When considering gear to go hiking, most of us will naturally think about getting a pair of chunky hiking boots. It’s been proven time and time again that the build of hiking boots will provide superior support for your ankles and feet, especially when hiking for lengthy periods, across challenging terrains, or when experiencing severe weather conditions.
However, what about for instances when you’re just doing a quick trail hike? If you’re all about the chunky boot life, by all means strap on the hiking boots and off you go.
These days, though, there are plenty of lightweight minimalist hiking shoe options that will take you from point A to point B comfortably, safely, and even fashionably if you’re doing a relatively casual hike.
This article will focus more on minimalist hiking shoes, providing you with information on what to consider when searching for a pair as well as some top-tier options.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Pair Of Minimalist Hiking Shoes
Similar to hiking boots, there are definitely some considerations that you need to look into before purchasing a pair of boots. We recommend purchasing in store so that you can try them on and get a feel for how they feel on your feet.
One of the first things you need to look for is how it fits on your feet. Hiking shoes generally mould around your feet easier than hiking boots, as they are made of softer material. Check for spacing around your toes, snug heel support, and how your feet arches in the shoes.
When trying on your shoes, check the comfort level. Walk around, and then jog around. Is there enough shock absorbency? Do your feet feel safely cushioned?
Next time, test the traction of the feet. The sole should be made of rubber with proper patterning to ensure you don’t slip.
The minimalist hiking shoe should feel stable on your foot. When you’re stepping back and forth, do your feet rotate? Or do the shoes have a firm grasp on your feet?
Check your foot arch. Does the arch of the shoe match the arch of your feet?
Lastly, if you’re planning to use the shoes in wet conditions, check that they are waterproof.
1. TerraFlex Trail Running and Hiking Shoes
As you can derive from the name, these running and hiking shoes are designed to allow your feet to flex to optimum capacity. The make and materials of this shoe move naturally with your feet as you walk. They are also barefoot friendly.
These shoes feature reflective straps for safety during dark trails, trail-gripping traction, and a water-resistant upper. For those who lead a vegan lifestyle, these shoes are also animal-friendly as well.
- Great flexibility
- Lightweight (272g)
- Laces are chunkier than expected
- Not much cushioning
2. Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes
Salomon might be better known for their snow gear, but don’t turn your nose up at their Speedcross 4 Trail running shoes because they are solid.
The materials used for this shoe are a standout. No thick leather is used, only 100% synthetic fibres which means this shoe is super breathable. If you’re a foot sweater, this is a huge deal. The soles for this shoe are made of high-quality super grippy rubber, making them a no-brainer for any terrain.
And if you’re after something a bit flashy, these come in a few funky colour options too.
- Breathable materials
- Super grippy
- Lightweight (300g)
- Grips can wear out more easily than others if running on ashphalt
3. Merrell Moab 2
Merrell are dominant in the hiking industry. Their hiking products have time and time again proven that they absolutely deserve to be considered every time someone is looking for a pair of hiking shoes.
The standout feature of the Merrell Moab 2 is legitimately how comfortable they are on the feet.
From the get go, you’ll be able to appreciate the cushioned collar, supportive footbed, and spacious toe frontage. There are actually two height options of this product: a mid-height boot version and a low-top shoe version.
- Stable, with side-to-side traction
- Tough soles
- Breathable materials
- Slightly heavier than other minimalist shoes (900g)
4. VivoBarefoot Tracker
If you’re after a good-looking pair of minimalist shoes, the VivoBarefoot Tracker is a stunning choice.
The full waterproof Ethiopian leather exterior is devoid of the normal patterns and prints, providing a super minimalist look and feel.
It is made for rough terrain with a firm outsole for great traction over rocky surfaces. The flexibility of the shoe is dynamic and follows the arch mechanics as required by the individual.
- Waterproof leather
- Firm traction
- Dynamic arch
- Not as stable as other minimal hiking shoes
5. Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX
The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX are one of the bestselling minimal hiking shoes in the market right now. Its technicality and constantly evolving technology put it at the forefront of hiking shoes that are durable, effective and affordable.
The control on the sole grips of these shoes is a huge feature, giving you incredible control when descending downhill, even in wet conditions. They perform surprisingly well in dirt-packed muddle trails, and are even known to perform in snowy conditions.
Their Quicklace signature system is a favourite amongst users; you will never need to worry about untied shoelaces again!
- Great descent control
- Quicklace system
- Solid toe, heel and underfoot protection for rocky terrain
- Wide sizes available
- Gore-Tex runs warm
- Quicklace isn’t for everyone; it might require further adjustments every now and then
6. Oranginer Barefoot Shoes
If you’re looking for a simple, lightweight and low-cost minimal hiking shoe option, the Oranginer Barefoot shoe is the way to go.
The biggest benefit of these shoes is that they’re one of the lightest shoes in the market (and on this list!). Whilst it’s minimal in design and look, it does provide a wider toe box, providing comfort for those who don’t like their top half being squeezed.
- Super lightweight (100g)
- Comes in a variety of colours
- Highly flexible rubber outsole
- You will need thicker socks during winter or colder hiking conditions
7. VivoBarefoot Magna Trail
For a lightweight pair of minimalist shoes that will do anything and everything in between, the VivoBarefoot Magna Trails are the perfect option.
It’s designed for use across all seasons, from walking all day across the concrete jungle to tough off-road terrains in nature.
It features a wider toe box so that you can comfortably spread your toes and avoid cramping.
- Great minimal look
- All-season durability
- Rubber sole protection could be thicker
- Sock-fit means they’re a little harder to get on
- Not waterproof (but many have claimed that they work well in wet conditions!)
8. Xero Shoes Xcursion
The great thing about the Xero Shoes Xcursion is that they provide you with enough comfort and support for a full day of hiking or trekking without compromising on the ‘barefoot’ experience.
It features a wide toe box and a non-elevated ‘zero-drop’ heel. It also boasts 4mm lugs in the FeelTrue rubber sole which is made for traction and durability on tough hikes.
- Wide toe box (great for unrestricted natural foot formation when hiking)
- ‘Zero-drop’ heel for proper posture
- If you don’t like the feel-the-trail/barefoot experience, this will be quite unpleasant
9. New Balance Minimus
New Balance are known for their incredible athletic running shoes, so it’s no surprise that they made it on this list of top minimalist hiking shoes.
Obviously, construction of the Minimus hiking shoes is top-tier. The shoes are made completely out of synthetic fibres, making them comfortable and breathable for all seasons but especially during the hot summer months.
If you’re conscious about foot odour, the manufacturers have actually treated their materials with an anti-microbial technology that’s designed to specifically minimize odours. A great feature if you ask us, especially for those keen on longer trails in warm conditions!
- Designed for comfort and long-lasting performance
- Great colourway options
- Traction has been proven to be super stable even going downhill
- Slightly on the smaller side (sizing up ½ a size is recommended)
- On the slightly heavier side of the minimalist shoes listed here (900g)
10. KEEN Targhee II
The KEEN Targhee may look like it’s on the heavier side, but it’s surprisingly lightweight and durable for a pair of minimalist hiking shoes. In fact, from the get-go it’s ready to be popped onto your feet for intense off-road adventures!
It boasts waterproof protection for wet weather conditions, and the luggy outsole adds incredible traction for rough terrain and long-distance hiking. It comes in two options, one low shoe options and one mid-cut boot option.
- Thicker mid-sole
- Rubber protection at both the toe and heel
- Durability for rough terrains and long-distance hiking
- On the heavier side of minimalist hiking shoes
- Wider-fit not suitable for those with narrow feet
I hope you enjoyed our selection of the best minimalist hiking shoes! Whether you want to feel the wind in your hair and the ground under your feet, or whether you’re a trail-blazer who wants to conquer vast terrains without lugging bricks under your feet, there is an option out there for you.
But with so many different types of minimalist hiking shoes, why not have a few at your disposal?