Hey everyone! Just stumbled upon this site, dunno how I never saw it before!
I've been wearing various barefoot shoes for about 10 years now, since I picked up the first Vivo Barefoot slip-ons. My feet have gotten so used to minimal footwear that anything with any sort of rise feels like Herman Munster shoes. I haven't found anything suitable for winter, and my waterproof luck has been sketchy ever since the demise of my first-generation brown leather New Balance Minimus. I'm mostly urban, living in NYC (prior in LA). I walk a few miles a day. And I'm a bartender, thankfully in a low-danger bar where I can wear minimal shoes all day.
A rundown of all the minimal (and supposedly-minimal) shoes I can remember owning...
Vivo Barefoot, first gen. The black slip-ons. Game changer. Not that great of shoes, but at the time it was mind blowing.
Merrell Trail Glove, first gen. Gray and yellow. Still one of the best fits. I've worn the sole through.
New Balance Minimus, first gen. Brown leather. Probably my favorite shoe ever. Great fit (maybe not the best, but rather good), and very classy. Wore these to both formal and casual occasions. Lasted a LOT of miles of city walking. Was friendly in the rain as long as puddles weren't too deep.
Five Fingers, KSO. I had two pairs, the godawful-looking gray and light green, and a gray camo. I absolutely love how these feel. Nothing compares to the sensation of walking down stairs with grippy toes. But I got rid of them. They're just too dangerous for a crowded, hard-object-abundant environment. I kept stubbing my toes, and think I almost broke them a couple times. Excellent shoes but just not practical for me
New Balance Minimus Zero. Black with blue. Very comfortable, like wearing almost nothing. Not at all durable, started to tear after a week.
Merrell Trail Glove, Tender Shoots. Two Pairs, gray on gray, and bright green on other obnoxious colors. The inheritor of "Trail Glove" once they started putting a ton of foam in the actual trail glove. Very comfortable. Bought the green, it was small-ish, bought the gray in a better size but kept the green for hot days with thin socks. Great shoes. I've worn the gray through.
Vivo Barefoot, I think it's the Ra. Low, simple, all black leather. My "other" work shoes. Has a bleach stain and a broken lace. Decent work and city shoe, but sometimes I get a really fierce strike on the pavement. Not good for running. I like how Vivos look, but they've never felt as good as Merrells or the old Minimus.
Vivo Barefoot. Suede high-tops, brown. Stained the first day I got them, before I could apply waterproofing.
Merrell Vapor Glove 2. Dark gray on black. Very comfortable. I'm supposed to wear black shoes at work, but the lighting is dim enough that these have become my work shoes. The uppers have started to tear. Just ordered another pair.
Kigo Drive. Three pair. Bought extra because they were on clearance for about $40. Immensely comfortable, light springy shoes. Lacing a bit funky. Not good in water.
Kigo other shoes. Encouraged by the Drive, I ordered some of their other options. The Drive must have been a fluke. How one company can make one of the best pairs of shoes I've ever worn and also the uncontested worst is beyond me. These were like someone tied a canvas bag on top of a busted flip-flop, and somehow pray that your foot will remain in the space in between. Disposed of promptly.
Senmotics. All black. Gorgeous shoes, handmade to order from Germany, and inexplicably cheap to have sent to the US. Very unpleasant to walk in. I may have ordered too large. The uppers on the arch are WAY too high so my feet are just kinda floating in there. Gives me calluses under the pads of my little toes and proceeds to try to rip them open.
Lems boots. Black with red trim. Fiendishly uncomfortable. My feet loathe these. I just donated them to charity. They grip and rub my Achilles tendon, they're way tight on the ankle and loose on the foot, the sole is crazy thick for something "minimal", and they do something weird to my walking where my feet flat-out refuse to run.
TadeEvo. Two pairs. Interesting shoes from Poland. Feel like house slippers. I liked them until I didn't. Got both the mesh and (hoping for a great waterproof option) the full leather. I've tried but I just can't like these for being out in the world.
New Balance Minimus MT10v1. As much as this tried to emulate the original Minimus, it failed. I want so hard to like this shoe. The original was loose and bouncy. This shoe is rigid and seems to fight with my foot. Gave me plantar fascitis in a couple days. Might give it another go with a larger size.
Merrell Vapor Glove 3. Decent shoe. I like the 2 better for feel and fit, but the 3 seems more durable. My current gym shoe.
I have my bases covered now for work and for late spring through early fall, and I just make do with some North Face boots in the winter. What I'm missing is something that's good in the rain. Double bonus points if it's good in the rain AND is black, so I don't have to change into it at work.