The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

How We Tested Barefoot Shoes

By Thomas King ⋅ Review Editor
Friday February 23, 2018
The Merrell Trail Glove 4 tackles even tough mountain climbs with no wear.
The Merrell Trail Glove 4 tackles even tough mountain climbs with no wear.

Each of the eight shoes in this review were carefully selected out of a wide field of minimalistic style shoes and put through thorough testing. Each shoe was compared to similar styles and platforms within the scope of the review. Shoes were assessed for Durability, Traction, Comfort, Barefoot Accuracy and their Platform Performance within each subtype of running (trail or road).

We looked back at previous models and similar offerings from these manufacturers to see how these brands have grown over time or if these are the same model you have come to love and expect. Some of the shoes we tested went from relatively low scores in earlier reviews to performing incredibly well with their newest model.

Vibram KSO demonstrating in the wet season
Vibram KSO demonstrating in the wet season

It was the rainy season for a lot of this review, and we took advantage of the cooler summer days to break out these shoes. We made sure they stay cool in the heat, dry in the rain, and hold traction in any condition. Its hilly and steep here along the James River and we are confident that even if you are on the other coast, you will be satisfied with the terrain and conditions we tested these shoes in.

After putting all eight shoes through the normal review on the roads and trails, we did some hikes and took each shoe for a workout in the gym. Most runners use their shoes for more than just runs, especially someone shopping for a minimalist style. What's minimalist about buying a shoe that you treat with sacred respect and only don immediately before a run? Nothing, that's what. So we took that into account and made sure you could take these anywhere you might want to. Style was thus a hidden secret factor.

Just cause you say you're a trail shoe doesn't mean our reviewers don't take you to task on hard rocks.
Just cause you say you're a trail shoe doesn't mean our reviewers don't take you to task on hard rocks.