A couple of months ago, one of my favorite internet gurus Erwan Le Corre (founder of MovNat) tweeted this:
Luna Sandals are the brain child of Barefoot Ted and co., the same Barefoot Ted featured in Christopher McDougall’s inspiring book Born to Run. (For a full review of the book, check out this post.) I was instantly intrigued. Could these sandals really capture the magic of the Tarahumara runners? Could modern “elasticized leather straps” and a “Vibram sole” provide the same barefoot experience as their makeshift rubber-tire huaraches? (Though really, is there anything as hard-core as strapping old rubber tires to your feet in order to run through the Copper Canyons without sustaining potentially fatal injuries?) One thing was for sure: I wouldn’t know until I ordered a pair and tried them out for myself.
Getting the Sandals
Ordering Luna Sandals is part of the fun, because you’re sure to get a good fit. They will custom-cut your sandals for you at no extra charge if you upload an image, so there’s no reason not to. It only takes a minute to do (though it’s best to have access to a scanner so you don’t risk warping the image by taking a photo at an angle) and there’s even a nice video of how to make your footprint on the website. Here’s how mine turned out.
I got my sandals in the mail about a week later (pretty good for international shipping) and was able to immediately put them on. The bonus about getting the Equus laces is that they are much easier to take on and off, so you don’t have to constantly tie and untie them.
How they stacked up against my Vibram KSOs
After a month of putting the sandals through their paces, here’s what I’ve noticed.
1) Fit- As one would expect, they fit great – even better than my Vibrams. I’m an exact middle size for Vibram FiveFingers, so my KSO’s fit pretty tight. With the Luna’s there was no worry for that. However, I did find that I had to readjust the straps to a looser setting because of tightness/discomfort around my Achilles tendon.
2) Running – These are the first and only sandals I’ve worn that I could truly run in. Normally when running in flip-flops, you have to clinch your big toe to keep the sandal from flying off your foot. This is bad for your feet as your toe is supposed to be able to naturally extend and be a launch-point for your stride. (For more on this, check out KStarr’s “Athletes Don’t Wear Flip-Flops” post.)
The Lunas, on the other hand, stick to the feet well when running or moving. Although I tripped myself a couple of times on the first day adjusting to them, it hasn’t been a problem since. (#iamaclutz) So far, the sandals seem to be best for jogging or trail running, and OK for straightaway sprints. They weren’t built to handle sharp cuts at high speed (though neither were the KSOs).
3) Barefoot experience – The Luna’s provide you with a natural stride, but less kinesthetic awareness than when in Vibrams (or completely barefoot.) This makes sense since the sole is quite a bit thicker (6 mm as compared to 3.5 mm in the KSO).
4) Terrain – Great for walking over rough surfaces – OK for climbing. The trade-off for having a thicker sole is that they are better suited for clambering over rough terrain. A couple of months ago Valerie and I went hiking along the (rocky) coast, and I faired much better than she did in her Vibram Sprints. I did a little bit of boulder climbing too, and although they were OK, I would have much preferred the surefooted grip of my KSOs.
5) Durability – so far, so good. The sandals themselves have held up very well over the past month+ of heavy use, as one might expect from a thick Vibram sole. I did have one of the laces break early on, but they provide you with enough lace to retie them after several breaks. (Breaking is bound to happen as you wear through them, usually about every 100 miles.) Just snip off the broken piece, tie a knot, and follow the instructions on the video. You should get it no problem.
I have a suspicion that the sandal beds will last a lot longer than the laces, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem since you can buy new laces for about 10 bucks on the website.
6) Comfort – I’ve always liked how sandals feel – sunlight and fresh air do a body good, your feet included. Sometimes with the KSOs, your feet can get pretty smelly and nasty stewing in their own sweat (#worthit), but with the Lunas there’s no such problem. HUUUUGE bonus not to have stinky feet around the wifey though.
Overall, I think the Original Luna Sandals were a good investment, and I would recommend them to anyone as a casual-wear sandal or for minimalist jogging. For more serious movement, I still prefer the KSO, but on a day-to-day basis, I find myself reaching for the Lunas when I’m heading to the store or out for a walk. If you’ve wanted a barefoot alternative for a while but found that FiveFingers didn’t fit right, these are the way to go. Plus, you can call them your ‘gladiator sandals’. Pretty stinkin’ sweet.
I hope that helps you decide whether Luna Sandals are a good choice for you. As a side-note, there are other models available on the website, so if you are a trail runner some of the thicker, sturdier options might be best. Check it out and if you get a pair please let me know what you think!
-Stay healthy everybody