I'm perfectly willing to admit my enthusiasm for
Luna Sandals has a lot to do with how
utterly impossible it is for me to find good
running footwear that fits my unusually-wide
forefoot and narrow heel while maintaining a zero
heel raise, good ground feel, and other minimalist
requirements like foot splaying space.
Remember that in 2008 I seriously
busted up my foot after getting atrocious
running advice about the need for orthotics,
motion control shoes, and the adoption of a heel
strike. In the years since that marathon-ending
disaster I've adhered to a barefoot
and minimalist running regime that's served
Leadville Pacers since I received them a month and a half ago, though, and after 200 miles I'm pretty satisfied that they're the real deal.
Luna Sandals: The Inspiration
Luna Sandals builds extremely simple, durable, and effective footwear very similar to the sandals worn by the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's Copper Canyon, whose story is well told in Born to Run.
Their sandals, called huaraches, are roughly
shorn from old tire treads. It sounds basic, but
they're effective. The Tarahumara have twice
fielded runners to complete in the grueling
Leadville 100 ultramarathon race, and won both
times. They regularly compete in 50 to 100-mile
races for fun back home.
The huaraches aren't the source of their success,
of course. Their awesome running culture and low
fat, low protein, carbohydrate-rich plant-based
diet are likely the important elements.
But the sandals are effective, and allow them to
run over the rocky terrain they inhabit while
maintaining good form and ground feel. The best
footwear shields your sole from cuts while
allowing the foot and ankle to move freely and
without friction; their sandals do just that.
Luna Sandals uses Vibram soles and other manufactured elements, but in execution they're very similar to slapdash huaraches. They're also somewhat comparable to the sandals worn by ancient Greek, Roman, and other Mediterranean cultures during antiquity. There, they were used for utilitarian travel as well as sporting competitions, on the occasions those cultures bothered with footwear at all.
One useful upgrade over the wrap-around ties
necessary for similar sandals is the elasticized
laces Luna Sandals uses. They make for a nice,
firm fit that won't cut into you like some sandal
laces I've tried.
What's Wrong With
Wrong With My Vibrams?
One reason it took me
so long to try Luna Sandals was because my
previous attempt to buy huaraches from Invisible
Shoes went horribly. The shoes flopped
around and made tons of noise when I ran. I was
told this meant I was running wrong on the
Invisible Shoes forums, so I decided to give the
sandals a fair shot and spent many hours varying
shifted my weight from toes to heels and from side
to side. I changed my pace, cadence, and
everything else I could imagine that might be
affecting things, but all running patterns I
dreamed up still flopped. I was constantly
tripping over the front of the sandals, which
folded under my toes, and they made an annoying
slapping noise on hard surfaces.
Finally I threw them in
the trash in disgust, and figured Five Fingers
were the best option I was going to find anytime
While traveling in Cambodia this summer I met up with my friend, Brad, who is an enthusiastic owner of Luna Sandals's Original Luna model.
He let me try them on, and I was really surprised that they didn't flop around and trip me nor make anywhere near the same degree of noise as the Invisible Shoes sandals had.
I took them out for a
spin, and a few miles later I was convinced they
were for me.
Are Luna Sandals Vegan?
If you're a vegan for moral reasons you'll want to pay attention to how you order your Luna Sandals. There are two optional elements that contain leather products in most models: the laces and the footbed.
For the laces, just choose the elasticized vegan laces (they're marked vegan). The footbed has no vegan replacement, so you can just choose not to add one. The site FAQ says they add comfort to the sandal, but after trying Brad's model with a leather upper, his seemed no more comfortable than my model without the footbed I received.