Barefoot Shoes

Luna Mono Huaraches Review

It’s no secret that I love me some Lunas. I’ve tested their socks for the first time on race day with no prior experience with them, because I trust Luna that much. Then I ran my first marathon in Luna Venados.

But I’ll be honest: I wasn’t entirely…

It’s no secret that I love me some Lunas. I’ve tested their socks for the first time on race day with no prior experience with them, because I trust Luna that much. Then I ran my first marathon in Luna Venados.

But I’ll be honest: I wasn’t entirely looking forward to the Monos. I had the same thought that a few other huaraches devotees had when they saw the early pictures: too thick. 11-12mm? Seriously?

Well they came out this past Monday, and the monkeys over at Luna were nice enough to send me a pair to review. Read on to see if they managed to subdue my skepticism.

Update: See the new Luna Winged Mono Review in 2024

What you get

From Luna’s most recent newsletter:

We often get asked which sandal model is best for use on both trails and roads. While the Original Luna is ultra-sleek, super minimal, and great for road running; and the Leadville (and soon-to-be-released Oso) are optimal for tough trails and wet weather; we’ve never had a sandal that handled a wide variety of surface with equal aplomb — until now!

The Mono gives us everything we want from a single sandal model. It’s tread won’t wear out as fast on pavement as the Leadville, and it’s added thickness provides more protection than the Original Luna.

And from a previous pitch:

At 11-12mm, It’s a bit thicker than the Original Luna, but it’s very light and quickly molds to your feet like a big, comfy foot hug.

With that kind of thickness the Mono matches what had to this point been their thickest sandal, the Leadville. But with the upcoming release of the even thicker Oso model, the Mono will instead be in the middle of the pack of their thickness offerings as opposed to the upper limit.

It’s safe to say at this point that Luna is trying to appeal to ever more customers. With each change in their lineup the average thickness of their sandal lineup increases. I’ll admit that it worries me a bit to see them getting bigger rather than smaller. But it is still a business we’re talking about here, so I’m trying not to take this betrayal change personally.

I know I’m being a little too hard on Luna from that angle, and I really shouldn’t be. My first pair of Luna Leadvilles are STILL my favorite every day shoe despite being similarly sized. So with that in mind and the similar thickness/style between the two, I’m going to focus on the differences. Check out my Leadville review for more background.

Look and feel

First up, though, something not specific to the Mono but is a recent option available for all models: a new foot bed offering. Pittards Premium Leather foot bed. Oooooh. Ahhhhh. Very fancy. Seriously. I’m fond of my previous generation Luna Venados with the suede footbed, but moisture was always a problem. The suede all but disintegrated if you ran in them in wet conditions. The MGT footbed was better, if less elegant. The premium leather option splits the difference to offer a comfortable, functional sandal with more moisture protection — all while maintaining a more stylish look. This is indeed a comfy foot bed. The MGT foot bed still handles water the best of all, but the new Pittards option is leaps and bounds better than the suede in almost every way. (Unless you just prefer the feel of suede particularly.)

Next up: the sole. The similarly-sized Leadville was notable for its classic aggressive tread style. The Venado, meanwhile, had pretty much no tread. The Mono falls in the middle here, with a sole design that offers some pattern to it. I think the pattern here says a lot: this isn’t an uber-minimalist, treadless style a la the Venado, but neither is it an aggressive hiking and trail running shoe a la the Leadville. It lines itself up solidly in the middle, right where Luna was aiming in both form and function.

The look of the Mono on your feet isn’t going to be significantly different than wearing any of the other models. Wear a Leadville on one foot and a Mono on the other and you won’t be able to tell the difference by look alone. You have to look at the sole or try them on to figure it out. Trying it on is where I really noticed the difference. The Mono is by no means a “padded” shoe, but I definitely felt a little more “squish” to the Mono sole than I felt in the otherwise similar Leadville. This isn’t just an issue of newness, either — the pair of Leadvilles I compared it to are also brand new. Though I felt like a traitor to myself, I must admit that I liked this ever-so-slight bit of extra softness.


I found myself less inclined to run in the Mono. Not because it wouldn’t function well as such — it did in fact do quite well in my tests. But on any given day I typically choose which huaraches I’m going to wear based on the conditions in which I’ll be running. Tough technical trail? Leadville. Road running? Venado/original.

Given the thickness and moderate tread, I’d recommend these for running primarily in the case of relative newbies to huaraches.

Now how about general wear…

What works

Despite the added thickness, a single Mono sandal in size 9 is only about 0.7 oz heavier (4.6) than the thinner Venado (3.9). I really liked this. Despite my hesitation over the added thickness, the light weight of the sandal helped smooth over much of my worry. I was a Birkenstock and Chacos devotee in a previous life, so I appreciate a pair of well-made sandals. But the ones I love the most are always relatively light, whatever their style.

All of my observations and nitpicks aside, I want to be sure to point out something very important: with the Mono, Luna was aiming to build the best all-around sandal that they could. On this point — the main point — they succeeded. When I travel I like to pack light, and having large feet often causes problems in this department. So I typically pack shoes based on the broadest usability. The Mono can go from running sandal to casual wear more easily than any of their other models thus far, without a doubt.

The Mono, then, gets a big win here in terms of maximum utility.

What doesn’t

I’ve already shared what few and gentle gripes I have. And of those, none are flaws in design or failures to deliver on promises — but are instead more matters of preference and approach.

But while I do personally prefer thinner sandals, I cannot fault the creation of a thicker model to reach a bigger crowd. Quite simply, these are top-notch all-purpose sandals. While I will continue to run roads in my Venados and blaze trails in my Leadvilles, the Monos have supplanted both for everyday wear and travel.

Final thoughts

What makes the Mono different from the Leadville can be summed up quite briefly: the Mono has a more relaxed tread and is slightly softer and lighter.

If you’re well versed in barefoot and minimalist running you might find the Mono to be a bit more than you need. Though the Mono might still be worth a look for its versatility. But if you definitely don’t know where to start, I’d say start here. You can’t find a better easy and comfortable introduction to running, walking, and exploring in huaraches than the Luna Mono.

[You can pick up a pair for yourself over at Luna’s website.]

By Greg

Greg is a runner, CrossFitter, trainer, and self-proclaimed geek. He also blogs on [url=]intellectual engagement, fitness, nutrition, and more at[/url] and [url=]writes fiction over at[/url].

16 replies on “Luna Mono Huaraches Review”

Wow! Amazing timing. I debated all weekend about ordering a pair of Monos. Your review tipped me over the edge.

I ran in suede-topped Venados last summer and enjoyed them for the most part. I found that the suede got a little slippery, causing my foot to move forward in the sandal, thus causing some pain where the strap goes between my toes. I know that it is mostly down to my form though. Good, proper, mid-foot landings alleviate the issue – unless it is the end of a long run and I am tired and sloppy. Then it is tough.

Also, for longer runs, find that a little extra cushion is welcome (just my preference). I appreciate ground feel and all, but in the interest of enjoying every mile of a long run, I have come to value those additional millimeters of material between me and the road.

Back to the suede. I really have had to baby my Venados. There were times last summer and fall when I really wanted to run in them but had to opt for other footwear due to wet conditions. I think the MGT foot bed is the best option for me. I want a good all-around sandal that will hold my feet in place really well.

Speaking to the Pittard’s goat leather: I have a pair of Skoras, which are made from Pittards leather. I don’t know all the details of how it is processed, but the stuff is amazing. It is super comfy and immune to the effects of water. The folks at Luna were wise to choose this leather for their sandals. $15 extra for the leather is worth it.

With your multiple pairs of Lunas, have you experienced any slippage with the ATS laces? Mine seem to loosen a bit during runs. Yesterday, for example, I had to stop and tighten them twice on a 5-mile run. Maybe I should mess around with the placement of the buckle.

In closing: I highly recommend coating the lace plug with a bit of Shoe Goo. The plug has what seems like a plastic coating, but mine started to wear after a couple of runs. A thin layer of Shoe Goo does not add any weight or bulk to the toe area and makes the plug nearly indestructible.

Thanks again for the great (and timely) review.

@Aaron – I’ve got two pairs of Venados — one with suede, one with MGT. The suede was my favorite in terms of general comfort, but I also kept finding myself having to baby them a bit when it was wet out. I’m quite pleased with the Pittards leather top.

Out of all huaraches lacing systems, the ATS are my favorite for their speed and ease. I have a pair of huaraches with more traditional lacing and even though I quite like them in terms of comfort I often skip over them due to the time needed to properly lace them.

That said, I have a love/hate relationship with the ATS laces. You’re right that there is occasionally some slippage. It’s never a huge amount — it may only be a matter of a few millimeters even. But that can be just enough to generate some serious friction in very sensitive areas. Just this past weekend I ran a half marathon and developed lots of friction between the two biggest toes of my left foot. I had to stop to readjust the fit, but by then the damage was done and I had a pretty raw toe.

Luna has made some really great strides about minimizing this, the best of which being the extra strip of MGT material on the upper strap. I’m not sure how new your Lunas are, but if you don’t have the MGT strip on the strap then I’d look forward to your next pair being much better about this. (I took some pictures and reviewed this feature here.)

We appear to be the only huarache nerds on BirthdayShoes these days. Folks don’t know what they are missing. Probably still too cold out for most people to think about running in sandals.

My Venados were from late last summer, which was before the addition of the MGT strip to the ATS laces.

For my long run this past weekend, it was nice and dry, so I wore Injini socks with my suede top Venados. The socks were really slippery on the suede. With no socks, as my feet sweat, they adhere pretty well to the suede. The combination of suede, cotton, and cold weather did not work in my favor, but my feet did stay warm.

I am really looking forward to my Monos. I like that I will be able to wear them in any conditions without fear of destroying the footbed. I have a road 8K coming up in early-April and I am pretty confident they will be my footwear of choice.

While writing this, I started thinking about what might make for a kick-ass Frankenstein huarache: XeroShoes (Invisible Shoes) 4mm sole/Luna neoprene mid foot/MGT foot bed/ATS laces. It would basically mean gluing a Venado to a XeroShoe. I still think the XeroShoes are the best huarache soles I have tried. The result would be a bit thick (12-13mm), but it would be super comfortable and adjustable and have a grippy and bomb-proof sole.

Steven and Ted, are you reading this?

Would the Mono be better than the Leadville Pacer for overall comfort travelling? I plan to take a pair of sandals with me while travelling. I have been running barefoot and in Vibrams (sometimes huaraches) for 2.5 years, and only wear minimal/barefoot shoes except on formal occasions.

I have been wanting a pair of Lunas for some time now, but between the Venados and the other options I can’t say for sure because sometimes after a long day of walking/running/hiking, I like some cushion in my shoes. Thoughts?

Hi, I’ve recently been looking into getting some barefoot running shoes but only really been looking into the 5finger types so I was really interested to read about the Luna Monos. I wrote a post the other day which included reference to the tarahumara tribe in mexico who’s shoes are made from old old tyre strips or leather thongs and are able to run for miles and miles.

I also saw the tip about born to run. A few people from my running club are reading this and say it’s really good so it’s now the next book on the list i’m going to read! Thanks.

This is the post which talks about the tarahumara tribe.

I just got my new Monos, and my first impressions are that they are much stiffer out of the box than the Venados and that I already love the MGT footbed. I can tell it will be perfect for running. So far, I like them a lot. The revisions to the ATS laces since last year are noticeable.

I had to trim excess material from my Venados last year, but the new sizing seems much more exact. I may have to trim a bit off the Monos as well, but I am going to live in them a while first.

It will be interesting to see how this stiffer material molds over time. My leather top Venados started to take the shape of my feet after only a few hours and one run.

I can’t wait to get thes out for a run tomorrow.

For a couple of weeks now I’ve been wearing a pair of new Luna Venado sandals with the ATS/MGT. Still having some heel slippage and other fit issues on my right foot, hoping to finally nail down soon.

I am currently planning to run the Pittsburgh Marathon in these, but have to confess that I wish they were more cushioned. Maybe the Mono is better for a road marathon?

Franklin: I have both Venados and Monos and prefer running in the Monos these days. The Monos are defintely more cushioned and would be my personal choice for anything longer than say 5 or 10K. They take the edge off nicely and handle trails a little better.

Think of it as going from a Ferrari to a Camry. The Venados are as minimal as you can get with Lunas, whereas the Monos, while still sporty, provide more comfort for long runs.

As for the ATS laces, they take time to get just right. When I got my Monos last month, I loosened the heel straps a bit so that my foot could sit further back on the sandal. Then, I adjusted the toe strap and buckle a couple of times. Getting everything good and snug has prevented most heel slippage, although I have had a couple of runs where I just could not get it right. Each time, it turned out that I had not adjusted the sliding buckle correctly.

I find that I have to adjust the placement of the sliding buckle before just about every run. But, once in place, it does not move during the run.

After about two weeks, I was able to see how the Monos were forming to my feet and trim off excess material around the toes, which has made them fit and feel even better. The rubber and MGT cuts easily with a pair of sharp scissors.

Aaron, thanks for sharing your experiences! I’m starting to get the ATS lacing to stay better (was fine for my 6 mile run today), sliding the buckle down further toward my heel. As for the Mono, I’ll definitely look into getting a pair later.

@Franklin Chen – Aaron R’s response is probably what you were looking for. If you’re interested in slightly more cushioning then the Mono is definitely the way to go.

That said, I think on the whole I’m still partial to the Venado. But that’s because I personally prefer LESS cushioning. So it’s all about what you’re looking for.

Plus, Aaron’s also right about the adjustments. It does take a little while to get your huaraches *just right.* I would say that I’m still tweaking some small aspect of almost all of my pairs. But when you get it right, it’s worth it!

Greg: Are you going to try the new ribbon laces? I am not really into that look. They are probably comfortable against the skin and all, but I can see them being a nightmare to get adjusted just right.

Props to Luna for putting out new products like the ribbon laces, but only ones that work and make sense.

I like less cushioning also, generally speaking (even have some 4mm Xero Shoes I wore in a 10K race last year), but doing the marathon training long runs, man, it gets tough, and also when walking around sometimes I like more cushioning. It’s good to have choices, so I have ordered a Mono.

@Aaron R – I’m not sure how I feel about the ribbon laces. On the one hand I like the traditional style, but on the flip side you’re right that traditional lacing can be a pain to get adjusted right. If I run a race in ATS-laced Lunas and something’s a bit off, it only takes a couple of seconds to pause and readjust. But with traditional lacing you may have to redo the whole thing. That’s one of the reasons I don’t wear my Xero Shoes quite as much. Although I really love them (especially their thinness), they take a time investment prior to every where.

Although I prefer to run barefoot, I do love my Luna’s. My philosophy is also less is more. I own two pairs of their now discontinued Equus sandals and a pair of the Vendo’s with the Pittard leather footbed.

I’m having some issues with foot slippage in the rain with the Vendo’s so I’m going to order another pair with the MGT footbed. I did find temporary solution albeit a messy one. When my footbed gets wet I’ll cover it in dirt, which serves to absorb the moisture and instantly stops my foot from slipping.

Oh and btw Greg, you’re cute. Are you single? 😉

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