If you've read Born to Run (if not, please do so!), then you certainly remember one of the more colorful personalities in the book, Barefoot Ted. Barefoot Ted (BFT) has his own huarache sandal company called Luna Sandals drawing upon inspiration from the Tarahumara. In fact, the name "Luna" is in honor of Manuel Luna who made Ted his first pair of huaraches. I have been running in BFT's Original Lunas for a year now, and they have become my go-to huarache for longer runs. BFT has been tweaking his designs and releasing new models, and I was recently offered the opportunity to test his latest huaraches sandal design, the "LeadCat."
There are now six different types of Luna Sandals available. The different types give you the opportunity to select the best sandal for your particular needs, and all of them offer levels of customization. BFT has targeted the LeadCat toward hardcore trail runners and those looking for a premium casual sandal.
BFT named the LeadCat sole after the Leadville Trail 100, a grueling 100 mile ultra-marathon in Leadville, Colorado. These Leadville soles are made by Vibram and are 8mm thick with a relatively aggressive tread pattern. The thickness of the sole is the primary factor for determining for which terrain the huaraches are suited, and at 8mm, these will handle some of the rougher stuff found on trails. The Leadville soles are topped with a 2mm tanned leather footbed with the Luna Sandal logo stamped on the heel — enjoy the logo while you can, because it will gradually wear away with use. Over time, the leather will mold to your foot and give you an even more custom fit.
For the LeadCat, your only customization option comes with the selection of laces. You can choose from a variety of materials and associated widths. Included in the basic cost is your choice of either a leather set of laces, or braided hemp. For an additional charge, you can outfit your LeadCat with "Equus" elasticized leather laces.
My test pair had the 5/8" Equus laces, and I found them to be excellent. They are soft against the skin, have enough grip to avoid slipping, and the elastic property eases the task of getting yourself a proper fit and still being able to slip them on and off again and again without retying them. Another huge advantage of the Equus lacing is the new countersunk design which eliminates the knot normally located on the bottom of the sole. I've run hundreds of miles in my Original Lunas and replaced the laces a few times, but I don't anticipate needing replacement laces for the LeadCats for a very long time.
Walking and Running in the LeadCat Huaraches
As you can see from the photos below, my Original Lunas have seen some heavy use with hundreds of running miles logged. Notice how the leather footbed has taken the shape of my foot. The sandals tends to adhere to your foot better and therefore function like a second skin. I found the LeadCats to be equally comfortable on long runs especially during off-road use thanks to the thicker Leadville sole. Before long, they'll be broken in resulting in an even better fit.
The Equus lacing have proven to be very comfortable worn all day casually or after a 10+ mile run. The key characteristic of them is that they have just enough elasticity to stay snug on your foot without being too tight. I also appreciate the different nylon material which goes between your toes. It is thin and flexible so you don't get any irritation. Lacing is also much easier than other methods — just an overhand knot and you're ready to go.
I ordered my Original Lunas with the hemp lacing, but I found them to be too rough on my skin, so I switched them out for a pair of extra long boot laces. They do the job, but they aren't the most visually appealing. On the other hand, the Equus laces look much nicer. They look good enough to pass my wife's test of appropriateness so I've been wearing my LeadCats casually everywhere I go.
If you're interested in trying a pair of huaraches, check out the different models at Luna Sandals. Look to the LeadCat if you need something more rugged or you like the look of them for a casual wear. You might as well factor in the cost of the Equus laces, because they are well worth the extra money.
Ordering, Pricing, Availability
You can order your Lunas in sizes from 4 through 13, but I highly recommend getting them custom made. It doesn't cost anything extra, and you're guaranteed to get exactly the correct size. For huaraches, a perfect fit is key to comfort and performance. You'll simply trace your feet on a piece of paper, scan or photograph it, and e-mail it to them when you order. Hang on to that picture for future orders!
The LeadCat sandals start at $125 (Equus lacing is an additional $10 for the 1/2" and $15 for the 5/8" width) and are available directly from BFT at his website. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, you can visit the Born to Run stores located in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington.