Wearing minimalist footwear is a revolutionary experience which illuminates and strengthens the relationship with our feet and consequently our connection to the planet. When recognizing the amount of work our feet endure while performing their vital function as our conduit to the Earth, it makes the most sense to equip them with the best tools for the given terrain. There is often a specific tool that will work best for a given task, and some tools will not work at all. Then there are tools that excel in more than one application. A multi-tool if you will.
A perfect example of multi-tool footwear is one of the traditional sandals of the Mexican and Southern U.S. indigenous peoples popularized in the book Born to Run--- the Huarache. The Huarache running sandal consists of one continuous strap or thong originating through the bed of the sandal between the first and second toe and then binding the foot to the sandal creating an incredibly effective and elegant design. The Tarahumara natives of the Copper Canyon in Mexico who are known to run hundreds of miles at a time, have worn these minimalist sandals for centuries, and exclusively use a version created from truck tire tread that lasts them up to 10 years in all kinds of weather and conditions. It's easy to see why. Huarache sandals allow the foot to splay and move naturally and so are very comfortable. The ingenious strap system allows for excellent adhesion to the foot and nearly infinite adjustment possibility. Aside from replacing or adjusting a lace they are nearly maintenance free, and as evidenced by the longevity of use and the incredibly rugged nature of the terrain the Tarahumara live in, practical footwear for many applications.
Today’s minimal shoe options run the gamut from thick and bulky minimalist wanna-bes to extremely exposed and nearly naked designs such as the Huarache running sandal. While there will always be a need for closed toed less minimal footwear for certain scenarios, those who have had the liberty of owning a pair of huarache sandals usually opt for the freedom of this footwear whenever the situation permits. It’s a rare situation where well built huaraches do not prove to be an effective answer to whatever adventure one finds themselves in including backpacking, trail racing, hiking in the snow or an impromptu night on the town. The depth of sensory awareness and the pleasure of continually awakening feet are invaluable!
Written by Colin Evans