Imagine walking or running while feeling like you’re barefoot.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
If you’re wondering how that can happen while wearing quality footwear, there’s actually a simple answer: minimalist boots. Minimalist boots genuinely provide you with a barefoot running experience. They are a complete package, delivering comfort, support, and wellness. With these boots, you don’t have to punish yourself with thick soles and elevated heels. Instead, a zero-drop boots will fit the anatomy of your feet. This way, you’ll be relieved from those traditional everyday shoes with the variety of problems they can cause. With so many options, however, choosing the right minimalist boots can be a daunting task. That’s why, in this section, we’ve shortlisted the best zero-drop boots for you to choose from.
11 Best Zero Drop Boots for Working and Walking
Here are the top eleven minimalist boots for you to consider purchasing in 2021. They’re all zero drop boots too, and each has its own unique features.
Timberland PRO Men’s Drivetrain Mid Composite Toe Industrial Boots (Best Choice)
When we are buying any sort of footwear, what do we look for? For many, it’s size, special features, and materials. If that sounds like you, here is the best choice you can make for your feet. These Timberland PRO Men’s industrial boots are 100 percent synthetic. They are available in both black and brown colors. And, if you’re looking for lightweight performance and work-ready protection, these are a fantastic option.
- Anti-Fatigue technology helps to retain energy
- Carbon Shield technology for composite safety toe
- Surprisingly lightweight
- Breathable performance
- Limited Color Choice
WHITIN Men’s Cross-Trainer Barefoot & Minimalist Shoes (Most Affordable)
WHITIN Men’s Cross-Trainers are highly affordable minimalist shoes, offering a solid experience at an excellent price. For starters, they look absolutely fantastic, with a sleek and modern design. They’re available in a huge variety of colors, with over 30 variations on offer, but the appearance remains consistently excellent. While primarily designed as running shoes, these can absolutely be worn out-and-about too. Functionally, the flat zero-drop sole is the most crucial feature of the shoe. It enables feet to be in a healthy posture and reduces stress on the joints. This serves runners on both roads and cross country surfaces extremely well. If you want to feel even closer to the surface, you can even remove the insole to create a truly barefoot feeling. At these prices, durability would be a natural concern. WHITIN Men’s Cross-Trainers, though, are surprisingly tough shoes. While unlikely to last for years, they’ll absolutely get you through many months of testing exercise.
- Wide anatomic toe box allows toes to spread better.
- Provide better balance
- Available in a wide variety of colors
- Not appropriate for every athlete
5.11 Men’s Recon Trainer-M
The Men’s Recon Trainer M is one of those high-performance shoes with durability, comfort, and agility. All of these qualities are blended in a quality trainer shoe. The shoes are a lightweight, minimal, and exceptional pair, making them perfect for those who work out every day. For minimalist shoes, they’re actually pretty sturdy. The HELCOR abrasion-resistant panels offer strength to the shoe, and the broadened forefoot gives you extra grip. This makes them suitable not just for light exercise but also for demanding activities like climbing, weightlifting, and CrossFit. While the durability isn’t top-notch here, you’re actually given a one-year manufacturer’s warranty by default. This means that, if you do push your Recons too far, you can simply get a new pair within that time.
- Mid-foot cinch system for comfort
- Abrasion-resistant panels
- Lightweight rubber sole is extremely comfortable
- Ensure Forefoot protection
- Slightly low heel-to-toe offset
- Not the most breathable shoes
Vivobarefoot Men’s Tracker FG M Leather Walking Shoes
Vivobarefoot Men’s is an imported walking shoe with a premium rubber soler. It copes brilliantly with all types of weather, with an outlast heat regular making it especially suited to low-temperature surfaces. These certainly won’t be suited to all uses, as they’ve been specifically designed for walking. Hikers, though, will love the extra ankle support, and the boots’ waterproof nature. While certainly intended for uneven ground and tough conditions, these boots are also surprisingly flexible and offer solid breathability too. The biggest downside here is the break-in time. While they achieve flexibility with time, they do arrive extremely stiff. If you haven’t got the patience to get past that initial stiffness, these Trackers might not be for you.
- Solid ground support makes it suited for rugged terrain
- Tough leather
- Thermal insole adds comfort
- Keeps the feet warm
- Limited colors and sizes
- Break-in time
Dr. Martens Men’s Tobias Boots
Dr. Martens Men’s Tobias Boot does justice to this prestigious brand’s reputation. It is a classic yet casual boot, which is also comfortable to wear. The waffle sole is a particularly neat feature, making the boot lighter while still offering excellent traction. Visually, these boots might prove divisive. They have a functional and straightforward design and are only available in one color: black. Functionally, though, you really can’t ask for much more. They work well in testing weather, keeping feet nice and dry. Like most minimalist footwear, these aren’t the thickest boots you’ll find, but a pair of good socks will keep your feet warm enough, and their lightweight nature makes them useful on long walks. Also, while you wouldn’t normally consider Dr. Martens’ minimalist’, this particular pair has a nice, low sole, with only around a ½ inch clearance from the ground.
- Excellent grip
- Comfortable sole
- Detail classic contrast stitching
- High-quality materials
- Low breathability due to leather composition
- Limited color availability
Vivobarefoot Gobi II Men’s Classic Desert Boots
The Vivobarefoot Gobi Desert Boot is a classic mix of fashion and function. It’s an ideal journey boot with a feel-good vibe, made up of synthetic leather with a breathable cushion. Comfort is the biggest bonus here, with ultra-thin surfaces making the shoe soft and pliable. These boots are available in three styles: black, black/hyde, and dark brown. All three look modern and stylish, and could absolutely be worn as everyday footwear. Their high quality, 100% leather composition also helps with this. Perhaps because of the quality of those materials, these aren’t the cheapest boots you’ll find. They’re not particularly suited to vigorous exercise either, and make quite a loud sound as you walk around. With all that said, if you’re looking for a pair of boots that look fantastic, while still being comfortable and practical, these Gobi II’s are a nice choice.
- Flat and wide
- Minimal lacing
- Suede makes the shoe vulnerable to damage.
- Low breathability
Belleville TR102 Tactical Research Minimalist Training Boots
The Belleville Tactical Research Minimalist Training boot is a specialized minimalist boot. This boot features only a 2mm heel to toe drop as compared to others. It’s oil and slip-resistant, double stitching helps to enhance durability, and the pull-on loop is highly convenient. The first thing you’re likely to notice about this boot is its size. Being a standard military height, these really do look pretty massive in an everyday setting. If that’s a look you like, though, or you plan to use them for some tough, military-style training, then this might absolutely be suitable. Despite their intimidating appearance, these Bellevilles are actually very breathable. They also stay comfortable for hours at a time, particularly thanks to the wide toe box. If your job involves spending most of the day on your feet, and you like the style, these really are a great shout.
- Highly breathable
- Standard military height
- Lace-up closure
- Limited color options
- Designed for specific training conditions
Danner Men’s Tachyon 8 Inch Coyote Military and Tactical Boots
Danner Men’s Tachyon 8 Inch is a classic military and tactical boot. Danner is famous for paying attention to details, and that’s absolutely the case here. Extra weight has been removed without sacrificing performance. The synthetic upper side makes them lightweight, and Tachyon’s features offer excellent traction. At first glance, you might think they were pretty specialized boots. This product has actually proved extremely popular, though, for both active workers and those practicing intensive exercise. These Danners are waterproof enough to keep your feet dry, and dry nice and quickly themselves after getting wet. They feel surprisingly light, considering their appearance, and – although they do take some breaking in – prove pretty flexible thereafter.
- Removable insole
- Speed lacing
- Three-layer comfort system
- Low breathability due to nylon and leather
- Higher-than-usual shaft measurement from arch (6.5″)
Vasque Men’s Juxt Multisport Shoes
Vasque Men’s Juxt is a multi-sport shoe with 100% fabric sole material. Vasque’s sole uses a broad combination of surface lugs for better off the ground traction. It features an off the grid rubber outsole that adds more comfort, and midsole stability via molded EVA and TPU plates. Overall, this is a great all-round shoe. It’s well-suited to all types of activity, with walking, running and hiking – in various conditions and across varying surfaces – all within this shoe’s remit. They’re also very reasonably-priced, considering their durability. While there are occasional reports of these boots crumbling, most users have found they’ve stood up brilliantly to all sorts of trials and tribulations. Chances are these boots will see you through hundreds of miles of exercise, while offering you good grip and reasonable comfort throughout.
- Useful tunable lace system
- Offers durability, stability, and support.
- Suitable for a variety of sports
- Not the most flexible shoes
- Toe box fairly narrow
New Balance Men’s MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoes
The New Balance Men’s Minimus is one of the most eye-catching shoes for athletes. In addition to looking great, it also offers a natural-feeling ride. Thankfully though, this comes without the need to sacrifice durability. As the name suggests, this is a specialized shoe for trail runners. As such, it really won’t be for everyone. In particular, the design is fairly thin and narrow by default. If you’re deliberating between two sizes, we’d recommend taking the larger one! If you are interested in long-distance running across testing surfaces, these will prove a good companion. The tread is fairly thick, but the low-heel toe drop still gives you that barefoot feeling. Unfortunately, there have been various reports of mixed build quality with these products. If you do order a pair, please check for holes before you run in them, and – if you find them – send that pair back for a new one.
- Good grip
- Low shaft measurement from the arch
- High breathability due to mesh composition
- Mixed print quality (small holes in the fabric)
- Mix of leather and mesh compromises breathability
KEEN Utility Men’s Destin Low Steel Toe Work Shoes
KEEN Utility Men’s Destin Work Shoe is a light-duty outdoor shoe. It has been designed to be suitable for all kinds of activities. Whether walking on the beach or down a city street, this low steelwork shoe can be your footwear of choice. In fact, the whole philosophy of the shoe is to live a hybrid life and not be compelled to change footwear. Despite that approach, we’d still say these aren’t the best-looking shoes in the world. If you prefer substance over style, though, they could be suitable for you. They’re generally durable, and offer excellent grip, even on wet or oily surfaces. The fit can take some getting used to, as it’s unusually rigid. Once you’ve done so, though – or taken the time to fully break them in – this should prove a comfortable pair of footwear.
- Removable and synthetic sole
- Oil and slip-resistant
- High maintenance (leather cleaning, etc.)
- Lacks surface specialization
Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Pair of Minimalist Boots
Before making a purchase, you need to know what to look out for in a minimalist boot. This includes knowing exactly what minimalist boots are, and what to expect from them.
What are Minimalist Boots?
Minimalist boots enable you to run and walk effectively with only a slight cushion. That is precisely why these boots are called zero-drop boots, or ‘barefoot-like’ boots. Of course, they do provide you with less cushion compared to regular rubber shoes. The major advantage, though, is that much less stress is put on your feet compared to running entirely barefoot. Ultimately, minimalist shoes are designed for those who want as little interference as possible from their footwear. They’re for people who want the experience of exercising barefoot, but with the extra comfort and protection which only footwear can provide.
How Should a Zero Drop Shoe Fit?
It’s vital you make sure these shoes fit before you commit to wearing them. If they don’t fit properly, they may cause hindrance in the natural development or functioning of your feet. Overall, a zero drop shoe should be tight enough to provide you with stability and balance as you exercise, but not so tight that it harms your feet muscles. You also don’t need extra space in the toes of the barefoot shoes. Instead, heels and toes should fit like a glove. While trying on different zero drop shoes, also test for their weight. They should be lightweight, while – again – providing you with support.
Main Features of Minimalist Boots
Before buying a minimalist boot, you need to look out for specific features and assess them accordingly. These are the most important ones:
Each minimalist boot has its precise fitness specifications, and not every pair is going to fit you properly. Generally speaking, the fit of a shoe type will obviously depend on its design, with some types actually being intended to be narrower or wider than others.
The majority of minimalist footwear is actually designed for specialized surfaces, such as rugged terrain, deserts, or hard surfaces. To avoid injury, and ensure optimal performance, be sure to get a type suited for the exact exercise you intend to do.
Weight is another significant feature to check before you buy. The majority of minimalist footwear is lightweight, and that’s how it should be. Even with a hard material composition such as leather, it has to be lightweight. That’s one of the defining characteristics of minimalist shoes.
Breathability is an important factor, especially when it comes to your toes. This also depends on shoe composition. Shoes made up of 100% leather may have low breathability. The more breathable a shoe is, the more it encourages ventilation. Moreover, it further adds to the comfort of your walks, runs, or hikes.
While lightweight and generally thin, minimalist shoes should still offer protection through technological features and extra layers of protection. Outsoles are vital here. They offer temperature resistance, along with tolerance to abrasion. Furthermore, they prevent the shoe from cracks, splits, cuts, and tears.
All types of minimalist footwear should ensure maximum comfort. That’s their main selling point, after all. This will usually happen through added cushioning and padding; be sure to check that a pair has both before committing to a purchase.
While lightweight, minimalist shoes should still offer maximum support to your feet and ankles. The best ones will do so across a variety of terrains, including uneven surfaces.
With a minimalist shoe, you have to ensure that your foot movement is not restricted, no matter what surface you’re moving across. This will allow you to perform at your best; it will also allow you to wear the shoes in comfort for hours on end and prevent injuries.
The Benefits of Minimalist Shoes and Boots
Minimalist boots have a whole host of unique benefits. Here are just a few of the most crucial health advantages which minimalist shoes provide:
Help To Maintain Ankle Flexibility
Many of the modern-day shoes we see on the market have elevated heels. Sure, they look good. But is it actually good for our feet to wear that kind of shoe for hours at a time? No, not really! A traditional shoe or boot with elevated heels pulls calf muscles into a shortened position. This strain, over a long period of time, can lead to discomfort and even injury. A conventional shoe’s heel-to-toe drop is around 10 to 12 millimeters. With a minimalist shoe, though, this usually drops to around 6 millimeters. This 50% drop in height greatly reduces the strain on your legs. Not only is this more comfortable, but it increases ankle flexibility too, allowing you to walk, run, and generally exercise more effectively.
Better Ground Feel
When walking on a particular surface, many people like to feel the texture of the ground. If they’re doing intensive exercise on that surface, it becomes even more important. With a minimalist shoe, you really can feel the ground beneath your feet. Not only can this better connect you with your environment, but it’ll also help your balance, and thus your performance while exercising.
Minimalist shoes enable the natural curve of the feet. Rather than forcing them into strange angles, they allow feet to rest and move as nature intended them to. When walking or running in minimalist shoes, the wider muscles are also more engaged. In turn, this helps to develop those muscles, to both boost performance, and simply help your feet look more attractive!
Potential Dangers of Zero Drop Boots
Zero drop boots are often misunderstood. For one thing, they’re not designed to be worn all the time. That means they’re not intended as a direct replacement for regular shoes. Instead, you should have a defined purpose for why you need a zero drop shoe, and when you’re going to use it. A zero drop shoe means that the heel of the shoes is the same height as the ball of the foot for proper posture. But it does have potential dangers, including:
- Heightened injury risk. That’s especially true if you make a sudden shift from your conventional shoe to a zero drop one.
- May alter foot, knee, and hip mechanics. This is a bigger danger if you make an awkward transition from slightly elevated boots to zero drop boot.
Why wear minimalist combat boots?
To have a barefoot experience that is healthy for your feet muscles and posture.
How can you turn a pair of boots into minimalist boots?
First, collect several boots in case you fail with the first one. The first step is to de-sole a boot if it’s glued on. You might need some hard equipment for this. After removing the sole, follow these steps:
- Get a piece of synthetic leather, or another material if you prefer
- Cut it down by the size of your foot
- Glue it back on
- Wait for the glue to dry
Are minimalist shoes right for you?
If your feet are generally healthy and regular, you should experience no problems with a good pair of minimalist shoes. If you’ve had issues with your feet or lower legs in the past, though, please talk to a physician or podiatrist before wearing them.
Can you wear minimalist shoes every day?
Technically, yes, you can wear a minimalist shoe every day. They’re comfortable enough, and the technology incorporated in minimalist shoes ensures added protection, support, and comfort. Be aware, though, that they’re not designedfor such usage and may, therefore, deteriorate faster.
Should I wear socks with minimalist shoes?
You can wear minimalist shoes with or without socks. It’s entirely up to you. Given that minimalist shoes normally have a tight fit. However, you’ll need to wear thin socks to avoid rubbing and blisters on your feet.
If you want to achieve that barefoot feel while still keeping your feet healthy, go for minimalist boots. A good pair should deliver pain-free and comfortable exercise and offer durability too. Be sure not to rush into a purchase, though. Different pairs of zero-drop boots are intended for different uses. Take the time to identify your specific needs and choose the pair which suits those needs best.