Review Lems Mariner 2 (updated!) - Barefoot Boat Shoe

Review Lems Mariner 2 (updated!) - Barefoot Boat Shoe

I love Lems Shoes. My 9to5s continue to be a staple in my closet.

Many months back (now) Andrew sent me a pair of the updated version of the Lems Mariner to test and review. Long-time readers might remember I had highly positive things to say about the Mariners three years back when I first reviewed them (here). Well, as much as I liked the Mariners then, the updated versions are even better.

This review has been long-coming. Read on!

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  • minimalist sandals!

    Xero Shoes - Barefoot Running Sandals

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

Summertime = Sandaltime!

While I am a huge fan of running in huaraches all year long, the summertime provides zero excuses for us to get closer to the ground and to air out our feet during our sunny adventures!

For this review, I picked up two sandals with different interpretations of the classic huarache design. Both feature 5mm soles and are the latest sandals to hit the block.

Click through to read my thoughts on the Eclipse from Vivobarefoot and the Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps from Shamma Sandals!

Vivobarefoot Eclipse

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

The Eclipse is the latest in a long line of huarache-inspired sandals from Vivobarefoot. The first Vivo sandal was the Achilles (and later, the Achilles 2.0), which was known for its unorthodox design.

The Achilles was followed up by the Ulysses, which was a much more laid back design that lacked some of the necessary strap customization for a true running experience.

Finally, we have something that looks the most like a true huarache! The Eclipse sandal has more customization than anything Vivo has come up with in the past and is surprisingly easy to slip on and quickly adjust to a good fit.

What Vivobarefoot says about about the Eclipse:

Our most advanced running sandal; Eclipse is the closest you'll get to truly barefoot, whilst still giving you reliable puncture protection. With adjustable fastening on the toe and insole allows optimum control over your run, whilst the ultra-thin, puncture resistant sole keeps you close to the ground beneath.

MSRP at time of review — $99.95 (you can find it for $70 at Zappos)

Weight — 6.8 oz (Mens 9)

Total Stack Height — 5mm Vivobarefoot Sole

Barefoot scale —5mm stack height is thicker than your typical (3mm) Vivobarefoot sport sole. Ground feel is just okay, while flexibility is diminished compared to the Stealth II, EVO PURE, and Primus from Vivobarefoot.

Ideal Uses — Walking around, hiking, beach bumming

Pros

  • The most attractive sandal from Vivobarefoot
  • One of the easiest sandals to adjust on the market
  • Good traction
  • 5mm sole is great for new runners, but a 3mm Vivobarefoot sole would have been perfect

Cons

  • Elastic strap is too springy for running
  • Odd tarsal counter is restrictive for some feet
  • Not as flexible as other Vivo offerings
  • Uncomfortable toepost sculpting

Fitting — Standard Vivobarefoot sizing. Single foot shape and a foot measurement chart is available on Vivobarefoot’s website. Unfortunately, not all models follow that measurement and you might have to go up or down a size, depending on model. I recommend ordering one EU size or half an US size up.

Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

This might be the one.

The Warriors were one of my favorite running sandals and I still use my first pair to this day with over 500 miles of trails, rocks, and cobblestone to its credit.

The latest from Shamma Sandals incorporates the same updates as the Jerusalem Cruiser 2.0 and the addition of their “Power Straps” makes this former well-balanced “all-arounder” into a “do-everything” huarache for the modern age.

What Shamma Sandals says:

You'll find yourself equally at home in Warriors on forest trail runs, playing frisbee in the park with the grass between your toes, or doing yoga under a brilliant sunrise.

Power Straps are designed for high-impact activities. These babies give you just that extra layer of being locked in and stabilized in your favorite pair of Shammas.

If you need to dial it up to 11, pick up a pair of Power Straps with your sandals!

MSRP at time of review — $80 plus $9 for power straps (Shammas Warriors order page)

Weight — 3.8 (Mens 9)

Total Stack Height — 5mm Vibram Newflex

Barefoot scale — 5mm Vibram Newflex has great groundfeel, flexibility, while providing good traction and some protection from sharp stuff. A minimalist’s dream.

Ideal Uses — Running, jumping, rock-hopping, technical trails—everything!

Pros

  • The most secure running sandals, ever
  • Excellent control, flexibility, traction, and groundfeel
  • Easily-adjustable
  • Wide-sizing with good fitting options

Cons

  • Removable Power Straps are a bit too busy-looking for casual-wear
  • Only one shoe shape available

Fitting — Shamma Sandals provides printed templates of all of their sizes for you to “try out” before you order. Unlike Unshoes, there is currently only one foot shape to Shamma Sandals, but it is to be able to see your best size before you order.

Comparison - Soles

The Vivobarefoot Eclipse uses a modified version of the same sole that has been synonymous with Vivobarefoot for years. It’s a slick 5mm sole that has some shallow lugs on the bottom for traction.

Vivobarefoot soles are a bit different than your usual performance soles. They relatively dense and have a plasticky feel, compared to rubberized soles.

While 5mm sounds about standard for most huaraches, most of Vivo’s fans have been running around in their classic 3mm sole in their running shoes for years.

The 3mm sole is one of my favorites for lifestyle shoes, including the Vivobarefoot’s own Mata, Jay, Ra, Gobi, and Dharma shoes—all of which I own and adore—their running shoes—including the recently reviewed Stealth II. My go-to shoes for work and everyday wear have always been either the Dharma, Jay, or Mata. They are excellent slip-ons for just kicking back with with friends or looking business-ready with some colorful dress pants or dark jeans.

Folks transitioning from 20mm+ chukkas and other sandals (think Teva) will see this sole as a revelation; you will feel the ground in a way that you never thought was possible before! However, fans of Vivobarefoot might scoff at a huarache-inspired sandal that looks run-ready that is nearly as thick as their trail shoes. The sole is great for walking around and enjoying the summer, but is a bit awkward to run in when combined with the other aspects of the sandal (more on that later).

This 5mm sole used in the Eclipse is denser and heavier than the 3mm soles that have been tried-and-true for Vivobarefoot for quite some time. As a result, this sleek-looking huarache weighs more than some minimalist running shoes at 6.8 oz for a Mens size 9.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
The nubby texture of the Eclipse sole

I honestly wish that Vivobarefoot used the 3mm sole instead of this 5mm sole. The extra 2mm go a long way in diminishing the flexibility and the groundfeel of the sandal. I am sure that this was move to be more comfortable as most folks with the 3mm sole would be wearing socks to offset the thin sole. The 5mm sole might have been chosen for barefoot work. Overall, the sole is pretty good, not bad, just okay—depending on how minimalist you are.

For walking around town, the sole does a great job and it is great for trails as well. The lugs are a bit too shallow to be helpful for traction, but it will be fine for some light trail work, rocky patches, and logs. However, the dense sole does not have the right amount of stickiness for wet work. You’ll be fine running around on the beach, but they are a bit too slippery for jumping from rock-to-rock in a stream.

Because the sole is quite dense, it does not have much give when pressed down. The ride, like other Vivo shoes, can be quite jarring and you really have to be careful of your form upon landing from a jump or running. Vivo’s shoes have always been great for technique and auditory training for running. If you have poor running form, you are going to notice the loud “clack, clack, clack” of the Vivo sole echoing around on pavement.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

Unlike other sandal soles that I have reviewed, the 5mm Vivo sole does not really ball itself like a certain space bounty hunter. Rather, it can fold unto itself down its center, but that is about the extent of its flexibility. Good for general use, but this “okay” flexibility translate to “okay” groundfeel.

The Shamma Samdals Warriors 2.0 use the same 5mm Newflex sole from Vibram as previous versions of the Warriors and Gladsoles’ “Street”/”Original” self-tying sandals.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
Vibram Newflex sole on the Shamma Warriors 2.0

This highly durable sole is perfect for trail runs and off-road conditions. The tread pattern is quite aggressive, providing the traction needed to stay on the path -- or go off it. It really does not get much more minimalist than these 5mm soles.

This is the more flexible sole of the two soles in this review and it is very easy to do a downward toe flex with these sandals—something you cannot do even with 6mm Morflex soles. Compared to the slappier and denser Vivo 5mm sole, the Newflex sole is pretty floppy. To be honest, between the two soles, it is amazing to think that they are actually the same thickness. The difference in material and density go a long way to affect how these two soles behave and, therefore, their uses.

In terms of ground feel, the Warriors transfer much more ground feel and information to your feet. Even though the Warriors are rated as 5mm, that does not quite tell the entire story about the sole. The 5mm of the Warriors features a ton of cuts in the tread, so there are sections of the sole that are really only 2.5-3mm thick, which contribute a lot to flexibility.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

Since the material is denser, it does not give as much as the Jerusalem Cruiser 2.0 on my runs, but will provide a little more protection on a trail. The previously reviewed Jerusalem Cruiser 2.0 is probably the better sandal for road running because of its more comfortable landings, but the Warriors can handle much more. With its groundfeel, you will feel every little thing underfoot: Small pebbles, twigs, leaves…even the stems of leaves! Groundfeed is just one notch above the Vibram KSO EVO, which are about as minimalist as one can get in a running shoe.

Fit and Performance

The Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors are completely different animals, despite having the same stack height and similar designs.

The Vivobarefoot Eclipse is definite the more casual of the two, while the Shamma Warriors (especially with the Power Straps) can tackle anything and everything you through at them. An argument can be made that the Eclipses are summer sandals that are huarache-inspired, while the updated Warriors actually improve upon the centuries-old huarache.

The entirety of the Eclipse strap system is made of a single strap that loops around the foot behind the heel and around the sides. This strap is extremely easy to adjust and is actually the easiest sandal I have ever reviewed for dialing a fit. You can slide the straps forward and back along the middle of your foot very easily and it’s dead simple to feed more strap material through the anchoring points on the side of the foot.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
The Eclipse uses a single strap that wraps around the foot in multiple places

The footbed is an interesting nubby texture. I had originally thought that it would be a nuisance, but the lugs are shallow enough that they did not the texture after a few steps. These nubs should help the sandal stay on your foot, but I have noticed in my time with the Eclipse that the footbed is still pretty slippery and the nubs did not add too much to the experience. If nothing else, they look pretty cool.

Unlike many running sandals, the Eclipse’s footbed is not flat. Instead, the footbed has a lot of molding and sculpting around the foot and this is detrimental to the user experience. The sides are of particular note; there is an odd tarsal counter on the inside of the foot. This section is raised up quite high and rubs on my foot as I walked. I would say that this lifted section could be very restricting to sizing, especially those with wide or especially beefy feet. As a welcome feature, the heel is slightly raised, which should keep some debris from getting into the footbed—not too unlike the molded heels in some Earthrunners and Xeroshoes sandals.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
The tarsal counter was a bit too intrusive to my foot

I was conflicted on this one.

For one, I really like Vivobarefoot’s running shoes and their lifestyle models. However, their entire sandal line has always been somewhat tricky. The Achilles was too odd-looking for most, the Ulysses was too simple in its fit. The Eclipse continues this trend with some poor choices in its materials. Aside from some issues with the sole discussed earlier, the excessive molding made the fit on the Eclipse very specific. If your foot does not match the molded areas, you are out of luck. The toepost area is also oddly molded and caused a blister on my foot after a running a short distance.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
The elastic strap was a bit too stretchy for anything more than a casual walk

In addition, the strap itself is far too elastic for running. When tightened for walking around, I can easily pull the strap with two fingers up to three inches past my heel. This makes for extremely sloppy movements with anything beyond walking.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
You can easily move the straps in multiple directions

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
Lots of customization options

When running, you want to have security and the confidence that your shoes will move with your feet, but the overly elastic straps were made for comfort in mind, not performance. Any time I moved my foot in a way that is beyond leisurely, the straps overstretch and the rest of the sandal does not harmonize with my movements. This is exacerbated by the awkward moldings and tarsal counter that rubbed on my foot even more than they should have because the sandal slid around so much with the springy straps.

Overall, the Vivobarefoot Eclipse is a fantastic shoe for hanging out, but its looks relay a sense of speed that is never achieved in execution.

Enter the Shamma Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
The super secure Warriors get even better with the addition of power straps

The original Warriors are some of my favorite “all-around” running sandals over the last couple of years. Recently, Shamma Sandals revamped their sandals with newer designs and materials, starting off with the Jerusalem Cruisers 2.0 that I reviewed a few months back.

The same updates and improvements made in the straps, attachment points, and buckles in the Jerusalem Cruisers 2.0 continue to the new version of the Warriors.

The entire sandal is constructed with just four materials: Leather, nylon straps and buckles, and the Vibram sole.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

The leather footbed is awesome (you can also get a naked footbed). The tobacco brown goat leather looks great, dries quickly when wet, and provides a nice texture for your foot. Over time, it develops a very nice patina (leather’s wear characteristics) and it is very durable. I have enjoyed several pairs of Shamma Sandals over the past two years and only my original all browns had its leather footed wear enough to expose the Vibram sole beneath. I punished those sandals with lots of liking, running, and tough terrain, despite the fact that they were used the Morflex sole that I would recommend mainly for roads and light trails.

As with other Shamma models, there is a lot of customization with the buckle system. You can move the main strap and plastic top buckle in four directions to get the best fit. However, the Vivo Eclipse is much easier to adjust than the Shamma, which requires a fair bit of threading the straps through the buckles like a belt to get the best fit.

However, you can actually adjust the straps on the Vivo Eclipse while you are still wearing them—the straps slide in and out of their anchor points very easily, while the Shamma Warriors are better when adjusted off-foot.

The heel strap on the Warriors allows you to customize the fit in a way that few sandals can compare. The velcro heel strap really makes the entire sandal feel incredibly secure and tight for nearly all activities…except for when I need take things up a notch!

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
The excellent heel strap from the Jerusalem Cruisers 2.0 returns for the Warriors 2.0

Previously, as with all running sandals, there are issues with side-to-side movements and tight turns.

The Warriors were already a very capable sandal—even moreso than the Jerusalem Cruisers—and the power straps make me feel like I can do anything. An issue that is inherent with all running sandals that I have used is that there are not enough anchor points that keep the sandal your feet.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

The standard for security points on a running sandal are the toepost, sides, and heel sections. This is fine for walking around and running in a straight line, but there is a serious lack of confidence when banking and running uphill and downhill compared to true shoes.

I never quite felt secure enough with my running sandals to go full speed in the past, but this is all alleviated by the newly released Power Straps!

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps
With my original pair of Warriors from 2014 (with over 500 miles of wear)

The power straps are made of durable nylon and velcro. They slip over the existing side straps of the sandal and create two more security points when moving around.

The end result is you have all the benefits of speed and maneuverability from a racing flat in a running sandal. It’s quite amazing to feel completely “locked in” while running with the power straps. I can turn faster, jump higher and handle inclines better than I ever thought was possible with a pair of huaraches. The power straps improve stability, security, and your overall confidence by a wide margin.

Combo Review: Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Shamma Sandals Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps

For complete security, there needs to be a little extra around the hinged area along the sides or further up the foot. Of course, running shoes have you covered by completely encasing your foot, but you won’t have the breathability or the rainproofing of a sandal (how many shoes have we ruined in the rain?). The Power Straps are a near-perfect solution for the issue of huarache security in high-intensity activities.

Summary

These just isn’t anything quite like running in the summer with the breeze skimming over your feet, free to get dirty and jump around puddles without any fear or “ruining your shoes”.

The Vivobarefoot Eclipse and Warriors 2.0 with Power Straps from Shamma Sandals are different interpretations of the classic huaraches design. They both look capable, but only the Warriors have the performance chops to match their rugged looks. The Warriors were already a fantastic “all-around” sandal for nearly all activities, but the addition of the Power Straps makes them the most capable running sandals I have ever owned.

For me, The Warriors with the Power Straps are the best running sandals on the market.

The Eclipse on the other hand, is an excellent sandal for kicking around town, but so was the Ulysses from Vivobarefoot. When the Ulysses was announced, I rejoiced that Vivo was making another sandal, but wished that they would add more fit customization for a true running sandal. Unfortunately, while the eclipse does add more customization options—and its dead easy to dial in a good fit with its straps—the choice of an overly stretchy strap and too many molded areas makes it nearly impossible to run in.

In the Eclipse is in the same class as the Earthrunners Circadian Slip-On. A nice design for leisure activities.

Review - Xero Shoes Umara Z-Trail Minimalist Sandals

Review - Xero Shoes Umara Z-Trail Minimalist Sandals

I've been a fan of Xero Shoes since before they adopted their current monicker. Like many runners, I was greatly affected by reading Born to Run and immediately set out to find myself some of those magical running sandals known as huaraches.

My very first pair of huaraches was the most basic pair that I could find anywhere on the interwebs, from the then-newish company called Invisible Shoes, and is still the simplest pair I own. Nothing more than a 4mm thick flap of rubber with a single long black lace with which to keep it steady on the foot.

But like so many first-worlders who reach into the past to try out some vintage or otherwise culturally appropriated products, I encountered some aspects that I found disagreeable. Though the shoes held on well, the tying was more tedious than I'd been hoping for. I was just starting a new career as a personal trainer and coach, and was rushing around all the time. Between the various appointments I had to get to around town, plus the fact that I usually took my shoes off as soon as I got to the gym, it became important to have shoes that I could get on and off pretty fast.

Slowly and sadly, my old classic style Xeros saw less and less sunshine. My primary go-to became a slightly updated version of the huarache with an elastic heel strap that I could get on and off pretty quickly. But I still checked in on Xero pretty regularly, because I appreciated the absolute simplicity of their shoes while still maintaining quality.

So when I heard about the Umara Z-Trail I was pretty excited. But also wasn't too sure about the Teva-like strap system. Thankfully, Xero Shoes hooked me up with a pair to try and review: read on!

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Trek Ascent Insulated Vibram FiveFingers Review

Trek Ascent Insulated Vibram FiveFingers Review

Vibram’s Trek Ascent Insulated is a fantastic variant of the Trek Ascent for a variety of winter activities. Featuring a wool sockliner that does a fantastic job keeping you warmer than you would expect from a toed shoe, the Ascent Insulated is great for snowy runs, and this new model just might be the most comfortable shoe that Vibram has ever created.

Read on for the full review!

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