes

I bought these $13 water shoes off Amazon for the river crossings on a backpacking trip and they were the best purchase ever. I wear them all of the time now- with my summer dresses, to the gym, hiking, literally anywhere I can get away with it. These are the comfiest shoes ever, they come in a zillion patterns and colors, and they are so cheap! Wish I had discovered them earlier. I wear a women’s size 8 and got these in a Large. I will write a whole post about them shortly.

Photo of all my shoes together! 

Photo of all my shoes together! 

Shopping for minimalist shoes can be overwhelming, so if you have any questions about these shoes, ask in the comments! I am not sponsored by any of these companies, so I can give you an honest, unbiased answer.

Val OliphantComment