Barefoot Shoes

Gladsoles ECO Huaraches Review

The ECO is an interesting new model from Gladsoles that is made entirely from upcycled car tires. There is 5.5mm of rubber for tons of groundfeel and flexibility. Huarache lovers and “Born To Run” readers should definitely give this one a look!

Read on to hear my thoughts on this eco-friendly, custom-cut huarache!

The ECO is an interesting new model from Gladsoles that is made entirely from upcycled car tires. There is 5.5mm of rubber for tons of groundfeel and flexibility. Huaraches lovers and “Born To Run” readers should definitely give this one a look! Read on to hear my thoughts on this eco-friendly, custom-cut huarache!


What Gladsoles Says about the Gladsoles ECO:
GladSoles ECO, is THE WORLD’S FIRST Eco-Friendly, custom-made-to-size sandal on the market, because it’s made from 100% Upcycled Rubber Tires. It is approximately 5.5mm thin, has a non-slip nylon footbed, and is extremely flexible. Great for all of your on and off-road adventures. It has an aggressive tread that really grips the roads and trails equally well.
Weight — 5.0 oz Total Stack Height — 5.5mm of tire rubber and non-slip nylon footbed Barefoot scale — 5.5mm Winter Tire Tread — Excellent for experienced runners, die-hard minimalists, and a great choice for walking around town. Ideal Uses — All around Use: Experienced Road running, technical trails, hiking, casual walking around, Pros
  • Incredibly sticky rubber compound
  • Great ground feel
  • Excellent traction and durability
  • Custom foot shape and tying
  • Lightweight (but heavier than previous Gladsole sandals)
  • Airy (no more stinky feet!)
  • Tying system takes some practice and getting used to
  • Can be uncomfortable, if not properly tied
  • Can be slappier than other huaraches



Sizing for all Gladsole sandals is pretty much perfect. Each pair is custom cut to fit each of your feet. Whether you have narrow feet, wide feet, high arched, flat, fat, and everything in between, you will find an excellent shape with Gladsoles because these shoes are your feet! The process was incredibly simple and took about 2 minutes. I traced my foot on two pieces of paper (templates are provided onGladsole’s website) and etched some ruler makes to serve as a scale. After that, I marked where my toe strap would be between my big and index toe, emailed it to Gladsoles for cutting! As an alternative, you can also mail them your tracings.
My tracing that I sent to Gladsoles. Note paddleness!
My tracing that I sent to Gladsoles. Note paddleness!
As you can see from my tracings, I have VERY wide, ducklike feet and the fitting process of running shoes and all footwear in general has always been a difficult process. As a child, my parents would actually purchase shoes a few sizes larger than what I should have been wearing because larger shoe sizes are also made wider to accommodate the shape of a normal foot.


The Gladsole ECO sole is made from a 5.5 upper tread cut from upcycled (not recycled!) car tires and topped with a nylon footbed. This sole is a collaborative effort with the GomaVial leisure sandal company and is reminiscent of Born to Run, which showed the Tarahumara in the Copper Canyon marking sandals from discarded car tires. The distinction of “upcycled”, rather than recycled is worth mentioning because each sole is not made from old tires or a composite of tires. Instead, the tires used by Gladsoles and GomaVial are recently manufacturered tires that were not up to the manufacturer’s standards for cars and trucks, but are perfectly suitable for use with human beings. The sole itself is made from a winter tire for maximum traction and has excellent durability as the rubber compound used by this sole was originally manufactured and spec’d for thousands of miles of rolling, cornering, and braking on asphalt by a one-ton+ metal chassis. It is the most durable sole that Gladsole uses and it just might be the most versatile sole material on the market. The first thing you will notice about this sole is that it is incredibly grippy. In fact, it is one of the grippiest soles I have ever used—hurache or otherwise. Obviously, because these were originally made for cars, you would expect them to provide plenty of traction in a variety of surfaces and situations, but I have another theory as to why these sandals are so incredibly grippy. As these were cut from winter tires, the benefits of using winter tires in all seasonal situations are imparted. Obviously, the rubber maintains excellent grip in cold conditions—winter tires are made differently from all-season and summer tires to preserve traction in the cold temeratures and snow. In extreme cold temperatures, the tread rubber of an all season or summer tire stiffens loses their ability to keep traction. On the other hand, winter tires use a different rubber compounds that is designed to remain flexible and sticky in cold conditions; it is not just the tread that gives winter tires an advantage in the snow.
Winter tire rubber compound. Helps cars maintain grip in slippery and cold conditions. Helps humans get anywhere
Winter tire rubber compound. Helps cars maintain grip in slippery and cold conditions. Helps humans get anywhere
When things get warmer, winter tires can get “gummy” when pushed by the driver and they wear our faster in the summer than their all-season counterparts. This, of course, is an issue for cars, but is not an issue for human beings. We lack the mass and torque to destroy a winter tire, but we can great benefit from their enhanced flexibility in both warm and cold environments. As stated earlier, the sole is incredibly grippy, much more so than any other huarache I’ve experienced, both on and off road. To force a cliché, you can turn on a dime with this sole and its flexibility allows you to wrap around rocks, branches, and other obstacles for maximum surface-area adhesion. In terms of the usual sole materials for huaraches, I suppose Cherry, Newflex, or the Unshoes Star sole are somewhat similar in terms of flexibility and function, but this winter tire sole is on another level.
The dense rubber compound makes the soles a bit heavier and slappier than other models
The dense rubber compound makes the soles a bit heavier and slappier than other models
In terms of feel, this sole is not as jarring or stiff as Xeroshoes’ Feel True sole or Vibram Gumlite, but is denser than Vibram Morflex, Woodstock, and Newflex and Unshoes’ Star sole (For Vibram sole comparisons, see this guide). For this reason, while this sole is great for all-around use, road running is best left to minimalist running veterans.
Flexible and STICKY tire rubber
Flexible and STICKY tire rubber
This sole material is quite a bit slappier than the Morflex sole of the Gladsole Originals. You have to be more careful with your tying AND your running technique to be quiet with these shoes. It’s slappiness is somewhat similar to Xeroshoes and requires similar levels of running experience for the most enjoyment. While you hone your technique, it might be a good idea to skip running around your neighborhood in the morning; you’re going to wake the Johnsons with your funny shoes.

Fit and Materials

As with other sandals in the Gladsoles lineup, the ECO uses military strength paracord laces that are strong, durable, and soft on your skin. This paracord freely tied by wrapping the cord around your ankle and reinforcing the points of articulation with loops. When tied properly, you barely even notice them on your feet as you run. The tying system/procedure is a Gladsole design and is similar to other hand-tied huaraches. After experimenting with many different tying patterns, Gladsoles decided on a system that they deemed best for simplicity, stability, and comfort. There are very detailed instructions and pictures of the tying process on Gladsole’s website and it only takes a couple of attempts to memorize the entire process. The tying process involves looping the paracord around both sides of your ankle, heel, and around itself, twice over. This process creates a strong and secure tie that maintains its tension while running, while being comfortable.
 Tied and untied in about 30 seconds
Tied and untied in about 30 seconds
The beauty of this tying system is that it allows for customized fit, tension, and security across the entire sandal. Unlike other huaraches that are pre-tied, you have to fit the self-tied paracord to your own feet in order for everything to work. Much like how the vibram sole is custom cut to fit your foot, the tying system is also made just for your individual foot. You can customize your tying at every step to have more or less slack so each part of your foot is coddled. The heel is especially stable and does not slip when tied properly. The entire system eventually evens out its tension across the entire foot, so even if you tie it a little tightly in some areas, pressure relieved after about 10-15 feet of running.
The secure heel section is the best among running sandals
The secure heel section is the best among running sandals
Overall, the tying system does require a little trial and error to learn, but once you get it right, there is no substitute for the combination of custom sole and custom ties.
 Spring loaded locking mechanism stays in place, allows for easy vertical adjustments and quick on-and-off
Spring loaded locking mechanism stays in place, allows for easy vertical adjustments and quick on-and-off
The locking mechanism allows for you to dial in the fit and then keep everything tied together so you can easily slip on and slip off the sandals. I have found that the straps can get tangled up a bit if kept in a gym bag for too long and I would end up retying them, but after tying them for a few days, it became second nature. I actually find it to be a pleasurable process. While you can tie them once and use the lace lock to loosen and tighten the top part of the strap for easy on and off, I actually prefer to retie them each time I run with them. It helps reinforce the tying process—committing it to memory—and allows me to fine tune the straps to my needs and make micro adjustments.
A custom-tied lacing system that follows your feet
A custom-tied lacing system that follows your feet
All Gladsoles are shipped with extra paracord and lots of slack. Once you have tied everything correctly and are sure of the fit, you can simply cut the excess cord with scissors and seal it with a match or lighter. Note: The tire tread sole has a bit of a curve to it. After lots of running, the curve has flattened out a bit, but it still is not able to flatten out.
The tire sole has a curve to it that flattens out during use
The tire sole has a curve to it that flattens out during use


My favorite running sandal is the Original Gladsole that I reviewed last year. It takes up zero space, weighs nothing, and is the exact shape of my foot! While I have a huge arsenal of running shoes and running sandals at this point in my life (it’s a problem), I still find myself reaching for Gladsoles each time I have to go for a run. I can customize the fit for maximum comfort or speed, eliminating hot spots or problem areas in the process. It is great to never have to worry about my duck feet having any sizing issues, such as overreaching beyond the edge of the sandal while running I love my Gladsole Originals so much that I ran my first marathon in them (it was great!).
My marathon huaraches
My marathon huaraches
This ECO model is a more capable addition to the lineup and basically replaces all of the functions of the OLD Newflex-soled Gladsoles Trail (the latest version of the Gladsoles Trail uses an 8mm Gumlite sole, which is thicker and sturdier than the older model). Because the sole is thinner and denser than the Morflex sole of the Original, there is less “give” to your landings, so you have to be more careful and light with your running technique, which is something that even seasoned runners could work on, I found that my first few landings were a bit jarring, but I quickly adjusted my cadence to compensate. The longest run I’ve had with the ECO was somewhere around 20 miles and I hope to get my first ECO marathon down in a few weeks. Much like other Gladsole sandals, the tying system and its simplicity are the ECO’s greatest strengths. With shoes and other, more built up or manufactured sandals, you can have fit issues due to things being designed for a wide variety of uses. However, with the ECO, YOU are the person this sandal was made for. This makes a huge difference in comfort, protection (no more wide feet poking off the sides or narrow feet with tons of excess sole), and its simplicity keeps the weight down.


The Gladsole ECO is pretty special. Its upcycled sole is very durable, lightweight, flexible, protective and surprisingly grippy. Like other Gladsole sandals, the ECO is custom-cut to your foot AND custom tied to your needs; if you need one or any of the sections of the lacing system to be adjusted, you can infinitely adjust it to your needs. While it does take a bit of trial and error to see what works, but it is incredibly satisfying to have a piece of footwear that has your exact footprint and moves with your every step.
If you are an experienced runner or moderate hiker, the ECO is definitely worth checking out at the Gladsoles website.

By Jarvis

Minimalist ultra-marathon runner with flat dinosaur feet.

50K Ultra-Marathon Runner

I hold a PhD in Political Science.
You can follow my photography adventures at and Instagram at

12 replies on “Gladsoles ECO Huaraches Review”

My concern with these types of shoes is always the end of the cord that goes between the toes, through the shoe, and contacts the ground all the time. Does this seem like it’ll hold up? It looks like the end goes through a plastic washer and is burnt to be wider… I think? Thanks

Joe and NIs,
Groundfeel is similar to the KSO and Sprints–perhaps a bit more groundfeel in some sections, I have not tried the Classics! (but I think they are all very similar).

5.5mm of dense tire rubber will transfer LOTS of information from the ground to your feet.

I have run a few hundred miles in the less durable, morflex-soled, Originals (now called “STREET) and they have held up perfectly. The washer is sunken in and I expect the rubber to wear out before the straps and plugs. If need be, you CAN always reburn and plug (you are correct, they are singed a bit to expand and secure to the post), but I have never had to do this.

I’ve only had to cut the straps to be shorter and I used a borrowed bic lighter to burn the ends so they don’t fray–you can see this in a few photos at the top of the strap, just beyond the securing lock.

I really love the Gladsole model line. They are probably my favorite sandals for road running. Shamma Sandals for trails.

Do you have any experience with the gladsoles trail model? Im on the fence between the trail and eco models. Do the ecos mold to your feet? I will be using them for 60 percent trail and 40 percent road and casual. Any feedback will help, thanks.


I actually did a review on the original Gladsoles and the Trail earlier in the year (first generation):

For the record, my favorite is the Original (6mm Morflex sole), then the old Trail (5mm Newflex sole), followed by the ECO.

However, the latest version of the trail now uses an 8mm Gumlite sole, which is thicker than the previous generation.

The old trail is now called the “hybrid”, but is also 8mm, instead of the original trail’s 5mm.

In terms of weight, the new Trail weights 5oz, the ECO weights 6oz, and the street (renamed from the originals) is 3oz.

The ECO is denser than the trail, so it will take longer to mold to your feet, while the Street (Original) will mold readily, but lacks an aggressive tread design.

If you are focused on light trails and forests, the Street is more than adequate. It’s the best for road running and is a great balance between lightweight and protection. It’s also the most balanced of the sandals. I found the ECO to be a bit too bottom heavy because of the dense snow tire sole, so it slaps a bit.

I would say that if you have tough feet, go for the Street or the ECO, but if you want more protection, go for the new Trails or the Hybrid.


I don’t understand why Gladsoles exists and why the reviews are so positive?? Makers like Luna, Shamma, and Unshoes all put thought into the total design of the sandal. The lacing system and footbed are very huge parts of that. Gladsoles uses simple materials that anyone can purchase from a variety of places. Parachord, simple locks, and Vibram rubber can all be purchased online and DIY sandals that are identical to Gladsoles can be made by the average consumer for 20 dollars or less. With Gladsoles you are already investing time making a template and messing with tying and replacing flimsy parachord. It’s not much of a stretch to cut the Vibram soles and poke holes in it yourself. Why would I pay $30 or $40 dollars more for someone to stencil a logo on top of a Vibram sole? At least with Xero shoes DIY for example I get why they put their logo (small) on top. It’s their rubber! Anyone can make the EXACT shoe reviewed (tire rubber sole) or Vibram or Xero sole for under $20. Materials can be purchased by anyone online. In a highly competitive running sandal market my money will go to those who have at least some hand in the design and construction of the sandal. Gladsoles is charging 2016 prices for 2007 running sandal technology.


I would say that it’s not 2007 running sandal technology, it’s 1985 ME sandal technology (that’s my birthyear).

What I like the most about Gladsoles is that they allow for a lot of foot flexibility, shoe durability, and fit customization.

There have been many sandal makers that have gone the minimal route of foot tracings, sole, and laces. Gladsoles is not unique in this regard.

What makes them unique is their consistency, accuracy of tracings, customer service, and the quality of their chosen materials.

Can you make a sandal with the same materials? Sure.

Would you want to track down everything and do it on your own? Depends.

Personally, my Gladsoles are still my favorite running sandals to this day. They are incredibly minimal, durable, and are very balanced on my feet.

I am not partner or personally related to Gladsoles in any way, but I know which running shoes work for me and for what reasons and Gladsoles really hit the mark for a number of their models.

The ECO is not my favorite sandal from them. It has many traits that many runners would love, but there are also some downsides that prevent them from being my favorite Gladsole sandal.

When I first received my original Gladsole sandals over a year ago, I had a nice chat on the phone with the folks at Gladsoles about running, their shoe philosophy, and biomechanics. Their attitude and helpfulness demonstrated passion and care that I will always support as long as their sandals are of consistent quality.



I’m a HUGE fan of your reviews. They are so helpful. Question for you: I’m considering getting my first pair of running sandals. I’ve been in 5 fingers for the past 2 years but they keep breaking on me so I wanna get some sandals to try those out. I was looking into Xeroshoes and found your review for Gladsoles. I’ll be doing a lot of road running but also a bunch of trail running/ hiking. Would you choose the Gladsoles over Xershoes? If so, what model Gladsoles would you recommend for a good mix of road/trail running. The aggressive tread is a must for me. Thanks!

Hey Mike!

There are many things to consider when thinking about huaraches. For me, it comes down to fit, weight, and the tying system.

One thing to keep in mind is that Xeroshoes has one shape for most of their sandals. If you have wide feet like mine, your feet simply will not fit the Amuri Venture, Cloud, or Z-Trek sandals.

Gladsoles does a custom cut of each sandal based upon your foot.

Of course, there are other sandal guys out there, such as Earthrunners, Unshoes, and Shamma sandals.

Earthruners and Shamma have nice, wide shapes for their sandals, while Unshoes has a really cool template system that has many shapes available for your to try out at home with a printer.

If you have your heart set on Gladsoles, keep in mind that you will be self-tying and that can take a while to get used to. However, once you’ve got the tying down, it’s really great to run in these sandals.

I actually love the original Gladsoles and Trail sandals.
These days, they changed their lineup to the “Street” and new “Trail”. The Street is the same 6mm Morflex sole of the Originals, while their new Trails got rid of the excellent 5mm Newflex sole and now use an 8mm Gumlite sole.

Personally, for roads and light trails, the Street is excellent. If you expect to be rock climbing or doing more extreme stuff, go for the trail.

Shamma Sandals still uses the 5mm Newflex sole for their Warrior line.

Honestly, I hope that Xeroshoes expands their sizing options so I can enjoy their sandals more. I’ve felt a bit left out because of my wide feet!

Let us know what you choose!


Thanks for the advice! So I think I’m between the Gladsoles Eco, the Gladsoles Trail, and the Unshoes Pah Tempe. The Eco tire tread seems pretty sweet and grippy but I’m a tad torn because the others seem great too haha. Any last advice to guide a decision?



I like the Eco Trail a lot. They are very unique looking and send a great message about reusing things.

However, they are a bit denser than their brothers and you may notice that they can be a bit slappy and bottom-heavy.

The streets are very balanced.

I have always liked the Pah Tempe. Very comfortable and lots of fun. They are very easy for on-and-off, while I always self-tie my gladsoles, which takes about a minute.



I’m back again with another question. I’ve been using the Trail Gladsoles for over a year now. Unfortunately I’ve busted the cord out of the rubber twice now when moving laterally or cutting quickly. I’ve re drilled a new hole to restring the sandal but that one didn’t hold for very long so they’re out of commission. Rich from Gladsoles mentioned I should try the ECO’s for better durability. He even offered a discount to me to get them (such a great guy!).

Anyway, would you say the rubber on these is more durable than the Trail model? I also run in a pair of Earthrunners and love the stronger feel of those but I love having the super custom fit of Gladsoles. I’m curious about your thoughts!

Thanks man,

Mike DeAlto

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