Review of Invisible Shoes Huaraches Part 2

Published by RunningPoint on Tuesday, 08 Mar 2011 16:00 EST

In case you haven't read Part 1 of my Invisible Shoes huaraches review, here's a bit of recap. Huaraches are one of the most basic forms of footwear and consist only of a material that protects the bottom of the foot and a lace to secure them. They have been used specifically by the Tarahumara Indians and have been popularized by Chris McDougall's book Born to Run. Steven Sashen of Invisible Shoes decided to modernize the huaraches and offers a DIY kit on his website or he will custom make you a pair.

Part 1 of this review chronicled the process of me measuring, cutting, and assembling my DIY kit. Part 2 is my review of running in the huaraches.


huaraches side viewWhen you are dealing with a shoe that is designed for this extreme level minimalism, I'm not sure that appearance is even a factor. I personally like the way the huaraches look. When the laces are tied in the slip on method (which I use), they retain a bit of shape and look like a very stripped down version of any sport sandal from manufacturers like Teva or Chaco.

The only area to add a splash of personality to these shoes is in your choice of laces. There are quite a few choices for lace color with the DIY kit and I chose the black laces. I am glad I did so since I have adopted the huaraches as daily wear around the office and out in public. huaraches at workThe black laces help to not make my footwear a focal point, especially around the office. I am proud to wear them anywhere and have gotten nothing but overwhelmingly positive comments about them. There are no second thoughts involved with wearing the huaraches out in public like there would be with FiveFingers.


The fit of the huaraches depends on how patient you are while measuring and assembling your DIY kit or on how well you follow instructions to get your foot tracing done to send to Steven and how you tie them. I took a fair amount of time and care to follow the step by step videos on the website and am very happy with my results.

I studied all the tying methods, and decided on the slip-on style. It seemed to combine what looked like the best level comfort and convenience. I had read that there were two sticking points that most people had with the huaraches: the lace between the big toe and the first toe, and the knot on the underside of the shoe that holds the lace in place.

I am a longtime wearer of flip flops and sandals with big toe loops so the lace between the toes felt completely natural to me. I did find that if the shoe is not tied correctly, mainly too loose or too tight, some discomfort could be experienced by people not accustomed to having something between their toes.

huaraches knotThe knot on the underside of the shoe was a new one for me. I was skeptical about how it could ever feel comfortable but I found that the first time I put the huaraches on that the knot was not noticeable at all. This surprised me a bit because I had read about some people being forced to modify their huaraches to move or remove the knot. I think that my personal comfort with the knot was a product of genetics and of me spending plenty of time barefoot. My big toe and second toe have a fairly sizable gap between them that the knot fits in nicely. People with toes that are closer together could easily experience some discomfort.


The performance of the huaraches is simply phenomenal. The caveat to this is that there are only really two areas to judge them in: grip and ground feel.

The grip of the Vibram Cherry material is really quite awesome. I was on the skeptical side when I ordered the DIY kit because there is no picture or video on the internet that does justice to the intricacies of the tread pattern. The material is both cross hatched and undulates into peaks and valleys which creates a good grip on every surface I have tried them on (dirt, mulch trail bed, gravel, grass, asphalt).

huaraches all rolled upThe way I like to describe the ground feel while wearing the huaraches is to think of them as a way to instantly provide your feet with the same amount of protection that decades of walking barefoot and toughening your feet up would provide. The Vibram Cherry material is super flexible and follows the contours of your feet so tightly that it feels like an extension of your skin. I have read complaints that the material doesn't allow the toes to move as independently as pure barefoot running would, but have to believe that neither do the FiveFingers (I cannot wear FiveFingers due to having longer second toes than big toes so this is purely speculative) which have to create some unnatural friction between the toes. I would think the huaraches would allow for more natural toe movement and splay due to the fact that they are entirely open air.


I am blown away by the Invisible Shoe huaraches, not just as running shoes but as my new favorite shoe to wear daily. They allow me to essentially go barefoot anywhere I want to and to do so without having small children point and laugh at my “monster feet”. I can't imagine that there is a more perfect design in the world today for both a durable and minimal shoe. I have looked at a lot of minimal footwear and have noticed that many companies sacrifice tread life and material (all the sock style shoes in particular) for ground feel. This is not the case with the Invisible Shoe huaraches. They are pretty stylish, durable, and a lot of fun to put together if you get the DIY kit. I can run in them, I can play with the kids in the backyard or park with them, I can wear them to work. For the money, they are the cheapest and most useful shoe in my closet.

One final thing I have to add, please be careful if you buy these shoes and start to run in them. If you over-do it you will get injured. I did, but that was pretty much 100% my fault. They are wonderfully minimal shoes and should be treated with caution and respect when you first start running in them. If you go about it wisely, running in these shoes will convince you that the body was never designed to run any other way.

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