The minimalist craze may have settled somewhat (good riddance, Five Fingers), but one profound principle remains: our bodies need to connect to the earth, not be insulated from it. And that’s what footwear manufacturer Xero advocates, even to the point of not wearing shoes at all. But when you must, they say, wear theirs. I took the company’s advice and strapped on a pair of TerraFlex hiking/trail-running shoes, and the message came through loud and clear: I could feel everything beneath my feet. That in turn made me more nimble and well-balanced, two attributes I seek more and more these days. And while the sole allowed my feet to bend and flex as if they were bare, it still blocked sharp rocks as I ran, hopped, and leaped my way down the trail (and off the trail), like an exuberant canine—which, of course, is what a good pair of trail shoes should make you want to do. The TerraFlex does run a tad small, so choose a half-size up. $100; xeroshoes.com.