My First Impressions of the Earth Runners Minimalist Huarché Sandals for (Almost) Barefoot Running, Walking, Hiking, and More!
Not too long ago, Mike from Earth Runners contacted me to see if I would review some of his minimalist sandals. I said sure. So, he sent me a pair of their Circadian X model with a leather bedding, conductive inserts, and leather laces – plus a set of Tabi Wool Socks since I mentioned it’s starting to get cold up here in New England.
They arrived a few days later and I started putting them through the paces. Mike asked me if I could write something up before the holidays. And I said that I could offer my “first impressions” since I’d prefer more time to thoroughly evaluate a new set of footwear before writing a comprehensive review. So, here’s what I learned over the past two months or so.
-When they arrived, the instructions were very clear and it was easy to adjust the laces to fit properly. The locking buckle was easy-peasy. So, no problems in that department.
-I noticed that there was a short break-in period. And by that, I mean that my feet were achy within 15 minutes of standing in them. I wasn’t too surprised since I rarely wear footwear in the warmer months. I also noticed that in the beginning, my heels had a tendency to slide inward on the sandal – almost coming off – whether barefoot or wearing the socks. This was only an issue for a few days.
-The first full day that I wore them out and about town, I ended up going on an unexpected hike in the rain (that’s how we roll). It was soaking wet, and we were hiking through dirt, stone, and lot’s of leaves. I learned that when the Earth Runners get wet, the leather footbed – while normally quite comfortable – gets very slippery, especially on non-flat grades. I’m not sure which was worse in this regard, the Earth Runners or Xero Shoes I reviewed in the past. But regardless, these are not the most secure sandal for wet hikes on varied terrain and grades. I’ve only tried a few different pairs of huarché sandals, but I suspect that this is a pretty common issue with this style of footwear.
-That said, the Earth Runners have excellent ground traction. Mike actually told me in an email that the “Circadian X feature a denser rubber composition that holds up better over time…The Circadian X tread pattern and composition offers better traction than than the less aggressive pattern found on the Alpha X.”
And while I haven’t tried the Alpha X (their other primary model), I think his analysis of the Circadian X is about right. This tread rocks – indoors and out, on both man made and natural surfaces.
-The biggest surprise was when I took the Earth Runners out for their first run. It was well-below freezing and even though it was dry, going barefoot the whole time wasn’t going to cut it for my five mile out and back. So, I wore the Earth Runners with the wool socks. I was running on dry asphalt most of the time. After about one minute of getting used to these new sandals and adjusting my gait accordingly, I had a great run with absolutely no issues whatsoever with the Earth Runners. This was quite a different experience from what I had with my Xero Shoes, which I just couldn’t get used to. I’m not sure if it was me or the sandals. So, maybe I should give the Xeros another chance.
So, when running on asphalt, in cold, but dry conditions, the Earth Runners performed flawlessly. They were comfortable, and I was able to run with good form despite the somewhat thicker soles than what I’m used to (and less ground feel as a result). There were no blisters or other abrasions when I was finished. Plus, no foot aches or soreness later either. I was very happy with how they performed, and have used them on a few runs since.
As I mentioned earlier, my sandals came with a set of conducive inserts that are made of copper. The idea is that this will “ground you” to the Earth below your sandals, purportedly resulting in all sorts of health benefits. Now, I don’t know much about the idea of Earthing. I just haven’t looked into the science yet. I’m generally in favor of anything that puts us in better touch with nature. But truth be told, I couldn’t tell you if this is a legitimate phenomenon or pure quackery. I just don’t know. Maybe there’s something to it, or maybe it’s a bunch of nonsense.
Regardless, the inserts certainly didn’t bother me. They click a little bit when I run on asphalt. And I suspect that they may result in slightly faster wear of the sole around them, but I’ll need a lot more time to know that for sure.
And hey, if they’re helping to balance the electrons in my body and lowering inflammation (etc.), then great. But personally, that’s not the main reason why I’d buy a pair of sandals. Just being honest here.
So, to summarize my first impressions of the Earth Runners minimalist huarché-style sandals: I like them. They’re comfortable, pretty durable from what I can tell so far, and they work pretty well for my needs. Plus, they are the first huarché-style sandal that has worked for me when running, and that’s saying something! You can learn more about them at the official website here:
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Health-First Fitness Coach