Minimalist Sandals are mankind’s oldest footwear, with examples found that are thousands of years old.
They’re also the simplest — something to protect your soles, plus some way to hold that protection onto your foot.
That’s why people have enjoyed the comfort and freedom of sandals for activities including:
- Working out
Then there’s the unique value that minimalist sandals offer — letting your feet do what’s NATURAL
Your feet are made to bend, flex, move, and FEEL the world (your brain needs feedback so you can balance and move move effectively and efficiently).
NOTE: don’t confuse huaraches style sandals with flip flops. I’ll explain why in the FAQ section further down the page.
Here are our best-sellers for men, women, and kids that will help you Live Life Feet First:
When it comes to the comfort and benefits of running, walking, and, well, LIVING in sandals, we don’t fool around. That said, we’re never above making fun of ourselves, so here’s some barefoot humor for you.
A quick question for you...
Think about your feet for a moment.
Do they feel better at the end of the day than they did at the beginning?
If not, that’s because your shoes aren’t letting your feet do what’s NATURAL — bend, flex, move, and FEEL the world.
True comfort — and performance — come from letting your feet do what’s natural.
At Xero Shoes, we make products that let you do what’s natural, so you can Live Life Feet First!
Are these "authentic" huaraches?
“Huaraches” is a Spanish word for sandal, and most people think of the Mexican woven leather sandals when they think of huaraches.
The word became synonymous with “running sandals” after Christopher McDougall’s New York Times best-selling book, Born To Run, became popular in 2009-2010.
The Tarahumara tribe (also known as the Raramuri, or “Running People”) is known for running hundreds of miles in sandals made from scraps of tire, held on with a leather strap.
The Westerners who saw these simple-but-effective shoes asked what they were called, and were told “huaraches.”
So, not surprisingly, in some circles, a huarache is a running sandal, and in others it’s a woven leather sandal.
You can join our worldwide "MOVEMENT Movement"
The Xero Shoes mission is making natural movement the better, obvious, healthy choice… the way natural food is now.
That’s why we say we’re creating a MOVEMENT movement.
We’d love to have you join the movement.
All you have to do is sli on a pair of Xero Shoes so you can Live Life Feet First.
Have you forgotten the feeling of going outside on a warm summer day, kicking off your shoes and feeling the grass, or the sand, or the water between your toes.
Remember that fun. free feeling?
You can have that feeling NOW, regardless of your age.
If you don’t want to go barefoot, put on some shoes that let you Feel the Freedom and Feel the Fun of minimalist shoes, boots, and sandals.
Still Have Questions About Huarache Sandals?
If the FAQs below don’t answer your questions, contact our Customer Happiness Team at [email protected] or 303.447.3100 between 9-5, Mountain Time, Mon-Fri (calling is faster).
In short, no.
To keep a flip flop on your foot, you need to grip with your toes and basically jam your foot into the thong.
Plus, the foam sole materials start breaking down the moment you begin wearing them.
Huarache sandals, on the other hand (the type here, not the woven leather Mexican sandals), don’t have those issues.
First, the lacing system goes around your ankle, holding the sole on your foot without you having to grip and without extra pressure from the thong.
In fact, we have many customers who’ve said, “I don’t like things between my toes,” but have no problem wearing their Xero Shoes huarache sandals.
Secondly, we use a very durable rubber we developed for the soles, FeelTrue® rubber, that is backed with a 5,000 mile warranty.
Of course, if you’re dead set against the huarache style, we also have sport sandals, where there’s not a strap coming between your toes. And you can use our DIY sandal kits with any lacing style you can think of (and a bunch shown here).
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 with 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 straps or laces for the sandals worn by the Tarahumara.
Women have a lot of huarache sandal 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 Genesis 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 are Mel and John Sinclair, who are finishing a 50 mile race in their Venture sandals, the precursor to the current Genesis.
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 or beads to both the Cloud and Genesis 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 Genesis, just with 1mm more of 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 ultra marathons 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.
If you want to learn how to make a modern version of the Tarahumara huarache, either in leather or not in leather, there are instructions that are in the playlist beow 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/
Huarache is a Spanish word.
The pronunciation is “wah-RAH-chay”.
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 different colors, and then she added beads that matched.
You can even dress LIKE our sandals!
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.
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.
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 had our Venture now revamped into the Genesis, 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 paddle boarding 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 Genesis 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 Genesis except 1mm thicker and with a 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.
The traditional 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.
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. It’s 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.
We also have “sport sandals” where the lace doesn’t come between your toes.
And we have DIY (do-it-yourself) sandal making kits. We give you the plans to make your own sandals, the way humans have been doing for thousands of years (with some modern upgrades, of course).
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 huarache style sandals 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.
We do have our new Kids Z-Trails if they are ready to walk alongside you!
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.
Humans have been wearing huarache sandals since practically, well, there have been humans.
They’re the simplest form of footwear — something to protect your foot, and some way to hold that protection onto your foot.
So, not surprisingly, people have been doing almost anything in their huaraches:
- Running (pretty much every distance, from 5K runs to 256K ultra marathons)
- Walking (we’ve had people stroll on the beach, in cities, and everywhere in between)
- Hiking (I know hikers who’ve done the PCT, the AT, and the Camino in huaraches)
- Daily wear (’cause, why not?)
- Yoga (it’s like having a yoga mat under your feet whenever you want one)
- Working out and CrossFit (perfect for deadlifting and squatting)
- Spas and locker rooms (a great post-hot tub or shower shoe)
- Recovery (let your feet enjoy active recovery after they’ve been overused)
- Travel (so lightweight and thin, they take up no room in your bag)
- Rafting and Kayaking (great for portaging or for letting your feet relax at the end of a day)
- Skydiving! (seriously, we have photos to prove it)
I don’t recommend huaraches for activities with a lot of lateral movement, like tennis, because the basic design isn’t perfect for that.
But, otherwise, there’s a LOT you can do. And I’m sure you’ll do things we can add to this list.