Mexican Style Huarache Sandals for Running Men and Women
What are huaraches?
A huarache sandal, technically, is a Mexican sandal with a woven leather strap upper. That has changed a little bit because of the popularity of this book, Born to Run, about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico who wear sandals for running. Their huaraches are a thong-style sandal made with a tire tread for the bottom and a leather upper on the foot bed and leather lace.
When Americans went down to the Copper Canyon in Mexico down and met the Tarahumara and they heard about these huaraches, they thought a huarache was the running sandal worn by the Tarahumara. Once Born to Run got popular, that’s how many Americans began to think of a huarache as a running sandal, whether it’s a big thick one that looks like what’s to the left below or something from Xero Shoes that’s a modern version of the Tarahumara huarache that’s below to the right.
Are huaraches made of leather? How do they make them?
If you look at the earliest huaraches, and if you look at sandals made in other indigenous cultures in Australia and in Africa, you’ll find that they are made of leather. Sometimes they are all leather, with a leather base and leather upper. Some have a woven leather upper for a traditional Mexican huarache or a leather foot bed and leather laces for the sandals worn by the Tarahumara.
If you want to learn how to make your own huaraches, especially a modern version of the Tarahumara huarache, either in leather or not in leather, there are instructions that are in a video below that show you where you can get all the things that you need for a do-it-yourself sandal-making kit.
If you want to learn how to make your own right away, check out our page about it right here at xeroshoes.com/how-to-make-huaraches/
Our Styles for Men
Men have a number of different Xero Shoes styles that they can pick from. First, we have a do-it-yourself sandal-making kit. You get a sole in a size that fits your foot and a color that you would like and a thickness that you want — either 4 millimeters for a really barefoot feel or 6 millimeters for a little extra trail protection — and then you’re going to end up trimming these to fit your unique foot shape.
You’re also going to get a pair of laces in one of 22 different colors so you can style those however you like. Some people prefer really simple black on black, others prefer really blingy. Finally you’re also going to get a hole punch that you use to punch the hole for where the laces go in between your toes for one particular tying style, and that way you get something that fits your unique foot shape perfectly.
If you’re not wanting to make something, we have our ready-to-wear products. First, we have our Venture, which is a huarache or thong-style sandal. You just slide your foot in, tighten up the straps around the top of your foot, and then grab the little zip-cords to pull and tighten around your heel, and you’re set. You actually just slide the heel strap on and off your heel and you’re ready to go for everything from just a casual walk on the beach to a trail hike to paddleboarding to running an ultramarathon.
If you want a little more comfort, you can go to our other thong-style sandal, the Cloud. It’s actually just like the Venture but we’ve laid 3 millimeters of BareFoam™ in the forefoot. That little bit of cushion just is really, really splendidly comfortable. It makes the shoe even lighter and more flexible and it floats, so it’s great for water sports.
Then we have our sport-sandal style, the Z-Trek. It’s actually the same base as the Venture except for the sport sandal webbing style. This is a tubular webbing, so it’s really, really comfortable – no edges that scrape on your foot, gives you a great barefoot-like feel with tire-tread-like protection in the bottom of your foot.
If you need more protection and a little more comfort, then we can go to our brand new Z-Trail sandal. This sandal uses a three-layer sole that we developed that has our FeelTrue® rubber that we use everywhere else for abrasion resistance, our TrailFoam™ for getting rid of all the bumps, and the BareFoam™ for extra comfort. And people are using these, again, for everything from taking a walk to running ultramarathons, but they’re the perfect combination of lightweight protection, durability, versatility. They also float, so you can enjoy them in water as well.
Our Styles for Women
Women also have a lot of style options with Xero Shoes. All of our shoes are like ballet flats. We don’t have any wedge style sandals because we believe that natural is better, and having your heel elevated can offset your posture in ways that cause problems for your back. We want women to enjoy the fun and benefits of natural barefoot living. Here are some ways you can do that.
The first is with one of our do-it-yourself kits. You get a sole in the color and size that you want, and then there are two different thicknesses – one is really, really thin, 4 millimeters, just great barefoot feel but just enough protection; the other is 6 millimeters thick and is even better if you’re going to go on trails or things that are a little more aggressive. You get to choose from 22 different colors of our polyester laces, you can mix and match those and get really great color combinations. The last thing you get is a hole punch because you’re going to be punching a hole where the lace goes through for your unique foot shape, like right in front of your toes between your first and second toe, right in front of the webbing.
And then there are dozens of different ways that you can lace these. You can also get a little decorative from something really simple, just add a charm to your shoe, which is a nice elegant touch. You can also get really blingy if you like. We had one customer paint her toenails and then she added beads that matched her toenails. So there are lots of fun, decorative options.
If you don’t want to make your own sandals, that’s totally understandable. We have two different styles after that that you can go for. First, our thong-style sandal, this is our Venture sandal, comes in three different colors and it’s really easy to slide your foot in, tighten it up around the forefoot, and then grab these little lace ends and give them a tug and they’ll fit perfectly on your heel.
They just slide on and off. Then, you can wear these for anything you want from going to yoga or a Zumba class or taking a walk or taking a hike or taking a run. Pictured below is Mel and John Sinclair, who are finishing a 50 mile race in their Venture sandals.
If you want something a little more comfortable and a little flashier too, you can get our Cloud sandal. We laid 3 mil of BareFoam™ in the forefoot so it’s even lighter, more flexible, a little more comfortable, and it floats. You can also add charms to both the Cloud and Venture to get a little decorative effect there as well.
Then we have our sport sandals, the Z-Trek sandal, which is the same base actually as the Venture, just our FeelTrue® rubber but with the sport-sandal-style webbing. So this feels great. It’s a real barefoot feel; really, really flexible. It’s like someone’s replaced the sole of your foot with a tire tread, so really great for hiking and camping. Great camp shoe.
If you need a little more protection, you’ll want to get our new Z-Trail sandal. This is our bestseller. It is the perfect combination of lightweight flexibility so your foot can move naturally, durability, versatility. People do everything from taking a walk to running ultramarathons to going to yoga to doing CrossFit to you name it. Really, really comfortable; really lightweight. In fact, this weighs less than the Z-Trek because of the foam – we have our FeelTrue® rubber for abrasion, then TrailFoam™ to get rid of all the bumps, and BareFoam™ for that little bit of comfort. A wonderful sandal and our bestselling sandal.
Those are the options that you have. We look forward to seeing what you do, how you feel the freedom, feel the fun
and feel the world.
Details about Huaraches by Xero Shoes
The Tarahumara huarache sandal is designed with just one leather strap that you wrap around your ankle a few times kind of gladiator-style, then you can tie a little knot around the toe strap and away you go. We’ve simplified things and given you some more options. First we have a patent-pending lacing system on our Z-Trail and Z-Trek, and our huarache-style thong sandals. There’s an ankle strap, it consists has a flexible heel strap that goes on your achilles with a little bit of silicone in there to help it grip your skin. Really, really comfortable. To adjust the tension, you just grab a lace end, give it a little tug, and you get a perfect adjustment of the tension. Once you have the tension adjusted right, you can just slide this over your heel to get it on and off and it’ll stay securely.
The Tarahumara huaraches use tire soles and those are big, they’re thick, they’re stiff, they’re heavy, and they also can have some chemicals that you don’t want leaching into your skin. We developed our own rubber, it’s called FeelTrue® rubber. We have our own tread pattern too. The dual-chevron design gives you great grip and traction whether you’re going uphill, downhill, fast or slow, and it’s all the benefits of a tire without actually being a tire. You’ll notice that it has a nice comfortable contour that doesn’t give you unnecessary support.
When I say unnecessary support, I want you to think about this: an arch is one of the strongest structures we’ve ever invented. What makes it strong is that keystone, and when it’s under pressure it’s even stronger. So if you can use your foot naturally to bend, to flex and let it feel, you can use that arch and you don’t need extra support. If you push up on the arch by supporting your foot, what that actually does is it weakens the arch and makes the whole thing fall.
So what we believe in is natural fit, letting your toes spread – you’re not squeezing your toes; natural function and flex, letting your foot bend and flex and move naturally; and natural feel, giving you just enough ground feel so that you know that there’s something underneath your foot. So if you want just the barest amount of protection, you get that in our do-it-yourself sandal-making kits, and if you want trail-friendly protection, you get that from our Z-Trail sandal.
We don’t currently have ready-to-wear products for babies or for toddlers. If you’re interested in getting your kids in our sandals the do-it-yourself kits are a great family project. You also develop what I call the superpower of knowing how to make your own footwear, and we’ve had kids as young as 5 make their own shoes and then even teach their parents how to wear them.
People use our Xero Shoes for pretty much everything from taking a walk on the beach to a hike in the woods to using them as a camp shoe or they just pull them out of their backpack at the end of the day, for running everything from a casual 5K to the ultramarathon that Jon and Mel did. In fact, they’ve done a 256-kilometer race across Madagascar.
So, whatever you can think of, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it in your Xero Shoes. We just want to see you out there feeling the freedom, feeling the fun and feeling the world.
Different Xero Shoes products come with different colors. So our do-it-yourself kits come with soles that are black or brown, and then there are many lace colors. We’ve got laces in white, green, navy, sky, orange, blue and maroon. My favorite thing is that people love all the colors and they go, “You know, I think I’ll take black.” So black soles and black laces is always our bestseller, but the other pop colors like the red webbing on our Z-Trail sandal is one of my favorites. But we know that no matter how blingy things get, black is usually the most popular color. Brown’s usually a close second. Then all the other fun colors for those of you who like to express your personality, we have those for you as well.
Sole colors we currently have for DIY:
- Hot Salmon*
*Limited availability in these colors.
Xero Shoes vs. Nike
Nike makes a product they call the Nike Air Huarache and I have to be honest, I don’t really know why because it has nothing to do with the Mexican huaraches, which are sandals that have the woven leather upper, and it certainly has nothing to do with the Tarahumara huarache running sandals. So I don’t really know why they use that name, but if there’s any confusion, now you understand what the situation is. Hope that’s helpful.
How to Shrink Huaraches
If you have a pair of regular huarache sandals with the woven leather upper and you need to shrink them a little bit, I’m no expert in leather working, when it does get wet and then dries slowly, it can shrink. You might want to check with a leather worker or a shoemaker and ask them what to do to see if they can get the leather to shrink in some way. I can’t give you any promises and I haven’t tried to do that, but that’s the gist of what you’re going to look for.
How to Soften your Huarache sandal
Any leather huarache you have, whether it’s a woven sandal or a huarache like the Tarahumara huarache, is usually going to start out a little stiff and is going to get softer over time. So if you can put up with just the difficulty of breaking it in, that’s probably your best bet. There are products that you can find to soften the leather. If you get them wet and then wear them, that can help a little bit, but my recommendation is find someone who’s more of an expert in shoes than sandals, because we do barefoot-inspired sandals, and they’ll be able to help you if that’s what you’re looking for.
How to Tie Huaraches for running, walking, etc.
When you’re looking to tie your huaraches, there are actually a lot of options. Now, a standard Tarahumara huarache does something like this: The lace goes through the outside of your ankle, then around your heel, and then you’d wrap the lace around your ankle a few times and then lock it down.
But there are many other ways you can tie a pair of huaraches and we have tying instructions on the page, xeroshoes.com/tying. You can do something ultra-minimalist that looks like this. You can do something a little more blingy by adding a decorative charm. You can have some real fun. There’s a woman who had painted her toenails, and then she added the beads that matched. You can get really blingy if you like to do that. There are lots of other tying styles. You can take one of our do-it-yourself kits and get our Amuri hardware kit and take a kit and make it look just like our ready-to-wear sandals with our patent-pending lacing system.
If you are interested in learning more about sandals, and running in sandals, head over to xeroshoes.com/sandals to find out more.
There’s also more info in our “Discover Your Feet” section at https://xeroshoes.com/barefootinfo/
If you are interested in learning more about minimalist running shoes take a look at xeroshoes.com/shoes/minimalist/