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Know Your Foot Type (Plus the Best Brands for Your Feet!)

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Hey barefoot shoe lover! Have you been dipping your toes into the barefoot world and hearing people talk about their foot type? What is a high volume vs. low volume foot? How do I know if my feet are mountain shaped or plateau? And what does all this have to do with the shoes that I choose for myself??

I know it can sound like a foreign language at first, but once you learn the lingo it’ll make total sense. And it can be important to know this information about your feet to make informed shoe purchases!

As you transition to footwear that is actually made to facilitate the form of a healthy human foot, it can be very helpful to get to know the specifics of your foot shape. While traditional shoe brands don’t take into account the individual nature of your foot’s shape, barefoot shoes are meant to accommodate your particular foot. And certain brands are better for certain foot shapes than others!

First, let’s talk about volume.

The volume of your foot is basically the height - or space that it takes up from the bottom of your foot to your highest foot bone. People with high arches tend to have high volume feet, while people with low arches tend to have low volume feet. And then there are people in the middle, with medium volume feet.

Certain brands cater to different volumes, and many fall somewhere in the middle making them suitable for most people. There are also ways of hacking your shoes (like adding an insole for low volume feet, or loosening the laces for high volume) to make them suitable for your feet. Even still, certain brands just may not work for you, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase.

Brands for low volume feet:

Brands for high volume feet:

If you have medium volume feet, you can probably make most of these brands work for you!

Now, on to foot shape.

Foot shape refers to the shape of your toes! Because everyone’s foot shape is totally unique, there are an incredible number of possible foot shapes. To keep things simple, we’ll focus on the prominent four - which most feet can be placed into: mountain, square, plateau, and slope.

In mountain-shaped feet your second toe is the longest, extending past your big toe:

mountain shaped feet, foot type, know your foot type
Mountain Shaped Feet

In square feet, the toes more or less make a straight line across:

square shaped feet, know your foot type
Square Shaped Feet

In plateau feet, the first and second (or third) toes are all in a line, with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes sloping downward:

plateau shaped feet, know your foot type
Plateau Shaped Feet

And in slope feet, there is one continuous slope downwards from your big toe to your pinky:

slope shape feet, know your foot type
Slope Shaped Feet

Brands for mountain shaped feet:

Brands for plateau and square feet:

Brands for sloped feet:

Finally, you need to consider your foot width.

Foot width is a term generally understood by most people, and is pretty straightforward. You can have narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet.

And as you get deeper and deeper into your barefoot journey, you can definitely expect your feet to change size and shape! If your toes have been squished by conventional shoes for years, they may not be the widest part of your foot - YET. But a healthy human foot will be widest at the toes. Your feet will also become more muscular as they get stronger, changing the way your feet take up space in your shoes.

My very first pair of barefoot running shoes was the Xero Prio (bought in my usual size) which I almost returned because they felt too big. Now, I can’t stand how tight they feel - especially in the toes.

Your feet can be narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide.

shoes for wide feet, shoes for narrow feet

Brands for narrow feet:

Brands for medium-width feet:

Brands for wide feet:


There is definitely a fair bit of learning to do when you enter into the barefoot world, but once you’re familiar with your own feet and try a handful of brands, you’ll become more and more confident.

Also, please keep in mind that this is not an exact science! My feet are high volume, plateau shaped, and wide, and there are only a few brands listed above that absolutely won’t work for me. It’s true that some of my shoes feel like a much nicer fit than others, but I can make most of them work!

And these aren’t hard and fast rules! Ultimately, it’s about trial and error, and getting to know the best brands for your individual feet. This can feel somewhat frustrating, since many barefoot shoes are made in Europe and the shipping and return hassle is no joke. Some of the shoes recommended above are stateside, and some you can find on Amazon. I also love PedTerra, which is a USA-based online barefoot shoe store that boasts the largest selection of barefoot shoes - PLUS free shipping AND returns. It’s an easy way to try out overseas brands you’re interested in.

In the end, please don’t stress too much about your foot shape and finding the perfect brand for you. While it’s helpful to have this info to make an informed decision when you buy, ALL of the brands listed above adhere to basic barefoot standards: wide toe box, zero drop, and flexible sole. So even if you end up with a pair that’s not perfect for your feet, it’s still a million times better than your old Nikes or your fancy work shoes.

May all your barefoot shoe dreams come true!

Your Barefoot Guide,


PS: Do you know your foot type? If so, please leave a comment with which brands have worked best for you!



Hey, I'm Kim!

I'm so happy you're here.

I believe that your feet are the foundation for full body strength, and living a barefoot lifestyle is key to moving through your years with joy and freedom.

Join me as we live our best barefoot lives together.


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