Ok so here is a bit of a review of my first go at a pair of huaraches. I wanted to try out something a little different, as my feet have a habit of getting really hot, sweaty and uncomfortable when running in warm weather. I've been running in VFF's since January, and have tried a number of makes. As much as I like to run in them, I definitely need to wash them very frequently as they get pretty funky. I did some reading and research, and settled on Barefoot Ted's Luna Sandals. I read 'Born to Run' in the late spring and when I found out Ted was making sandals, I thought it would be awesome to get a pair. This pair I have had since May, and here are my thoughts on them.
I went through all of the different models available, and read the reviews. There wasn't much at the time in regards to the Equus sandals, as they were a newer offering and it was winter, which kind of stops folks from running in sandals. When reading about the Shell cordovan top, it sounded like a fantastic material to incorporate into a sandal, and I thought 'I have to try that!'. Bearing in mind that these retail for around $115 dollars, the price point is pretty steep for a pair of sandals. This alone makes them 'not for everyone'. On the other hand, they truly are worth the money. The build quality is top notch, and they get better with age. Also with the Shell Cordovan top, you can get these sandals resoled for a mere $25 when you manage to wear them out. This will make for an extremely long-lasting piece of footwear. As a note, I went with the 5/8" equus laces as I have a big gap between my big and second toe. I definitely like the wide laces. They feel great on my feet.
Here are two shots of them out of the box (or rather a mailing envelope: made and packed by BFT himself). Pardon the grainy pictures, as I took these with my phone in a rush.
My first impression of the sandals were 'damn, these things are stiff'. Between the new materials and not really knowing the art of huarache lace trying, my first few wears took some getting used to. Unlike VFF's there is a break in period of a couple of weeks. I attempted a run in them shortly after getting them, and my feet didn't enjoy it at all. The tension of my laces were too tight, and the fact that they weren't broken in didn't help much either. It didn't take long at all for them to feel more natural against my foot however. Once they formed to my feet, it was like night and day. I also leave my laces a little looser for walking around and casual wear, and tighten them slightly when I am heading off for a run. They have contoured to the shape of my foot and have become much more flexible.
Also, here is the knot. I don't even notice it anymore as it flattened out pretty well after my first few wears. Probably the big gap between my toes allows it not to bother me.
These have easily become my favourite footwear by a mile. I use these for casual wear, running to the gym and back, and for all of my longer road runs. I've ran some trails, and as long as it doesn't get too rocky these will do the trick. I plan on getting a pair of Leadcats from Luna to do all of my trail running and hiking for next summer. My VFFs have been relegated to the closet for the summer, unless I am hitting a really gnarly trail, playing badminton or hitting the gym. I end up doing most of my running in the afternoon as I'm on shift and like my sleep during my days off. The weather here has been fantastic, warm and dry so I end up doing a lot of my runs in the summer afternoon heat. When I'm in my Lunas my feet don't get overly sweaty. You really can't get much more breathable footwear than huaraches, unless you go barefoot. My feet stay dry and not prone to blisters, and they don't get smelly. I can't say that for my VFF's at all!
Here is the way the footbeds have broken in. The oils from your skin alter the look of the leather, giving it that darker look. The shell cordovan started off as stiff and slippery but is entirely different now. The leather is soft, and feels amazing against my foot. Where it is darker, the leather has taken on a bit of a 'grippy' kind of texture, which is very nice. I find even when they get wet (which isn't often here in Alberta) they don't slide around at all.
They are also much more flexible. This has changed the ground feel a lot. The sandals didn't have very much ground feel to begin with, but now I would say they are similar to the feel you'd get with KSO's, or maybe a touch less feel. Here are the wear patterns on my soles. Thus far I've put about 100km on them. It's really dusty and sandy here, so even though I try to keep my form good, my feet still scuff. It's definietly not me, because as soon as I run on clean pavement I hardly make a sound. This will likely reduce the life of the soles, but as long as I keep an eye on them, I can just get 'em resoled.
I think it's cool how my wear patterns look just like a footprint I'd leave in the sand. I think the small toe indents are cool.
Here are a couple of shots I took the other day after I did a 12k run in them. Threw some hill work in, and absolutely loved it. My feet were filthy from all the construction going on in town. I swear Fort McMurray decided to do 30 years worth of construction in one summer. It's been insane!
So my verdict on these sandals is if you have some extra cash laying around and are looking for a new pair of summer footwear that you can run in, I could not reccomend these highly enough. For road running and light trails, these have been perfect. If you plan on running a lot of rough trails, Luna has a couple of different offerings for that specific purpose. The thicker elastecised laces hold your foot in place very securely, and don't rub against the skin at all. Luna Sandals make a fantastic product, and I definitely dig the Tarahumara influence. The only thing that really says 'modern' about these sandals are the newer laces, and the new lacing system they are offering. The new system is fantastic, with the counter-sunk plug that eliminates wear on your laces. Another great thing is that for $20 they will retrofit your sandals to have the new system in place. Couple that with the different lacing options, I am very very happy to have gone with Luna sandals. Sure, they are more expensive than other makes, but they offer a realy cool product and have amazing customer service. If you get a pair of these, you'll be 100% satisfied. Also you can have a pair of sandals that would be perfect for a toga party!
Thanks for reading, Happy Trails!