After last week’s post about the challenges in evaluating minimalist shoes and sandals (strangely known as barefoot footwear), I thought I’d give you a summary of what I have ended up with after 3 years into my barefoot lifestyle. I have hardly worn any footwear in the last 2 years. Being a stay-at-home-mom makes that uniquely possible. Living in Idaho, where it is scorching hot about 2 months of the year or bitterly cold another 2 months, means I face the gamut of conditions. The where and why-for’s of what footwear I use has evolved in unexpected ways, and I find I have a shoe shelf in my closet of very dusty “normal” everyday shoes. (click on any photo to enlarge)
Vibrams Five Fingers:
These were my first pair of minimalist shoes, and what I tried to use for running before I began really going in bare feet. They were so much more comfortable than “real” shoes when I first wore them that it felt great, but over time I grew tired of the odor and the difficulty of putting my toes in the sockets. Side note: my husband still wears his a lot for everything from boating (which includes walking the shallow parts of the river to fish) to extended travel on airplanes.
I already had several pairs of flip-flops from the fashion surge in colorful ones. I find that I wear the Havaianasby far the most because they are definitely the most comfortable of the bunch. The others are too stiff or too cushy or cut between my toes. The oddest time that I wear them is for riding my spinning bike, which I do 2-3 times a week. They are my quick grab when going out on errands when I am concerned the pavement is ultra-hot or I don’t want to deal with store personnel possibly confronting me. However, the truth is that I have been in my regular stores a number of times barefoot and no one has said anything. With my feet being much tougher and acclimated to dealing with hotter pavement this year, I even wear these less than I did a year ago.
These were my first moccasin type shoe with a wide toe bed and I have used them for so many things. They are what I wear for extreme cold for running or everyday wear, especially is there is moisture involved. However, I wear them during the summer, too, because they are my outdoor biking shoes (for either mountain biking or road biking). The dotted Vibram sole is just thick enough for gripping whatever I have needed it to, but also flexible enough so that it feels very close to not having anything on my feet. The sole is too thick for optimum enjoyment running when barefoot is possible, but very much appreciated when I want to avoid frostbite. The upper part of the shoe is solid leather, but I have never felt too hot in them during the summer!
When I can’t run in totally bare feet, my Moc3′s are the next best thing that I have found. I have worn them on very rocky desert trail runs, on asphalt in dry temps lower than 37°F, catching flights in strange airports. You get the picture. I have only ever owned one pair of them, which I have had at least a couple of years. One daughter put many holes in hers, running nearly 1000 miles during cross country and track seasons one year. I haven’t cataloged my miles before this November, but I don’t wear them very much so they have lasted “longer.”
Soft Star Phoenix Boots:
This last winter, I discovered that neither my feet nor my whole self got cold as easily because the thickness on my soles was functioning as an insulator! Still, there are some days and places when a girl needs boots. Fortunately, Soft Star shoes makes a flat bottom, wide toe bed boot that is more comfortable than the nicest slipper. The soles are quite thick and have excellent traction, making them work wonderfully in snowy or icy conditions. I just wish they made a taller style and in different colors. :-)
I also have a couple pair of flat dress sandals, some cheap Walmart tennis shoes, and my thin leather dancing toe shoe (which I don’t think Vibram makes anymore, boohoo) in bars for dancing. Out of these, I wear the dancing shoes the most, although I also dance barefooted where it is allowed or glass is not a constant problem. The rest of my shoes sit neglected in my closet. Some of them it is probable that I will never wear again. Not only are they uncomfortable compared to being in bare feet, but my feet have changed since I have been barefoot so much. Most shoe manufacturers do not make footwear to accommodate the well spread toes that come with the healthy barefoot lifestyle. Now, when I look at “stylish shoes,” I see torture chambers or pieces of abstract art. Some friends have suggested just buying some nice high heels to carry, because it is generally accepted that you have just taken them off in order to survive. I might have to give that a try if I ever find a pair that I really can’t live without. ;-)