Barefooters for those reasons. I didn't. I mean, I loved them, but not because they were sent free-of-charge from a fellow KU alum. I loved them because I felt freaking great yesterday as I ran all over the rough terrain of my half-acre yard doing my spring gardening thing. In fact, the only aspect I don't love is the "Feel Great" slogan stamped on the strap (although "Feel Freaking Great" would be fun!)
At first glance, the shoes remind me a little of Crocs, which isn't necessarily a good thing from a fashion or health standpoint. I once interviewed a podiatrist who said Crocs were horrible for one's feet - providing no support or stability - and she couldn't understand why they were worn by so many hospital workers, etc.
Barefooters are made from silicone and cork and are breathable and washable (a bonus for gardening and hiking.) The sole provides just enough thickness for good shock absorption, but you can still "feel" the ground (unlike Crocs) so there's kind of an organic stability to them. I wasn't keenly aware that I was getting a "reflexology massage with every step," but by the end of a long day, which included lots of errands on pavement and other surfaces, my feet and legs weren't tired at all. In fact, I wore them as I cooked dinner last night on my kitchen's hard, tiled floor and my dogs still felt good by the time I sat down for Mad Men.
The cost isn't cheap - $100 per pair - and I can't attest to Barefooters' durability after one long day. But, I can recommend them for comfort, support and outdoor practicality. By the end of gardening season, I'll have more to say about bang for the buck.
Retirement idea: Become a professional shoe reviewer.