How to Choose a Minimalist Sandal

How To Choose A Minimalist Sandal

If you’ve been looking for a minimalist sandal for running, hiking, other adventures, or for casual, everyday wear, you may have come across multiple brands with different looks and slight variations.

We’re extremely lucky to have some great companies producing sandals that have many of the minimalist features that many of us that wear minimalist shoes are after, such as a wider sole at the forefoot, flexibility of the sole, a zero-drop between the heel and the toe, and a relatively smaller stack height than conventional sandals on the market.

That being said, it can feel a bit overwhelming to try to compare all the options available and choose which pair is the best one for you. Especially, if you’re shopping online.

In this post, I’ll explain the various aspects of the available minimalist sandals on the market, and then you can see a catalog of those sandals specifically for that particular criteria.

Initially, I’ll divide the minimalist sandals up into two larger groups: casual and all-purpose. By all-purpose, I mean minimalist sandals that are intended for being active, but really can be worn for anytime you are walking or moving your body.

Each brand has its own outlook and perspective on minimalist shoes, and that viewpoint shows through in the minimalist sandals that each of them produces.  I go through each brand below, and you’ll be able to view each brand’s most current product catalog of sandals in this post.

Another variable to consider when looking for minimalist sandals is the stack height of the sole. The thickness of the sole is important in that it determines how much ground feel you experience.  Depending upon your preferences and what you’ll be using the sandal for, you will want to take the stack height into consideration. I’ll break down a bit more below how to go about choosing a sole thickness, and you’ll get to view the sandal catalogs by stack height ranges.

Some other aspects to consider about a minimalist sandal are the materials used and where a sandal is made. Below, you’ll be able to view sandals made with leather, vegan sandals, and sandals made in the USA.

Finally, I’ll show you the catalog of kids’ minimalist sandals.

Hopefully, this helps you narrow your options down a little bit, and you find the right minimalist sandal for whatever your particular needs are.

Minimalist Sandals by Best Use

As mentioned above, you can see here all the minimalist sandals divided into two categories, casual and all-purpose.

With the casual sandals, these will more likely be preferred to be worn for non-active uses. Some of them are even a bit more dressy.

The all-purpose sandals are intended to be able to be used for more active lifestyles, but many wear them casually as well, which is why I label them as “all-purpose”. I hope that makes sense.

Minimalist Sandals by Brands

Each of the brands brings something a unique to the shoes they design. To help you understand those distinctions a bit better, I’ll go over each brand below. Additionally, you’re able to view each of their catalogs.

Bedrock Sandals

Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro AdventureBedrock Sandals offers a streamlined catalog of minimalist adventure sandals. Made in the United States, these sandals are made with adventures and hiking in mind.

They offer their original huarache-inspired sandal, which is the thinnest sole they offer at either 7 or 9 mm. Whereas, their other 4 models are either 14 or 16 mm. The standard models are 14 mm soles and better in dry conditions. Whereas, the Pro models have 16 mm soles and are recommended for wet conditions.

Bedrock prides themselves on the adjustability of their straps to create a secure and snug fit to minimize slippage.

You can read more about Bedrock Sandals here.

Earth Runners

Earthrunners CircadianEarth Runners offers a simple, yet unique, line of minimalist, huarache sandals intended for running, hiking, and casual-use. Their uniqueness comes from the additional feature of being a grounding (also known as earthing) shoe.  Earth Runners are handmade in the United States.

Their three sandal models are all vegan and are made with Vibram soles. Stack heights range for 8 to 12 mm, with two models having hemp footbeds.

You can read more about Earth Runners and view a video showing the effects of a grounding shoe here.

Luna Sandals

Luna Origen 2.0Luna Sandals has an extensive line of performance and casual huarache sandals in a wide range of sole thicknesses for various preferences and terrains. They are handmade and made in the United States.

Luna Sandals was started by Barefoot Ted of Born To Run fame, and was inspired to start making huarache sandals after having a pair made for him by Manuel Luna of the Tarahumara.

What’s grown from this origin are multiple sole, footbed, and strap material options to create a wide range of sandal possibilities. There are both vegan sandals and sandals made with leather. Stack heights range from 9 to 19 mm.

You can read more about Luna Sandals here.

Shamma Sandals

Shamma ChargerShamma Sandals offers a line of light-weight, huarache-style sandals for performance and casual wear. These sandals are handmade in the United States.

They have three main sole options for their Performance Line:  5 mm Newflex soles, 6 mm Morflex soles, and an 11 mm Morflex/Newflex combo. You can get each of these options with either the Tobacco Brown Leather or UltriGrip footbeds. UltraGrip is better for wetter conditions.

Additionally, they have three casual sandal options with leather straps with either the Morflex or combo soles.

You can read more about Shamma Sandals here.

Softstar Shoes

Softstar Adult Solstice Sandal Softstar Shoes is the first option mentioned so far that is not a solely a sandal company. In fact, Softstar Shoes has a casual sandal option for each adults and children as of this writing.

Softstar creates handmade minimalist shoes in the United States focused on adults and children. They use high-quality, responsibly-sourced leather and Vibram soles to make their shoes.

You can read more about Softstar Shoes and see their other offerings here.


Unshoes Uinta 2.0Unshoes offers both highly minimalist sandals and closed-toe shoes that are handmade in the United States.

Stack heights range from 5 to 10 mm for Unshoes sandals. They come in varying strap configurations to allow for different preferences, say for example that you didn’t prefer a strap between your toes.

All Unshoes sandals are vegan, and they make a kids’ version of their popular Keota sandal.

You can read more about Unshoes and see their othering offerings here.


Vivobarefoot has a large line of highly minimalist shoes that is focused more on closed toe shoe. However, they often offer a sandal of some sort.

Vivobarefoot is unique among the minimalist shoes in that it has a seasonally-changing catalog. Rather than describe here the commonality of their sandal offerings, I’ll direct you to the catalog below to allow you to see their current sandal offerings.

You can read more about Vivobarefoot and see their other offerings here.

Xero Shoes

Xero Genesis Sandal Xero Shoes has an expanding line of highly-minimalist, closer-to-barefoot sandals and closed-toe shoes.

The company started by offering a DIY huarache sandal kit, and has grown to offer a larger line of sandals, in addition to closed-toe shoe for various uses (trail, casual, general activity).

Their current line of sandals includes four different models with both options for men and women (in addition to the DIY kit). Two models are huaraches, and the other two are z-strapped (think of Chacos with minimalist soles).

Xero Shoes’ sandals range from 4 to 10 mm in stack height.  All sandal models are vegan.

You can read more about Xero Sandals and see their other offerings here.

Minimalist Sandals by Stack Height

In this section, we’re organizing the view by stack heights. Let’s say you want to see all the highly minimalist sandal options, you can explore them all here next to one another.

Highly Minimal Stack Heights 0 to 7 mm

These are the most minimal sandals in the catalog. These all get a 5 out of a 5 on the Minimalist Index.

With this thickness, you’re likely to experience a greater amount of ground feel. Rocks and pebbles are going to be more noticeable, which may be desired or undesired. If undesired, choose a thicker stack height.

Moderately Minimal Stack Heights 8 to 13 mm

Sandals with this thickness get a 4 out of 5 on the Minimalist Index.

With this thickness, you’re going to get some sensory feedback from the surfaces of the ground, but your feet are more insulated.

Less Minimal Stack Heights 14 to 19 mm & 20 to 25 mm

These ranges are getting further away from minimalist with 14-19 mm getting a 3 out of 5 on the Minimalist Index and 20-25 mm getting a 2 out of 5.

These thicknesses tend to be on sandal options geared more toward rocky terrains that do not want much or any ground feel.

Minimalist Sandals by Additional Features

If you are interested in a particular feature, they’re arranged by those features here.  You can see vegan sandals, sandals made with leather, or sandals made in the United States below.

Minimalist Sandals for Kids

We don’t have a lot of minimalist sandals available for kids at the moment, but you can see the options here.

Hopefully, this post broke down the minimalist sandal options a little bit more for you so you can make informed choices when deciding upon a minimalist sandal.

I’d love to hear from you though. Tell me in the comments below if you’ve tried any of these options and what you think. Do you know of any minimalist sandal options not listed here? Tell me below.

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