How to make Xero Shoes FeelTrue Kits for barefoot running

These instructions will help you make you your own huaraches from scratch using our 4mm Connect or 6mm Contact Xero Shoe Kits. If you purchased a Vibram Classic Kit, or want to learn to make running sandals using any other material, check out our How To Make Huaraches page.

And, at the end of the instructions you’ll learn how to tie huaraches.
You can also download a PDF of these instructions by clicking here.

What you’ll need to make your Xero shoes:

Practically nothing. Our kits come with everything you need to make your own barefoot sandals.
  • Hammer — to use with our included hole punch, to make the toe hole for your shoes
  • Magazine or newspaper — to put under your outsoles when you use the hammer and punch (so you don’t punch through your floor or table)
  • Lighter or match — to seal the ends of the lace
  • OPTIONAL — Ballpoint pen — to trace your foot if you want to trim your Xero Shoes
  • OPTIONAL — Sturdy scissors if you decide to trim your outsoles.

Step-by-step instructions for making FeelTrue® Xero Shoes:

Step 1 – Decide whether you want to trim your outsoles

Step on the Xero Shoe outsole with the back of your heel in line with, or slightly in front of, the back of the outsole.

How well does it fit your foot?

If your foot “fills” the outsole, you’ll probably want to leave it as-is.

If there’s a LITTLE bit of extra space around your foot, you may want to leave that, too… you can try out your Xero Shoes without trimming them and then, later, if you want to, trim them.

If your foot is especially narrow or curved, or there’s a lot of room in front of your toes, decide whether you want to retain the inside edge, the outside edge, or trim both edges.

If you want to trim your Xero Shoes, continue with Step 2.

If you’re NOT trimming your Xero Shoes, go to Step 5.

Step 2 – Trace around your foot

Holding a ballpoint pen (or Sharpie marker) vertically, trace around the outside of your foot.

You don’t need to get every tiny nook and cranny, and you’re not trying to get an EXACT measurement of the sole of your foot… in fact, by holding the pen vertically, you’re making a trace that’s slightly bigger than your foot, like getting the shadow of your foot… and that’s exactly what you want.

Step 3 – Even out the tracing

You want to smooth out the curves. For example, you want to make the toe area into a curve, rather than bumps for each toe.

Also, I extend the area on the inside of the big toe and the ball of the foot a little bit (sometimes when you run, your foot slips to the inside, so you want to add a bit of extra space here)

Step 4 – Cut out the soles

You can use a good pair of kitchen scissors for this. Or if you have them, use tin snips, or a pair of “EMT Shears” (also called “EMS Shears”).

Cut around the tracing. That is, cut on the outside of the line you’ve drawn, rather than ON the line. Again, that little extra bit can help. Plus, you can always cut your huaraches and make them smaller, but you can’t make them bigger, so err on the side of too big.

If you have our 6mm Contact sole, you may have to put some “elbow grease” into it — they’re a bit harder to cut through.

Also, if you are right handed, it’s easier to cut in a counter-clockwise direction.

Then, when you’re done, if there are some jagged corners you want to clean up, do that by cutting in a clockwise direction, or try using some sandpaper.

Step 5 – Mark the toe hole

Step on your soles and, using a marker (I use the Sharpie from Step 2), put a dot between your 1st and 2nd toe, about 1/8″ in front of the webbing between your toes.

If there’s a gap between your 1st two toes, put the mark slightly closer to the 2nd toe than right in the middle of the space between the toes.

The reason for this is, as you run, your foot will want to shift toward the inside. By putting the hole closer to the 2nd toe, your foot stays in place better.

NOTE: It’s sometimes easier to have someone else do this.

Click this picture to see a video of the whole process...
How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Step 6 – Punch the toe hole

SPECIAL: We now include a hollow punch, like the one pictured to the right, with every Xero Shoe kit, absolutely free of charge. (if you want to buy an additional punch, click here)

Punch out the toe hole using the included hollow punch or, if you happen to have one handy, you can use a rotary hole punch (if you don’t have one of these, you can find them at any craft store, or on eBay, or you can usually borrow one at a leather or shoe repair shop).

To use the hollow punch: Place a magazine, or folded newspaper, or piece of scrap wood on the floor or table (some hard surface). This is to protect the surface when you use the hollow punch.

Place the outsole on top of that.

Position the hollow punch on the toe hole mark you made in the previous step. Hold it perpendicular to the ground/sole (not at an angle).

Give it a good whack with a hammer.

Hollow Punch
How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Rotary Hole Punch
How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

How to use the Hollow Punch
Using the Hollow Punch

How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Step 7 – Prepare your lace ends

Check out the video to the right… if you use the “bobby pin method”, there’s nothing to prepare.

If you use the first two methods, be careful with the heated ends… the material stays HOT when you heat it (no surprise there, I hope 😉 )

How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Step 8 – Thread the lace through the toe hole and secure it

Push one end of the lace through the toe hole, from the top to the bottom.

Make a knot in the lace, on the bottom side.

Traditionally, I used a “Figure 8 knot”, click the picture to the right.

After you’ve made the knot, run the flame from a lighter (or match) under the knot, to melt the nylon slightly, then press the knot together to seal it and flatten it a a bit.

If you want, squeeze the knot flatter with a pliers.

Lately, though, I’ve been using a lower profile “Lace bead.”

Step 9 – Thread the ankle holes

Pass the lace through the outside ankle hole first, from top to bottom.

Then pass the lace through the inside ankle hole, also from top to bottom.

Follow the pictures to get it correct… you want the lace to “lock in” around the holes.

Click below to see Steps 8 and 9
How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Step 10 – Select one of the fun tying styles

There’s been more creativity in the “how to tie huaraches” arena since we started selling Xero Shoes than there has been in the 10,000 years since someone first came up with sandals like these.

And there’s no way to have written instructions for them all (well, there is, but it would be miserable to go through them.

Instead, check out the different cool, decorative, and stylish ideas — with video instructions — about how to tie huaraches and what to do with “leftover lace”

There are dozens of tying styles. Here’s our favorite.
How to make Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Step 11 – Most importantly… Go out and ENJOY your new Xero Shoes and Live Life Feet First!

Remember, though, to take it easy at first. If you’re not used to going barefoot, especially running barefoot, you’ll be putting more stress on your muscles and skin than you’re used to. Work your way into your huaraches slowly.

And if you come up with cool, new tying ideas, let us know so we can put them on our Tying Page