Barefoot Shoes Reviews

Shamma Sandals Ibex and Earthrunners Primal


Two new top-notch sandal models from two of my favorite running sandal companies! Shamma Sandals Ibex and Earthrunners Primal, offer distinct advantages for outdoor enthusiasts. While the Ibex excels in tackling rugged terrain with its durable Vibram soles, the Primal stands out for its flexibility and lightweight design.

From the Manufacturer

Shamma Sandals Ibex:
The Elite Ibex are our toughest, most capable hiking sandals. These sandals are all about traction and durability, both a necessity for the toughest trails. If you want to explore the backcountry, scale a mountain peak, or reach that undisturbed fishing hole then the Elite Ibex are your sandals!

Earthrunners Primal:
The Primal will keeping you light on your feet while remaining plugged into the natural world around you. The ultra comfortable lightweight aggressive sole will have you wondering if you remembered to put your shoes on or not.

The Vibram Zegama sole of the Shamma Sandals Ibex


Shamma Sandals Ibex Sole: Vibram Zegama and Morflex

Introducing the Shamma Sandals Ibex, a newcomer to the Shamma Sandals lineup boasting a unique combination of Vibram soles for unparalleled performance. Unlike its predecessors like the Mountain Goat, which featured the Newflex sole for the ground and Morflex for your foot, the Ibex showcases the innovative pairing of Vibram Zegama for ground contact and Vibram Morflex for foot interfacing.

Vibram Zegama, making its debut in Shamma Sandals, is engineered with the Megagrip rubber formula, renowned for its exceptional grip on wet surfaces and longevity. Derived from the challenges of the Zegama-Aizkorri SkyMarathon, this sole is tailored to excel on rugged terrains and slippery surfaces, offering runners the traction they need for demanding trails.

The aggressive lug design of the Zegama sole, featuring traction triangles and bolstered quadrilateral shapes, ensures superior grip and efficient debris dispersal, enhancing stability and confidence on various surfaces.

Meanwhile, Morflex, with its microcellular composition, delivers swift molding around the foot for optimal comfort and flexibility, making it ideal for both road running and light trail excursions. Its lightweight construction minimizes fatigue during long hikes, providing comfort without compromise.

Zegama bottom and Morflex top

Combining the durability and grip of Zegama with the comfort and flexibility of Morflex, the Ibex emerges as Shamma Sandals’ most technically-oriented sandal yet. While Morflex remains a personal favorite for its comfort and versatility, Zegama stands out for its hardcore performance, especially in challenging conditions.

For those seeking maximum confidence on any terrain, the Ibex offers the perfect balance of grip, comfort, and durability. Equipped with the ultragrip footbed, crafted from waterproof Toughtek® for superior traction and drainage, the Ibex ensures a secure grip while keeping feet dry and comfortable throughout the run.

parts of the strap loop around the sole material and touch the ground

Earthrunners Primal Sole: Walkbase EVA
On the other hand, Earthrunners introduces the Primal sandals featuring the Walkbase GumEva sole, marking a departure from the classic Vibram Gumlite. While Gumlite has been praised for its all-around performance, the GumEva sole offers a comparable experience in terms of density, weight, and texture.

Although not as soft as Morflex nor as grippy as Megagrip/Zegama, the GumEva sole provides reliable traction with its shallow star-shaped tread pattern, reminiscent of chevrons found in other soles. Despite its less aggressive design compared to Gumlite, the GumEva sole maintains durability and capability on various terrains.

The human starfish lugs of the Walkbase GumEva sole

With the naked Walkbase footbed, which closely resembles Gumlite in feel and performance, Earthrunners ensures consistent comfort and groundfeel for runners accustomed to their previous models. Overall, the GumEva sole proves to be a worthy alternative to Vibram Gumlite, offering durability, flexibility, and traction for enduring performance on the trails.

The Earthrunners Sandals uses the same Earthrunners close strap system and comes in three strap materials

Aesthetics and Materials

Earthrunners Primal:
My Earthrunners Primal sandals feature Earthrunners’ top-of-the-line lacing system known as performance laces. These laces, measuring 9/16” in width, boast a core of 1/2″ Hydrophobic Polyester Webbing and are reinforced with 1″ Mil-Spec Nylon, ensuring durability and security.

In contrast, Earthrunners also offers lifestyle laces in two sizes, lacking the hydrophobic webbing core, with options including versions with mil-spec reinforcement or solely webbing.

The innovative lace system allows for adjustable tension across three key areas of the foot: from the toepost to the outer edge, around the heel, and atop the foot. This tailored approach ensures a personalized balance between stability and comfort. Moreover, the updated laces represent a significant improvement over previous nylon ones, offering enhanced comfort, security, and visibility.

Earthrunner Sandals love messy runs

The toepost incorporates Earth Runner’s grounding plug, a signature feature across all their sandals, while the laces wrap around the underside of the sandal at two points, exposing them to the ground. This asymmetrical looping method, with the inner lace looping within the sole and the outer lace looping externally, snugly embraces the foot near the arch, enhancing stability without compromising comfort, even for individuals with flat feet.

Although the positioning of the toepost lace may feel unfamiliar initially, users typically adjust quickly and often prefer this configuration. Despite the slightly thicker nylon laces, they dry rapidly after exposure to water, thanks to the hydrophobic core of the performance lace system, allowing for comfortable river crossings during hikes.

While both sides of the lacing system touch the ground, this does not significantly impact durability, as this part of the strap rarely experiences direct pressure or weight. In fact, in over a decade of running with Earthrunners, durability issues related to this aspect of the strap have been virtually nonexistent.

great for everyday adventures!

The closed-loop strap of the Primal sandals may require some adjustment period, but once dialed in, it provides a comfortable and secure fit. Although the laces may feel stiffer and rougher compared to those of other brands like Shamma Sandals, they remain comfortable for most users, though preferences may vary depending on individual foot sensitivity.

The comfortable ultra suede straps and webbing with excellent flexibility

Shamma Sandals Ibex:

Shamma Sandals Ibex uses a variation of their Ultra Lacing system that debuted on the Chargers and continues to be used for all new models, offering a blend of security and comfort unmatched by many other sandal designs. This refined system allows for extensive customization, ensuring a personalized fit tailored to individual needs.

Key features include a center buckle that can be adjusted in all four directions atop the foot, providing optimal comfort. The main velcro strap offers forward and backward adjustments, while the rear heel strap, a standout feature of the system, firmly secures the sandal in place, completing the overall fit.

Furthermore, the addition of tabs on the velcro straps simplifies tightening and loosening, enhancing user convenience. This attention to detail sets the Ibex apart, offering a hassle-free experience without the need for tedious self-tying or trimming excess strapping material.

Unlike other sandals that may require occasional adjustments or makeshift repairs on the trail, the Shamma Sandals lacing system ensures durability and comfort throughout the hike. The combination of webbing and suede minimizes the risk of irritation, particularly in the rear heel strap area, making the sandal feel virtually weightless and seamlessly integrated with the foot.

Unlike other sandals with excess strap material, the Ibex design ensures a sleek and tidy appearance, with no unnecessary bulk or clunkiness. This fuss-free strap system offers comfort and security without the need for constant readjustment, making it an ideal choice for minimalist sandal enthusiasts. Additionally, no strap material touches the ground, contributing to its overall durability and cleanliness.

The Shamma Sandals Ibex utilizes soft yet durable Shamma webbing for its strap system, featuring two Velcro straps—one around the heel and another on top of the foot. This system offers unparalleled ease of adjustment and comfort, with the main strap components lined with Ultrasuede for added comfort.

Future Improvements

I hold a deep affection for both Shamma Sandals and Earthrunners, as they represent pivotal milestones in my footwear journey. Each brand’s distinct design philosophy caters perfectly to its niche, and over time, I’ve developed a collection of favorites from both.

Regarding the Shamma Sandals Ibex, I’m particularly enamored with its innovative use of Vibram Zegama and Morflex. However, as someone deeply committed to minimalist footwear, I find the stack height a tad thick for my preference. While I understand the necessity for most users, I can’t help but wish for a slightly slimmer design, even if it means compromising on some aspects of Zegama’s performance due to the need for strap anchoring.

On the Earthrunners Primal front, I believe there’s room for improvement in the strap materials. Out of the box, they tend to feel a bit rough, prompting me to run with them in the rain to soften them up. While I appreciate the similarity of the new sole to Gumlite, I wonder if a thinner profile would set it apart more distinctly. Additionally, introducing a sandal with Newflex, known for its superior flexibility compared to Gumlite and GumEva, would be a welcomed addition to Earthrunners’ lineup.


Two of my favorite sandal companies released new models, so I was very excited to check them out. They both demonstrate the same polish and care in design that other models in the past, but add a new niche for users to explore.

The Primal is the thinnest and flexible sandal from Earthrunners, while the Ibex is Shamam Sandal’s most technically capable for difficult terrain and trails.

By the way, Shamma Sandals is having their March Sale!

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

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