NOTE/UPDATE 1/27/2012: The ATS has been discontinued as a standalone huaraches offering from Luna; however, you can now get the ATS laces on other huaraches (the lacing system is really what makes the ATS unique in this space). For example, you can get ATS laces on the Leadville!
Barefoot Ted and Luna Sandals have released another new model adding to their extensive line of huarache sandals. Lunas are sandals inspired by those worn by the Tarahumara featured in Born to Run. The All Terrain Sandal, or ATS for short, adopts many of the earlier innovations found in Luna Sandals like the LeadCat and combines them with a few new features.
With the release of the ATS, there are now seven models of Luna Sandals from which to choose. The ATS set themselves apart from the others in that they're specifically designed for "wet, muddy, and rugged" conditions. You can add cold to that list since they're marketed in conjunction with optional toe socks, the ToeSox ULTRA Sport Socks. I managed to put my pair of ATS huaraches through all of those conditions and on one day, all four.
At first glance, there isn't much to these sandals. There is a sole and some webbing to strap it to your foot. However, upon closer inspection, you will see plenty of thought has gone into the details of these two basic parts.
The sole comes in your choose of either an 8mm "Pacer" or a 10mm "Leadville" sole. Go with the thicker of the two if you plan to handle primarily rocky terrain. Since that isn't normally my running surface, I opted for the 8mm soles. Since the ATS were made with wet conditions in mind, the soles have a non-slip footbed that grabs nicely grabs your bare foot or socks when wearing them. There is a moderate amount of tread providing traction on loose surfaces.
The strapping systems is an interesting mix of materials chosen carefully for each part of your foot. It begins with their now standard plug and ribbon system eliminating a knot on the bottom of the sole thereby giving you a smooth sole and eliminating wear. A thin ribbon material runs between your toes to reduce rubbing. A 5/8" nylon strap connected from there and continues around the heel, however the portion around the heel adds an additional elasticized leather to simplify fitting and keep the strap from slipping. The remainder of the strap is 1/2" nylon coupled with a buckle for quick adjustments -- no knots!
Walking and Running in the ATS Huaraches
Over the last few months, the ATS has served me well as my primary casual sandal. With the wide straps and stealthy black color, I've worn them all over town without drawing too much attention. Like any huarache, they are extremely comfortable allowing natural foot motion. Once you have the straps dialed in, they are very comfortable and I encountered no rubbing or other hot spots over the course of an entire day.
Running in the ATS was equally pleasurable. I've logged a few hundred miles on them, and they have become my go-to huaraches for a mixed terrain run. They are certainly thicker than they need to be for road running, but those extra few millimeters are welcome when hitting trails and their associated roots and rocks. I put them to the test on a seven mile run up and down the trails of Rothrock State Forest near State College, Pennsylvania on a cold Christmas Day. The trail was littered with wet, sharp rocks, and I found the the 8mm soles provided plenty of protection as I scrambled up or came tumbling down the mountains.
Socks or No Socks?
I had a pair of the ToeSox ULTRA Sport Socks to test along with my pair of ATS. I wasn't even aware Injinji had any real competition in the toe socks market until trying the ToeSox pair. ToeSox makes a quality pair of socks worthy of consideration, and while I found them a great combination when walking in my ATS, running was more of a challenge. Each time I attempted to run with the socks, the heel strap wouldn't grip the sock material like it would with my skin. Therefore, the strap would slip down. Continuing to tighten the straps to combat this didn't work well so finding the right fit was difficult. Inevitably, I would give up, slip the socks off, and drop them in my pocket. The good news is that it has to be pretty cold to run and truly require socks. I was running in freezing weather and my feet were just fine in just their skin alone.
The name ATS is certainly appropriate for these huaraches. They are deceiving in appearance since while they appear no-frills, they are very capable of handling anything you throw at them. If you're going to have one pair of Lunas, these are the ones.
Ordering, Pricing, Availability
You can order the ATS in sizes from 4 through 13, but I always recommend getting them custom made. It costs nothing extra, and you're guaranteed to get exactly the perfect fit -- the key to comfort and performance. Simply trace your feet on a piece of paper, scan or photograph it, and e-mail it to them when you order.
The ATS start at $85 for the 8mm Pacer soles. Add $10 for the 10mm Leadville soles The ATS as it's own sandal (with the Pacer soles) has been discontinued, but never fear, you can still use the ATS laces on the Leadville Lunas. Note the ToeSox ULTRA Sport Socks are also $10. You can purchase them directly from Luna Sandals, or if you're in the Pacific Northwest, you can visit the Born to Run stores located in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington.