Category Archives: Running

Pah Tempe Long Term Test – Final

Final Thoughts
The Pah Tempe can be summed up in one word – EASY.  This is the thought that comes to mind most while wearing them.  They are easy to put on, easy to adjust, easy to run in, easy, easy, easy.  I like them for casual use but LOVE them for running.  The level of comfort is amazing.  All of the straps are soft against your feet and I have never had any chafing or strap pain. 

Pros:
Comfortable
Functional
Versatile
No toe strap
Secure
Inexpensive

Cons:
Toe will occasionally catch and fold under (read on to see my modifications)

 

If you are new to minimalist footwear or don’t like toe straps than the Pah Tempe is for you.  There are many other companies like Luna, Invisible Shoes, and Bedrock  to name a few but none offer the toe strap free design.  I personally own 3 different Luna sandals and love them all especially the originals but none compare to ease of use and comfort (especially while running)

Many people have asked if the newflex will mold to your foot.  The answer: Yes! I have to say that they are more comfortable now than when I first received them and love they they are “my foot”

Final Review Time
As a tester, I take the testing of the shoes that are given to me seriously.  All other reviews are just impressions right when they get them. What happens after a year, what about two. Did they fall apart or wear out? After 2.5 years of daily abuse in every possible situation, my Pah Tempe sandals are still going strong. In fact, they are probably better now than they were when they were new.

Check out my video review for the Pah Tempe sandals and watch why  I think they are the best minimalist running sandal on the market.

 

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Filed under Long term test, Review, Running

Pah Tempe Long Term Test – Part 2

I have spent a lot of time running in the Pah Tempe and have loved every minute of it.  Until recently, I couldn’t find any faults, but then, I finally found the Pah Tempe’s kryptonite.  More on this in a bit, but first a little more scrutiny on the front of the sandal.

As a tester, I wanted to provide as much input on the function of the design as possible.  As part of this, I purposely ordered my test pair of Pah Tempe 1/2 size too large.  I wanted to see how important toe length was to the overall function.  As it turns out, it is extremely important.  My first step resulted in the toe of the sole catching on the ground and folding under the sandal.  I tried to get used to it, but aside from high stepping there was no way to keep from catching the toe.
Lesson:  Trace your foot carefully
Click on the photo below to see what the “too long” sole looks like.  If you look carefully, you can see the tracing of my foot on the sole.  This is where it should have been cut had I not added to the length.

After I trimmed the sole back to where it should have originally been they fit like the picture below.  This length resulted in far fewer fold overs.

Proper sizing

Even though they now fit like they should I was still occasionally folding over the toe.  The sole is so flexible that catching the toe is not as bad as it seems.  It simply folds under and causes almost no change in stride.  Your toes are now exposed but I found it more annoying than dangerous.  This was happening only while walking, when I wasn’t picking my feet up enough.  The original Pah Tempe design was simply cut out of Newflex with the cut being 90 degrees to the bottom as shown below.

I found that I was catching the front edge, which caused the front to fold over.  I decided to take the 90 degree edge and put a 45 degree bevel on it.  This simple change completely removed almost all of the fold overs.  The finished front looks like the picture below.After talking to UnShoes, they said that this bevel will be included on all future Pah Tempe to reduce the chance of the toe catching.

With my modified Pah Tempe, I felt invincible.  It was the most versatile form of foot protection I had ever encountered.  Then one warm and sunny day I decided to play badminton with my family in the grass.  The grass was green and needing to be mowed but we played anyway.  This was the kryptonite that killed the Pah Tempe.  They were completely unusable.  The front would fold under on every step.  The heel folded under when backpedaling.  I had to take them off and play barefoot or face utter humiliation and embarrassment for my numerous falls and missed hits.

In Summary, the toe will occasionally fold under and everyone should expect this to happen.  Proper sizing and the new 45 degree bevel will almost completely eliminate fold over occurrences.  Using the Pah Tempe on the road, trail, or mall will make you smile, however, keep them out of the long grass or the swamp monster get you. (Sorry, I have been watching too much Scooby-Doo with my son)

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Filed under Long term test, Review, Running

BestTough Mudder Shoes Ever!

Soft Star Dash and the Tough Mudder

I’m sure most of you that found this page are looking for a tough, gnarly shoe for the tough mudder, spartan race, or even death race.  What you are probably expecting to see is something like this.

I’m here to say that an unlikely shoe actually makes it to the top.  I was focused purely on performance and function and talked to many people about their shoes.  Read my conclusions below.

Back in September I decided that a custom pair of Soft Star Dash would be the best option for the Tough Mudder.  After running the race I can say that the Dash outperformed every other shoe out there.  They had no weakness and performed flawlessly.  If you are looking for the perfect pair of shoes for the tough mudder, the perforated Soft Star Dash is it.  Here is why.

The race forces you to get wet many, many times.  It also requires about 12 miles of running over a variety of terrain and a little bit of swimming.  Lastly, the course forces you through tons of sticky mud.  Regular shoes are the worst option due the the weight when wet and the amount of mud that gets into them.  Not to mention I saw several people loose their shoes in the mud and were forced to finish the race in socks.  Five fingers would be a great option and anyone that already has these should use them.  The downfall of the five fingers is the mud.  I didn’t see anyone loose theirs but I saw many people complain that they had their feet abraded away once gunk got in.

The advantage of the perforated leather is that the mud gets in but then goes right back out.  I routinely had gravel under my foot just bounce out.  After the muddy spots, tons of people had to stop and empty their shoes out.  Not me, I was able to keep running.

The GA event was also really cold.  My feet were cold when submerged in water but actually dried out very quickly and became comfortable again.  The people in VFF’s had numb feet and were complaining about not being able to feel the ground or their toes.

I wore drymax trail socks and couldn’t have been happier.  These socks don’t hold water, dry quickly and most importantly, keep out all dirt.  After the race, my feet were clean, although my socks and shoes were caked in mud.

Note: Drymax trail socks run way big.  Order one to two sizes down.  (they stretch).  I wear size 13 shoes and the Large fit perfect.

The Dash provided the right amount of traction and protection.  My feet came out happy without any issues.  The dash was great to run in regardless of the conditions.  They were also great to swim in and the enhanced ground feel really helped with the obstacles (especially the balance beam).  Anyone looking for the ultimate or perfect shoe for the Tough Mudder should consider the perforated Dash.

One added plus is that the race didn’t trash my shoes.  They took a beating but a quick rinse brought them back to normal (almost).  The leather needs to get a quick coat of dye to restore the color.  Take a look.

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Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Long term test, Review, Running, Soft Star

Pah Tempe Long Term Test – Part 1

I am excited to announce that I am starting a new long term test.  I recently received the newly redesigned Pah Tempe sandal from Unshoes.  The Pah Tempe is unique in that it does not have a strap running between your toes.  I was interested to test the Pah Tempe sandal after multiple people stopped me to ask about my huaraches, only to say “Those are great, but is there a version without the toe strap?”  When Unshoes offered to let me test the newly redesigned Pah Tempe I was excited but also a bit apprehensive about performance.

After lots of testing, I can unequivocally say that Unshoes Pah Tempe is a legitimate contender in the crowded minimalist sandal market.  Not only that, I had a hard time finding a situation that it couldn’t handle (I tried).

Comfort and Versatility
Overall performance was exceptional.  They were intuitive and easy to put on and adjust.  Once on, you can simply slide on and off with no need to readjust.  They were comfortable, in a way that only Soft Star can match.  The wide webbing distributed pressure evenly, ensuring that there were no pressure points.

I didn’t really think of the Pah Tempe as a running sandal but this is where it really surprised me.  This is hard to say, since I love my Luna’s, but the Pah Tempe out preformed them in every way.  I ran in them every day for over a week and never once felt any hot spots, pressure points, or slipping.  After nearly 3 days of no issues I decided to come up with the most brutal tests I could find to see how far these sandals could go.

Day 1 of brutality testing:  Lateral loading
I ran 2 miles sideways doing the grapevine.  My RunAmoc’s are weak when it comes to lateral loading so I was shocked when I had no issues.  I decided to up the ante and do some shuttle runs.  The rubber gripped my feet and the webbing held everything tightly in place.  Hmm, I was actually getting a bit mad that they did so good.

Day 2 of brutality testing:  Hills
I sought out every hill I could find.  I ran short steep grassy hills and long steep paved hills.  Running up hill posed no problems at all.  The heel strap and the grippy rubber kept everything in place.  Now for the downhill, every shoes weakness.  Again, the Pah Tempe surprised me with its ability to hold my foot.  Downhills were not an issue at all.  I tried to get my toes to slide off the front and never could.  From an engineering perspective here is the genius behind the webbing system.  One strap crosses you foot 3 times.  This strap is free to move and redistribute as pressure is applied to each section.  Since your foot is essentially triangular shaped in profile the straps act against the wedge-like shape of your foot.  The harder your foot attempts to press forward, the harder the three straps press back, evenly distributed of course along the full length of the strap.  Essentially, there is no place for your foot to go.

Day 3 of brutality testing:  Wet mud
I really wanted to find some wet mud but couldn’t so I opted for the closest thing that I could find.  Wet grass and sand.  Ok, it doesn’t have the same appeal as mud but it was the best I could come up with.  Wetness was not an issue at all.  Sand was interesting.  It seemed to cause less than normal problems.  I didn’t like it, but did notice that since the sandal is not really strapped that tight, the sand seemed to work its way out easier than I expected.  In general, I have more testing to do in the wet mud area so stay tuned.

Sole
For those not familiar with the Vibram Newflex material, it is one of the best minimalist soling options.  It is light, flexible and has good traction.  Combined with the 1″ webbing there is no slapping while running.  Newflex provides an excellent balance between ground feel and protection.

Webbing
Climbing webbing is one of my favorite options because it is strong and smooth.  Webbing feels great against your bare skin.  Unshoe has combined the webbing with a ladder buckle that locks the webbing in place.  Once set it does not move.  Over the last week I have never once adjusted the webbing.  Coming from huaraches, this fact alone is enough reason to buy these. 

Quality
Overall quality is exceptional especially considering the price.  The webbing was all cut and sealed neatly and stitched professionally.  It was even coated with a clear rubber where it could contact the pavement.  However, I was disappointing with the cut of the sole.  It was cut accurately but looked like my first pair of homemade huaraches looked.  My Luna’s came with edges that looked extremely professional.  These came looking like they were cut out by hand (see heel detail below).  This didn’t really affect performance or appearance but it is a small detail could be improved

Tripping Hazard?
When I first saw the Pah Tempe, I wondered how likely it would be to trip in them.  I will have a whole post on this topic but for now lets just say that if sized correctly (see pic below) tripping never happens.  Again, stay tuned for a post full of my crazy antics involved in ensuring that I would never trip.

Summary
Pros:
Comfortable out of the box
Stylish
Set it and forget it webbing
Slide on and off fit
Secure fit
Low cost

Cons:
Non professional finish
The excess strap would never laid flat

This was part 1 of my long term test so stay tuned for more each week or so.  On to the pictures

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Filed under Long term test, Review, Running

Soft Star Dash Review

It has been a little over a month since I completed my custom Soft Star Dash project.  I wanted to wait to review them until I had sufficient time to test them.    Overall, I would say that the Dash is a great shoe.  Anyone that is used to wearing traditional shoes will feel at home in these.  Since they have laces, generally feel and look like a shoe, I’m going to say that they are definitely a shoe not a moc.

If you are coming to the Soft Star Dash from a traditional shoes, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement in comfort the Dash will provide.  The toe box is wide enough to let your toes spread without any compromise.  The heel and midfoot are nice and fitted which provide for a more secure and sleek feeling.

However, if you are coming from the traditional RunAmoc you may be a bit confined feeling.  The Dash is confining in the sense that a sock is confining.  There are no hot spots or pressure points but there is an overall feeling that your feet are being squeezed.  This never would have been an issue had I not been spoiled by the Original RunAmoc’s.

Comparing size of Dash vs Original RunAmoc


Why is the Soft Star Dash is better than any other minimalist shoe on the market

First off, it is a shoe so it is competing with all of the other shoes on the market.  Next, it employs one of the best principles in life – the KISS principle.  By keeping things simple Soft Star has made a shoe that is everything it needs to be but nothing it doesn’t.  Let’s break this down piece by piece to show what I mean.

A shoe is essentially made up 4 parts, the heel, midfoot, toebox and sole.
Heel – The heel is reinforced with an additional layer of leather and some thin EVA foam so that the heel keeps its shape and ensures your heel is positioned where it should be.  There is no ankle padding or ‘extra features’ to rub or cause problems.  I have worn these mostly barefoot and never had an issue with the heel or ankle enclosure.

Heel cup on Dash


Midfoot – This area is dominated by one amazing feature, the tongue.  Shoes have had a tongue on them for over 100 years, but this is what causes me the most discomfort in traditional shoes.  Soft Star got it perfect.  The tongue fits smoothly over the top of the foot and never moves and never causes any discomfort.  Did it really take 100 years for someone to get it right?  I don’t know, but I do know that the Dash has it right and this alone is a reason to get the Dash.  Besides the perfect tongue, the midfoot fits snug and give you the feeling that it is just an extension of your foot.
Toe – You can’t beat Soft Star when it comes to the toe box and the Dash is no exception.  They provide ample room for toes to splay, wiggle, or bend.  Additionally, the leather will conform to your feet and will soon feel like they were tailor made for you.
Sole – Mine are different from what Soft Star offers, but I have tried all of the soles they offer and it come down to simple performance.  You don’t need computer models to perfect a sole, you only need a little protection and some traction, which is exactly what they offer.

Since I’m raving, I’m just going to continue.  This was my first pair of perforated leather shoes.  I love my smooth RunAmoc’s but when it gets hot the perforated is the way to go.  This leather is so much more porous than I had thought.  I said porous since it lets stuff in and out.  Sweaty feet are never an issue, as the breeze blows straight though, which is why I wear these barefoot so often.  They aren’t sandal airy, but very close.  A plus and minus is that I get tons of stuff in them, but I can usually just bounce it out.  Water, rocks, pine needles, and dust all make their way in an out fairly freely.  I rarely take them off to clear them out as the stuff usually makes its own way out.

Now for the grumbling
What I dislike about the Dash is that it is not the Original.  It is not as comfortable, as easy to put on, as simple, or as weird looking.  Ok, my only real complaint is that the midfoot is a little too narrow for me.  I have ridiculously long toes so I think my midfoot is back further than most.  In the future I will probably order a wider pair to accommodate this.  Just realize that it fits like a sock all the way through the arch and then loosens up for the toes.

I don’t love the Dash like I love the Original RunAmoc (1 year review coming soon) but they are a fantastic shoe.  For people that aren’t sure if they want to try a moc style or (as in my case) you need a shoe that will stay on through mud and water, this is the perfect option.

One last note on the newflex sole that I put on.  First, it is exactly what I wanted as far as protection and ground feel.  I just hiked Stone Mountain in Georgia and they did great.  Really, I couldn’t find a fault with them.  Actually, the shoes in general were almost perfect for this all granite steep hike.  My only disappointment is that they are wearing much faster than I had hoped.

Ok, one more last note.  My coworkers say that the Dash look better with my dress clothes than the Original RunAmoc’s.  I think the tighter fit and laces make it look more normal.  However, my wife says that I’m weird enough that I can pull either off.

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Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Long term test, Review, Running, Soft Star, Soft Star RunAmoc Review

Custom Soft Star Dash Completed

They worked!!  I was seriously nervous and a bit scared that I had just ruined my shoes.  I had dreams that I had mistakenly glued them in the shape of a pretzel.  I didn’t and they turned out beautifully.

It was not an easy job and I have a new respect for effort Soft Star puts into making their shoes.  I started with a pair of expertly sewn shoes thinking that the hard part was done.  I didn’t realize that the glue you use, how much of it you use, the pressure applied, and the way they are applied makes so much difference in the final product.  Soft Star, you have my full and complete respect for creating great shoes.  Fear not, I will not be entering into competition with you anytime soon.

On to the finished product.

Finished product. Notice the difference between the tip of my right shoe vs the left. Gluing can change the shape if not done carefully.

Finished product. Note: I changed my mind on how to handle the arch on my left shoe.

The shape of the sole was identical prior to gluing, but gluing can be very tricky.  I inadvertently stretched the leather while trying to smooth it out.  Balancing pulling it taught and not stretching it are something that takes skill (and I had none).  So I now have one pointy shoe and one round one.  Luckily the pointy one does not affect my gait so I’m ok with it.

Showing how the arch pulls up around the foot

I’m very happy with the arch cutout.  It is 100% unnoticeable, but saves weight and adds to the flexibility.

Finished arch area

I was initially planning on using some 2mm cherry material to fill in the arch but after accidentally applying glue to the entire sole I realized that the glue provides more than enough protection.  I’m going to add glue to the other arch too.

The sole 

If you want to make good barefoot shoes, this is the new gold standard.  I went with the 8mm newflex sole because I had feared the 5mm would be too thin.  After using these I’m not so sure.  They are great but I bet that I could have saved some weight and gone with the 5mm because the glue does add some protection.  If I weren’t intending these to be used in such rough terrain I probably would have gone with the 5mm, but as it stands I’m happy to have picked the 8mm.  The suppleness more than makes up for the extra thickness.

Can your shoes flex downward? Mine can

This material is new and quite expensive, but totally worth it.  The properties that are important to a barefoot enthusiast are embodied by this new sole.  It is light and flexible in a way that make it feel like it is attached to your foot.  When walking over rough terrain it feels more like super thick skin than a sole that is protecting your foot.  The rubber is just a little bit squishy so it forms over rough objects and lets your foot mold to them like they would if you were barefoot.  Comparing it to my 1/2 worn out trail sole on my originals I would say that it out performs them in every way.  They are more flexible and provide more ground feel but somehow don’t sacrifice protection on rough terrain.

Overall, I am happy with this project.  The sole is perfect and I’m glad I cut out the arch.  Next up is some serious testing.  I need to see how these perform in the water and mud.  I’m hoping to take them for a swim before it gets too cold out.  They seem to be more flipper shaped than any traditional trainer so I think I will have an advantage on the swim.

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Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Running, Soft Star

Custom Soft Star Dash

I finally had some time this weekend to work on my latest project.  It has been in the works for months and is a little embarrassing that it took this long.  But let me back up and tell the whole story.

When I first started on this minimalist journey I wasn’t sure if I was going to like them so I picked the cheapest option I could find.

Feiyue's have a supple and very soft rubber sole

Feiyue – Pronounced (Fay-you), like Tina Fey and hey you, yeah I’m talking to you.  Anyway, Feiyue’s are a bit narrow for my feet and I haven’t worn them much in the past year.  I have been wearing my RunAmoc’s or Luna’s almost exclusively.  The Luna’s are really the one that got this ball rolling.  I tried a pair of their Equus sandals and they were stiff and thin.  I didn’t like stiff at all so I removed the rubber sole and used just the cordovan leather and it was better.  A half dozen coats of leather conditioner and they were better yet.

Ok, so we have established that I like soft, so what.  Well, one day awhile ago I pulled my old Feiyue’s out and took a walk and my feet were exhausted.  I have been running in nothing but Luna’s all summer and wearing my RunAmoc’s to work, how could my feet be weak?  The Feiyue’s sole is soft, softer than any vibram product out there.  It isn’t all that thin but being so soft really made a difference.

Enter the Tough Mudder

After I signed up my first thought was shoes……I don’t have any shoes…….what am I going to wear?!  Panic sort of set in because I really only have 4 pairs of shoes.  Luna sandals, Soft Star RunAmoc SMOOTH, Vivo Dharmas, and some black dress shoes.  Dress shoes are obviously out and my RunAmoc’s are not perforated so they would be like running the race with muddy water balloons tied to my ankles.  I seriously considered the Luna’s but that much mud made be rethink it.  I searched through all of the recommended options and discussed them with many people that actually ran the Tough Mudder.  Here were my options

Regular shoes – 12 miles is not an option in regular shoes
Five Fingers – My feet are weird shaped and don’t fit them well
Inov8 – These could work but I don’t know that I would wear them beside for the race
Soft Star Dash – Based on my success with my originals, this seemed like the clear choice.  Thanks Ryan B. you help was priceless.

Soft Star has done a great job with their shoes but they only offer two choices for soles.  I didn’t want to go with the street sole due to the slippery mud factor and the trail sole is just a bit stiffer than the newflex sole I used in my huarache’s.  The tread and flexibility of the newflex would be the perfect sole if it were combined with the dash.

I have a special relationship with Soft Star and after a quick call they agreed to send me a soleless Dash RunAmoc to test on (thanks Soft Star).  I have never worn these before and the first thing I noticed was that without a sole they fit like a sock.  The laces pull the leather up and around the foot without any gaps anywhere.  The next thing I noticed was the arch.

Dash pulls up around the arch

The arch would not like to be pulled down and glued to the sole.  I took a look at the wear on my original RunAmoc’s and noticed the wear pattern.

RunAmoc Original trail sole with 500+ miles and no wear in the arch area

I decided to lighten the shoe and increase its flexibility by removing the arch since it wasn’t needed anyway and would cause me gluing problems.

Rough cut sole

I hacked a rough shape out, using my originals as a template.  Then came the messy part.  The belt sander.

Cleaning up the edges

Final sole shape

At this point I was starting to feel confident that this was going to work.  I was taking my time and had not made any mistakes.  I wanted these to last so I was going to do it right.  I stopped and made a fancy gluing press.

Homeade gluing press

My plan was to slip this inside the shoe to provide a flat hard surface to press the sole to.

Shoe with gluing press inserted

Ready to glue

Oooops

The sole was the right size, I was sure of it, but the gluing board had stretched the leather bottom so the shoe was now way too big.  I tossed all my hard work making the perfect gluing board out the window and just decided to glue them.

Gluing time

Pound it, beat it, hammer it, just make sure it is on good

Top of the line "Shoe press 2000" in action

So in the end my fancy shoe press was sent to the trash but my trusty “Shoe press 2000” was ready and available.  I took my Luna’s and used them to help spread the pressure and just clamped it everywhere.  I’m going to let it sit for 3 days to make sure it has had sufficient time to cure.  I can’t wait to see how they turned out.  I’m excited and a bit nervous.  See the finished shoe HERE.

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Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Running, Soft Star

Epiphany of sorts

 

Two great things happened this week.

First and probably the biggest is that I finally feel totally comfortable in my Luna’s.  It was a very sudden change and took a rather long time to get there (4 weeks of daily use).  I always felt a little insecure in them, like they might fall off at any moment.  This caused me to tense up and not stride naturally.  I have played with lacing endlessly and am finally confidant that I can run without concern.

The transformation on how they feel is nothing short of amazing.  I now feel like I am running barefoot all the time.  Graceful and free.  The sandals are almost unnoticeable beneath my feet.  It also helps that the foot bed is smooth and supple and starting to take the shape of my foot.

The second great epiphany came when lacing up with the wool laces again.  I have never liked the double strap on my heel due to the tenancy of one of them falling.  The wool is so soft and supple that I realized that I could wrap them to create one larger heel strap.  Perfect!  Then I realized that I would wrap the wool everywhere and it would lock itself into place and not require a knot to tie it off.  Now I have super comfortable slip on luna’s that have no knot anywhere.  Very clean looking.

I am very happy with these sandals.  More than I could have imagined several months ago.

Very clean lines with no knot anywhere
1 Month Update – Now silky smooth

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Filed under Long term test, Luna Laces, Original Luna Sandal, Review, Running

Wool Lace Review for Luna Sandals

I was fortunate enough to have my friend over at Baring My Soles send me a pair of wool laces to test out.  I am glad she did because she made my Luna Sandal wearing experience 100% better.


For me, the Original Luna Sandals are nearly perfect. It is just a piece of rubber and leather that you step on. They feel very close to barefoot but there are two problems that can cause discomfort.

  1. They connect to your foot with laces that run between your toe and can rub
  2. The toes strap uses a knot which you step on and can become very noticeable and annoying

Each type of strap/string has its own pros on cons concerning these two issues.  Taking these in order, lets dive into how the wool laces compare.

Wool Laces

  1. Pros
    The wool laces above all else are comfortable.  Amazingly comfortable.  They are soft and fairly inelastic so they provide a secure fit without causing blisters, chafing, or hot spots.  They tie well and stay where they should.  They also do well when wet as wool doesn’t hold water well.  Wool fibers aren’t elastic so they don’t stretch when wet.  The weave is what stretches with wool so once stretched wet or dry they shouldn’t change much.
    Cons
    They stretch a little.  Generally I have to retie mine every third run because they have stretched out.  I’m assuming that this will stop once they have reached some equilibrium point.
  2. The knot has been my biggest annoyance with these sandals.  My goal with all of the laces is to make the knot disappear.  With the wool laces the standard knot is only slightly noticeable.  I played with it a bit and came up with the perfect solution.  I will go into detail on knots in a week or two but have solutions for all of the laces that effectively remove the knot from being obtrusive.  However, using the standard overhand knot, the knot is almost unnoticeable.  The durability of wool is great and a single knot has lasted 30 miles with no noticeable wear.

In the end where do the wool laces fit?  I see them as a hemp alternative.  The 1/4″ leather is a bit more secure feeling but nothing can compare to the comfort of the wool.  Getting your Luna’s to be comfortable is about 3 things in my mind.  Toe comfort, knot size, and lacing security.  If I were to give my wife a pair of Luna’s (which I’m planning on doing) they would be laced with the wool laces.  Good security with premium comfort and easily tied.

What’s a good blog post without pictures.  Here are some select pictures from the last two weeks of trying to get these sandals to feel right.  I’ve had lots of failures but feel that I finally have it right.

Loop used instead of knot which reduced the bump on the underside.  I eventually took this loop and plasticized it

Use this to make moldable plastic.  In 3 days you have steel like strength in any shape you want.

Traditional knot vs. Plasticized knot.  This was a terrible idea.  The plasticized knot was like stepping on a boulder.  Back to the drawing board.

Traditional knot vs. Plasticized wool

Traditional vs. Smashed plasticized wool.  Before it fully hardens it can be shaped.  I smashed mine in the vice to flatten it out.  Better but still noticeable due to the abrupt edges.

Plasticized Wool after Sanding.  Seriously tough stuff.  I had 36 grit sandpaper on my belt sander and it took awhile to sand this down.  Now the knot can not be felt at all.  Perfect!

Final Product – Long lasting and nonobtrusive

Wool laces in action

Final thoughts
The wool didn’t need to be plasticized but if makes me feel more confidant that it will last.  For reference the knot had almost no wear on it after 30 miles (both plasticized and traditional).  These laces are light and would be a great backup on a run.  If you were concerned about rubbing leather laces on a long run, bring these with just in case.  Better yet, just use these.  Finally, wool laces are 100% different than the Equus laces.  If you don’t like your Luna’s because of the laces, try these and you will be surprised how different your Luna’s feel.

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Filed under Long term test, Luna Laces, Original Luna Sandal, Review, Running

Equus Sandal Break In

This is a slight divergence from the Original Luna long term testing but I wanted to show everyone something amazing.  Anyone with the Equus sandals has made the same sort of comment.

They go something like this

  • They are so hard
  • They are so stiff
  • They feel like plastic
  • I can’t feel the ground

I felt the same when I got mine.  For the price I was completely underwhelmed.  I decided to play with them a bit and noticed that the rubber sole was actually very flexible.  The leather was stiff!  I have worked with leather over the years and have used leather that was initially stiff but after working it and moisturizing it, it has become soft and supple.

The fix for stiff Equus sandals

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Get a bottle of leather conditioner and rub it all over the Equus foot bed.  It is very dry so poor it on very liberally and repeat often.  I did mine about 3 times and it was still sucking the conditioner in.  Two very noticeable things happened.  The color was amazing.  No more cheap plastic look, this was the Equus that you paid for.  Secondly, and most important, the flexibility has improved.  A lot.  They don’t compare to the ground feel of the originals but they are sooo much better than they came from Luna.  I’m calling this my Luna Hack.
The same thing applies to the Equus laces.  From Luna they are rough and abrasive, but after a little conditioning they are soft and supple.  Still not my favorite lace but much better than before.

Note on leather conditioner:  Allow all leather items to dry for 3 days after conditioning to allow the leather to absorb and seal itself.  You can use them earlier but they will be sticky and you will discolor them.

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Filed under Equus, Luna Laces, Review, Running