Shamma Sandals continues to cook up new designs, while polishing their prior works over multiple iterations. The Trailstars Maximus is everything that I asked for when I revied its bigger brother, the TrailStars Alpha.
Is the Trailstars Maximus the perfect sandal? Read on to see my thoughts!
Also along for the review ride, a pair of XOTOES socks from XOSKIN!
From the Manufacturer
New Shamma Lacing, new possibilities- TrailStars are designed to take on the toughest trails while keeping you comfortably secure. TrailStar Maximus LEs have a whole new lacing system, which connects the forefoot and big toe to the sandal like never before. With the Trailstars, you get shoe-level connection to the sole, using our proprietary Forefoot UltraStrap and SoleAnchors. Forefoot UltraStraps and SoleAnchors allow total control over your adjustments, to give you a perfect fit. All this in minimalist sandals that allow for flexibility and natural foot movement.
The TrailStars lacing is made from HP UltraSuede, which is material that is made without leather but that will provide comfort and security all day long!
TrailStar Maximus LEs share the same sole as the Warriors Maximus LEs. except they use an American Aniline leather footbed. Hike in comfort and style with Aniline leather!
Have a wide foot and/or a high arch? Choose the L option in your size! The L size option will allow you to get the same size sole, but with longer straps to account for wide feet/high arches.
“Hey, are those Shammas?”
I looked over my shoulder and saw a smiling gentleman with his family.
“Yes! You have good eyes”, I exclaimed!
“Jarvis?”, the man followed up.
“Haha! Yes!” I am almost shouting at Brookline Trader Joes.
“We follow your blog. I have to thank you for getting us into minimalist shoes”
I looked down and, to my utter delight, an entire family of two parents and two young kids, all in Shamma sandals.
What the nice dad did not know was that I was in fact testing out a brand new model that Shamma Sandals had been developing for better part of a year.
Enter Shamma’s magnum opus, the Trailstars Maximus LE!
Previously, I had reviewed the Trailstar Alphas, which I gave high marks for in control, flexibility, the magical quality of feeling thinner than it actually was, and the overall look and materials of the sandal…but I just wanted something even thinner! The barefoot gods above must have smiled upon me when I wrote that review because the Trailstars Maximus were on the way! While the Trailstars Alpha featured a 6mm Morflex bottom attached to a 5mm Newflex sole for a total stack height of 12mm, the Trailstars Maximus use just Newflex at an 8mm stack height (plus 1mm of goat leather).
The Trailstars Maximus is the thinner brother to the Trailstars Alpha. The Trailstars line from Shamma Sandals combine the best of toepost sandals (Shamma’s Warriors, Cruzers, Chargers, Earthrunners and Bedrock Sandals) as well as the open layout sandals (like the Xeroshoes Z-Trek and Unshoes Pah Tempe).
Also a part of the Trailstars line is the Trailstars Omega, which is a THICK Alpha with a total stack height of 15mm (vs 12mm); that one is definitely not for me, but I would bet that a large number of hikers and runners (hikers in particular) would enjoy it.
Using a forefoot UltraStrap and SoleAnchors combination of straps really makes the sandal feel connected to your foot. The sandal are more secure in all situations and, as a result, feel thinner than they actually are; the best of both worlds?
Newflex is a durable sole is perfect for trail runs, as well as on and off-road conditions. The tread pattern is quite aggressive with its chevron zig-zag tread patterh, providing the traction for a variety of surfaces. It is very flexible, even with an 8mm stack height. The combination of soles and straps make the Maxumus feel closer to 5-6mm to my feet. The added control that the straps allow really provide a much more connected feel. Newflex has a history of being reliable, durable, and secure and is a very popular sole material, especially for thin sandals. This 8mm treatment of Newflex is the thickest iteration, but this does not detract from its flexibility and dexterity. I can perform a downward toeflex, which is not possible with a thinner 6mm of Vibram morflex (morflex is great for road running, FYI). The 8mm thickness of the Newflex sole in the Trailstars Alpha is required for its strap system (more on that later), but the overall feel is a sandal in the 6mm range, even though it is 8mm, thanks in large part to the control and security of the straps.
Newflex is reliable, flexible, and pretty durable. However, I have been seeing more Vibram Gumlite over the last few years in various sandals, such as Bedrock and Earthrunners. While I believe Shamma has the best designs for running sandals, Gumlite is also a fantastic sole that maybe can be incorporated into future sandals. Gumlite is less flexible than Newflex and its tread pattern is all nubs, but it is a slightly denser material that is slightly more durable.
Throughout my testing in Denver, Chicago, and New England, the Trailstars Maximus were fantastic. A shoe that is so well-connected that it almost feels invisible.
This might be my favorite sandal in terms of look. The combination of suede straps and goat leather just gives everything a nice color and feeling of being lived in. After time, the leather will develop a patina and, voila, it’s your feet! I absolutely love the look of worn in leather tops.
Like the Trailstars Alphas, they have a very purposeful aesthetic, which has a stronger feeling of lightness and speed in this thinner model. As a bonus, the thinner sole makes them more flexible and that comes through loud and clear in their looks. Again, there is a swiftness that is conveyed, but also security.
Other open layout sandals have straps that are looped through buckles in their adjustments and you may end up with excess strap materials just flopping around and looping sloppy. The opposite is true of the Trailstars design. There is no clunkiness to be found anywhere.
The toe strap gives off a slightly aggressive, but polished appearance, thanks to the smooth and minimalist straps. There is a delicate balance that is struct between security and comfort with the Trailstars that really is not found anywhere else. Other sandals can look more minimal, but also lose some of that secure look.
Having that extra toe control creates a greater sense of connectedness to the sandal and to the ground that really has to be felt to be appreciated. I write in the Trailstars Alphas review that the sandal felt thinner than it really is because of that extra security and control from the toe loop and the same is true for the thinner Trailstars Maximus.
Fit and Materials
As they criss-cross around your foot in four places, there is very good distribution of force for any situation. That stopping power means security, but also comfort as no single part of your foot is bearing the brunt of the load, but rather the entire foot is held together with the HP Ultrasuede straps.
The tobacco brown goat leather looks great, dries quickly when wet, and provides a nice texture for your foot. This leather is more durable than older versions, stands up to water a bit better, and is very smooth. This leather does not dry out as quickly as other sandal uppers I have experienced and takes to leather oil very nicely. Again, the patina is fantastic and gives the sandals a lived-in, personal touch.
If you opt to skip the leather footbed (LE version), the Ultragrip footbed is an excellent waterproof footbed made from Toughtek® material and has excellent grip. The Ultragrip footbed features a very subtle diamond pattern provides a large, sticky surface area for your foot, while channeling away water, dirt, and mud. (shoutout to arengant on the barefootrunning subreddit for praising the Ultragrip footbed!)
As a side note, I had encountered a person on reddit whose wore through their Chargers. I asked them to contact Shamma directly as it seems like more than just normal wear and tear. Shamma got back to them and assisted in replacing their sandal. Customer service from a family-owned, local shop is pretty nice!
The Trailstars Maximus really checked the boxes on everything I wanted to improve on the Alphas; make then thinner and more flexible—swifter! Shamma delivered on this front, but I do think that maybe Gumlite may be an excellent option for their sandals in the future. There is good representation from Morflex and Newflex, but perhaps a third sole could provide a wider variety of wear and uses for their lineup.
I alluded that the Trailstars Maximus may be Shamma Sandal’s magnum opus and this review has been a pleasure to write. I truly believe this model to the culmination of the ten years of sandal-making experience from Shamma Sandals and a truly innovative product.
I am hoping that lovely family from Trader Joe’s sees this review. Thanks for following the blog! I cannot believe that it has been ten years of shoe reviews for me at Birthdayshoes.com!
A wonderful showing from Shamma Sandals. Thanks for inspiring entire families to take care of their feet and go on adventures!
High-Tech For Your Feet & Toes!
XOTOES™ are engineered with our US Patented PTFE & Copper yarns (AKA RAPIDriCOPPER™). These highly specialized yarns combat shear force, heat build-up and bacteria on the skin and improve toe and heel fit comfort, stability and splay. XOTOES™ surround the entire foot and encapsulate the toes and interdigital voids to combat hot spots and chances of blistering & provides rapid wicking and drying while reducing the bacteria load.
XOSKIN was kind enough to send me a pair of their XOTOES toe socks for review and I thought they would be great in combination with the Trailstars and their toe loop design.
First and foremost, I have to applaud their environmentally friendly, minimal packaging. There is a secure ziplock and folded cardboard insert, no extra plastic pieces, tape, glue, or tags.
This is an incredibly comfortable and smooth sock. There are multiple reinforced and stretch-enhanced areas where your foot flexes the most and plenty of ventilation throughout. Certain areas, such as the heel and the arch area are extra stretchy for comfort and inner toe sections are reinforced for durability. There is actually a lot of tech in these socks.
Of course, I still gotta get my toes into the thing, but that was actually quite a bit easier than I was expecting. I tried other toe socks in the past, but the XOTOES were nice and stretchy and I could get my toes in pretty easily. Once on, my piggies were hugged nicely. I was surprised how cool my feet felt during a summer heat wave. I believe these would be useful for preventing hot spots with various minimalist footwear and they work well with all kinds of materials. Of course, the HP Ultrasuede of the Trailstars are comfortable with the smooth fabric of the XOTOES, but mil-spec nylon sandals, neoprene water shoe uppers, and leather all feel very nice with the XOTOES.
As a bonus, the copper weave is anti-bacterial and is resistant to funk—perhaps we no longer have to freeze our Vibram Five Fingers or wash them nearly as often! I am a little surprised to say, since I am usually a sockless runner, but I think that many footwear is enhanced with the XOTOES. Wearing my Vibram V-Runs (and old Bikila LS), it is actually more comfortable to run with the socks on and feel a little more locked into the shoe because there is a little extra space between my feet and the uppers of the shoe. I was also surprised to find that the socks are moisture wicking and dry somewhat quickly after I ran through a few puddles.
I looked through their website for other products and was happy to see clothes with the same technology from the socks and non-toe socks as well. I could not be sure if their shorts and tops came first or the socks came first, but if the clothes are as comfortable as the socks, I am intrigued!
I was not able to test the socks for cold weather, but there might be a balance here as there are a lot of ventilated areas, but perhaps you would have a net warmth benefit overall? I will update this review once things cool down in New England.