Frequently Asked Questions:
How long do they take to ship?
I'm a teacher and coach who works 10-12 hour days. I sometimes make them in the evening, but most of the time I have to wait until Saturday & Sunday and I will make several at a time. If it's a rush or a gift please let me know. Otherwise I'll assume it can wait until the weekend for production. Please plan on 7-10 days from time of order.
What's up with the whole 'minimalist thing'?
About 10 years ago, the book Born To Run told the story of a sandal running tribe in Mexico. It unleashed a latent movement in the distance running community. It put voice to the concept of running with little to nothing on the feet. Some people, like me, switched over and had great success. Some people switched over and got injured causing a great deal of animosity within the distance running community. Read on and I will give you my thoughts as it continues to polarize the community.
How long will they last?
It's really hard to say. Typically 200-500 miles I suppose is normal. A customer just told me his failed at 1200 miles. I rotate sandals so it's hard for me to tell you.
Which style is best?
Though I used to sell other styles, I currently mostly sell the Toe Buckle & The Hiker. I've retooled my workshop to product this challenging design. It's much more labor intensive than the others but I feel it's worth it. Email me if you want one of my old designs.
The Toe Buckle has a loop around the big toe. I made it on a whim but was stunned at how supportive it is. The toe loop is the only fixed strap. The rest is fully and easily adjustable.
The Hiker was designed after a backpacking trip on The Colorado Trail. It looks like the Toe Buckle but is beefed up for extreme trail & light backpacking. It has wider straps, ankle tabs and comes standard with Vibram Zegama tread and memory foam. Some find it a little heavy for long runs, but it's perfect for extreme trail runs and backpacking.
The 7 Hole came from researching sandals of the bible. I modified it and realized it works great for running. It takes a little longer to make but they are my new favorite. More stable and supportive than the lightweight buckle tie.
1/2" polyester buckle tie is awesome. It comes in amazing colors. Check out www.strapworks.com. I can get any color they offer. The webbing can be easily changed out so you can order multiple colors for a nominal fee. My ankle tab buckle design holds the tension so it doesn't slip on your heal. Mix and match w/ the toe cord and ankle tab to completely customize you sandals. Don't just go black. I want you to customize and be proud of your one of a kind sandal. I add colors all the time.
The Ring Slider is for people who don't link the feel of straps between their toes. It's faster and easier to put on. Though I don't recommend it for hilly trails, it's great for general wear on relatively flat surfaces. It's also easily adjusted with the pull of one buckle.
The 7 Hole came from researching sandals of the bible. I modified it and realized it works great for running. It takes a little longer to make as the front straps are fixed. I don't sell as many of these because the fixed straps can be a challenge to fit. However, they still have a dedicated following mostly for fashion reasons.
The Original Tie is my most traditional sandal. It's the closest slip on version of the Native American version. It's very simple and infinitely adjustable. It stays tighter during the run and offers superior lateral stability on a trail. The catch? You have to learn to tie it. I've grown rather tired of lazy customers telling me it's too complicated. I have an old youTube link which will guide you (Paisley Running Sandals - Classic Tie). The old ways are best. If you Google Tarahumara Sandals, you'll see what I'm talking about. Thats how I started out w/ hand cut rubber and a 72" piece of leather which wraps around and over the ankle. They're super cool and the most stable sandal ever. The problem is the leather will give you unbelievable blisters until your skin toughens. Few Americans are interested as our feet are just too soft. I would recommend a compromise w/ 72" soft hiking lace instead. I ship out both laces. They're easy to switch out.
What kind of rubber do you use?
Answer: Usually 5mm Vibram Lisk or Moreflex. If you're a veteran sandal trail runner I recommend upgrading to the 10 mm Vibram. I can get any type of soling rubber you could want thought. I'm happy to do special orders if you are attached to a special type. Give me a few extra days to get special rubber in stock. A non-slip liner now comes standard.
I have more varieties than I can put on the website.
I'm a little bit like a chef who goes to the market to get fresh ingredients. I go to a cobbler warehouse to try different rubbers. It's best if you tell me your application and I will make you a custom pair based on the stuff I have in stock. It tends to just confuse customers when I put too many options on the website.
Don't you need arch support?
No, provided you take your time building up the muscles and tendons in your foot which have been ignored for decades. Does an architect put an arch under an arch?
Do they provide general foot support?
No. If your foot needs support or is sliding all over the sandal, that means your form is off. The perfect mid-foot strike should be right under your center of gravity as you run. I believe sandals have a place for all runners even shod runners. It's a great way of reminding you when your form is off. I believe most running injuries occur because of poor form. Instead of relying on inserts and built up shoes, I believe you should correct the problem with proper form and foot strength. You will surely have to slow down and shorten your runs but good form is key.
My foot is sliding around!
Yep! You need to adjust your stride. Sandals provide minimal support by design. You must learn to strike the ground exactly below your center of gravity. (If you don't your foot will slide in the sandals.) Kind of the point you know? If you're not willing to listen to your bodies feedback, then stay in shoes. The Toe Buckle or The Hiker are your best bet for a more supportive sandal.
I have an injury. Should I switch to sandal running?
Depends. I normally recommend rest followed by a very gradual shift to sandals to see if it's for you. A complete, rapid change usually ends up in a different injury.
How do sandals reduce injuries?
There's no proof that they do. Done improperly it can cause injuries, but I've found if done gradually and properly it causes you to do 4 things: run slower, run shorter, create good form & build up your muscles & tendons. Your body just needs to adjust! Stop going to the running shoe store to buy shoes 'cause you're going to do a half-marathon. Run for life not a damn race! Short, slow & consistent. Running for life will change your life.
My running shoes are great, why would I switch?
You shouldn't. Healthy runners should keep doing what they're doing. Assuming you're cool with the expense. However, after 20 years of coaching I've come to realize running shoes don't prevent injury and can actually cause injury if ill fit or the wrong design. Realize there are options if you're injured. What do you have to lose? You're already injured.
How do I break them in?
Just go slow. Mall, grocery store, nice walk around the neighborhood, maybe one short run per week. I like to store them initially by curving them in the shape of a 'C'. Wedge them between some books, box or bannister, etc. This will help the very flat rubber acquire a curve so it presses into your foot instead of away from the foot. It will help reduce heel slippage. Some people find the stitching between the toes a little irritating initially. Both your feet and the nylon will gradually adjust. You can use a lighter and your fingers/pliers to smash down the polyester thread so it's smooth. A little bit of beeswax can also help. Create a little rotation system with your shoes. It can take people a full year to adjust.
Will I get blisters?
Probably. Especially if you switch too quick. I used to get giant silver dollar blisters on the bottom of my feet. I learned to soak 'em in vinegar, yellow Listerine & water. (1 part vinegar, 2 parts Listerine, 1 part water) Sand away painful cracks after. Run the next day or two in shoes and just keep going. Soft tissue heals very quickly and you will build up calluses.
Why are they only $90-$125?
'Cause this isn't my day job:) I'm a teacher and coach. It takes me about 4 hrs to make each pair and I want the sandals to be affordable. I realize the sandals won't last forever and I want to create repeat, customized business.
Are they really custom?
Yes. Every pair I make is customized to each foot. I use the provide 1/4" graph paper trace picture and make a card stock template. I then trace, cut, grind, glue & lace each pair.
How long do they take to make?
~4hrs. I do all the work in my garage after high school running practice. Remember, they are custom, please be patient.
Do you really run in them?
You should see my foot tan! I haven't run in shoes in 10 years. 30-50 miles per week with my high school XC team.
Why don't you just stamp them out like cheap flip flops?
Some of the competition does just that. After seeing some of the feet I have, I've come to realize that this is a big reason why running shoes have failed people. A shoe or sandal must be properly fit to perform.
What happens if I get the sandals and I don't like them or they don't fit?
I either refund your PayPal account the complete purchase price or I make you another pair. (Your choice.) I keep your template so you can tell me how to adjust future order. (i.e. move the toe hole up and in 1/8". etc.) Sometimes people send them back and I fix and resend.'
How do I adjust them?
Take them off and push / pull the webbing. Once you get them right, just slide them on and off. Minimal adjustment is required. I normally just tighten the buckle before a run. Remember that the whole system will mold to your foot. Be patient and make small adjustments each time you wear them. The rubber is designed to last for hundreds of miles.
Why is there a screw on the side of the ankle tab buckle?
An unbelievable amount of trial and error. The ankle tab design is the result of 7 years of tinkering. Long story short...the sharp brass screw 'grabs' the webbing and won't let it slip. It's allowed me to get rid of grommets and make it easier to adjust and replace.
Why nylon and not the old leather straps or shoe lace?
I don't sell many 'classic ties' anymore. Frankly new sandal runners just can't seem to learn how to tie them. It's just a 54" piece of leather or shoelace. It's still the best but new sandal runners just get frustrated and throw them in their closet. I've been on a quest to make running sandals which people will actually use. The leather laces are really classic, but they will give you some wicked blisters. When I first started I actually cut up old tires and wrapped the leather around my ankle. I've learned that lazy Americans w/ their beautiful feet won't do such things. In the absence of the serious leather straps, I've created softer versions for American tastes.
What do you do in the winter?
I use Injinji Nu-Wool black toe socks. At a certain point (below 20F) I just take the day off. Others switch to regular shoes or minimalist shoes. Don't be so reckless that you slip.
Ever a time when you don't wear sandals?
Heavy MUD! Once the mud gets on the bottom of the sandal it will literally suck the sandal off your foot. During Colorado's mud season. I will stick to the roads for a couple weeks.
I hate stuff between my toes. What do I do?
Try The Ring Slider.