Run Like Monkey

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Huarache Running Sandals – Vibram Cherry

Homemade sandals.  Bought a sheet of 4mm Vibram Cherry sole material off eBay and 1/4″ poly rope from Ace Hardware.


Around 30 miles (May 2009)

My first huaraches were from Barefoot Ted.  They were sold as “6mm Neoprene” at the time but are actually 1.2 cm thick!  (Ted has since corrected that.)  Nonetheless, they opened my eyes to this bizarre and amusing footwear.  There is something really fun about running with the tops of your feet exposed, feeling the wind.  But I was eager to thin out the sole material.

I found a sheet of 4mm Vibram Cherry material on eBay and was very pleased with how thin and flexible it is.  As I was hunting around locally for more latigo lacing, Andrew came through with perfectly timed posts on the huaraches list about using 1/4″ poly rope and a cooler tying method that allows for slip-on wear.  The results so far have been good:

Huarache Sandals - 4mm Vibram CherryHuarache Sandals - Cherry Soles and Slip-On TieHuarache Sandals - Cherry Soles and Slip-On Tie

The soles are much more thin than my originals, though still not as thin as FiveFingers or Feelmax.  But they have a nice flexibility to them to navigating rocky trails, and just a bit of grip for the downhills.  They tend to flop around more than my other pair because they are so thin and flexible – it sounds odd, but isn’t really a problem.  So far my only complaint is the size of the knot under the sole.  I am feeling a bit of calf discomfort after I run with them, and wonder if that knot is part of the issue.

They handle puddles well and are not a problem to run in while wet.  They also of course dry out quite quickly.  Will definitely be running more in these over the summer.


34 Responses to “Huarache Running Sandals – Vibram Cherry”

  1. […] be wearing those some of the time.  I will likely still race in these at Superior.  But Feelmax, huaraches, and Vibram FiveFingers are the staple diet for […]

  2. These look very cool (both in styling and temperature).

    The 6mm Cherry material is nice too…and a little stiffer. The floppiness of the thinner material goes up with heat.

    Oh yeah, my 12mm instead of 6. I can’t believe that one. I was even paying quite a bit more for the wrong material. 😦

    The 12mm have a purpose, but the 6mm neoprene is so light…almost feel like nothing. Oh course, all of this minimal shoes are under 6 ounces, but the 6mm are under 3!

    BFT…el mono too

  3. scott said

    BFT –

    I have you to thank for opening my eyes to huaraches. These are now my favorite running footwear, hands down! I should revise this page, I don’t mean to sound too negative up above. I actually still don’t mind running in the 12mm; they might be good to switch into on very long runs, or really rough terrain.

    I should try out some of your 6mm, I’m also interested in trying out traditional leather, or maybe your idea of leather on top of Vibram. So much experimenting with these, I love it!

    I smacked my head when I read in Born To Run that you identify with the monkey. I started this blog last Fall before I even heard of you – I hope it doesn’t look like I’m trying to steal your juju or something. You are the original Mono! I’m El Mono Congelado (frozen monkey) up here in the North country!


  4. S DeBow said

    You should read the Runners World article about Ed Norton running the NY Marathon with Maasai runners. The top runner runs in his “thousand milers” made from recycled tires (a sub-7 min miler!). Thanks for posting about your sandals.

  5. crazy said

    Monkey…. I hope you wear toesocks along with those babies… you’re in for some trouble otherwise.

  6. la india ninja said

    I have been running in homemade huaraches for the last couple months since reading Born to Run. I made mine with a 4mm thick piece of leather with a soft deer tan glued to the top and latigo laces. They are awesome- super flexible and they mold to your feet after wearing them for a few minutes so they don’t flop around even through they are super thin.

    I’d estimate that I’ve put around 40 miles on them. I run on asphalt and trails. I am going to make some out of vibram though, because they don’t have any traction for wet weather. The latigo strips make the knot super small on the underside of the shoes, give that a try. I am going to try your slip-on tying method on my next run.

  7. Dave said

    I just made a pair…
    Starting my running in the morning..


  8. scott said

    @sandra – I have not checked out that article, but it sounds great. Need to dig that up.

    @crazy – I don’t wear toe socks with these until it gets cold out. No trouble whatsoever, just good times in them.

    @india – I really prefer this slip on tie method, but to each their own. I have never tried leather alone, but I have a pair of 6mm with a glued-in leather footbed. I have to say I’m not crazy about them, they just seem heavy. But maybe I haven’t given them enough time to break in.

    @dave – stick with them and ease into it. Not too much too soon and they will be a blast.

  9. […] encouraging runners to “run barefoot”.  Or, why not try your hand at making your own huaraches? If you really want to be authentic, try using old tires like the […]

  10. James said

    I saw these on bft’s web site. How do you go about ordering or making them exactly? I currently run in the vff trek’s. I am thinking of getting the flows. But the huaraches look awesome.

  11. slowpokejudd said

    I made a pair out of the leggings of a pair of leather cowboy boots. There’s not much to them, but that’s the whole point.

    I just went to youtube and searched make huaraches. the invisibleshoe guy has a set of videos that shows how to make and tie them.

    It feels kinda cool to wear a “sandal” that I made completely on my own.

  12. scott said

    @james – the huaraches are a real blast to run in. You can order a kit from BFT and that makes it pretty easy, he provides instructions. Its nice to support his efforts, too. I would recommend 4mm Cherry with no leather footbed. Otherwise, you can order a sheet of Vibram 4mm Cherry online or from a local shoe repair shop and just make a cutout and then watch YouTube videos to figure out how to lace and tie them.

    @slowpokejudd – that sounds great, I have thought about making some leather ones at some point, but the Cherry is working well for me for running. It’s indeed a lot of fun to run on something you made!

  13. carla said

    Waoo so you can actually run with them!

  14. slowpokejudd said

    they broke. bummer. I ordered an invisible shoe kit. I haven’t had a chance to go outside with them, it’s 10 outside today (it’s warmed up!), but running on the treadmill they feel great. I can’t wait to get good ones. my homemade ones didn’t last too long. I just need the right material. invisibleshoe should do the trick.

  15. Tom said

    I would like to have a shoe with a normal upper and a thin sole. Has anyone tried taking the sole off a regular running shoe and replacing it with a thin material like the 4mm Vibram?

  16. scott said

    Tom – I haven’t specifically heard of someone doing that. Have you taken a look at the Feelmax Osma shoes? That sounds similar to what you are describing. Also take a look at Tucker’s cobbler-modified New Balance 100s. Maybe you could bring in a pair of shoes that have the uppers you like and have a shoe repair store do something similar?

  17. Ok. I made a pair out of Vibram Cherry and the right sandle is slipping forward after about 2 miles. It’s annoying that the front of the right shoe is flopping around. Both feet are the same size. Have any of you experienced this?

  18. scott said

    I can’t say I have specifically experienced that, but have had to tailor mine slightly differently for each foot. Are you sure each foot is exactly the same size? Even so, it seems like the movement can differ. I like to make mine just a bit large and run in them a few times, and then trim the material back around where my foot is landing. The pics above are early pictures, and I have trimmed back how much is in front of my toes due to the flopping you are referring to. I have also trimmed back along the sides.

    If the sandal slips forward, can you not lace it tighter around the heel? Also, if you are lacing like I do above you might be able to snug up the knot on top. Just keep experimenting an running in them, I’m sure you can get that figured out.

  19. Rebekah said

    Hello all! I made a pair out of an old rubber boot, using the sides. I like them a lot but they are so LOUD! The slapping of the rubber is driving me nuts. I think the material is just too thin.

    So now I am thinking of trying the vibram material instead. But before I buy the material from BFT – can someone tell me if those sandals are loud as well? Thanks!

  20. scott said

    If I’m picturing your boots rights, I don’t think anything would be that loud! I would not call the 4mm Cherry loud, but they do slap the ground just a bit. That can be minimized by making sure they don’t overhang your foot too much. I also have BFTs 6mm Cherry with a leather footbed. They are comfortable, but I’m not crazy about them for running. The leather and cement make them heavy and I feel like it also makes them a bit more stiff and not formed to my feet. I would say they are a bit louder for that reason.

  21. Dan said

    Nice work! I made a pair myself with the 6mm nubby and hemp rope from Barefoot Ted – they’re excellent! I didn’t have a hole punch so I just used a hand drill and it worked flawlessly. Anyway, if you want to check ’em out, you can do so here: <a Alternative Athlete.

    Happy Trails!

  22. […] (den finns redan på finska). Man vill bara ut och springa: barfota, i Vibram Five Fingers eller i enkla sandaler när man läser eller lyssnar till den. Jisses amalia vicken bra bok. Det finns lite paralleller […]

  23. Dan said

    Intrigued by this barefoot hoohaa and too impatient to go through a cobbler for Vibram Cherry, I ran to a local box store and bought up what is on clearance in the “flip-flop” section ($2/pair), cut off the piece holding the foot and retied them in some 3/16″ poly (like the pictures above). Ran for several weeks, but was not satisfied with the thickness (too thick). Went to another box store (home improvement)and hoped to purchase some flooring material (ala “elephant bark”) but alas you had to purchase the entire case. I turned around and found individual “stair treads” for $5/sheet that allowed me to make 2 pair (small feet and wide/deep steps). It’s very flexible and resilient material. I’ve put 10 miles on them with little show of wear to the tread side and they haven’t flopped around at all. I dread having to go back to the science lab knowing I’m violating some cardinal safety rule. My feet have not seen the inside of a shoe more than three times in as many months. I’m waiting for my toes to rebel.
    What seems to intrigue most people is not the sandals themselves, but how no sticks or stones find their way between my toes or the foot and the sole.

  24. David said

    I have been running in VFFs up to 15 miles. I just made my first pair of huraches out of flip flops. I think the holes are in the wrong place and the sole is too thick, but I wanted to try before I buy. I’m still playing with the lacing to get them to stay on, but my first 4 mile run was fun (except for having to stop and relace one to make it tighter). I see blown out truck retreas on the highway while riding my motorcycle and thought maybe I’s stop and sacf some of it for a try.

  25. scott said

    It sure seems like the flip flops would be too thick. Sure they are light weight, but when you start getting too think, especially if the material is soft, you get back into asymmetrical wear patterns, which I think is one of the big problems with over-built running shoes. I have heard tales about the Tarahumara and others making huaraches from tire treads, so maybe give it a shot. It seems to me like it would again be too thick, and is probably more of an opportunistic choice for them rather than an ideal one.

    I have made a few different pairs of huaraches with different thicknesses, etc. These 4mm Cherry are still my favorite pair.

  26. Wes said

    I made a pair of huaraches out of a fairly thick leather material. I used leather for the lacing as well. I found that the leather material provided excellent traction. The sandals made it to the top of Mt. Timpanogos in Utah. Most of the trail was pretty easy, but I was impressed with how well they performed for the final few miles of scree and rock hopping to the summit. Unfortunately, that may be their last trip because they were worn pretty thin by the time I made it back to the trail head. Does anyone have experience or ideas for a more durable leather or other natural material. I rally liked the way that these sandals looked and felt. The leather was a little heavier, but I thought it was worth it for having momemade sandals from natural materials.

  27. valerie said

    Hi there

    This may sound like a silly question but whats with gluing leather to the vibram rubber? Is it suppose to help if your feet a wet or something? Cheers 🙂

  28. Chris said

    I just made a pair of huaraches for $0.00, using material I found in my house. An old 3mm rubber door mat for the soles, and 12ft of camping cord for the straps. It was easy enough to trace my foot and cut for the soles but the 3mm rubber was way to thin. Solution, ATHLETIC TAPE. I covered the entire surface of each sole with athletic tape and cut off the excess. Not only did it stiffen and strengthen the sole without adding too much weight but it reinforced the holes for the laces. I have always been a sandals/barefoot kind of person but never actually ran barefoot before. The first time I put these on I ran 5 miles on asphault, dirt, grass and rocky terrain. Best run I ever had in my life, I did feel I was running gingerly. I think thats just the different stride running in these sandals, or barefoot, force you to do, but thats the whole point right?

  29. hector cardenas said


    in Vietnam they make tire sandals and they used innertube cut strips to tie them, much easier between your toes, also they stretch so that it will give you a tight fit around your foot. no flopping. power companies use very strong quarter inch flat nylon material to pull massive tower line electrical cable from one tower line to another, use once and throw away that will work just right it is soft material also intend of knots you can make double holes next to each other and slip it thru, or ever using a upholstering sewing thread stitch it in. no more knot discomfort.. if you use tires, do not use the tread area, use the sidewall, also bias ply tire may work better than radial tires, it is much flexible and not as thick, bias ply tires maybe harder to find, talk to your neiborhood power people, for the pull nylon rope.

  30. hekta said

    also for a little more padding instead of leather, glue in a thin layer of memory foam……the good kind..not the cheap.

  31. Joeysun said

    Hi dont these get too hot on hot roads???

  32. scott said

    I haven’t had that trouble. Having the tops open is generally much cooler than running in closed shoes. If the black rubber heats up, I also can run through puddles to cool them down, and they dry out quickly.

  33. g2-6a442258c5681ade4e81fa852a9374c5 said

    Things have come A LONG WAY since this post. Have you seen the latest LUNA models?

    We are like surfers making surfboards…design & function combined…and we have continued to evolve through testing and input from 1000s of our customers.

    Our latest sandal, the OSO (Bear in Spanish) takes the sandal to a whole new level. Made in Seattle.


  34. scott said

    Ted – we have come a long way, haven’t we! It was a great time experimenting with building sandals back in the day and it forever changed my thinking about footwear and running. I still have the Cherry’s and the set from raw materials I bought from you. I would love to try out some Lunas, they look fantastic. I wish you the best of luck!

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