How can I make my own barefoot sandals?

Human beings have been making barefoot-style sandals for thousands of years, and if they could do it way back then, you can do it too.

It’s a lot of fun.

It only takes a few minutes. And you get what I like to call “the superpower of knowing how to make your own footwear.”

I also like to call this the “post-zombie-apocalypse career change” because after the zombie apocalypse, if you’re the only one in your neighborhood who knows how to make shoes, you’ve got a brand new career! 😉

Now, with Xero Shoes, here’s what you do in a nutshell:

  • You find the template size that you would like — from really, really tiny to really, really huge, depending on the size of your foot.
  • You put your foot on the template.
  • Trim the template with a kitchen scissors to get the shape that matches your foot.
  • Punch a hole just in front of the webbing between your first and second toes (we give you the hole punch with our sandal-making kit).
  • Then you’ll lace up the sandal in one of dozens of different ways (some are REALLY simple and some can get pretty fancy). See some of those at

We have 22 different lace colors that you can use. We use a 100% polyester lace, and the reason that we do that is it gives you a really soft feel but it’s really, really strong. And it’s water-resistant. It’s colorfast.

It also lets you make a little knot, or “lace bead” underneath your foot that’s tiny, tiny, tiny but really, really durable. And that’s important because that’s how the sandal holds onto your foot — a little knot that goes underneath your foot (you don’t feel it) and then the part that wraps around your foot.

Some people would like to use a natural lace — a leather lace or a hemp lace, for example — and I’m just going to make a couple of comments about that.

Leather laces — the challenge with them is that when they get wet they stretch, and when they dry they shrink and get stiff. They also have edges that can dig into your foot, and they’re also kind of expensive and they don’t last very long. So we’re not a huge fan of leather laces.

Hemp laces — that’s another option. People love the idea of hemp. It’s also very soft but it’s a natural fiber, so it doesn’t last very long. It wears out kind of quickly. It also gets dirty more quickly than, say, polyester or nylon or paracord. So, it’s something worth trying, but know that when you do that it’s not going to last quite as long.

If you use a knit lace or something that you’ve made like on a Rainbow Loom, again, you’re going to be sacrificing one feature for another. There’s a balance between the look that you’re going to get and the durability. With decorative webbing, for example, it looks really great and is a whole lot of fun, just doesn’t quite as long as something like a polyester lace.

Also, when you’re going to make sandals, any part of the lacing that you have that’s touching the ground will abrade. You might want to coat that with a flexible epoxy, something like Shoe Goo, which we have on our website, so that way the part that touches the ground isn’t going to be abraded or worn out quite as fast, and that way it’ll make the sandals last a whole lot longer.

Hope that helps you get started. We have full instructions about how you can make barefoot sandals right here and how to make our kits (which are simpler and look more professional) here.