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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Huarache sandals with no knot under the sole

Many runners who are into the barefoot/minimalist footwear movement like huarache sandals. They can be used for running or just for everyday wear. I'm still a beginning barefoot runner and am not using minimalist shoes for running (preferring to really feel everything under my feet), but I did decide it would be fun to make a pair of huaraches.

I may later buy a kit with Vibram soles from Barefoot Ted or Invisible Shoe, but for now I wanted to take a very cheap route to see how I like this footwear style. I went to a craft store (Hobby Lobby) and bought a three-pound bag of leather scraps for the soles. (These scraps worked for me because my feet are size 7; they might have been too short for anyone whose feet were a couple of inches longer than mine.) I also got some craft cord and a leather punch. Total cost before tax: about $17. Note: I did NOT end up liking the particular craft cord I got. It was scratchy and too thick. I ended up with Deertan Lace from LeatherCord USA (3/16"/5.0mm size) and LOVE it! I needed one package of 2-yard lace for each shoe and think that would be enough for most sizes.)

With those supplies I made sandals for myself and each of my two kids. I have some leather left over and lots of extra cord.

My daughter and me:
huarache sandals barefoot running

My son and me:
huarache sandals barefoot running

The sandals are great, and I think they'd work well on asphalt (though not on surfaces that need a shoe with more grip.) But after I'd worn them around the house awhile (and taken the photos above), I began to be annoyed by something I've heard other huarache-wearers complain about--the knot under the shoe. It only bothered one of my feet--the one with less space between the first and second toes. (My sandals' soles are very thin, perhaps 2 mm--if you have huaraches with 6 mm soles, the knots are probably much less of an issue.)

So here's my solution--a way to make huaraches without a knot underneath!

First, you'll need two holes between your toes. I used the Invisible Shoe instructions to make my huaraches. Make one between-the-toe hole at the normal place, and one about 1/2" (1.5 cm) higher. Make the ankle holes at the normal spots.

Thread your cord through both toe holes, from the bottom. Leave a good amount of cord (8 inches or more) coming out of the top hole, but most of the cord should come out of the bottom hole.

huarache sandals barefoot running

To lace the shoe, I used the fantastic slip-on tying instructions from Barefoot Ted. They can be found on YouTube.

Follow his instructions (using the long end of the cord) until the point where you have two straps behind your ankle, and the long end has been threaded through the loop on your left ankle (4:13 on the video.) Or, if you want to leave some extra cord in case the part threaded through the sole breaks, go ahead and follow his instructions until you have three straps behind the heel (5:21 on the video.) I did it with just two straps behind the heel:

huarache sandals barefoot running

Continue to follow Barefoot Ted's instructions for one more step, threading the long end of the cord through the strap that goes across your foot.

huarache sandals barefoot running

Then take the top part of the cord, the part you threaded through the top hole, and thread it down through that same loop.

huarache sandals barefoot running

Pull both ends snug.

huarache sandals barefoot running

Now do a half knot (or whatever the correct technical term is!) with both ends, like you'd do if you were starting to tie a shoe.

huarache sandals barefoot running

huarache sandals barefoot running

At this point you can either finish with a square knot, or complete the tie as if you were tying a shoe. I like the bow; it looks more feminine to me.

huarache sandals barefoot running

Take off the shoe and cut off extra cord. Finish the ends if necessary. (I used a candle to fuse mine. Be careful!)

huarache sandals barefoot running

Voila! It's a super-comfy minimalist sandal without the annoying knot underneath. This cord may wear out faster without the knot, but cord can always be replaced.

I've used these to jog around the house, and I think they'll be fantastic as a minimalist running shoe if and when I feel the need for one. They'll also fit nicely in my Camlbak hydration backpack's front pocket. That way when I'm ready to do long barefoot runs, I can do my Saturday runs to Starbucks (where my family picks me up) and put these on when I get there, so that I can go inside and get my smoothie or Frappuccino!

I've worn these out and about a bit. They are very casual, but I think they're just fine for wearing in public. If someone is paying attention they may notice that the soles look hand-cut, but overall they're pretty cute.

Enjoy your huaraches! I'm enjoying mine!

barefoot running huaraches sandals


christine said...

Wow, well done:-) I'm guessing you could make them to fit any size foot, and they must be cool to wear!

Many, many years ago I bought bags of sheepskin offcuts and made winter slippers, which lasted well and were very comfortable.

Now I'm vegan, I don't know what I could use - maybe an old tyre, or conveyor belt rubber would do the trick? One day I might well experiment:)

Melinda said...

How cool! I still can't get over the running barefoot that you do. I can't even walk on the cement porch without my feet hurting from the bumpy ground. I would fail at running outside without shoes.

Melody said...

Great job! They look super. Isn't it amazing what you can find on You Tube?

Bri said...

how cute! You are so incredibly crafty!

Barefoot Ted said...

Very cool.

My Luna Sandals are a more expensive version of what you made on your own...which is what is cool about them!

My goal is to make nice ones, sell kits and encourage others to explore making them on their own just like you. Congrats.

Barefoot Ted

Stephen Luff said...

This is really useful. I would have never thought to try the local craft shop for scraps.
Love the double hole solution too.
I bought a cheap pair of flip flops and need a good cord to go with those. It felt a bit naughty to just chop off the slops wings but I'll make good use out of them.

Well done. Most useful.


Mark Keeler said...


I think I may give this no knot a try. The Invisible guy says that you cannot feel the knot under your foot. I feel it every step and stride on the road. It goes away in the dirt and the grass.



Alan Nikander said...

does the felt side of the leather face down or up(towards the foot)?

C. Beth said...

The felt goes on top (adjacent to the sole of your foot.)

Elsko said...

Many runners who are into the barefoot/minimalist footwear movement like huarache sandals. They can be used for running or just for everyday ... hhuaraches.blogspot.com