If you’ve been around ultra-minimalist running and walking for a while you’ve probably seen more than a few sandal or huarache varieties. They are mostly the same; very thin Vibram rubber outsole that is shaped like the outline of your foot and then some sort of lacing system that involves a long cord that is worked all round the sandal bed and your foot to secure it in place. Moreover, most of the huaraches available these days typically involve a strap that runs between your big toe and its neighbor.
Enter the Unshoes Pah Tempe, a minimalist sandal that avoids the big toe thong attachment point, invoking the spirit of Chacos or Tevas but without the heftier soles. Today I'll be reviewing the Unshoes Pah Tempe — read on!
Designed specifically for people who don’t like to have a strap between the toes. The Pah Tempe is the first minimal sandal without a toe strap. This sandal is perfect for rough terrain and situations where lateral movement is required!
I’ve been a fan of Tevas and Chacos for many, many years; gone through several pairs. However I’ve always been disappointed about how heavy and clunky these sandals typically are; so unnecessary! I even explored taking a hacksaw to some older pairs just to see if I could create a more minimal version (I was vastly unsuccessful!). I even ordered some Luna Sandals and it was very refreshing and liberating to be able to roam around and run in a much lighter sandal. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get over the very feminine look of the sandal and the often irritating strap between my toes. I knew there had to be other options out there.
One day, after having left a comment saying as much about some latest huarache review on Birthdayshoes.com (I think it was for the Branca Barefoot Running Sandal), I was contacted via e-mail by somebody who shared my view towards most of the huaraches available and suggested I take a look at the new Pah Tempe by Unshoes. I then went to the Unshoes website and right away found a kindred spirit in Terral Fox, owner of Unshoes. Seems he shared the same view I had towards traditional rugged sport sandals. So some time passed, but eventually I got around to ordering a custom made pair and I’ve been roaming around all Spring long in them! Here is my review.
Like many other huarache options out there, Unshoes builds their sandals on a per order, custom basis. Basically you send them a tracing of both your feet and any special requests regarding fit such as a tighter fit for running, or looser and larger foot bed for casual use. In my case since I just wanted a pair of lighter, more minimal sandals for everyday use I instructed that I wanted a bit more room than my outline showed. The turnaround time, at the time of this review, was about 3-4 weeks from the time of your order.
The Unshoe Pah Tempe uses a Vibram rubber sole and comes in two thicknesses: 6mm or 10mm, which are two different sole types.
The 6mm “Sport Utility” is made of an “expanded rubber compound that offers excellent flexibility, traction, and durability…has a very small amount of cushion, is light weight and offers very good traction.”
The 10mm “Newflex” is the thickest sole option but is still very light, it is made of “expanded rubber” as well and is said to float, “making it a good option for water sports.”
I chose the 10mm Brown NewFlex (black is also available) with Rust webbing color. Here they are:
When I received my Pah Tempes I was amazed by the overall quality of the construction and just how light they were! To me they basically looked like my old Chacos but much, much lighter and without the huge amount of arch support. The Pah Tempes I found are amazingly flexible; you can easily roll them up and put them in your pocket. I will say that the rubber sole appeared to be a bit “rough cut”, not quite as smoothly cut like what would be seen if it were machine cut. Also there were some loose stitching and rough edges on the web strapping here and there. However, all of this is merely cosmetic and no way has interfered with the overall feel and performance; just something that Unshoes could improve in the future.
I’ll admit that some of my friends did honestly ask if I’d made these sandals myself! So, yes, they do have that “do it yourself” look to them but honestly I really didn’t mind as I already owned another pair of huaraches that had the same look and feel. If this is a concern then perhaps Unshoes, or any number of other small company huarache makers, is not for you.
When I put them on I found the fit to be superb and the single web and buckle strap was easy to adjust and seemed very secure. The excess webbing strap was annoying at first as I found that I had to use just about the full adjustability of the strap and buckle to really feel snug. However, rather than figure out just how much I needed and trim off the excess, I discovered all I had to do was tuck the excess under the inside ankle strap and it was safely out of the way and not annoying at all. I’ve run into trouble in the past by inadvertently cutting off too much in the way of trimming belts, shoe laces so don’t do it unless you’re really, really sure!
For the past month and a half I’ve been wearing my Pah Tempes just about everywhere; taking the dogs for a walk, running errands, camping and basically anytime I can be without shoes! Even with the 10mm Vibram sole the Pah Tempe still has pretty good ground feel, I imagine the even thinner Vibram soles that Unshoes offer would obviously have even more. I do detect a slight feeling of cushioning with these 10mm Vibram soles that I really like.
I haven’t tried running in the Pah Tempe yet and I really don’t plan to; so no review forth coming in that respect. I bought the Pah Tempe for casual use to replace my bulky sport sandals and they definitely are a worthy replacement in my view! However, I have worn the Pah Tempe on some fairly rugged, off camber terrain while camping and adventuring in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. I will say I had no traction, stability or foot slippage issues in the Pah Tempe and can believe that this would make a wonderful running sandal.
My overall impression is very favorable. If you’ve been a fan of more traditional sport sandals that didn’t have a toe strap but were put off by the excessive bulk and weight of those sandals, you’ll probably love the Pah Tempe. I think that even if you’re a fan of more traditional huaraches that have the toe strap you’ll probably like the Pah Tempe as well. The Pah Tempe is a a bit rough around the edges because of its homemade looks and construction but make no mistake this a no nonsense, very minimal, very comfortable sandal that is worth trying.
Check them out over at Unshoes and let us know what you think!