minimal running shoes review comparison

Gear Review: Four Minimal Running Shoes Compared

[Note: this is not the most up to date list as I have had all of these minimal running shoes for a while. But this means I can tell you how well they have lasted me over the years!]

New Balance Minimus Trail

This is the first pair of minimal running shoes I ever bought.

Image result for new balance minimus trail

Photo cred:


  • Zero drop
  • Nice wide toe box
  • Still have a fair amount of cushioning so they are a good “starter” pair while you are getting used to running in minimal shoes.
  • They look quite “normal” so they are ideal for situations where you don’t want to go full “Vibram Five-Finger” on everyone.


  • The generous cushioning is not so great if you are looking for a real barefoot running experience (for this reason I eventually “outgrew” them).

Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud

These sandals are modeled on the shoes made by the Tarahumara, an indigenous tribe in Mexico.


Image result for xero shoes cloud

Photo cred: RUN FOREFOOT


  • Definitely one of the most affordable minimal running shoes out there
  • Very minimal – you can feel everything through the sole.
  • Great for hot, dry weather
  • Very light in general so great for traveling  – they would take up very little room in a carry-on bag.
  • Smart enough that I wore them to a wedding and no-one noticed. Maybe that says more about my friends than the shoe…


  • I never really got on with running in them, they feel kind of “flappy” and I never felt like they brought out my best running form.
  • It’s very easy for rocks to slip into the sandal, under the arch of my foot – OUCH!
  • The knot at the front tend to slip, so I have to adjust them quite a bit.
  • If they get wet my foot slips around inside them to the point of being dangerous!

All in all, more of a minimal casual shoe than a minimal running shoe, for me.

Vivo Barefoot – Stealth II

These are so comfy and they look awesome. I bought them as my “smart-sporty” shoes for my work as a massage therapist. They don’t look that smart anymore, but only because I’ve worn them so much over the last two years!


  • Really nice look
  • Fairly comfortable to run in, not as good as the Vibrams (see below)


  • None really…
  • At a push, I would say the soles aren’t that grippy in wet/muddy/leafy conditions but they are designed to be road shoes after all.

Vibram Five Fingers KSO

Image result for vibram KSO

Photo cred: Lyst

minimal running shoes review comparisonThese are hands down my favourite of all minimal running shoes. They are great for running and all-around natural movement. I have more cons for them than a lot of the other shoes in this review, but that is only because I feel so strongly about them, so the tiny things that could be better matter more to me.


  • Great grip on a variety of terrain.
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • They seem to bring out my best running form and I’ve had fewer knee problems wearing them to run in compared with any other shoe.
  • Extremely lightweight.
  • If you wear them with toe socks they don’t smell (this seems to be a common complaint with Five Fingers)


  • The grip isn’t as good with the new version of KSO as it was with the original
  • The sizing also changed between the versions and the women’s sizes now have a really narrow toe box, so I have to wear then men’s version.
  • The fabric between the toes was the first thing to wear out – they still work though, but occasionally a pebble or wood chip works its way in there!
  • I wish FiveFingers were cheaper so I could buy and try all of the different versions! You can sometimes find bargains online, though.

But on the whole, I love this shoe!

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