Overall Rating: 6.8/10
In an attempt to fortify his adventure flip flops, Founder Mike Dally came up with his first Earth Runners prototype using athletic tape from his hiking day pack.
As his interest in trail running sandals grew, Mike learned about the Tarahumara, an indigenous people native to Copper Canyon in Mexico.
The world was effectively introduced to these barefoot running legends by Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, released in 2009.
The Tarahumara are able to run long distances across steep, unforgiving terrain wearing minimalist “huaraches” (Spanish for sandal).
If you follow McDougall’s premise, then the closer you are to barefoot running, the better. The idea is that your feet have a more natural pattern of movement when they’re not bogged down by modern running shoes.
Earth Runners sent Kim and I their latest adventure sandal, the Cadence.
While we were impressed by the sandal’s look, quality of craftsmanship, and the protection offered by its Vibram sole, we couldn’t get past the discomfort caused by its abrasive toe strap.
To see if it was just us, we gave several of our friends the opportunity to try them before our recent backpacking trip in Southern Utah.
All of them agreed that the lace between your first and second toe is rather uncomfortable.
I had initially planned on hiking portions of the 20-mile loop in my Earth Runners, but decided to pack my lighter weight, more comfortable Xero Shoes Z-Trails instead.
Earth Runners reached out to us in March 2020 offering Kim and I two Earth Runners Cadence Adventure Sandals to trial and review. Content Director Aimée Coustier wrote:
Max, I see you are quite familiar with the primal pursuits of trekking and trail running. Our founder shares this passion with you and has found his vocation in making the most capable sandals to help facilitate this lifestyle.
We agreed to try them out. Aimée took our order and we received a confirmation email the next day. A couple weeks later, we were notified that a shipment was on the way. A few days after that, they showed up.
I started by wearing them indoors all day to get used to them. Later that day, I went for a short evening walk around the neighborhood.
Our first hike in Earth Runners was at Little Black Mountain Petroglyph Site, a trail on the Arizona Strip near St. George, Utah.
Kim’s second toe fared worse than mine, but the sandal lace left a noticeable imprint on both of ours.
Maybe after continual use, a callous would form here and make the sandal less painful to wear, but why suffer through this period when you don’t have to?
The Cadence Adventure Sandal comes with a thick 9mm Vibram sole that protects your feet and provides good traction.
According to Earth Runner’s website, a men’s size 9 weighs 5.9 oz and the footbed is made from a “heavy duty cotton canvas”.
The laces are made of a hydrophobic polyester webbing core and anchored into the sole with a copper ground plug.
We’ve only put in a few miles with our Earth Runners so it’s hard to give an accurate assessment of durability.
Based on the materials and craftsmanship, they seem like they could handle more abuse than our Z-Trails.
Earth Runners sandals come with a warranty that lasts for the lifetime of their Vibram sole.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, we found the lace between our first and second toe to be quite painful.
We tried adjusting the straps to get a better fit, but there wasn’t anything we could do to get around the disagreeable tension.
I find it hard to believe that an authentic huarache (made by a Tarahumara native) could be this uncomfortable. Perhaps their toe strap is made from a softer, more agreeable material like leather?
Personally, I think Earth Runners look awesome! If you check their Instagram account, you’ll find a lot of hip, adventurous people wearing them. I can understand why there is so much hype around the product.
Even Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter wears Earth Runners. For a tech billionaire, he’s about as stylish as they come. After all, he takes ice baths and dates models, but what do I know.
If you can get past the toe strap of doom, these sandals are a decent price. For $84, they’re a well-made minimalist sandal that should last for many adventures.