A good minimalist or barefoot shoe should have the following features:
- Let’s you feel underfoot.
- Neutral foot position
- Unrestricted movement
- Environmental protection
Any shoe you put on your feet will always have an effect on its function. Since there will always be a compromise, the goal is to minimize the negative effects and maximize the most desired function.
The most important question to ask is: what purpose do I want to use it for?
Most people want a do-it-all shoe. While there is such a thing for every person, you will always give up on something if you try to use one pair for every type of activity. Broadly speaking, I would categorize shoes into two types: Everyday and Sport. Most other purposes fall as a sub-category of the other. There will be some cross-overs depending on the look one wants to achieve.
Everyday shoes are shoes you wear for the entire day. Therefore, comfortable materials are important. Leather is the best here because of its natural moisture management and the antibacterial properties. It’s a skin, so it’s as near a material as it can get to your own. Leather footbeds are almost essential to have as it’s the one in most contact with the soles of your foot. An alternative footbed is cork. But these are not as durable as leather.
Sport shoes are for vigorous, energetic movements. The material should be light and strong and washable. This is where synthetic fabrics are best. You can wash them if needed and dries quickly.
Start with these guidelines and experiment what works for your desired feel, function and look.