My Top 8 Tips For Buying Minimal Shoes

So I’m not a big fan of Stuff. I buy as little as I can, and I hate recommending that other people buy things. Neither our pocketbooks nor the world need more Things.

But on the other hand, I am a huuuuuuge fan of healthy feet.

And since most of us are going to buy shoes anyway, I think that switching over to minimal shoes is one of the very best things you can do with your consumer dollars.

As you may already know, minimal shoes are SO important for your long term health! If you’re still wearing regular shoes, I highly recommend you consider switching!

The problem is: buying minimal shoes is really hard! 

You almost have to buy online, which means you can’t try them on, and paying for shipping, and often for duty, means you can make really expensive mistakes. Blech.

So to help you out, today I’m sharing my best tips on buying minimal shoes.

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The trick is to buy your shoes on sale.

And because most of the minimal shoe companies are American, right now is the time to start your shopping. Black Friday – the day after American Thanksgiving – is pretty much the biggest sales day of the year when it comes to minimal shoes (there are usually post-Christmas sales too if you miss the Black Friday opportunities).

Here are my best tips for buying minimal shoes (and what I’ll be doing too)

#1 Do some research and planning. 

What styles do you need for next year? Obviously winter boots are less likely to go on sale in November, so save your winter boot purchases for later in the season.

In my most popular post ever, about transitioning to minimal shoes, I review some of my favourite brands and why I love them.

If you want more, here are some great shoe resource lists:

Shoes: The List
Shoes: The Summer List
Shoes: The Winter List

There’s also an excellent Facebook group for buying, selling and trading minimal shoes – it’s a great place to go with questions if you aren’t sure about a shoe. And to sell shoes if something doesn’t work out!

#2 Figure out your sizing for each brand (and maybe even style) separately.

Companies like Unshoes have printable templates you can use – print them out and figure out what size and shapes you’re going to need to order so that you’re ready to pull the trigger when the sales begin.

Other companies use regular shoe sizes.

And still other companies have printable size guidelines you can use to check.

Basically, every company is different so make sure you check on sizing carefully before you buy.

#3 Confirm return policies in advance!

Sometimes a shoe just doesn’t work out. Make sure you’re ok with the company’s return policy before you make your purchase. If you can’t return a sale item, make sure you’re very certain about it.

For instance, I know my size in LEMS boots so I feel confident ordering them. BUT it turns out that LEMS shoes are sized differently from the boots so I ended up with shoes that were too small. Super annoying, right? So it pays to know the return policies!

#4 Consider shipping to the US (if you’re in Canada).

If you’re in Canada, and have plans to visit the US (or friends or relatives who are going to), consider sending your shoes there instead of across the border. Duty can be really insane on shoes.

#5 Mark Black Friday on your calendar.

Make sure to mark Black Friday on your calendar so you’re ready to buy as soon as the sales begin (it’s the day after US Thanksgiving, which is November 22 in 2018). Popular styles can sell out quickly.

#6 Join email lists to get the best offers.

Find the brands & styles you like best and join those companies’ mailing lists – they typically send sales info to their lists first.

Plus if you can’t find what you want on Black Friday, you’ll be the first to know about other sales later in the year.

And, you can often get a discount on regularly priced stuff from joining a list, which is a nice bonus.

#7 If the shoe doesn’t fit, trade it!

What happens if your new shoes just don’t work out for you? There’s a Facebook group for that! Try the Minimal Shoes Buy/Sell/Trade group to see if someone can take them off your hands.

#8 Make sure to do lots of foot work so your feet love their new shoes!

If you’re new to minimal shoes, doing your exercises is a big deal. You can injure yourself if you transition too fast or if you walk a lot on paved surfaces. Be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and do your exercises! Try my free 5 week email course if you need some help with this!

Bonus tip:

There might actually be a bricks-and-mortar store where you try buying minimal shoes in real life. Here’s a quick list of places I’ve found out about – but if you know of one I missed, please let me know in the comments!

Canada

Throughout Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op stores often carry some Vibram Five Fingers and other minimal brands (recently Luna sandals). Altra running shoes are carried by multiple Canadian distributors (and are one of the best transitional shoes in my opinion.

Toronto

Cool East Market – sells Xero, Tabi, minimal Japanese rainboots, and more. Online store as well.

Ottawa

The Foot Collective – sells Vivobarefoot, Shama sandals, and more. Great selection, but limited store hours and a bit of a drive so make sure you plan ahead.

Montreal

JogX – Vivobarefoot

Saskatoon

Escape Sports – LEMs and limited Vivobarefoot styles.

Gabriola Island

Pilates and More – My friend and fellow movement teacher Liz sells LEMs out of her studio – not a full on storefront, but you can try them on (and maybe get a life-changing movement session in too!)

Victoria

Vital Shoes – Altras and LEMs

United States

Generally, REI stores sell limited selections of some minimal brands.

Torrington, Connecticut

The Vital Gaitway – My friend and fellow movement teacher Christine sells LEMs out of her studio – not a full on storefront, but you can try them on (and maybe get a life-changing movement session in too!)

Portland

Pie Footwear – Lots of brands including Vivos, Luna Sandals, Merrells, OTZ, LEMs and Altras.

Colorado: Denver & Boulder

Pedestrian Shops – LEMs and possibly others – their website is currently under construction.

Colorado: Broomfield

Xero Shoes – Their HQ and showroom, featuring Xero shoes of course 🙂

Hi! I’m Petra.

Movement coach
Your body has the potential to feel amazing and work better at every age. I'm here to help you learn to move better so that you can find your natural resilience, strength, and long term wellness.
Expert movement tips

Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body – and she’s always happy to chat about it. When she’s not teaching, you’ll probably find her hanging out on a set of monkey bars.

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