Editor's Note: while this product has been sponsored to me for this adventure, this review reflects only my personal opinion and is not a paid advertisement. My thoughts are my own, and my experience is as such.
It's been a long time coming, but in my opinion I think I've finally found the most comfortable minimalist shoe: The Dash, by Softstar Shoes
I've been wearing these shoes almost every day for the past 2.5 months: 1300 miles worth of bicycle adventuring, running, hiking, and urban exploration - testing the durability of the materials and the overall quality of the product. Softstar Shoes have a rock solid product that borders the line between fantasy and reality. Yes, my feet are extremely comfortable, and no I didn't have to sacrifice a unicorn to make it happen. I have really wide feet, and all my life I've had to cram these essential body parts into canvas/rubber coffins that only caused me pain and discomfort - so imagine my surprise when I realized I don't even have to worry about that anymore.
The Dash is handmade in Oregon with extremely high quality, USA-sourced leather, and the quality is evident while wearing them. Not only is the leather soft and supple, but it really handles abuse well - the durability is outstanding for such a gentle feel. I regularly treat them with a natural waterproofer, so that might help a little bit as well. I do admit that their aesthetics took me a hot sec to get accustomed to, but after I realized how stupid I was, it didn't even matter.
One thing I never thought about until it started happening, was the natural stretching of the leather. I've been careful not to wear extremely thick socks every day, so I think that'll be fine. They maintain an even ankle snugness that I appreciate while I'm bombing a trail, or climbing up a tree! The shoes are alive, like a natural extension of your feet.
The sole is a 5mm Vibram trail rubber, which I have extended experience with during my time in the handmade sandal industry. The ground feel is fantastic, and the durability is unmatched for how much abuse I've thrown into it - I can easily say that the sole will probably last me for another few thousand miles at least.
I think the best compliment anyone can say about a product, is that it works and you don't even have to think about it.
This is one of those products.