Low Cost Minimalist Running Shoes: A Van's Review

Everything I look for in a minimalist shoe is just beneath my feet

Two years ago I bought a my first pair of Vans. I paid six dollars for them at a thrift store in Berkeley. At the time I had never even considered Vans as a viable choice for a running shoe. As a crew leader for the northwest youth corps I was to spend a few months camping and I was looking for a comfortable slip on slip off shoe to wear when not wearing OSHA required 7 inch leather work boots. The shoes survived 3 months in the back country with barely any blemishes. In those three months I fell in love, so I have been wearing my Van's pretty much everyday since then. Tonight, for the first time I decided to were my Van's during my speed workout with the Tamalpa Club. Two words, Amazing. Okay, so just one word. I was blown away by how comfortable it is to run in my Van's. Then during my second mile repeat I began to analyze them, and it turns out that my six dollar Van's have all the key features that one should look for in a Minimalist shoe.

No Raised Heel

The toe to heel differential is Zero, it doesn't get any better than that.

Thin flexible sole

The sole is only millimeters thick. I may not be able to pick up toothpicks with my toes while wearing these shoes, but I can certainly feel changes in the terrain beneath my feet. Granted, I have had my Van's for two years, and I bought them used, so they are quite broken in, but I have no doubt that a new pair is nearly as thin and flexible.

Wide toe-box

There is plenty of room up there, vans are obviously designed for comfort.

No unnecessary support features



Okay, they could be lighter, but they are no heavier than a traditional running shoe. I didn't weigh them, but I estimate about 11 ounces. The pair that I am reviewing is made from waterproofed leather. Not the lightest material, but it has withstood the test of time. That brings me to my next point, the thing i look for in any shoe, or any apparel I buy... durability.


These are typically my everyday shoes. this means that I have work them hiking, hooping, playing flag football, dancing and pretty much any other activity you can imagine me doing in my everyday life, but not until tonight did I wear them purely as a running shoe. This means in purely running miles these shoes only have 7 miles on them. However, I should remind you that these shoes have lasted at least two years of everyday wear and tear, including three months in the back country. We must also keep in mind that I bought the shoes used. The shoes are no longer Sunday shoes but by all in all they have held up very well. Having newly discovered their awesomeness as a low cost minimalist shoe, I will continue to run in them (at least until my Merell trail gloves arrive in the mail) and I will keep you updated as to how the feel after two or three hundred miles.

Final feeling on Van's as a minimalist running shoe... they are great. they probably won't be my primary pair but they make an amazing back up pair, and are perfect for anybody that is just beginning barefoot or minimalist running, or those looking for a low cost minimalist shoe.

I have a sneaky suspicion that converse all-stars are also great minimalist shoes, and I also know that there are lots of them out there, so if any of you have tried Converse all-stars as a running shoe, I would love to post your review on RunNaturally.org.

Run Happy, Levi