Recently Kathleen and I attended “The Running Event” here in Austin and met the fine folks from Luna Sandals (Tom Norwood and Scott Smuin). They graciously sent us two pairs of their new Luna Sandals to test out and review. In general we think these are a blast to run and walk in. If you have never really run in sandals except maybe to chase after your dog or to run from some insect, you are in for a real treat.
Luna sandals are designed as a minimalist running shoe or should I say sandal. The advantages are that they are light, don’t take up much space (easy to pack), don’t require socks, low maintenance and are fun to use. They are also multi-use sandals, meaning you can run, walk or play in them. No need for multiple shoes.
The trend these days is all about letting your foot do what it does best and get rid of all the motion control that so many shoe companies have promoted. The theory behind barefoot running is that the foot was never intended to have motion control and that people who adopt a barefoot running regiment will have less injury over their motion control counterparts. The problem with running barefoot is there is a lot of things you can step on that really hurt. So to alleviate these problems, Luna Sandals have come up with a happy medium. Something that gives you that barefoot feel, but also protects the bottom of your foot from injury.
Luna Sandals – Down and Dirty
Luna Sandals at least the ones we tried on at the show and the ones that arrived will run 1/2 larger than you would normally wear. That means if you wear a 10.5, you would wear a size 10 in Lunas. They do have a very good set of instructions for determining fit.
When wearing the Luna Sandals for the first time, you will need to adjust the sandal’s straps to ensure a correct fit. To do this you can adjust the straps by pulling them through their respective strap holes and by loosening or tightening the buckle strap. Once setup, you shouldn’t have to adjust the sandal much at all. The toe strap that goes between the big toe and the rest of the foot might feel a little weird at first, but once you walk around or run, you completely forget about the sensation.
The Sandals we received have a more advanced strapping system making them a little easier to adjust and much more secure. They also have a more rugged sole making them the perfect choice for long wear. The sole of our sandals consist of a 10mm Vibram neoprene rubber (11mm when combined with MGT footbed) that is lightweight, durable, and has an aggressive tread pattern. These have been tested in the grueling race known as the Leadville 100 (100 miles). In that race, the terrain can go from nice paved roads to dirt to to river crossings to rocky portions to snow. Of course I know all about Leadville having done it myself (And Finished Read About My Experience), so I know what that race has to offer terrain wise and how great it is for testing out shoes and sandals.
The 11mm thickness is the perfect choice if you are thinking about taking these off road. Here in Austin the trails can be quite nasty with all sorts of rocks sticking up from everywhere. Having a thinner sole will certainly make you feel them.
Now barefoot purist will probably opt for a thinner sole anyway, simply because you can feel more of the ground. Most runners and especially beginning barefoot runners should purchase the thinker sole option. When using these sandals you will want some break in time. Not really for the sandals themselves, but more for your body to adapt to the minimalist setup and change of gate that you will probably encounter.
The Luna Sandals also are equip with ATS (All Terrain Strapping) Laces. The ATS laces include our Luna Plug System, which consists of a soft, tubular nylon between the toes and a flat plug under the outsole for extended wear protection.
The remainder of the laces or should I say straps, are made up of a 5/8″ climbing-grade tubular nylon with an elasticized heel strap, making the sandals easy to slip on and off. The buckle at the top of the foot allows for simple adjustments thanks to the ability to tighten and loosen the buckle and slide the strap up and down the toe strap. To keep the buckle from slipping while you’re wearing them, a strip of MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) has been added to the buckle area.
3 Layers – The Luna Sandals came with 3 layers of material. 2 hard layers and 1 soft middle layer. I found after just one run the sandal’s top layer gave a little bit and had a foot impression. I assume after more runs the sandals will conform even more to the foot.
Luna Sandals – Observations
Observations for dry warm conditions
- When running in Luna Sandals it is like the world has been carpeted with rubber.
- The shoes give you the ability to run on roads like chip-seal, that you could never run barefoot on.
- When running in these, you get a sense of freedom, that covered shoes simply don’t provide.
- You will still need to watch your step, every now and again, if a loose pebble gets under your foot.
Observations for wet conditions.
- It’s a mixed bag. When running on morning grass it can be a problem if there is a lot of moisture and it’s cold outside.
- You may need to tighten the lacing system more than you normally do when it is dry outside.
- After crossing a creek we found that the straps can loosen up a bit, so you may need to tighten the straps at some point.
Observations for cold conditions.
- I don’t have any data to go on right now. It is still quite warm here in Austin, Texas. Oh yea.
Luna Sandals – Bottom line
- Luna Sandals are a fantastic deal (Retail for the high end Luna Sandals is $85-$95)
- If you are the inventive type you might want to opt for the custom kit. It is actually quite fun designing your own shoe.
- Go for a thicker sole if you have a lot of rough terrain to run on.
- Another neat factor is the minimalist look you have when running in these sandals. Observant people will often stare wondering what the heck you’re running in.
- Luna Sandals also give you plenty of options on how to adjust the tension. If something feels a little weird, just adjust the straps to make it fit better.
Luna’s website is packed full of information, not just on their shoes, but barefoot running in general, so go check out the Luna Sandals website and all the great information.
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