Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) Shoes are NOT Barefoot Shoes

For those of you who aren’t familiar with MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) shoes, these are shoes that are marketed as shoes that were inspired by the barefoot Masai tribes in Africa and offer the same benefits as going barefoot without the risks of literally going barefoot.   They call it the “Anti-Shoe.”

MBT shoes like rocking chair

I like to call it the “Rocking Chair Shoe.”  Cause it looks more like a rocking chair than a barefoot shoe.

Here you can watch how the “technology” allows your foot to rock along the ground like god did not intend.

Basically they are trying to sell the benefits of barefoot or natural walking.  They are marketing the product in the same way Vibram FiveFingers or Nike Free are.  This is what MBT says about the benefits of their shoes:

The positive effect of the MBT is based on the principle of “natural instability“. An effect which can, in fact, be achieved without the benefit of high-tech footwear: by simply walking barefoot on soft, uneven, natural ground such as sand or moss. However, in today’s thoroughly modern world this is not always easy to do – but the health benefits are significant. While wearing MBTs the body is forced to maintain its natural balance, thereby stimulating and exercising the body’s supporting muscle system which results in numerous pro-body benefits.

My only issue is how in the world does walking on rocking chair-like shoes in any way imitate natural barefoot walking??  If anything their shoes contradict their own belief because walking in their shoes does not in anyway create “natural instability.”  It’s unnatural to walk with something in the middle of your foot which causes you to rock forward.

I should state that I have never walked or ran in a pair of MBT shoes so I can make an objective review of their product.  But just by looking at them I feel like they couldn’t have anything remotely to do with barefoot-ness.  It looks like there’s at least an inch and a half of extra padding in the middle of the shoe.  Last time I checked my foot looked like this:


I’m more inclined to believe that a barefoot shoe should somehow look similar to my foot and as well have as minimum padding as possible.  I can see this with Vibram FiveFingers shoes because surprise surprise they actually look like my feet (and as well have very little padding).

vibram-fivefingers looks like barefoot

The same can be said about Nike Free’s since they minimize padding and create a very flexible sole which can move with natural momentum of your foot.

nike free is flexible

But MBT shoes don’t look anything like Nike Free’s or Vibram FiveFingers.  Granted I can’t speak about the benefits of these shoes since I’ve never tried a pair, but a part of me feel like this is just an extremely well marketed shoe that is taking advantage of “barefoot” hype and fooling customers along the way.  I mean, can you imagine running in these kind of shoes?  I feel like you would end up hurting or killing yourself.

Hate is a Strong Word blogger said it eloquently when he stated:

Anyone I’ve seen with them [MBT shoes] seems to be a little on the weebly side, just waddling around with what resembles a couple of meat pies strapped to their feet.

My unsolicited non-professional recommendation is that if you are serious about getting in shape, taking care of your feet, and getting real benefits from barefooting that you steer clear of these shoes.  That is unless you like “meat pies” strapped to your feet.  For a better barefoot experience look into Vibram FiveFingers or Nike Free shoes.