Well, I thought I had made a decision, so I wore one of the new pairs of shoes today (some Merrell Trail Gloves).
Then it turns out that it appears to suffer from the same breathability problems that turned me off from the Vivobarefoots, which is that when I wear my thicker wool socks, my feet start to sweat. And the funny thing is that cold wind was getting through just fine so there's obviously some breathability.
One problem is that this is that these socks are relatively new, so maybe, just maybe, I'd be having problems with breathability with my old shoes on these same days too, but it just seems too coincidental, given that I'm pretty sure I haven't had any problems yet.
So now, I'm left wondering if I should continue my search. The shoes I wore today still look okay, so I think with a little bit of cleanup, I could return them as new.
In some ways I'm lucky. For one, I don't have to have new shoes right away; it's just that the soles are starting to get dangerously slick in spots. And two, because I did this over the holiday season, a lot of the shoes have an extended return window.
So, randomly I saw a shoe review video where they mentioned the insole being designed to wick moisture away. So maybe that's actually the problem I have with the Merrells and the Vivobarefoots. I just assumed it was the surrounding fabric. Especially on the vivobarefoots, since the sock liner doesn't really look breathable.
But a wicking insole would explain why the Merrells were too breathable in the cold, windy air, yet my feet still ended up damp later. It almost makes me wonder if I should look into buying some breathable insoles instead of possibly just going for completely different shoes.
Ugh though. Just ugh.