Monthly Archives: April 2010

Invisible Shoe Huarache Kit Review

I am very pleased to review the Invisible Shoe Huarache Running Sandal, available in a do-it-yourself kit or a custom-made shoe made for you by the company owner, Steven Sashen. I chose to review the do-it-yourself kit so I could also comment on the creation process.

The Invisible Shoe Huarache Kit includes a rectangular piece of 4 mm Vibram Cherry sole material (in a standard or large size) and two 6” polypropylene/nylon laces, along with the web address for the instructions on how to make your own huaraches. All you need to make your own custom shoes is a pair of good scissors, a sharpie, a pencil, a piece of paper large enough to trace a foot, a lighter, and a craft/leather hole punch.

Making the Shoes
Creating your own custom Invisible Shoe Huaraches is very easy and fast with the instructions provided on the Invisible Shoe website. The whole process took about 45 minutes, including the time it took to take photos of the creation process. The hardest part of the process for me was pushing the laces through the holes in the sole material and, had I made the holes large enough in the first place, even this step would not have been difficult.

Comfort
The lace is very smooth and the sole material under foot is slightly texturized to provide some traction so your foot does not slide around on the sole. Both textures are very comfortable against the skin.

Once you get used to the feeling of the lace between your toes, you can barely feel the huaraches on your feet at all. The ‘thong’ feeling of the huaraches was definitely the most difficult aspect of the shoes for me and it took a few outings in them to get used to it. After a month, I barely feel the lace at all. I was never bothered by the lace around the back and sides of my feet.

I was initially concerned about feeling the knot under my toes but it was never a problem. Because the knot is between my toes, although I can feel it while walking on hard, smooth surfaces, it has never been uncomfortable for me in any way as it is not under a weight-bearing area. If it turns out to be an issue for someone after you’ve already made the shoe, there is a modification to the original design that places the knot on the top side of the shoe instead of the bottom, where it would not be felt at all.

A big comfort issue with the huaraches is how to tie them properly. There are many ways to tie huaraches and the most comfortable way is undoubtedly a personal preference. I would recommend trying a few different ways and decide what works best for you.

Weight
Each of my size ‘me’ huarache sandals weighs 3 ounces or 85 grams. This weight will change depending on the size of the sole material required for your own feet, but will probably be negligible. The way that I tie the huaraches, with the slip-on style of lacing, I can’t feel the weight of the sole material on my feet at all.

Flex / Sole
The sole is 4 mm Vibram Cherry material. The rubber is extremely flexible and folds back on itself, in any direction, with ease. Although 4 mm may sound thick, the sole feels incredibly thin while walking or running. In fact, it barely feels like there’s a sole on your foot at all.

Initially I was concerned whether the sole would keep its flat shape while walking or if the sole heel would flop down and hit the ground before my foot. I’m happy to report this is not the case. The sole material stays very close to the bottom of my foot at all times and does not represent a tripping hazard.

Support / Insole
As there is no rigid structure to this sandal, there is absolutely no support. There is also no insole included with the shoe kit or the custom-made huaraches.

Barefoot Feel
The barefoot feel of the huaraches is simply phenomenal. Because there is just a lace holding the sole material to your foot, your foot is absolutely free to act in the same way it would if you were completely barefoot; toes and bones splay naturally and foot muscles function normally. The sole is thin enough that you can also feel every ground contour that you step on. Sharp edges are barely muted at all.

I find that a barefoot gait is easily maintained while wearing the huaraches. I don’t have to think about trying to maintain a midfoot strike while walking, while with other minimalist shoes, I sometimes do.

Grip
The grip of this sole material is outstanding. Whether on smooth or rough, wet or dry, the grip is solid. I was pleasantly surprised at how sure-footed I walked with the huaraches.

Breathability
As there is no fabric upper to this sandal, breathability is not an issue as your foot is open to the air all the time.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The two materials included in the Invisible Shoe Huarache kit: the Vibram Cherry sole and the polypropylene and nylon laces, are both durable and perfect for their intended purposes. The sole is made of professional-grade rubber and is built to last. The lace is soft, strong, easily melted to keep the ends and knots intact, and do not stretch. The fit never changes.

Water Resistance
As there is no upper to the Invisible Shoes, they are obviously not water resistant. However, water will run off the shoes as easily as it runs onto them.

Sizing
Sizing is not an issue with Invisible Shoe Huaraches as you either make them yourself or you send in a tracing of your foot for a custom-made version.

Price
The Invisible Shoe kit is extremely economical at $19.95 USD for the standard 9”x11” or $24.95 USD for the large 11”x12”. For a long-lasting, custom-fit sandal, I think this is a great deal. The custom-made Invisible Shoes, where you send a foot tracing to the company in Colorado, costs $49.95. I think the fun involved in making your own shoes and the savings of $25–30 makes the kits a much better deal. In fact you can buy two kits for twice the fun!

Style
The Invisible Shoe style is as simple as it gets for sandals. There are seven colors of laces to choose from on the website. In addition, the way you lace your own huaraches can be as stylish as you want to make it.

Break-in Period
Once the sandals are made, the laces will not stretch and the sole does not change shape so there is no break-in period. You may need some time to get used to the feeling of the lace between your toes but that’s more of an individual tolerance issue.

Shoe care
There is no need to treat the lace or the sole with any type of pre-wear care. To clean them, I put them in the sink and scrubbed with an old brush, and then let them air dry. There is no cause for worry about getting the laces wet because they do not stretch.

Warmth
The only down-side to these running sandals would be their warmth. They are as suitable for cold temperatures as bare feet but would provide minimal protection from cold ground.

With/Without Socks
Invisible Shoes can be worn with or without socks, as long as they are toe socks. The laces may need to be loosened to accommodate for the extra material but I found that the slip-on style of lacing I used did not require to be relaced for additional room. I found that the lace between my toes was less of a problem, in the beginning, when I wore toe socks with the huaraches.

Varying Terrains
I test ran on many terrains with the Invisible Shoes and they performed perfectly as a running sandal on grass, concrete, asphalt, shale, gravel, and large river stones. My gait was exactly the same on all terrains.

I had been concerned about scooping up gravel or pebbles with the tops of the sandals while running but it was never an issue. Because the sandals fit so closely to my foot, the only way this would have happened was if I was dragging my toes in the dirt while running, something that would never happen with a little practice at barefoot running.

Inclines/Declines
I tested the shoes by running up and down hills on both trail and paved surfaces. On both the inclines and declines, the grip is spectacular and I never worried about loosing my footing. On the inclines, I did not notice any difference in feel compared to the flats but on the declines, I noticed that the lace between my toes was more noticeable. This may be due to poor running form on my part.

Summary
There is no other shoe in the minimalist footwear industry as truly minimalist as the huarache. It just doesn’t get simpler than a piece of sole material cut to the size of your foot and a lace to tie it on.  The Invisible Shoe Huarache running sandal with the kit is easy to make, durable, long-lasting, easy to personalize with a choice of lace color and lacing style as well as extremely economical. They are as close to being barefoot as you can possibly get with a shoe with only the slightest width of rubber protection on the soles of your feet. Your feet are free to move in the most natural way with no fabric upper to impede or constrict foot movement in any way. All initial reservations about comfort, fit, or suitability for running were quickly dispelled after my first few walks and my first run in them, which was absolutely fabulous. They are a pleasure to walk and run in and every pair can be perfectly customized to the needs of your feet.

To purchase these shoes, visit the Invisible Shoe website at http://www.invisibleshoe.com.  The site is full of information on the modern take on huaraches including detailed written and video instructions on how to make your own running sandals.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

Running in Invisible Shoe Huarache Running Sandals

I’ve had the Invisible Shoe Huarache Running Sandals for almost a month now and, in addition to many walks, I’ve worn them on four runs. Oddly, I’ve run in them once at home in Cochrane on the trails, once in Lachine, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal), Boston, and New York City. They’re very well travelled shoes. :)

I absolutely love running in them. They are comfortable both with and without socks, depending on the temperature. I love the incredibly free feeling I have running in them. My feet can bend and move in whatever way they need to while running.

I could go on and on about how great they are for running shoes and how comfortable but I think I’ll wait until my Living Barefoot review comes out in a just a few days. Until then, here’s a picture of my custom-made by me huaraches and my black injinjis.

Meeting the Vibram FiveFingers Folks

On Friday, I went to the Boston Marathon Expo to check out the VFF booth. It was FABULOUS!!! I finally got to meet Michael Martin and Georgia Shaw from Vibram USA. I’ve spoken with them both over email and the phone for so long it was fantastic to finally meet them. They are such nice and gracious people.

I also got to meet Corrado, Michele, and Irana (sp?) from Vibram FiveFingers Milan in Italy. We had an excellent half hour conversation about barefoot running, minimalist shoes, the new Bikilas, and the new Speeds. It was a wonderful conversation and it had to reluctantly end because the expo was closing for the day.

I got to see the new Bikilas, which I couldn’t try on because the women’s sizes were not available yet. They are beautiful and are going to make most excellent running shoes. I also got to see a large pair Speeds (they were Corrado’s), which were also really nice. It’s so great to see that Vibram listens to their customers and improves their new models to reflect the wishes of their fans.

It was really a joyous experience for me to spend time with like-minded people. The VFF folks are fantastic and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have spent some time with them.

Boston All-Star Barefoot Running Clinic- Updated

This morning’s Vibram FiveFingers All-Star Barefoot Running Clinic at City Sports in Boston was fantastic! There were fittings for VFFs, including some men’s sizes of the new Bikilas. Chris McDougall, Dr. Daniel Lieberman, and Corrado from Milan were the main speakers. The 200+ attendees were split into five groups with different ‘coaches’. Mine was Dr. Lieberman. He was fabulous and answered many questions from myself and the rest of the group. We ran to and around Boston Common. After the running, there was a short Q+A with the speakers. It was an awesome experience and will probably be one of the highlights of Boston for me (of course, I’m not running the marathon on Monday :) ).

Now that I’ve had some days to think about my experience at the clinic, I thought I’d write about some things that I remember in particular. Some advice that Dr. Lieberman had about technique includes:

- Listen to YOUR body.
- Regarding cadence, do what feels right for you.
- When landing, land on the lateral ball of your foot (at the 4th and 5th metatarsal heads)
- Transition slowly! (Always good advice.)
- Don’t push too hard too soon or you could end up with tears in your calf muscles (among other injuries).
- Enjoy what you’re doing.
- Pain is never a good thing.

I’m so glad that I got to be in Dr. Lieberman’s group, although I’m sure that the other groups had just as much as we did. He spent a lot of time answering all the questions that we had for him.

And here’s some pics from the event.







And if you want to see a video of the clinic that Vibram put together, check it out on YouTube here.

The Living Barefoot Podcast Show – Episode 11 Released

The latest Living Barefoot Podcast Show has been released. Al and I interviewed Anna Papij from Australia about running in minimalist footwear, Donna Rosser the Barefoot Photographer, and Adam Wik of the newly created Move Free Shoes company.

You can check out the new show at: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2010/04/the-living-barefoot-show-podcast-episode-11-released/