• barefootshoereview

Episode 50: Earth Runners - Grounding Sandals

Updated: Apr 8


Disclaimer: I purchased these shoes with my own money and this is mine and Sara’s opinion alone.

This post may include affiliate links which will give us a small commission at no additional cost to you.


The sandals are available for purchase on Earth Runners

10% off code with “TBSR"


What if you can have a shoe that is not really a shoe, mimics the way you were meant to walk and run, and still have the earthing abilities of your bare feet?


Enter the Earth Runner, a shoe with one of the biggest fan bases of a barefoot shoe out there largely due to its pleasing aesthetic, variety of easily changeable strap colors, ability to go with anything, and minimal affect on gait.


Featuring a rubber Vibram sole and with their thicker models a cotton foot-bed, along with their grounding copper straps, Earth Runners is a minimalist/barefooter's dream.




Price: 78-93$

Sizes: 36-48, Kids sizes K12,K13. 1-3

Models: Elemental (8mm), Circadian (9mm), Alpha (12mm)

Straps: Lifestyle laces, Performance laces.

Materials: Vibram sole and on the thicker models a cotton foot-bed.

Colors: Wide variety of straps and buckles.






Company Overview:

Utilizing minimalist Vibram® soles, Earth Grip footbed & our grounded conductive lacing system™ offering the ultimate minimalist sandal experience. Inspired by the ancient Tarahumara huarache sandals, Earth Runners combine the barefoot benefits of earthing shoes with the functionality of minimalist running sandals to offer the closest thing to truly barefoot running in our one of a kind earthing adventure sandals.


Shipping:

All sandals are made to order in our Sonoma County workshop.

Packages ship Saturday out of California -- you will receive a shipping confirmation email on Sunday or Monday with your tracking details.

USA destination in the Pacific time zone: 1-2 business days for delivery

USA destination in the Mountain time zone: 2-3 business days for delivery

USA destination in the Central time zone: 3-4 business days for delivery

USA destination in the Eastern time zone: 4-5 business days for delivery

USA destination in the Hawaii time zone: 2-4 business days for delivery

USA destination in the Alaska time zone: 3-5 business days for delivery

International orders usually take 1-3 weeks for delivery but can take longer due to international customs processing.




Exchange:

FAST METHOD: 1. Place an order for a new pair of sandals online and 2. Send your original sandals back to us by following the return instructions outlined in the FAQ. Once we receive your sandals we'll process your refund and notify you to let you know we did so. This gets your new order into production sooner, which means you'll get your new sandals quicker!

EASY METHOD: You can send your sandal back to us with a note requesting a different size. Once we receive your return, we will make and ship your new pair!

How to exchange sandals: Domestic (USA)

  1. Fill out the form below to be redirected to our Return Portal.

  2. Return Portal: Look up your order.

  3. Return Portal: Select items to exchange.

  4. Return Portal: Print Prepaid shipping label.

  5. Pack your return with the prepaid label on the outside of the box.

  6. Drop off your return package in any blue USPS® collection box, or put in your mailbox for your local postal worker to collect.




I originally got these for myself and Sara the first time as a birthday gift. I had heard about them and really wanted to see if they live up to the hype.


With an ever growing collection of barefoot shoes I wanted Sara to partake in the barefoot goodness as well.


I originally went with the elemental model with lifestyle laces and Sara chose the thicker Alpha model with lifestyle laces as well.



Overtime we switched to the tribal laces since we liked the design and we have never looked back.


The Earth Runner's sandal has become the shoe I'm wearing 90% of the time (if I'm wearing shoes) rain or shine, wet or dry, long ass hike or short walk to the park. The ease of putting them on and off and easy strap adjustment is awesome.


They also go well with Injinji toe socks or Tabi socks which Earth Runners sell as well. (f you are willing to forego the strange looks you will get for violating fashion code ;)



Pros:

  • Earth runners is the dream shoe for anyone who wants to really dive right in due to versatility in sole thickness.

  • Its unique lacing system has a minimal effect on gait and allows your feet to function like they should.

  • The grounding system allows you to be grounded the whole time (in fact you never have to take them off)!

  • The variety of sole thicknesses is great for all those wanting to try out different thickness ranges and their laces will have a color for everyone.

  • The additional beauty of the Earth Runners is one strap system, allowing an ideal fit for anyone's feet. You can dress it up and dress it down and I even pulled it off with a suit. You can also fully customize it with buckles and laces of choice.

  • Good for every situation and any and every occasion, we wear it to work, hiking, every day wear and casual dress up.



Cons

  • If not used to a thong style strap, there can be some initial chafing between the big toe and second toe.

  • It can be difficult to walk distances in these (especially with the thinner model) due to their near barefoot capacity (unlike other shoes which do give the foot more support). I have found myself at a slower pace with the 8mm model, especially on longer hikes very similar to walking barefoot. Sara was able to keep a steady/regular pace hiking with the 12mm model.

  • The straps can get a bit stiff and rough especially after they get wet but will soften again with wear.

  • On very long hikes you can experience chafing between the first and second toe.



Sizing:

  • The one strap system makes it very convenient to adjust to different forms of movement.

  • For running or quicker moving activities I like having them a bit tighter.

  • For hiking or walking a bit looser.

  • They fit true to size.



Colors:

  • We originally went with the lifestyle black straps for me and the green/grey for Sara.

  • Since then we have tried a tan color lace but didn't really feel that they matched different outfits.

  • We then tried the tribal color laces which we love! They have a cool earthy tribal look and match so well with almost anything.

  • I switched to the adventure green/grey laces for my second pair, and I honestly didn't feel a significant difference between those and the lifestyle laces.

  • Due to the large variety of color options, you can easily have 6 shoes in one by simply changing out the straps for a different color style.


Performance:

  • The earth runner is easily the most versatile shoe I own.

  • I have run, hiked, lifted weights, swim, slack line and even did a football practice in them (not recommended lol)

  • In general, I find the elemental great for day to day and the alpha better for longer terrain hiking.

  • Runners in general swear by the Circadian since its cotton footbed is slightly more comfortable than the rubber alone.

  • Elemental dries quickly whereas the cotton ones take a bit longer to dry, but don't feel squishy or uncomfortable when wet so they are great for rainy days or beach hikes/water hikes.


Affect on Gait:

  • Due to its thong strap, earth runners really allow for movement the way your barefoot would naturally be.

  • It truly feels like an extension of the foot.

  • The heel strap being close and near your heel keeps your foot firmly attached to the sole to optimize performance.

  • Great traction on majority of surfaces and terrains.

  • Great for continuing to support and develop your splay and big toe ability. Beginners may struggle in the beginning, especially if you have bunions or a big toe leaning or general splay issues. Having an open toe shoe sometimes actively reminds you to work on correcting those issues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKzAs6QuHMA - You can check out this video for some great big toe splay exercises.



System:

  • Earth runners use a one strap and buckle system. Once put in, it may take a few times to find the ideal adjustment, and it is totally normal for it to be uncomfortable until you find the right fit.

  • It can also be adjusted for different types of activities.

  • Its very easily adjustable both for making it tighter and looser as well as changing the way it sits on you.

  • The system is so simple you can even strap it onto your backpack as a second pair of shoes.

  • I haven't noticed a huge difference between the 2 laces. The adventure laces (the grey/green on left) stretch a bit more and are slightly more comfy for running/hiking than the lifestyle ones (tribal on the right).




Sole and Ground Feel

Elemental has the best ground feel with a hard flexible piece of rubber as the sole.

As mentioned above I have found myself significantly slower on longer duration hikes due to the high ground feel and similarity to walking barefoot (which is obviously slower)

Although the thickest of the models, the Alpha still has a great ground feel and did not hinder performance during long hikes due to thicker sole.

Zero break in time is required for the Elemental, the Alpha will take a few wears to really mold to your foot but really feel great from the start.




Earthing Benefits:

  • There are few brands out there that allow continued earthing/grounding while still wearing the shoe.

  • Earthing is simply being in contact with earth and has been shown to have numerous benefits

  • (While this concept does need more research, I will be doing a round up of Scientific earthing articles in the future)

  • Earth Runners use a copper plug which connects to the strapping system which is also copper inlaid which allows your foot to be exposed to the ions from the ground.


Weight:

  • Weight 5.5 Oz

  • The kind of shoe you can literally fold and stuff in your pocket.

  • Can also hang it on your bag with ease when hiking.




Durability:

Between Sara and I we own 4 pairs. I have owned the elemental for over 2 years and they are still in top condition. This includes aggressive wear and terrain. The models with the cotton footbed can show some signs of wear on the cotton but nothing that affects the shoe.



Care Instructions:

  • Elemental - wash with water and soap

  • Circadian and alpha - wash with a hose at high pressure

Things NOT to do with your sandals:

  • Leave them in a hot car

  • Leave them in the sun for extended periods of time

  • Put them in the washing machine

  • Wash them with bleach

  • Leave your dog alone with them (trouble!) unless you're Charlie.

  • To ensure the longest lifespan for your 'virgin' Earth Runner wool socks hand wash with wool soap (Woolite), then air dry.



Extras

All Earth Runners come with this really cool grey bracelet band that can be used for extra toe splay exercises to really help you rock this minimal sandal to maximum performance. And Earth Runner stickers, who doesn't love stickers?



In conclusion:

You can dress it up, you can dress it down, there is nothing you can't do with this sandal and I find myself wearing it the most out of my whole collection.


The sandals are available for purchase on Earth Runners

10% off code with “TBSR”



Room for Improvement:

I would recommend making a thinner model option, at the moment the thinnest sole is the 8mm elemental.

Less chafing material with the straps for the area between the toes.



Sean, Sara, and Woof...Charlie

*Loud squealing* oh almost forgot the puppies.