How do Xero Shoes compare to Barefoot Ted’s Luna Sandals?

“Barefoot Ted” sells a running sandal he calls the Luna Sandal. It’s similar to our custom-made Xero Shoes, but with a few key differences:

1) Did you know there are 18 different types of “size 9”? Rather than pick just one of those and pre-make our sandals, the custom-made Xero Shoes are, actually, custom-made for your unique foot. We use a tracing of your foot to make sure the length and width are correct for your specific foot — and if your feet are different sizes, you get sandals that match. We make sure that the toe and ankle holes are placed correctly based on the size and length of your toes and heel. With Xero Shoes, you’re getting a product made just for you.

2) We use the 4mm Vibram Cherry sole material or our exclusive FeelTrue rubber to give you the optimal barefoot feel, and for your convenience. Aside from really being able to connect with the ground with our soles, you can roll up Xero Shoes and keep them in your pack or pocket — go out barefoot, and come back with some protection on your feet. The thicker sole in the Luna is comparatively rigid and over 60% heavier… add some glue and a leather upper and you’re further minimizing the minimalist feel.

3) We use soft, durable polyester laces that don’t stretch or contract when they get wet and dry out, unlike leather or hemp. Our laces are round, meaning that there are no edges to rub on your skin. Polyester is a very strong material — I’m still using the original laces in my 12-month old huaraches that I wear every day — and after getting wet, nylon laces dry really fast. And with round laces, you don’t have to worry about “which side is up” or getting them twisted when you use the different tying styles (some of the clever tying variations people have developed require round laces. Plus, you can get our laces in a bunch of fun colors. And if you ever want to replace your laces or get other colors, they’re inexpensive.

4) Our product is “vegan friendly”. So is Ted’s basic Luna Sandal if you get the hemp laces instead of leather.

5) Luna Sandals have an optional leather footbed. Ted is making a fine product… some people like the leather upper — which, over time, molds somewhat to your foot. Any material upper, though, will wear and collect dirt. And, for those who are sensitive to these kinds of things: natural materials are not anti-microbial. While we don’t currently offer a material upper, we have heard from a couple customers who bought some leather and glue and added those to their Xero Shoes for only a couple of dollars.

Hope that helps.

  • Eric

    ahoy, i recently bought a DIY huarache kit from barefoot ted and thought i’d share some of my experience.

    the kit was pretty easy to put together and i definitely enjoy the custom shape. there’s nothing on his shop page that hints that he will custom make the shoes for you, but he does have a video on youtube about how to make a tracing and send it to him. so that’s a bit confusing.

    he does offer various 4mm and 6mm soul materials in the kits, but not in the production models. i have a 6mm soul and i like it but i’ve never tried 4mm so i can’t compare.

    i’d also like to add that bft’s hemp laces are indeed round and don’t have the twisting problem. the leather laces, however, are flat. both are available in kits and production models.

    as of now, his site says “LUNA SANDAL KITS STILL AVAILABLE” which makes me wonder if he’ll run out of kits and stop offering them.

    so that’s all the info i feel this post is missing.

    • Steven

      Thanks for filling in some pieces, Eric.
      The problem I’ve found with hemp is that it stretches/contracts when it gets wet and dries. And it’s not as durable as nylon/polypro.
      For kits, I’ve found the 6mm Vibram Cherry quite hard to work with. Even using tin snips or EMT shears, it’s quite challenging to cut (which is related to why it has less “barefoot feel” than the 4mm)


    I have the Original Luna With Suede Top Black Leather Laces. I love them super snug, no flop almost perfect with the exception of the rubbing from the leather lace on the instep of the foot with the traditional style tying, which i fixed with a little patch of athletic tape. after some time though the leather softened and no more rubbing regardless of the position of the lace. i feel that His sandals are an awesome throw back to the Raramuri huaraches. ( he does make customer sandals you must select the size custom and email your foot print to him no extra charge his kits are available you must click on link i believe that is says available to product availability) i do uses these specifically for running only and some biking.

    I bought the Invisible Shoe kit made my own and i have to say theres something special about making your own. as for the materials of the IS solid thru and thru how ever i have experiences a bit of flex in the rope but that may just be the elasticity of the polymer used for the rope and fluctuation in temp here in so cal. From what i have experienced and from what ive heard with others who have made their own with larger feet the thinner sole huaraches typically have “flop”. which is kind of annoying but thats my bodys fault not the huaraches. when i go on barefoot runs i carry these in my hydration pack which is a super plus! i use these for barefoot runs and around town due to the flop. The Price of these also are a huge plus. also much respect for giving back to the Raramuri.

    all in all from my point of view they are both very viable options to run and use for minimalist foot wear.

    • Steven

      Hey, Joel… I’m surprised to hear that you experience some “flex” in the lace we use, since we specifically designed that lace to be stretch-less (compared to leather, which expands/contracts based on heat and moisture).

      Sometimes there’s a bit of a trade off: if you have large feet (over a size 12), and long toes, and want the most barefoot feel (that is, thinnest sole), you may notice a bit of “flop” in the sole. But, as you said, with correct form that goes away or is unnoticeable. To get rid of the flex in the especially large soles, you need a more rigid material, which reduces the barefoot feel.

  • Benjamin

    I recently made a pair of huaraches from a DIY kit and thought I would leave my comments here since I have been using Barefoot Ted’s huaraches, also from a DIY kit (the 6mm trail nubby), for the last two years. Here are my insights/opinions:

    I find the comparisons above to be misleading in so much that the comparisons are made only between the Luna sandal and the Invisible shoe. Yet, BT offers more options than just the 6mm Luna sandal, and altogether more than Invisible Shoes. Using the above points:

    1) Well, yes there are many size 9’s but you can also get custom-made through BT or get a generic size. And, of course, a DIY kit (with which I have first-hand experience) is necessarily custom-fitting. So, this premise does not hold.

    2) You can get the 4mm Vibram cherry from BT. I only bought it through here because it is a bit cheaper, I wanted to try the nylon/polypro laces (which I will get to later), and I have no allegiance to a particular supplier.

    3) I have now tried the squared leather laces, the braided hemp, and the nylon/polypro. The leather I do not like at all – it is uncomfortable and chews up my feet. The nylon I like the most, but the hemp is nice for some things. I use the 6mm nubby soles for trail running and the hemp is good for when I cross river beds because it pulls the wet sandals into my feet. However, while this characteristic is nice, for all around comfort the nylon/polypro win. So, this is the first, and only, point with which I agree.

    4) A vegan argument is silly, for shoes or anything else. I say this because vegans tend to be short-sighted in their ecological causes and just plain wrong in what they think is healthiest for the planet – but I will remove my soapbox from under my feet and place it back, well, yeah…But if you can get a vegan option from BT, then to include it as a comparison seems to be space filler rather than anything substantial. Oh, and you can get faux-leather vegan friendly laces from BT.

    5) I can’t speak about the leather foot bed as I have never used one on my sandals and have never been interested in using one.

    My conclusion is that if you want to make 4mm sandals then buy from Invisible Shoes as it is less expensive and the nylon/polypro are the most comfortable laces. However, if you want anything else then use BT because, well, Invisible just doesn’t offer anything else; for example, the 6mm nubby soles are great for trail running (I don’t know about those 10mm Leadvilles that BT offers – seems like excessive material to me and the 6mm nubby soles work fine for anything I have encountered; I tried the 4mm soles for trail running and they were not substantial enough over rocks and roots, but great for the road). However, if you order from BT I would suggest just buying the footbed separately (the DIY only adds the laces and leather foot bed if you choose that option) and then ordering the laces here for a few dollars.

    I hope this helps anyone trying to choose.


    • Steven

      FYI, be on the lookout for some other options from us soon, Benjamin.

  • Genevieve

    Question: will you ever have elastic laces here? The easier they are to get on and off, the more likely I am to want them.

    • Steven

      Hi Genevieve,

      First, with any of our slip-on barefoot sandal tying styles, you can get these off in less than 1 second, and on in barely more than 1. You just slide the heel strap on/off. Not a problem.

      Elastic laces have a number of problems. First, they don’t last as long because the materials that give them elasticity aren’t as strong as the rest of the lace. Second, they’re trickier to adjust, because you have to manage the tension in, basically, 4 different areas, and each one affects the other (tighten one area, the other needs to be loosened, e.g.). Finally, elastic laces can often let your foot slide on the sole, especially on downhill runs, and that’s NOT something you want.

  • Clyde

    Hmmm. Stretchy laces. Are you a triathlete or an efficiency expert? 😉

    I just completed my DIY kit from Invisibleshoe 2 days ago, If you are interested in minimized time in T2 (if you’re talking triathlon) I personally timed the slip on method of tying vs. socks and slipping on traditional running shoes. Result? It’s a wash, they’re both about the same time +- 2 seconds.


  • I have am trying to find the best non-shoes and I am down to Invisible shoes and Luna shoes. One of my criteria to approximate barefoot is for the shoes to be electrically conductive, like our bare feet. I have learned about “earthing” (grounding) and it makes total sense to me. so naturally I need shoes that allow me to be electrically connected to the earth. I emailed both Invisisble shoes and Luna shoes about the conductivity of their shoes and I did get a response back form Luna. they said they actually had someone come in and do a test on their sandals and determined that their sandals are indeed conductive through the leather straps or their other choices of straps as well. So I am wondering if Invisible shoes are conductive? That’s important since being connected to the earth is like having a steady stream of anti-inflammatory “action”. I want that for sure. By adding a few cents worth of carbon to the rubber mixture you have a conductive sole or maybe they have already done that??

    • Steven

      Actually, adding carbon to rubber makes the rubber lose it’s integrity (it’ll wear out faster, and won’t have the same performance characteristics). And, FWIW, merely adding some carbon filament doesn’t make rubber conductive… and costs WAY more than a few cents (can you tell I’ve looked into this? 😉 )

      The idea that the leather laces on the Luna are conductive is… well… iffy. Since the Luna currently has a rubber plug under the toe, the only part of the leather that *could* touch the ground is the ankle strap, which typically doesn’t touch the ground. In fact, if you’re rubbing that on the ground it’s a sign that you’re probably heel-striking, that the shoe hasn’t conformed to your foot and, not surprisingly, that you’re going to wear it out in no time (it may break while you’re wearing it). Further, dry leather doesn’t tend to be conductive.

      If you think leather laces will work, then you could use leather laces with our soles — the only outsoles designed for barefoot running sandals, and ones with the greatest barefoot feel.

      Or, you could get actual conductivity by putting a rivet or grommet under the ball of the foot in our soles.

  • Steve

    Very interesting. I am glad to know about what happens to rubber properties when carbon is added. Is that true even if only a small amount is added? Yes conductive shoes laces might be the trick. I don’t think that I would want to put rivets if the soles. Doesn’t sound like it would be very comfortable. And so if may ask, what are your thoughts on earthing?


  • Steven Sashen

    The issue with conductivity is that, basically, you need the conductive parts touching each other. And you can’t get that with just a little bit of conductive material.

    Think about adding just a few chocolate chips into cookie batter. Same idea here.

    If you put a single rivet in the right spot you would barely notice it.

    A conductive lace would only work if the conductive part touched the ground as part of it’s function (otherwise you’ll be abrading the lace because your form is incorrect).

    What do I think about “earthing”? Oy. It would take me a LONG time to write a thorough answer to that question.

    Let me just say that my thoughts about it are informed by a 40 year history of working with electronics, antennas, and electromagnetic radiation.

    Feel free to give a call to chat, but I don’t have it in me to write the missive that your question requires.

  • Randy Kreill., Beavercreek OH

    “Earthing”, grounding, electrical connection to earth? New topics to me and I don’t have anything to add on that topic.

    Less is more, less is better regarding footwear/foot protecton during motion to maximize the body’s ability to feel and react to it’s ever changing environment. We can probably all agree on that.

    An offbeat topic of interest for some might be a look at positive health benefits of negative ions:

    Seems to me that the air we breath while exercising is at least as vital as any energy we might absorb from underfoot via dirt, rocks, blacktop etc. This comes to mind as I wonder why I had such a good long run the other day, only to get home shivering for hours and having a fever break near midnight. We had rain at the beginning of the 32 miler, then heavy rain near the end of the event…we’d had some rain the prior few days as well, so theoretically the air was full of negative ions.

    Based on my child’s fever, her teacher’s fever and my fever, I was fighting something and should not have been feeling so good for a 32 mile trail run Saturday. Outside of a good taper and great diet, a probable positive variable could be negative ions produced by rain, wind etc.

    When the air is loaded with negative ions, perhaps that’s a good day to go longer or fasther for a PR?

    Steve, as I was alone in the woods with heavy rain and thunder, I wondered if my 4mm huaraches would offer the same “protection” from a nearby lightning strike as typical running shoes…?

  • Steven Sashen

    Randy, if by “same protection” you mean “NONE”, then, yes we offer the same 😉

    If you get hit by lightning, it’ll find a way to make it to ground without pausing at your shoes.