Home » WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Review | Best Barefoot Shoe On a Budget?

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Review | Best Barefoot Shoe On a Budget?

If you’ve ever looked for budget-friendly barefoot shoes, then you’ve likely come across the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runners. This shoe is designed for trail running, working out, and casual wear, and has an incredibly fair price point. For the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner, you can expect to pay around $40 USD, which is incredibly low compared to other high-end trail-focused barefoot shoes.

With its lower price point, I was obviously pretty skeptical of the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner’s construction and performance. How would this model compare to something like the slightly more expensive Xero Shoes Mesa Trail? Overall, I have to say I’ve been impressed with the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runners, but that’s not to say this shoe doesn’t come with a few cons.

In this WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner review, I’m going to cover all of the details you need to know before investing in this model.

On the market for new barefoot shoes? Make sure you check out my Best Barefoot Shoes round-up to be matched with the perfect barefoot shoes for your training needs.

Who Should Invest In the WHITIN Trail Runner?

The WHITIN Trail Runner barefoot shoe is really interesting and it surprised me with its performance. When looking into niche shoes for training and trail running, I’m always a little cautious when I see shoes with prices like the WHITIN Trail Runner. How good will the shoe really be for less than $50 USD?

Overall, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with this shoe. It has some odd quirks to it which could definitely be a turnoff for some, but for the super budget-conscious shopper in need of a barefoot shoe for casual trail running and recreational lifting, then I think you’ll enjoy this model as a whole.

The WHITIN Trail Runner is best in the context if you plan on using them for light trail runs with easy technical terrain and for casual lifting. I think if you go into this barefoot shoe understanding that it is a very budget-friendly model and it’s not going to be the best for any single one field of activity, but it does perform pretty strong across the board, then I think you’ll be happy.

WHITIN Trail Runner

$40

whitin trail runner shoe
4.2
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.2
Quality
4.1

Best For

  • Casual Trail Running
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Daily Wear
  • Budget Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training and Trails
  • For Long-Term Durability

 

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Pros

For the price point, there are a few key features that I really like about the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runners.

  1. Price Is Awesome
  2. Good Entry Barefoot Shoe
  3. Solid for Casual Trails
  4. Work for Recreational Lifting

The first thing that I like about the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner is the price point. For this shoe, you can expect to pay anywhere from $38.00-$45.00 USD. This price point is definitely fair for what this shoe offers and it’s about a third to a half of what other big brand barefoot shoe companies like Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot charge for their trail running shoes.

whitin minimalist trail runner performance

 

On top of its fair price point, I also feel like this shoe is a good entry minimalist and barefoot shoe. For example, if you’ve never worn barefoot shoes and you want some exposure to them without investing a ton of money, then this is a good model to look into. This way you can test if minimalist and barefoot shoes are going to work for the context of your life and needs.

This shoe has enough material under the foot to provide a protected ride and it fits relatively snug so you can get a true feel of what it’s like to navigate daily life with barefoot shoes. These work well for daily wear, and gain, it’s tough to beat their price if you’re trying to save money.

Another aspect to like about the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner is that it does live up to its name for most casual trails. This will not be your best barefoot shoe for tackling technical terrain, but for light and easy terrain, this shoe works well.

whitin minimalist trail runner on trails

The lug patterning provides an adequate grip and I didn’t have too much sliding on dirt, mulch, and gravel trails. There are some areas on trail runs where this shoe falls short and I’ll discuss them in the comments below.

The final pro with the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner is that it can also work as a good barefoot shoe for recreational lifting. This model has a wide toe box for accommodating toe splay and the lugs aren’t so thick to where they leave unstable during lower-body movements. If you want to train heavily in this shoe you should have no problems doing so.

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Cons

As mentioned above, this shoe has a few odd quirks that bring down its performance overall especially compared to barefoot shoes designed for similar tasks.

  1. Lacing System Is Not the Best
  2. Long-Term Durability May Be An Issue
  3. Not Great On Technical Trails
  4. Strong Rubber Smell Out of the Box

The first drawback to this shoe is its lacing system. This model features an elastic drawstring and the tip of this drawstring has velcro which then attaches to an area on the bottom of the midfoot. Then, the upper portion of the lacing system features a single strap with a bit of velcro to provide additional support.

The shoe fits snug, to begin with, so I don’t think you’ll have to tighten the elastic string too much, however, that’s where my gripe with this shoe lies. When I did tighten this model I noticed the drawstring loosened up after a bit of time which is definitely going to be frustrating for anyone that relies on this shoe’s lacing system for tightness and performance.

whitin minimalist trail runner fit and size

Another aspect that is definitely going to be a drawback for some is the long-term durability of this shoe. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for and this shoe will work for a while, but there are a couple of areas that I could see running into durability issues with after serious training.

First, the velcro around the lacing system is pretty minimalist and I worry about this construction feature for those using this model with a high frequency on dirt trails. When dust and dirt get deep into the velcro system it can be really tough to make them last and maintain their stickiness.

Second, the rubber sole and upper are “okay”, but again, I think their ability to maintain structure over long periods of time may fall short compared to other trail-focused barefoot shoes. The adhesive around the sole doesn’t give me a ton of confidence for the long-term durability of this shoe.

whitin minimalist trail runner durability

On technical trails, this shoe also falls short and that’s due to the lug patterning and the sole’s lack of protection. If you’re new to barefoot shoes, then I’d suggest opting for a model that will protect your foot a bit better when tackling rocky or really bumpy trails.

The last aspect that I’m not a huge fan of is how strong these smell coming out of the bag when they arrive. These shoes have a very strong and noticeable rubber smell which is kind of offputting. When breaking these in, you may want to avoid heavily populated areas because the rubber smell is noticeable in condensed spaces without a bunch of airflow.

Performance

To break down the performance of WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner, I’m going to discuss how this performs in different contexts including trail running, lifting, and daily wear.

whitin minimalist trail runner performanceon trail and in the gym

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner for Trail Running

If you’re planning on using the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Running for trail running, then I think you’ll enjoy their performance most on light technical trails. This shoe’s sole grips dirt and small rocks well and if you’re tackling trail runs on flat trails or even on slight inclines and declines, then I don’t think you’ll have an issue with tread in this model.

For those planning on using these for highly technical trails or trails where you know, there will be a lot of rocks, wetness, or other technical areas, then this shoe may fall a bit short for you. The upper holds and lets water in relatively easily and there isn’t a ton of protection for large objects on your trail. If you’re new to barefoot shoes, then I’d take this into high consideration.

whitin minimalist trail runner for casual trails

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner for Lifting

I think one of the best aspects of this shoe is that it can serve as a hybrid model for those wanting to lift in their barefoot shoes. The sock liner in this model is removable so if you’re really trying to replicate being barefoot when attacking lower-body days and deadlifts, then you’ll enjoy how this performs.

The stability in this model is what you’d expect from a barefoot shoe and the toe box should be wide enough for most lifters. Additionally, the tread on this model doesn’t impact stability like other thicker-lugged trail running shoes and I think it actually promotes performance especially when training on turf and grass doing sled pushes or other exercises.

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner for Daily Wear

For daily wear, I’m torn on this shoe. I like it for walking the dogs and wearing casually outside and on hikes when I’m with my partner, but for public outings, I take a hard pass on this model. For starters, the appearance is pretty hit or miss and the protruding sole areas around the toes are kind of offputting, in my opinion.

whitin minimalist trail runner for daily wear

It makes this shoe look like a hybrid between traditional soled barefoot shoes and Vibram five-finger shoes. Another drawback is the smell which I mentioned in the cons. It took my model two weeks to shake its rubber smell and you can definitely notice when in public in stores without a ton of ventilation. Lastly, this shoe runs warm when wearing socks.

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Sizing

For the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner, most should be safe going true-to-size. This shoe fits relatively snug, which I personally like since the upper is made with a lighter stretchier mesh material.

WHITIN recommends that if you’re in-between sizes to go down, which I would have to agree with. I don’t think this is a model where you want a bunch of toe box room.

  • WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Sizing Thoughts: Go true-to-size. If you’re in-between sizes, then go down.

whitin minimalist trail runner sizing and fit

If you have additional questions on the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner’s sizing, drop a comment below.

WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner Vs Xero Shoes Mesa Trail

Let’s compare the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner with the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail which is comparable barefoot trail-focused shoes. Both models are designed for tackling hiking, trail running, and outdoor activities and each performs well, but there is a clear winner between the two.

I think the only area where the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner outclasses the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is with its price point. If you’re crazy strapped on a budget, then go WHITIN and understand that it may run into durability issues and fall short for technical trail runs.

whitin minimalist trail runner vs xero shoes mesa trail

If you’re not strapped on a budget, then I’d suggest going with the Mesa Trail. This shoe’s overall construction is superior to the WHITIN, and honestly, you’d hope that would be the case since this shoe is $80 USD more than the WHITIN model.

The Mesa Trail features 3.5mm lugs which provide more grip than the WHITIN’s sole and it also has a 3mm TrailFoam layer which provides you with some additional protection. I think if you’re someone more serious with their barefoot shoes for trail running and hiking, then hedge your bets and go with the Mesa Trail.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail

$119.99

xero shoes mesa trail
4.6
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Trail Running
  • Light and Semi-Technical Terrain
  • Casual Outdoor Wear
  • Light to Moderate Hikes

Falls Short

  • For Highly Technical Terrain
  • For Super Muddy Hikes and Trails

 

Price Breakdown

We’ve discussed price already in this article in our pros section, but for the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner you can expect to pay around $38.00 – $45.00 USD. Compared to other barefoot trail shoes this is definitely one of the most budget-friendly.

Plus, you can typically find these on sale on Amazon in various colorways so I don’t think you’ll have a problem making the price of this shoe work.

WHITIN Trail Runner

$40

whitin trail runner shoe
4.2
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.2
Quality
4.1

Best For

  • Casual Trail Running
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Daily Wear
  • Budget Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training and Trails
  • For Long-Term Durability

 

Construction Details

The construction of the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner is fairly simplistic in nature which I personally like. Plus, since it is a budget-friendly shoe it makes sense that the construction is pretty straightforward.

Below are some of the biggest construction callouts that influence performance for this shoe.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 11.6 oz (size 10/43 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Full Rubber Sole
  • Elastic Drawstring Lacing System
  • Upper Ankle Velcro Strap for Security
  • Stretchy Mesh Upper
  • External Heel Tab

If you have additional questions on the construction for this model, drop a comment below. Believe me, I don’t think their produce does a good job at highlighting everything for this shoe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Who own WHITIN Shoes?

A:
WHITIN Shoes is owned by Amazon and is an Amazon barefoot shoe brand.

Q:
Are WHITIN Shoes durable?

A:
For their more budget-friendly price point, WHITIN Shoes are fairly durable. The WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner provides good durability for lifting and casual trail runs.

Takeaway Thoughts

It’s really tough to beat the price of the WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner. This shoe performs exceptionally well for its price point and I think if you’re just getting into barefoot shoes and don’t want to invest a ton of money, then this can be a really great shoe to look into.

There are a couple of areas where this shoe fall short, however once again, you get what you pay for and I’d suggest mitigating expectations before investing.

If you have additional questions on WHITIN Minimalist Trail Runner, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly).

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Jake Boly

I've been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I've trained hundreds of clients, written thousands of articles, reviewed over 100+ pairs of training shoes, and have produced a large list of training videos. I live and breathe fitness and training gear, and I think it's important that reviewers walk the walk with the gear they're testing. As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sports Science, Bachelors in Exercise Science, and have my CSCS.

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