So it's actually been about two weeks since I made a post, because of scheduling issues, but I wanted to make sure I had time to really sit down and flesh out this update about my shoes. So here it is, in all it's questionable glory.
As far as the barefoot shoe thing is concerned, I figure there are three types of shoes I wanted to have before I'd consider myself well-equipped. Strange that I need three different types of shoes to work on a barefoot lifestyle change, isn't it? Anyway, the three types I wanted are -
VIBRAMS - I want these for when I do things like going hiking in places where I can't be sure what kind of terrain I'll encounter, or where there might be (sadly, quite likely) a broken beer bottle in amongst the pine straw or something. Or when I might go stepping into a creek that (again, quite likely) has rusty metal in it. Believe it or not, my friends and I went swimming in a creek about a year ago and came across an overturned lawnmower. This was both shocking, and not terribly surprising considering we found it while swimming under a bridge with cars driving by overhead. Anyway, I think it'd be a good idea to have these for a little extra preparedness when I either don't know or can't see where I'll be walking. I don't have these yet, but I plan on acquiring a set within the next few months.
HUARACHES - These sandals I'm expecting to wear when I go to the beach or some place where I might be going between the indoors and outdoors a lot. They're quite comfortable to leave on, but they're also very easy to slip on and off and very lightweight for carrying while I'm not wearing them.
The type I'm referring to can be purchased in high-quality form from several places, like Luna Sandals or Invisible Shoe. However, being the person that I am, I decided to make my own, as they're fairly simple. I found some tutorials here and here. I bought a farmer's bundle of leather from Hobby Lobby for 6 dollars, a sheet of PVC sheeting from Lowe's for 12 dollars, some contact cement for, I don't remember how much exactly but it was pretty cheap, and some elastic for, like, 3 bucks, also at Hobby Lobby. And while 20 dollars is about as much as the shoes cost from Invisible Shoe, and theirs are probably a bit better quality, I have enough material left to make two or three more sets of mine. This is what mine turned out looking like:
I put the smooth side of the leather down against the PVC so that the contact cement could soak into the relatively porous leather and have a flat surface for the most contact area with the PVC. The unfinished side of the leather went up against the sole of my foot, for traction and whatnot. They're actually pretty comfortable, and so light I forget I'm wearing them. I'll tell you what though; they were a lifesaver when we went to the water park and everyone's bare feet were cooking on the white, hot cement. I don't know if my skin will be able to handle that kind of heat after I toughen it up, but for now I was happy.
You can see the writing from the PVC sheeting on the bottom. The PVC isn't all that necessary, but I figured it'd help the leather last a little bit longer, as it's added waterproofing and will prevent general wear and tear from degrading the leather as fast. I will say that it's super slick, though, so I won't go running around in the mud and rain in them if I can help it. Not that that's sandal weather anyway...
MOCCASINS - These are for places where it's really only socially acceptable to wear normal shoes. They're close-toed, and on cursory inspection or from the corner of the eye appear to be normal shoes. However, looking more closely will reveal that they do look a bit strange for shoes. That's nothing compared to the comfort level, though.
The laces are actually a bit longer than I need them to be, and so they
flop about a bit and stick out from under my jeans when I wear these
with pants. Not a huge issue for me, though. As you can see, they look
a bit shapeless compared to normal shoes, but that's a necessary
side-effect of having the wide toe-box that allows your toes to splay
properly, and the thin leather that they're made of for comfort.
Here you can see that the leather is perforated, which makes them extremely light, comfortable, and airy. They felt great to run in. Unfortunately, being shoes and all, I have to wear socks with them or my feet start sweating something fierce. So they're not as airy as I'd like them to be, but that's more the fault of the socks and my recalcitrant feet than anything else.
Overall, I'm happy with them, and the "Elves" that make the shoes at Soft Star were extremely helpful and friendly when I called, asking me questions about my needs and my likes so that they could provide me with the best shoe options. Also, it was clear they weren't just trying to sell me the most expensive model. I will say, of course, that if you want to buy a pair, it's best to do your research and know something about barefooting and what your needs might be, to be better able to answer their questions. I'd say "tell them I sent you" but I won't get a discount or finder's fee or anything, and neither will you. Either way, if you're looking into barefooting, I'd definitely recommend getting a set.