These range from my beliefs that our bodies are designed to function ideally without shoes, to the fact that my oddly shaped feet generally don't fit into their confines well. For years I was a registered Chaco cult member, I still wear them from time to time, but though my toes are free, they kinda feel like bricks strapped to the bottom of my feet. I've tried everything from the FiveFingers to Minimus's, to straight up barefoot yet never really found my silver bullet. Being part of the minimalist running sub-set, I'd been hearing a lot about Huarache style sandals, the basic design of which has been around since the first caveman got tired of stepping on sharp rocks barefoot. Huaraches have stood the test of time because they are easy to make, secure, and give just enough underfoot protection without holding ones feet captive.
There are several companies making huarache inspired running sandals, ranging from super basic DIY "rubber with some string" options to some really quality though out designs. Earth Runners, by far, belong to the latter. They use high quality Vibram soles, leather footbeds, and a well designed single strap (nylon or leather) setup, that when dialed in, is super secure and comfortable.
They were kind enough to send me a pair of their Circadian X's with a 6mm Vibram sole, leather footbeds and their new conductive nylon laces. I've been running, training, exploring and just chilling in them for about a week so I figured it was time for a 1st impressions review.
Design and Quality:
These guys are handmade in Santa Cruz, CA, a place near and dear to my heart. They are also custom made for your foot, a welcome concept for those with feet such as mine. All the stitching, bonding, etc is spot on with high quality materials used throughout.
The single strap design is well though out, highly adjustable and is easy to get the hang of.
My only concern thus far is the longevity of the straps where they wrap under the sole by the ankle. This is a common and practical design feature in this style of shoe because pressure is not normally put on the area of the sole and I haven't noticed any wear yet.
Fit & Feel:
The fit is spot on and no strap trimming was needed.
They feel like a second skin on my feet. The leather footbed is super comfortable and grippy, even when wet. I thought about getting the vegan/non-leather version, but I'm glad I listened to Earth Runners advice. I'm not normally a flipflop guy so my toes are still getting used to having a strap between them, but soon that should be a non-issue.
Performance- Trail and WORKsite:
Wether I'm doing balance beam work or descending down a trail, the Earth Runners have stayed secure and give great ground feel. The 6mm sole gives just the right amount of padding to protect my feet from the pointy stuff and is super grippy, even on wet rocks. On my first run I had to stop a couple times to adjust the straps, but that has not been an issue on following ones. There is some play in the forefoot due to just one strap up front, though it didn't affect running performance and I was feeling the vibe of it after the first mile.
In addition to trail running, these are my new faves for crosstraining! The increased ground feel and toe splay they allow flows perfectly with natural movement and mobility training. They also give a very grounded feel when doing deadlifts, squats, power swings, etc.
How do they compare to minimalist shoes?
I love the freedom Earth Runners give my feet. They provide grounding and a flow that even the most minimal shoes have failed to provide. I will prob wear these guys for 80% of my adventuring. Yet, freedom come with a cost. Toe stubbings are more likely and the front has gotten caught under things a couple times. But this just encourages me to be more aware of and intentional with my feet and their movement, which is a good thing.
The only adventure/fitness activities these would not be advisable on are mud runs (even the most secure sandal is no match for 12" of mud lol). The jury is still out on paddling. Hoping to test em out on the water soon though!
Earth Runners, in addition to their uber high quality and smart design, set themselves apart by building conductive materials into their sandals. This allows a better connection to the earths magnetic fields, thus encouraging better connection and flow with the earth modern life tends to insulate us from.
After spending a week in my Earth Runners Circadian X's, I am very impressed with the quality, fit and performance. I also love the connection they give with the ground. For anyone looking to adventure or train in a little shoe as possible, Earth Runners Circadian X's are your ticket.
Keep eyes out for a long term test review in a few months.
Click the link below to try them out for yourself & use the code "barefit5" to get 5% off your order!