The other day someone shared a link to the Top 6 Barefoot Sandals: Guide to Minimalist and Running Sandals over at Greenbelly. Of course, to no surprise, we weren't on there. We'll chalk it up to being new. However, he did list five things to consider when looking for barefoot, or minimalist running sandals. Here is how we fit:
Greenbelly: "1. Zero Drop. The height of the back of the sandal needs to be the same as the front - or have "zero drop". This is in direct contrast to most shoes which might have a 20 mm high heel and a 15 mm high toe box... a total drop of 5 mm. Zero drop is a defining characteristic of a barefoot sandal that enables the mid-strike."
Simply Shod: Our mission is to outfit runners and individuals in zero-drop shoes, or provide an easy method of transitioning from a standard shoe with a standard drop to the esteemed zero drop.
Greenbelly: "2. Thin Soles. Ideally 12 mm or less. Anything thicker and you will not get that real 'barefoot feel' - it will be more like a shoe. I personally prefer soles in the 5-8 mm range."
Simply Shod: All of our shoes are 12mm or less, in fact, they're all 11mm or less. Our Vibram soling material is usually around 5mm thick (depending on the variety), and we top our huaraches with leather that is right around 1.5/2mm. Now we understand not everyone is ready to jump in on super thin huaraches, so we've found some EVA material to go in-between soles and footbeds and can custom build huaraches up in 3mm increments to help you work down.
Greenbelly: "3. Flat Footbed. The ground is flat and does not provide your feet with perfectly custom arch support. You want you sandals to mimic that support-less ground so keep your footbeds flat."
Simply Shod: Flat footbeds are all we do. Part of the allure of zero drop, minimalist, barefoot, natural, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, footwear is that there aren't a lot of "supports." If you're on the minimalist train you probably agree that supports don't actually help your form, but mask deficiencies in it and allow them to continue.
Greenbelly: "4. Lightweight. Ideally 12 oz or less. A pair of Chacos weighs around 2 lbs (32 oz)... which is way too much. Again, a heavy and thick sandal won't resemble being barefoot."
Simply Shod: Light weight is our game. We recently built a custom pair of 10.5 Tready Soles with a 6mm drop and a 21mm stack in the heel. Together they weighed 13oz. A size 10 pair of World Beaters - with Georgia clay stuck in the tread - weighed 10.15oz. So yeah, we do lightweight.
Greenbelly "5. Thong Straps. Just a personal preference, but having the strap lace vertically in between your toes can enable your toes to spread out. A horizontal strap can squeeze your toes together and cause Metatarsalgia - a fancy word for knuckle inflammation. I pick thong all day long."
Simply Shod: At present, all of our models utilize thong straps. It's the traditional way to lace huaraches, and we feel that it's become tradition for a reason. If it didn't work, the method would have ceased long ago. Eventually, though, we do plan on developing a model without a toe thong, as we understand thongs aren't for everyone. (If you're really anti-thong and want to test a non-toe thong model before we do, let us know, we need some motivation!)
So while we may not have made Greenbelly's Top 6, we nailed all the criteria that make a good barefoot sandal. Not to mention we're made in the United States, and can create a huarache custom to your foot size and shape, as well as your bodies desire for stack and drop. What's not to like about that?For more Simply Shod fun and good times, you can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. We're (almost) everywhere!