Friday, October 26, 2012

Shoe (Sandal) Review: Original Luna Sandals

After running about 10km a week for 2 years in my Nike Air Zoom Streak XC2, it was well past the time to buy a new pair of "barefoots". Which shoe should I buy though? I had heard heaps of good things about Inov-8. But at the same time I wanted to try something more radical that Erwan Le Corre was wearing: Luna Sandals.

Luna Sandals are the creation of Ted McDonald, of Born to Run fame. They are modelled after traditional huarache sandals, but just "upgraded" slightly so that you get a sole made from Vibram instead of an old tire, laces made from leather, hemp or elasticized webbing with a buckle, and the footbed of the sandals.

After some consideration, I decided to go with the most basic set-up available: the Original Luna with 1/4" Black Leather laces and a Copper Brown Suede footbed. Clicked "Add to Cart", sent in my order, and waited for it to reach my sister in the US, and then for her to bring it to Singapore.

The package that the sandals arrived in

Fresh from the package: the sandals with the leather laces wrapped around them,
two extra washers, and a Luna Sandals paper logo

Nice thin sole

Setting up the Luna Sandals

When they first came in contact with my skin, the leather laces felt awfully, awfully rough. What I ended up doing was generously applying deep moisturising foot cream on the entire length of the laces, letting it soak in for a day, and repeating the application and soaking once more. I reckon that helped soften the laces up a little. Any discomfort from the laces between your big toe and second toe - you will have to get used to it though. 

The Copper Brown Suede footbed was in contrast comfortable, and I could not wait to take the Luna Sandals out for a spin. Only.... how do you tie these things?! What goes where?

On the website of Luna Sandals is one video in which one method of tying the sandals is suggested. Not to worry - there are many more videos on YouTube of people showing their tying methods. In my next post will be a series of pictures showing my own tying method, step-by-step.

If you have just gotten a pair of Luna Sandals, I suggest you spend some time trying out the different tying methods and walking around in the sandals after each method, to see which you feel most comfortable moving about in. Do spend some time on this before snipping any excess leather off the laces.

Grass sticks on, especially where the holes in the soles are, but is easily washed away

Moving about in the Luna Sandals

If you want barefoot, these are one of the closest things to barefoot. Switching between the Luna Sandals and the Nike Air Zoom Streak XC2, the thicker sole of the Nike shoes was very noticeable and it definitely felt "padded" compared to the Luna Sandals.

Running in Luna Sandals was a different matter. I am much more of a sprinter than a jogger and this review comes after 5 weeks of sprinting two times a week. Compared to shoes, the Luna Sandals felt less secure on my feet and even though I had spent some time tightening them as much as I could without causing them to cut into my feet, they still felt loose in some areas, and made noisy flapping sounds when I ran.

After about 20 minutes of walking, the balls of my feet would start feeling the chafing from the hammered knot under the soles of the sandals, and they would hurt and feel really sore in the spots about the knots. After finishing my sprint training, I noticed some huge deep blisters on the soles of both feet (see the picture below).

The picture immediately above shows the same area after the blister dried up and the skin tore off. Those spots on my feet are still pretty hard.


Luna Sandals has a refund policy which allows you to return your sandals within 30 days if you are not happy with them, and you will get back a full refund. Unfortunately I had already spent 5 weeks running in the sandals. So I wrote to Luna Sandals about the issue. The next working day, I received from Luna Sandals an offer of thinner 1/4" laces for the cost of shipping.

Prompt reply, which I like, but I do not think that thinner laces would solve the problem - there would still be a bump on the sole of the sandals, even if a smaller one. In the circumstances, I have had no choice but to relegate the Original Lunas the role of walking sandals. And even then, after about an hour of walking the same spots start to get sore.


I am not sure how many people have faced the same chafing / blister problem that I have, and the feeling of looseness like the sandal is going to fall off. Then again, most people wear the Lunas for slower endurance-type runs or walking rather than sprinting, and my feet are kind of skinny.

If you are still interested in Luna Sandals, I strongly suggest you try them out at a store first if you can, or test them out thoroughly and decide within 20 days so that you fall within the 30-day refund period.

Edit on 20 April 2013:

This is a picture of one side of the Luna Sandals in its most recent condition: mould infested. Frankly, I expect mould to set in so badly or even grow on the Luna Sandals. It took a bit of scrubbing to get the mould off, and I dried it in the hot sun for a few hours after. However, the mould re-appeared pretty fast.

Unfortunately, I had to throw the Luna Sandals away, wasting the US$58.50 that it cost and that I could have used to buy a pair of Inov-8s. I suffer from eczema on my feet, which sometimes results in cracks / open wounds on my feet, and could not risk mould and mould spores entering into my bloodstream.

Take notice that if you live in a tropical country, it may not be a good idea to buy the Luna Sandals.

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