Is there a Nike barefoot running shoe that really feels barefoot-like? There is, but it’s for women only, which is a bummer, but at least Nike is slowly joining the minimalist bandwagon.
Nike has been off to a slow start on producing a zero drop, zero cushioned minimalist running shoe that feels barefoot and is suitable for forefoot running. However, the only barefoot-like running shoe by Nike worth noting is the Free 1.0 Cross Bionic.
What is the Best Nike Barefoot Running Shoe?
Finally, Nike designed a running shoe that encourages, not restricts, foot motions. The lead researchers at Nike finally realized that you are at your most stable when your feet can balance naturally, without support.
Characteristically, the Free 1.0 Cross Bionic is the perfect forefoot running shoe out of the Nike Free family because it is super flat having no under-heel cushioning that causes heel strike, and the arch has no support, thereby allowing your arch to be more mobile on it’s on and less rigid in structure. Another major bonus of the shoe is that it’s light as a feather, you barely feel anything on your feet!
Other Notable Feats of the 1.0 Cross Bionic:
- Feels great without socks because it has a built-in sockliner
- Upper connects to the lacing, allowing the upper to wrap around your foot like a sock
- Most flexible shoe out of the Free family
- Perfect for speedwork and explosive, high intensity training
- Outsole grips well, good for wet surfaces and trail running
- For normal width feet
- No heel stabilizers, helping strengthen the ankles
- Lightness makes you feel more agile, less restrained
This is the only shoe by Nike that closely mimics the feeling of being barefoot, and with that said, the Free 1.0 really helps you control your forefoot strike during running, and thus minimizes your chances of injury.
The pure minimalist design acts as a firm plantar support surface for ankle stability. Always remember, runners land less impulsively in pure minimalist shoes than in cushioned running shoes. I would also recommend these shoes for walking to gain valuable foot strength, too.
As for the rest of the Nike Free line, read my articles on why runners should not run in the Nike Free 3.0s (a cushier version of the 1.0).
Be sure to check out my other reviews on barefoot footwear for forefoot running.
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.