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5 Best Barefoot Shoes for Beginners (2024 Update)

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Best Barefoot Shoes for Beginners Article

As barefoot and minimalist shoes continue to grow in popularity and more individuals want to wear them, I’m constantly getting asked about which barefoot shoes are best for beginners.

Unlike other types of footwear, barefoot shoes will come with an acclimation period so it’s a good idea to be strategic about which barefoot shoes you decide to invest in first.

Best of the Best: The WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers are one of my favorite barefoot shoes for beginners. They have a good level of comfort to help you acclimate to minimalist shoes and they cost $60 USD or less.

My Favorite Beginner Barefoot Shoes

Barefoot Shoe Beginners Tips

Takeaway 1

Barefoot shoe beginners can benefit from looking into barefoot/minimalist options that have a little more cushion and a slightly higher stack height. This can help ease you into this footwear.

Takeaway 2

Everyone will acclimate to barefoot shoes at different rates. Start by using them sparingly for low-threshold activities like walking. Progress your acclimation by adding how long you’re wearing them and what you’re using them for.

Takeaway 3

A lot of premium barefoot shoes cost $130 USD which can be tough on beginners that aren’t sure about this style of footwear. Luckily, there are a few great options for $100 USD or less.

Top Overall Pick: WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers

The WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers are taking my top pick as the best beginner-friendly barefoot shoe. There’s a lot to like about the WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers and I was honestly shocked at how well these shoes performed for my needs.

WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers Try On Review

At a price of $43-60 USD, I was a little skeptical about how good these shoes were going to be. However, over the last three months of wearing these shoes, I’ve been really with their comfort and construction.

This shoe features a slightly higher stack height and level of cushion compared to true minimalist shoes, so for beginners, I see these as a really good option for acclimating to this footwear for a budget-friendly price.

WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers In Depth Review

The sole of this shoe is flexible and the rubber tread has a decent amount of grip for this shoe’s price point. I also like the knit upper and how clean it looks when dressed up when different outfits. These shoes don’t necessarily shout “cheap” despite their price.

  • Best For: Beginners, Casual Use, and Budget Shoppers
  • Miles Used: 80+ and counting
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 10.15 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, but there are no half sizes. Size up if you’re between sizes.
  • Read My ReviewWHITIN Barefoot Sneakers Review

WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers

$59.99

4.6
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.5
Quality
4.6

Best For

  • Barefoot Shoe Beginners
  • Walking and Standing
  • Budget Conscious Shoppers
  • Medium to Wide Feet

Falls Short

  • For Long-Term Durability
  • For Squeaking On Certain Floors

Top Pick for Utility: Lems Primal Zen

The Lems Primal Zen is taking my top pick as the best beginner-friendly barefoot shoe for utility purposes. There’s a lot to like about the Lems Primal Zen and this include their overall construction, comfort, and appearance.

Lems Primal Zen for Walking

The first thing to like about the Lems Primal Zen is how comfortable it is for walking and casual use. The sole of this model bends really really and has a nice level of protection, especially for beginners.

The LemsRubber outsole has a good level of thickness and this shoe’s removable insole, I think most beginners will enjoy how “minimalist” this shoe feels while still providing some comfort to help ease them into this footwear style.

Lems Primal Zen

This model also works exceptionally well for warm weather and I’ve enjoyed their performance on warmer days when I feel like going barefoot in my shoes. You can also use this shoe for casual hikes, which is a perk of this shoe’s versatility.

  • Best For: Beginners, Summer Wear, Casual Hikes
  • Miles Used: 50+ on concrete, 12+ on trails
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.80 (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Lems Primal Zen Review

Lems Primal Zen

$120

Lems Primal Zen Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.4
Versatility
4.5
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Day-to-Day Wear
  • Barefoot Shoe Beginners
  • Casual Working Out
  • Light Outdoor Activities

Falls Short

  • For Thicker Feet
  • For Winter/Cold Weather

Top Pick for Formal Wear: Icarus Ascent

The Icarus Ascent is bringing home the win for the best beginner-friendly barefoot shoe for formal wear. If you’re a fan of white leather shoes then I think you’ll enjoy the Icarus Ascent’s construction and performance. This shoe features a white full-grain leather upper.

Icarus Ascent On Feet

I regularly wear the Icarus Ascent for nights out and for settings where I want to be a little more business casual. This shoe’s leather upper looks clean and it does a pretty good job with weather resistance which I’m a fan of for all-season and urban wear.

Another thing to like about this shoe in the context of beginners is that it comes with three different insoles which vary in thickness. There’s a super minimalist insole, a medium cushioned insole, and a thicker insole.

Icarus Ascent

The ability to rotate insoles is great because it gives you the opportunity to quickly go from a bit more cushion to a lower stack height with a more minimal feel. I found this to be awesome for commuting, then office wear contexts.

  • Best For: Casual Wear, Formal Wear, and Light Workouts
  • Miles Used: 70+ on concrete
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 12.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Icarus Ascent Review

Icarus Ascent

$144

4.6
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Casual Lifting
  • All-Day Wear
  • Walking and Standing
  • Barefoot Shoe Beginners

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training
  • For Hotter Climates

Top Pick for the Price: WHITIN Casual Barefoot Sneakers

The WHITIN Casual Barefoot Sneakers are bringing home my top pick as the best beginner-friendly barefoot shoes for the price. Like the WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers, the Casual Barefoot Sneakers deliver a well-rounded performance for casual use.

WHITIN Casual Barefoot Sneakers

The WHITIN Casual Carefoot Sneakers deliver a simplistic construction and budget-friendly price point. These shoes cost $40 USD which makes them one of the most affordable barefoot shoes on the market that look decent.

This barefoot shoe can be great for beginners because its sole has a slightly thicker stack height and feels a bit more cushioned compared to other minimalist shoes. For the acclimating beginner, I see this as a big perk of this shoe.

WHITIN Casual Barefoot Sneakers for beginners

I also like that this shoe is comfortable for both sock and sockless use and it’s good for warmer seasons. If you want a no-frills barefoot shoe for warm weather wear, then the WHITIN Casual Barefoot Sneakers can be a great option.

  • Best For: Casual Wear, Walking, and Budget Shoppers
  • Miles Used: 40+ on concrete
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.10 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, go up if you’re in-between sizes.
  • Read My Review: WHITIN Casual Barefoot Sneakers

Top Pick for Light Workouts: Lems Primal 2

The Lems Primal 2 is taking my top pick as the best beginner-friendly minimalist shoe for light workouts. Note, if you’re a beginner and you want a more minimalist-feeling barefoot shoe without breaking the bank then look into the Tolos Archetype 1.0.

Reviewing the Lems Primal 2 for Working Out

The Lems Primal 2 is taking my top pick in this performance category due to its slightly thicker and heavier LemsRubber Outsole construction. This shoe’s stack height gives the foot a little more protection.

If you’re a beginner wanting a shoe for daily wear and light workouts, then opting for a shoe with a bit of thickness to its sole construction can be useful for preventing a ton of excessive foot fatigue.

Lems Primal 2 Review

One thing to note with the Lems Primal 2 is that its sole is rounded so it can take a little getting used to. This shoe took me about two weeks to acclimate to regarding how its sole feels when walking and training.

  • Best For: Beginners, Daily Wear, Light Workouts
  • Miles Used: 35+ on concrete, 5+ on trails
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 9.05 (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Lems Primal 2 Review

Lems Primal 2

$110

Lems Primal 2
4.4
Stability
4.2
Versatility
4.5
Durability
4.4

Best For

  • Barefoot Shoe Beginners
  • Daily and Casual Wear
  • For All-Day Comfort
  • Casual Walking

Falls Short

  • For Long-Term Durability
  • For Working Out/Training
  • For Super Wide Feet
  • For Seamless Returns

What Barefoot Shoes Are Best for Beginners?

The best barefoot shoes for beginners will be options that account for one’s experience with minimalist shoes and being barefoot. To elaborate on this, a barefoot shoe’s stack height and cushion should be considered for beginners, in my opinion.

For example, if you’re used to wearing thicker midsole shoes and you’ve never worn barefoot shoes and you’re not often barefoot, then you’ll want to acclimate to barefoot shoes slower than someone who’s regularly walking or working out barefoot.

Splay FREESTYLE good for barefoot shoe beginners

Acclimating to barefoot shoes slowly at your own rate with shoes that make sense for your needs can help prevent excessive foot and ankle fatigue and soreness, and it can make the transition process a lot more comfortable.

All of the shoes included in this list have slightly thicker soles and removable insoles to give them a bit more cushion and comfort for different needs. I picked these models because typically they’re shoes that I get good feedback with from beginners.

Barefoot Shoes for Beginners FAQ

How should barefoot shoes fit?

Barefoot shoes should ideally have about a centimeter of length at the end of their toe box. This amount can vary, though, based on things like the shoe’s build along with your comfort preference, foot width, and foot volume.

How should I start wearing barefoot shoes?

Start by wearing barefoot shoes sparingly throughout your week while walking. Progress with their use based on things like your level of foot fatigue, how long you’re wearing them, and what you’re using them.

Can you wear barefoot shoes everyday?

If you’re new to barefoot shoes, then you may want to start out by wearing barefoot shoes in a progressive manner versus using them every day. You’ll need to take time to acclimate to these shoes.

Takeaway Thoughts

If you’re a beginner looking into barefoot shoes, then you’ll want to be selective with the models you choose to invest in first. More specifically, I think it can be productive to invest in barefoot shoes that have a bit more comfort to them.

These are typically models that have soles that walk that fine line between being traditionally thicker shoes and true barefoot shoes with stack heights of 6mm and below.

The more strategic you are with your barefoot shoe selection as a beginner the faster you can acclimate to this style of footwear while doing it in a comfortable means.

If you have additional questions about the barefoot shoes for beginners featured in this list, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram.

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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