Barefoot Shoes

BodyGlove 3T Barefoot (3-Toed Shoes) Review

if you can wrap your mind around the three toe pockets (and what that design means for the dynamic nature of your foot), the BodyGlove 3T Barefoots are a pretty great toe shoe.

The BodyGlove 3T Barefoot “three toe” shoes first crossed my path back in mid-February. It wasn’t long before I got an email from BodyGlove wondering if I’d like to try out their first product geared towards the water-loving barefooter — after all, BodyGlove has a substantial history of making surf- and beach-related apparel. Really, given how often people think FiveFingers (or Sockwas) are watershoes and/or the early attempts to find a cheap minimalist shoe by turning to aqua shoes from Walmart, in a way BodyGlove is just closing the loop with the 3T Barefoot. And less you think your eyes are deceiving you, rest assured that they’re not: the “3T Barefoot” only has three toe pockets, granting the smallest three toes a single pocket and the biggest two toes a pocket a piece. Meanwhile, as I live in Atlanta and don’t make a regular practice of watersports (sadly), BodyGlove sent me the 3T with the express understanding that I’d just be evaluating them as a minimalist (toed) shoe. And so I’ve gotten acquainted with these three toed shoes. They’re a bit unusual, but perhaps worth your consideration. Let’s go!

A three-toed shoe: Design and Features

The original toe shoes (FiveFingers) of course had five toes (duh). Then, in what was either a means to differentiate themselves or the result of a decision-maker struggling (perhaps a tender moment) to seat their pinky toes in a fifth toe pocket, Fila released the four-toed Skeletoes, combining the littlest two toe pockets into one compartment. Meanwhile, Tabi boots (Colloquially known as “ninja shoes”) have been around for nearly a hundred years (Cool Boston Marathon fact about those here). three toed shoes!Creating a toe shoe with three compartments was almost a foregone conclusion, right? BodyGlove thought so and developed their 3T Barefoot. And three compartments actually make some sense. If you remember watching Waterworld you’ll recall that the protagonist was a “mutant” with gills, webbed feet, and a receding hairline (Kevin Costner). Well, if you consider that BodyGlove makes apparel for waterwear, webbing the toes — at least some of them — could provide a better “fin” for swimming than fully individualized toe pockets. As I wasn’t able to try them this way, I can’t really say for sure so that will remain up in the air (as far as this review is concerned). Suffice to say that the three toe compartment design is a unique feature of the 3T Barefoot. The other particularly unique feature of the 3T is its Integrated Drainage System or “IDS” — through-the-sole drain holes to let out water (or let air circulate). Where these holes in the soles reside, there is a metal mesh barrier, but otherwise, things can pass through (more on this later). Check it out:
ankle bungee keeps stuff outThe 3T Barefoots also have a bungee cord around the ankle that can be tightened to keep stuff (sand, dirt, or water sludge presumably) out of the shoes. The strap over the instep can also be used to adjust fit and is made up of a sturdier leather-like (not leather) material. The general upper material is a stretchy synthetic — it’s not neoprene — and is soft to the touch, carrying a slight shimmer with it. The insoles aren’t removable and the outsole is very flexible rubber. Finally, you’ll note that the toe caps are exposed fabric (the soles don’t wrap up and around the toes as with FiveFingers).
The outsole of the BodyGlove 3T Barefoot is very flexible in all directions.
The outsole of the BodyGlove 3T Barefoot is very flexible in all directions.
All told, my skinfold calipers peg the total stack height of the sole at around 7mm in the heel and 6mm in the forefoot. Honestly, it’s not at all clear whether or not these measurements are exactly right and there truly is a heel-to-toe differential with the 3T Barefoot. Have you noted how thick a millimeter is recently? The 3T Barefoots lack arch support, too, in case you were wondering.

Barefoot and Ground Feel

That brings me to ground feel. At 6-7mm thick in the sole, the BodyGlove 3T Barefoot is comparable in ground feel to KSO FiveFingers if not marginally better (and more like a pair of Classic or Sprint FiveFingers). In other words, it’s about as barefoot as you can get whilst still wearing a shoe. That said, the IDS has an unintended consequence when it comes to wearing the 3T Barefoots on grass. Basically, blades of grass can poke your feet through the mesh guards in the sole holes. This was a little surprising to me (particularly that blades of grass were so pointy), but it is what it is. I’d almost say that the mesh helps channel the grass to be even more rigid when it pokes the soles of your feet! Really, this takes “ground feel” to a whole different level. Actually, I can’t help but wonder if a feature like this could help “wake” the nerves in your feet up (in a neuroplastic sense), helping speed the rehabilitation of your feet to a more barefoot-like existence. It’s probably a long shot (just go barefoot to do that!). Since I’m sure you’re wondering how these compare to Fila Skeletoes, I’m happy to report that the 3T Barefoots are fantastically more flexible than the Skeletoes (both the original Skelies and the 2.0). They’re even more flexible than the more built-up Vibrams (Bikila-, KomodoSport-, or Trek-soled varietals). That also puts them as being more flexible than the Adidas Adipure Trainers (Adidas’ toe shoes). I’ve gotta tip my hat to BodyGlove on this front; way to start out strong!

How does the 3-in-1 pocket work?

The BodyGlove 3T’s 3-in-1 toe pocket makes for an unusual feel on your foot. I’ve waxed poetic on why toe shoes work: it has to do with how the toe articulation allows the shoes to adhere more closely to the foot thereby moving more dynamically with the foot as your move your toes through their natural range of motion. Well, when you merge three toes together — even if they’re the three littlest toes — you’re going to lose some of that. In other words, the 3T Barefoots don’t move quite as dynamically with your foot when you wiggle your toes. Perhaps the surprising aspect of the 3T 3-in-1 toe pocket design is how it puts two “inlets” on either side of your second biggest toe. I have a fairly long second toe — it’s finger-esque. Something about it being given it’s own toe pocket feels a little weird. The oddest sensation, though, is how the two inlets on either side of this second toe put a little pressure (nothing uncomfortable, just a little “hello”) on my foot. Whereas this is “normal” to my foot when it comes to having pressure on the foot between my biggest and second toe, it’s unusual between the second and third toes. I know what you’re thinking: don’t other toe shoes do this, too? They do, but it’s not as noticeable. Perhaps that’s because you’ve got more inlets bumping into the crevices between your toes, so it’s less noticeably “weird.” I think the more likely reason is that more “inlets” means a better distribution of pressure on the crevices between your toes. Either way, it’s not that annoying but it always catches me a little off guard when I put on the 3Ts.

Overall thoughts

I like a number of things about the 3T Barefoot. They’re quite comfortable and BodyGlove did a really great job minimizing seams in the toe pockets of the 3Ts — in my pair there are no notable ridges where the sidewalls of the pockets hit the insole (Vibram could improve here). The upper seems pretty breathable to me, too — it’s a thicker synthetic material than you’d get with the coconut fabric of a Bikila LS or the thin stretchy material of a KomodoSport LS, so it’s marginally warmer than other toe shoes out there (black also doesn’t do a lot for reflecting heat from light). I only briefly ran in the Barefoot 3Ts and what I can say is that the experience is similarly “barefoot”-like to running in FiveFingers. The lack of toe articulation on the smallest toes makes the 3Ts feel a little less locked on to your foot on the lateral edges of your feet, but did not detract much, if at all, from the toed experience. It was also in this running (on asphalt) that I noticed the 3Ts running a bit warmer. Note I didn’t have any issues with rocks or other debris poking through the IDS system. So can you run in the 3T Barefoots? Yes, I think you can. If you’ve got a solid barefoot, forefoot (or midfoot) stride already, you shouldn’t have any problem with these. As with any ultra minimalist shoes and running, if you’re new to running minimally shod, you need to awaken your feet and your body to the experience, which ultimately may mean a lot of rehabilitation — it often takes conscious effort to overcome years of heel-striking biomechanics and literally rewire your brain to utilize your legs and feet in a more natural way. And that says nothing of the physiological changes required — stronger feet, rehabilitated arches, and a full stretch of the Achilles tendon. I’ve also heard of one individual completing a triathlon in the 3T Barefoots. I’ll also say that given their overall flexibility, anatomical shape, and minimal or non-existent heel-to-toe drop, these should make fine barefoot-style running shoes, if you want them for that. All in all, if you can wrap your mind around the three toe pockets (and what that design means for the dynamic nature of your foot), the BodyGlove 3T Barefoots are a pretty great toe shoe. Oh, and though I didn’t go into it at length, I’ll say that aesthetically the 3Ts have a big of a waterwear look to them due to the BodyGlove branding and the slight shimmer of the upper. They actually do look like water shoes to my eye. That said, and this is saying a lot I suppose, but I felt a little self conscious wearing three-toed shoes — they look a little strange! Perhaps the clincher is that they’re retailing for only $50. For that matter, they just started selling them online today, so if you’re the kind person who wants to try the latest new-fangled toe shoe designs, well you know what to do. That’s my round-up review of the BodyGlove 3T Barefoot. It’s an interesting entry into the toe shoe market; I applaud BodyGlove for coming out the gate strongly. What do you think? Want to try on some three-toed shoes and see how they compare? Did I miss anything? Let’s hear it!

Photos and Video

Here’s a quick video of the 3Ts I snapped while at the gym:
And a slew of photos!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

31 replies on “BodyGlove 3T Barefoot (3-Toed Shoes) Review”

Minus the whole grass poking you though the holes this shoe looks pretty great.

A little shoe goo in the drainage holes should fix the issue about it poking you in the feet.

I think I might pick up a pair and try to seal up the holes. If they were not there this looks close to a pair of FiveFingers.

I am impressed they are so flexible. Props to Body Glove for making them as flexible as they are.

No, the grass poking through is actually a good thing and this actually surprised the hell outta me

Better ground feel than a kso, pretty flexible, a tad warmer…and FIFTY BUCKS
Wow, I may give these a look after my neos are done

How light are these babies?

Great review…Thanks Justin. I might give these a try one day especially since the price is very reasonable. That and I find that my little toe gets sore if I run too far in my VFFs. maybe if it’s pocketed along with two of other toes, it might feel better? or maybe I’m landing too much on the lateral side of my foot and I need to adjust my form…

Interesting. I used to have a body glove pair of water shoes back in my youth. I might use these for something like that, but likely not for everyday wear. Previous ones I owned had mesh in between the sole and the foot bed to prevent things from poking through. I am not a fan of black and yellow like that. It seems that every water shoe I have seen comes in that basic color. Is there some sort of significance to that color scheme that I am unaware of?

Well, I hope the next step will be someone eventually producing a non-toed shoe BUT with the same toebox shape as VFF

@Mr.Leigh- The black/yellow color scheme is the most prominent color combo ever. There have been studies that have concluded that the black/yellow combo is the most visually appealing combo out there. These shoes look good, my VFF’s are looking a bit worn out and for $50 who can beat that price?

I don’t see the point of 3 toes. Sure, there’s two dorsal interossei muscles on the second toe, but they’re nothing major and all the 2nd to fifth toes are connected by extensor digitorum brevis muscle. I’d go either 2 or 5 since if you look at the muscles of the foot, there is a separation between the big toe and the other toes and a bigger muscle for the big toe (abductor hallucis / extensor hallucis brevis). Four toes seems like a way to circumvent VFF copyrights and patents, but then most people’s pinky toe don’t spread much at the start of wearing VFFs.

I also don’t see the point of wearing something with large holes on the bottom unless they’re for swimming.

They did do sole thickness right though. It seems like a 3 toed version of the Altra Adam/ VFF classic.

Having rubber on the front of the toe is preferable with stretchy uppers since if you stub your toe with a fabric upper it hurts.

The price isn’t anything special also. For $40 you can get VFF Classics/Sprints/KSOs on sale or a pair of Zems.

very cool! looks like a well made shoe for a great starting price. I’d much rather have those than Skele-Toes. I gave my ST’s away but will always keep my VFF’s.

Any comments on sizing? I would like to pick up a pair and check them out as reef/rock booties for surfing, but I tend to wear an 11.5 (or 44 in Vibrams). Normally with surf booties I go 11 because they fill up with water and stretch, but I worry about toe-shoes that are too short (having suffered through that with an old initial pair of Vibram sprints). Am I better off going smaller (to accommodate water fill/stretch), or larger (to avoid discomfort)? Thoughts?


Intended to put that in there … not sure how I missed it. So I’m normally a 10.5 standard. I wear size 43 VFFs (across all models, basically). These 3Ts were size 10 and fit just fine on my feet –I think the lack of rigid toe ends probably makes it easier to size them right, but the three-in-one design could be an issue if you get too big a pair (reduced adherence to your foot).

Justin — regarding your observation of it being unusual to experience “having pressure . . . between the second and third toes”: it looks like the toe pocket for the second toe is unusually deep on the little toe side. I don’t think these would work at all on my feet: the area between my second and third toes extends foreward quite a lot of that between the big toe and second toe. I’d be taking the brunt of impact between the second and third toes if I were walking or running downhill.

The concept of having less than five toes makes sense to me. My two smallest toes only extend about halfway into VFF toe pockets. A friend of mine tried VFF and his little toe didn’t make it into the toe pocket at all.

I’d be happiest with a toe shoe that had toe pockets that matched my own toes, but a design that put the two smallest toes in one pocket could be a second choice. That could be better than having the small toe pocket hanging limply.

Wow another incredibly informative and well thought-out review, thanks! This site is exactly what I needed, I just wish I’d found it earlier in my research. Great photography too by the way, it really brings the subjects alive.

I’m in the tragic camp of people for whom VFFs just don’t work. I tried them on and at the size where my big toe fit in the pocket my two smallest toes were pretty much unable to reach their slots (I got some Trail Gloves as a compromise). Something like these 3-toes sounds like it could make a huge difference for my sloping feet, now I just need to find somewhere in Montreal to try them on!

I love this website. Very informative to those of us who are fairly new to the minimalist running scene. The VFFs are great for those individuals who are looking for a bit of protection and whose feet can fit anatomically. I know that Fila is getting alot of hate but in my honest opinion, I feel they make a pretty decent transition shoe. not the the first pair they put out but rather the nike free/skeletoe hybrid. i find it funny that people on your site ridicule Fila so much for the 4 toe design ( i am strictly talking about the toe pockets and not the heel to toe drop/ cushioning )but are seem to be so in favor of the 3 toe design from body glove. still scratching my head over the hate. i have all three shoe styles. vff speed and kso. fila skeletoes. and the body glove. i like all of them for their particular design. some for serious runs and others for casual wear. maybe responses after personally testing wouldnt be so out of place for the keyboard commandos? great job justin, look forward to your reviews in the future.

I saw them yesterday at Famous Footwear in Ballwin, MO. $34.95 plus I have a $15 coupon. At 20 bucks, you bet I’ll try them. I have the same issue as Jeremy Clark.

For anyone curious I actually gave up on pining for some VFFs, went to Mountain Equipment Co-op here in Montreal and tried on pairs until I found one that fit. I somehow managed to be a 26 (12 normally) which surprised the salespeople and restricted my options to KSO or KomodoSport. Ended up going for the Komodo’s because they felt like they hung on to the rest of my foot better at that size than the others. Ultimately I think my real problem is that my feet are just really LONG especially my left big toe, so by the time the VFFs are big enough to hold that one toe, the back of my foot has too much space.

The first couple runs in the Komodo’s gave me bad blisters, but I found a loose string in the spot that was rubbing and cut it out, so hopefully after the blister heals they’ll be comfortable #fingerscrossed

After reading this whole article yesterday I went to Costco and bought the bodygloves. There 20$ base price at Cosco

Thank you for the review and for this very well thought-out site. Like William above, I also purchased a pair at Costco. I tried them on when I got home and found that there is a thick, trapezoid-shaped seam that is right below and follows the gray material on the saddle of the shoe (as shown in the first image above). I found that the seam was tight against the top of my foot, and rubbed against the foot as I walked on dry terrain for about ten minutes to try the shoes out. I would imagine that this could be an issue since the seam almost saws against the foot as one moves around, and this could be worse if the skin gets softer when wet at the beach, etc. I am new to shoes with individual toes, so I don’t have a frame of reference nor know whether this is common. I would imagine that this could have been avoided if they lined the saddle/tongue area of the shoe with a continuous sheet of fabric or otherwise smoothly covered the seam on the inside… Can you please comment on whether this is a common occurrence with this type of shoe, and/or what other shoes (if any) do not have this issue? Thanks again.

Just find out that they release a new model with laces and it looks so much better in my opinion…and at this price, i will give these a try for sure!

I’ve had my pair for about a month now and I love ’em!

So far my favourite thing is I can wear (normal) socks with these if I want. I work all day in an office and quickly learned that if I wear these for 8 hours straight on bare feet they get smelly.

These are my only shoes this summer. I don’t know if minimalist shoe aficionados wear theirs all the time / everywhere but that’s my plan and so far it’s working out fantastically!

You might think socks are contrary to the minimalist shoe philosophy (greater agility, more natural feel) and they are. Socks are a compromise between minimalist shoe advantages and stinky shoes.

Socks are also optional. When I bike to work I wear my 3Ts on bare feet. When I get to work I don my socks. Socks are compact and light.


So far the one disadvantage to these shoes is that the drainage holes mean your foot gets wet if you step in a puddle. Then again, your foot gets dry quick thanks to the holes also, so it’s more of a “surprise!” feeling than a real concern.

I’ve heard from some reviews that the metal mesh doesn’t last long. Mine are already starting to go, so I believe it. I hope the shoe will still work well without the mesh bits.

You’re skinfold caliper is probably right. I’ve been wearing zero drop (or zero period) shoes (nothing other) for almost three years so imagine my sensitivity to anything different at this point. I tried a pair of these on last weekend and could instantly tell there was an ever so slight heel to toe drop…probably that of 1mm.

I’ve been wearing this model of shoe for over a year and a half. And I’m on my second pair. Since I’m notably rough on shoes and rarely find a pair that last more that three months I can attest to their quality. I’ve used them as running hiking, biking, water, and casual shoes. They have delivered most people have mentioned the holes negatively. they actually aren’t to bad, my biggest issue I had with them was if I stepped on a half inch stick it would poke me a bit regardless of the sole. But that was only a problem for the first six months or so. I also made the mistake of getting shoes to big for me when I got my first pair. My current pair has been worlds better. As for price they are worth the $50 I spent. The only times I don’t wear them is formal events and when I need something sturdy like work boots.

I’m an avid water sports guy, and having a water shoe that is flat but also allows good water circulation was key. I’ve tried the five fingers, KSO & Komodo Sports, for a few summers but was left disappointed. Walking around in the water with the VFF was fine and worked well. However, when it came to swimming with them on they would always fill up with water. This would cause either my pinky toe or both my pinky and 4th toe to slid out of the toe slot which is very uncomfortable and frustrating.

So this summer I bought not this pair but the Body Glove Barefoot Warrior. This shoe has worked surprisingly well while swimming. I really like the three toe concept and almost prefer it over the VFF. I wouldn’t want to go on a hike with these but to wear while fishing, canoeing, a wading/swimming in the water works great. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a good water shoe.

My only complaint is that where I live walking in the river near the bank is quite muddy. These tend to allow quite a bit of mud to get up inside your shoe through the mesh on the bottom, after several kicks in the water they flush out but sometimes not 100%. Leaving a gritty feeling in the shoe that could cause the shoe to be somewhat abrasive rubbing your foot raw.

Maybe both fila and body glove considered the motor innervation of the toes (nerves attached to the muscles) and the muscles moving the toes when they made their versions of barefoot shoes. Try fl3xing and extending your toes and try to feel or palpate the tendons to appreciate what Im talking about.But the problem with fila is that it is not as flexible as the vff or bglove.

The next evolutionary step I have been waiting for is that the soles be made conductive to facilitate grounding my body to the earth. Google earthing to learn more about the benefits of this activity. Suffice to say it is why a walk in wet grass or along a beach is so good.

II run at low tine on a sandy beach. I avoid getting wet I’m my VFF as the water sloshes and he shoes get funky fast. am going to give these a try. The holes in the sole will allow the connection to the salt water. A bit concerned about the sand. Anyone have experience with this I noted the river mud comment above.

The ultimate would be for Vibram to incorporate the well established technology used for ESD (Electro Static Discharge) Control in the electronics world, into their rubber.

I am very disenchanted that Adidas appears to have discontinued their barefoot shoes (aka. adipure barefoot trainers 1.0 and adipure barefoot trainers 1.1) Hopefully they will reconsider. The Fut Gloves appear to fall apart, both the Bob Marleys and the Strap ons. I like a little surface between my feet and for all my toes to be separated. Both the 3 Toed (Body Glove) and 4 Toed (Skeletoes from Fila) do not meet the criteria. I hope I can still find some adipure barefoot shoes in circulation.
By the way, Adidas adipure barefoot 1.1 were more flexible than their first ones. Perhaps Adidas might sell their patent give some else the adipure design if Adidas does not want to bother.

Hi Justin,
Coming a bit late to the discussion but, just a quick ask to see how well these 3T Barefoots “compress down”? I want them to put in a bike jersey pocket(s), to take on a tour and to be able to quickly switch to them from bike shoes.
Corey Cohen

@J.T : I strongly suspect that Adidas dropped the shoe line because they got sued like Vibram did.

Biggest bitch I have about Vibram’s suit (and I can’t say I blame them…) was the CLEAR show of NON-Judicial conduct by their judge. No scientific proof? Hardly. But the moment you get a refusal like that you have to ask yourself if it’s worth all the appeals or to just settle at that point.

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