You may be familiar with the ever-popular Unshoes Pah Tempe (review), but have you checked out the Unshoes Wokova?
With two sole and three footbed options, these sandals are very durable, lightweight, the Wokova and Wokova Feather are excellent huaraches that are configurable for a variety of activities.
Read on for my thoughts on the Wokova and Wokova Feather from Unshoes!
About the Unshoes Wokova and Wokova Feather
What Unshoes Says about the Wokova:
The original Unshoes design is the first huarache style sandal with straps and knotless attachment. The Wokova sandal design was inspired by the Tarahumara running sandals, but still offers the benefits of contemporary sport sandals. This simple design allows for easy adjustments and can be slipped on and off while still offering a stable fit. It offers a 4 or 6mm lightweight and durable outsole.
And here is a photo gallery of the Wokova:
What Unshoes Says about the Wokova Feather:
At 3–7oz per pair, the ultra light weight version of the original Wokova sandal features a 4, or 6mm sole and a lighter adjustable strap with a high strength elastic loop keeps the sandals tight while making them easier to slip on and off. The Feather model offers excellent ground feel and flexibility.
And here is a photo gallery of the Wokova Feather:
Weight — 3.8 Wokova (6mm sole); 3.14 Wokova Feather (4mm sole) (Mens size 9)
Total Stack Height
Choices of 4mm and 6mm soles+Choice of 1mm EVA footed, 3mm Cork/EVA hybrid, and 4mm Ultra Footbed
= Total Stack Height varies between <5mm to 10mm, depending on your configuration
With multiple options, the Wokova and its Feather variant are great for barefoot enthusiasts, new runners, hikers, campers, and casual wear.
Road running, trail hiking, walking around, river runs, camping, light-to-moderate technical trails
Excellent Unshoes fitting options/customization
Multiple sole and footbed choices
Basic EVA footbed is fantastic for road running
Made in the USA
Sandal design forces straps over the toes (some may prefer straps between the bones of the big and index toe)
The Wokova line features multiple sole, and footbed options and is easily configured to the needs of the user.
Both the Wokova and Wokova Feather have a choice of either a 4mm “star” sole or 6mm “suction cup” sole (my nicknames).
This is Unshoes’ new rubber compound, which features more slip resistance and durability over their previous generation of soles. In my testing, this new compound is very similar to Vibram Newflex in terms of feel, density, weight, and function. I found the last gen sole to be a slightly less durable as Newflex, but the new and improved sole should be very competitive to the famous Vibram compound.
Like the Pah Tempe, the 6mm sole in the Wokova has both the “star” 4mm and “suction cup” 6mm sole options. Overall, the suction cup sole has better traction than the 6mm star sole, which is smoother for road running.
The star sole is excellent for road running, hiking on both dirt and rocky trails, and general use. It’s somewhat of a “do-it-all” sole, while the suction cup sole is more suited for all-terrain use.
The Unshoes “star” sole provides excellent smoothness and durability for road running, but has enough grip for running around in the woods. It also provides enough protection for rocky stuff, and that protection is enhanced with difference choices of footbed.
Like the Pah Tempe, the Wokova and Wokova Feather feature three choices of footbeds to combo with the two sole options: <1 EVA, 3mm EVA/cork hybrid footbed, and 4mm Ultra
The total stack height varies between just under 5mm with the 4mm “star” sole and the standard sub-1mm eva footbed, to 10mm with the 6mm sole and 4mm Ultra EVA footbed.
The 1mm EVA footbed is probably the best option for most uses. It provides just a whisper of comfort and protection on top of the Unshoes sole, but does not diminish groundfeel or flexibility like the other footbed options. This sole, coupled with the 4mm sole, provides the most groundfeel and is best used by barefoot enthusiasts and experienced runners for roads and light trails. If you need to handle tougher environments or require a plusher running ride, you can grab the 6mm sole or choose the other sole options. Overall, I highly recommend the 4mm sole with the 1mm EVA footbed for the ultimate barefoot experience with the Wokova.
The 3mm EVA/cork hybrid footbed
The cork/EVA hybrid footbed is perfect for wet terrain running and may be a viable option for individuals with rubber sensitivity. Adding about 3mm to the overall stack height. This hybrid footbed provides the benefits of cork, but with some added durability, flexibility, and weight reduction. The cork hybrid footbed is the least flexible of the three options. I would not recommend it for running, but it is great for hiking, camping, and similar laid back activities. It is also the best “walker” footbed for going around town.
As a bonus, the cork footbed is sweat resistant!
The 4mm Ultra footbed is the thickest footbed option and offers the most protection and security, while sacrificing weight, flexibility and groundfeel. Combining the 6mm sole with the 4mm Ultra footbed transforms the Wokova and Wokova Feather into a thick, mountain-ready sandal that is similar to Shamma Sandals’ Mountain Goat. It’s thick enough to shrug off some really nasty rocks, but you lose quite a bit in terms of flexibility and groundfeel; a specialty combination, for sure.
Unshoes provides multiple shape templates for their customers to get a near custom fit for their shoes. Naturally, the template best for me is their widest template with short toes, but just about anyone can find a great fit for their feet by printing out the numerous templates and testing them out on your living room floor. Just choose your size, print at 100% scale, step on the templates, pick what fits your foot best, and find the optimum toe post position.
The combination of six templates and six toe post positions provides the most customized fit possible without requiring a tracing of your foot. In doing so, you can get a near-custom fit, but speed up and provide quality control for the manufacturing process.
For reference, my perfect fit is template 2, toe post 2.
Fit and Materials
Much like the rest of the Unshoes line, the Wokova and Wokova Feather are now completely screw and rivetless.
Previous versions (reviewed numerous times on birthdayshoes) had two points of anchor points on the bottom of the sole, each flanking the heel area where the raised straps are reinforced. However, the newest generation of Unshoes sandals anchor their straps between layers of securing material between the sole and footbed. These points are sewn and glued for strength.
In doing so, the anchoring sections of the strap are pushed all the way to the edges of the sole, providing a much larger area for your foot—a huge plus for wide feet.
The strapping system used in the Wokova and Feather is a single loop that starts at the toe post, takes steep loop around the outside of the ankle, and returns back to the sole on the knife edge of the foot. It’s an incredibly simple lace design that is very lightweight and provides consistent tension throughout its fit.
Unlike many running sandal designs where the straps anchor to the sole on either side of the ankle, the Wokova’s straps are anchored to floating threads. These “threaders” are high-mounted for comfort and durability. Many sandals loop their straps under the sole and actually make contact with the ground, but no straps in Wokova line from Unshoes ever touches the ground and theoretically will outlast the rest of the sandal.
The Wokova and Wokova Feather feature the same high-mounted single loop design, but the Feather uses thinner straps and incorporates an elastic band for easy-on and easy-off use and a bit of added comfort. I am a huge fan of this elastic band as it makes putting on and taking off the Feather a breeze and allows your foot to move a bit more. The use of elastic or rubber bands have been seen in other sandals, such as Bedrock Sandal’s recycled rubber heel strap, and Shamma Sandal’s elastic heel. Having a bit of a “give” with your straps allows for added comfort while running and makes sudden movements against the straps less jarring.
Between the two models, I recommend the Feather for its low weight and elastic band. While it does have thinner straps, I never felt that I was losing out too much in terms of comfort with the difference in surface area.
One thing to note:
The straps in the Wokova and Wokova Feather are designed to loop around the ankle from the toe post at a very specific angle. Many sandal designs have straps that angle straight between the big and index toe, along the canyon that is formed between the bones in the foot. The Wokova and Wokova Feather’s straps do not follow this angle. Instead, the single loop design forces the straps to angle more towards the outer side of the foot. This provides more horizontal stability than the “in the bone chasm” design, but it can be irritating on the index toe for some runners.
In my testing, I did not experience any issues, but some users may find a bit of rubbing, especially with poor form. However, as long as you run lightly and with proper form—landing under the center of gravity, forefoot striking, and pulling your leg instead of pushing down upon impact—you should be able to run comfortably with the Wokova and Wokova Feather.
The 2015 updates of the Wokova and Wokova Feather showcase a myriad of thoughtful features and design choices. The strapping system is simple and very durable, the fitting and sizing options are the next best thing to a custom cut sandal, and their sole and footbed choices offer lots of customization options for different activities and users.
Unshoes is one of the most innovative minimalist companies and they continue to revolutionize what a running sandal can be with their constant updates. This latest version of Wokova and Wokova Feather gives us a new benchmark in craftsmanship, customization, and design.
You can find the Wokova and Wokova Feather at Unshoes website for $55 and $48, respectively.
A huge special thanks goes out to Terral Fox, the founder of Unshoes for sending me the Wokova and Wokova Feather for review!