Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Huaraches

Here's another chapter in my minimalist footwear adventure story. I made these sandals in the traditional huarache style out of a bit of 4mm rubber outsole material purchased from a cobbler in the area. I traced my feet, cut the sole with scissors, punched three holes and added a leather boot lace. The materials cost about $15. I may have to replace the laces once a year (for $3), but the soles look like they'll last ages.

To lace them, I followed the directions at Invisible Shoe. The knot under the base of the toe has compressed to negligible thickness and I don't feel it at all. I find these really comfortable. I was never one to like flip-flops; the prong between my toes felt intrusive and tended to give me blisters. But I find the thin leather lace unnoticeable after the first minute or two of wearing these.

Each sandal weighs less than 80 gm (3oz.), which is less than a third of what even the lightest running shoe weighs. So they're very light, but the sole material seems to be very durable -- it's good Vibram stuff, sturdier than the softer rubber typical of running shoe soles.

I've been wearing these around for a few weeks, but only just started running in them. Last night I did part of my speedwork in them. On fast downhills the lace rubs a bit between my toes. I think that if I'd gone out and done 12 miles of steep trails on my first huarache run I might have got blisters there. But with a gradual approach I'm sure my feet will get used to that. No blisters last night, anyway!

They feel like almost nothing. I feel bits of gravel through the soles, so that I'm aware they're there, but there's no discomfort. They're so open and airy that perspiration dries as quickly as it's produced. So I don't feel the need for a suede or foam footbed on top of the sole material.

The only thing I didn't like was the sound. The thin soles are floppy enough that no matter how lightly I place my feet, when I'm running quickly the rubber tends to slap the asphalt. One of the things I love about barefoot running is its silence. But last week my barefoot stealth style allowed me to inadvertently startle both myself and a young bear by getting much closer than I normally am comfortable with before either of us noticed. So a little "slap, slap, slap" probably isn't a bad thing in the big picture.

I did half yesterday's speedwork in bare feet and half in my huaraches. I definitely prefer the feel of barefoot, but I can see the huaraches being useful for gravely surfaces where barefooting isn't yet comfortable for my still-somewhat-tender feet.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:57 a.m.

    That's a wonderful link...I'd like to try some. And maybe glue some 4mm soling material to the bottom of my favorite minimalist hiking footwear, Crocs with the soles worn half down. Yesterday I went hiking a couple of miles up a sort of valley within a valley box canyon dry wash thingy with lots of sharp limestone gravel mixed in with boulders. My feet feel great today but things are Not Quite Right in my left wrist...I caught myself by the heel of my left hand when I lost my footing on some loose fist sized rocks on slippery leaf litter. A walking stick would have saved me, but I like to use my hands to climb over the big rocks...hmmm.

    Deborah

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  2. Very cool. Hmm, I wonder how these will evolve come winter!

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  3. You made your own shoes..how cool is that! They look really nice!

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