2012 was supposed to be the year of minimalist running shoes (a.k.a. barefoot running shoes or barefoot shoes) according to the footwear industry. It was. But there are even bigger expectations for 2013. Trade journals are predicting that the footwear industry is now trying to reach the masses after slower adoption by hardcore runners of the latest releases. For 2013, the pundits are predicting that the new minimalist running shoes will have more cushioning, less outrageous colorways, slightly more affordable, and with many more emerging brands appearing in an industry that is unwilling to change its ways.
But I don't agree with all their predictions. Yes, some shoes will be cheaper but those with new and innovative technologies won't be. Bold colorways will still reign supreme - the early adopters love to stand out from the regular crowd. And they have a thirst for loud colorways. For advanced minimalist runners, those that have fully transitioned to the most minimal shoes, they expect even less cushioning in the new shoes.
Footwear manufacturers like Merrell, New Balance, and Inov-8 are coming out with shoes for the full minimal shoes spectrum - from the beginner to the most advanced runner. On one end, there will be shoes for beginners with 4mm drop and ample cushioning. On the other end, there will be shoes for the most advanced runners with zero drop and no cushioning. And everything in between to cater to the general masses who are transitioning into minimal shoes.
Forget about all the reports talking about heel-striking versus midfoot- and forefoot striking. And about cushioning versus no cushioning. Think more about sustainable injury-free running. My personal experience is testament (see my books, Wear Tested and The Minimalist Runner) to minimal shoes. I stopped running (knee and lower back pains, bruised toes) after 25+ years of running in 12mm drop, cushioned, traditional running shoes inserted with orthotics and with heel striking form. But after discovering minimal shoes over 3 years ago, I've been running in zero drop, minimally cushioned shoes without orthotics in midfoot striking form with no pain and injury-free. And I am now a competitive masters/senior athlete in road/trail running and track & field. I cannot be convinced otherwise.
What follows are the top 10 most anticipated minimalist road running shoes of 2013 in alphabetical order. I can guarantee you that the top 3 road running shoes for 2013 will come from this list.