Invisible Shoes – First Attempt

CIMG0083 thumb Invisible Shoes – First Attempt

Invis­i­ble Shoes Huarache Sandals

I have to admit that I really, really wanted the Invis­i­ble Shoes huaraches to work out for me. I loved the idea of a thin-soled, open san­dal. The idea of run­ning with noth­ing more than a long shoe lace and bit of rub­ber under my feet sounded great. Unfor­tu­nately, my first trial run with the Invis­i­ble Shoes did not go so well. In fact, the expe­ri­ence has left me with a soar on my index toe. I have not given up on the huaraches, but am emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally scarred. Let me explain.

Price: $49.95 for cus­tom made, $24.95 for Large Kit, $19.95 for Stan­dard Kit
Mine were cus­tom made and given to me for free by Invis­i­ble Shoes to test and review
Weight: 3.6 oz
Size: Sized exactly to the trac­ing of my foot (usu­ally a 12.5 US)
Mate­r­ial: 4mm Vibram Cherry sole with polypropy­lene and nylon laces


I was con­tacted by Steven Sashen, the pro­pri­etor of Invis­i­ble Shoes, and asked if I would be will­ing to give his huaraches a test. He gave me two options: to make a pair myself with a kit he would send or have him make them for me. Lack­ing con­fi­dence in my own abil­ity to fol­low instruc­tions and actu­ally cut rub­ber cor­rectly, I chose for Steve to make the shoes for me. This required me to trace the out­line of my foot onto paper and make a few marks to indi­cate where cer­tain parts of my foot lined up on the trac­ing. An online video demon­strates how to do this, help­ing to make the process rather pain­less and quick – about 10 minutes.

I also had the choice of lace color. I chose black laces to match the black soles. Shortly after send­ing in my trac­ing I received my very own, custom-made san­dals in the mail.

First Thoughts

I tore open the brown paper wrap­ping to find my san­dals. Describ­ing them as san­dals is prob­a­bly mis­lead­ing. They are sim­ply two pieces of thin and flimsy Vibram rub­ber with a mass of black string loop­ing through 3 holes in the soles.

It took some effort to squeeze my feet into the right places of the san­dals, but I man­aged. They felt quite tight, espe­cially between my big toes and index toes.

After exam­in­ing the rather con­fus­ing con­fig­u­ra­tion of string as it wound up, around, and through the soles, I real­ized the hard­est part of get­ting the shoes ready was going to be fig­ur­ing out how to loosen the laces so the shoes fit correctly.

I read the let­ter from Steven that accom­pa­nied the shoes and saw that there was an online video I needed to watch to learn how to loosen and tie the san­dals cor­rectly. Not hav­ing the time to watch the video (or sim­ply not want­ing to take the time), I took the san­dals off and set them on my desk. And that’s where they sat for sev­eral months.

Test Run

All Tied Up

CIMG0042 thumb Invisible Shoes – First AttemptThe per­fect oppor­tu­nity to test the Invis­i­ble Shoes huarache san­dals came in Decem­ber. I was about to embark on my sec­ond annual run at Pin­na­cles National Mon­u­ment on my way from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for the Hol­i­days, and mak­ing a slight detour off of my dri­ving route to enjoy an incred­i­ble trail run was well worth it.

The night before my trip I pulled out the lap­top and found a video on the Invis­i­ble Shoes web­site explain­ing two options of how to tie the san­dals. I opted for the more clas­sic “Roman san­dal” look. After sev­eral attempts to re-lace the san­dals I found a fit that seemed right. How­ever, as I walked in the san­dals the tips caught on the car­pet. I fol­lowed Steven’s sug­ges­tion in the video to cut the rubber

CIMG0043 thumb Invisible Shoes – First Attempt

to the right size if needed.

I would have thought that my trace of my foot was so the cut of the sole came cor­rect, but I guess some final tweak­ing was accept­able. I was tired and wanted to get to bed so I I grabbed the clos­est pair of scis­sors and hacked off  bits of rub­ber until it seemed right.

Free, Yet Pro­tected Feet

The weather at Pin­na­cles was a lovely 60F degrees when I laced the huarache san­dals up and headed up the gravel path that wound up to the top of the vol­canic rock out­crop­pings that soared 2,000 feet over my head.

I walked for the first cou­ple hun­dred yards to get a feel for the san­dals. I loved the feel­ing of air on my feet and the ground beneath. It felt like I could feel every lit­tle rock beneath me as I walked which was great. Hav­ing run parts of this trail bare­foot before I knew how rough the vol­canic rocks were on even tough-soled feet. I felt as if I was as close as pos­si­ble to being bare­foot while still pro­tect­ing my skin against the cut­ting rock.

CIMG0059 thumb Invisible Shoes – First Attempt

Slip­ping Out

My hur­ried, rough cuts of the soles was good enough as the tips did not catch on the ground as I brought my feet for­ward in stride. How­ever, as I began up the grad­ual part of  the incline my heels began slip­ping off of the soles. I stopped a cou­ple of times to tighten the strings in an attempt to keep my heels in place.

CIMG0060 thumb Invisible Shoes – First AttemptWhile I didn’t enjoy the way gravel eas­ily got under my feet, I found it pretty easy to kick the offend­ing stones out as there are no sides on the san­dals. What comes in eas­ily goes out eas­ily in these sandals.

I decided to run a bit to deter­mine if the heel prob­lem was unique to walk­ing in the san­dals. Nope. Even after tight­en­ing the laces my heels slid off the back while I ran. Another prob­lem also pre­sented itself. My toes slipped out of the laces. Fig­ur­ing that this was a sign that the laces were still too lose I once again stopped. This time I sat down and com­pletely re-tied the laces, tight­en­ing the loops that go through the rub­ber soles as well. I remem­bered in the video that the string that goes between the toes should be kept in the mid­dle of the foot. I pulled, tugged, and tied until the san­dals were very snug around my feet, even cut­ting into my skin a bit.

CIMG0123 thumb Invisible Shoes – First AttemptThe prob­lems con­tin­ued. The san­dals seemed to have a mind of their own and wanted to be a dif­fer­ent posi­tion, result­ing in the rub­bing raw of the out­side of my index toe from the string, an exposed heel under­neath, and a hump of sole under my arch. After a cou­ple more adjust­ments I real­ize there was no way I could con­tinue with­out caus­ing seri­ous injury to my now red and raw toe. For­tu­nately, I had shoved my Vibram Five Fin­ger shoes into my pack.

I released my feet from the san­dals. Ahhh. They instantly felt bet­ter. I did the rest of the run – I hadn’t even made it to the top yet – in the VFFs.

I Must Suck at Knots

CIMG0124 thumb Invisible Shoes – First AttemptI was left in some pain and frus­trated. I had read a num­ber of pos­i­tive reviews of the Invis­i­ble Shoes – folks who run in them all the time and love them. What was I doing wrong, or not doing? All told I must have loosed and re-tied my san­dals 10 times. It’s not like I didn’t try.

Now that my toe has almost healed (I had to wear a band-aid for a cou­ple of weeks) I might give the shoes another try. Not with­out seek­ing more help and advice, though. Per­haps another option for tying the laces will work bet­ter. We’ll see.

Bot­tom Line

Once I got past fig­ur­ing out  how to tighten the san­dals, they felt quite good on my feet. That is, until I tried to walk or run in them. I learnt that it’s entirely pos­si­ble to cause a good amount of harm to your feet if you do not tie the san­dals cor­rectly. And who knows, maybe there isn’t even a way for me to wear the san­dals so they don’t hurt my feet. Either way, the Invis­i­ble Shoes huarache san­dals are likely to take a good deal of patience and trial and error. Oh, and some knot-tying skills wouldn’t hurt, either.

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  • Steven Sashen

    I guess after 14 months, I guess it’s about time we got our first bad review ;-)

    See­ing that you slipped off the heel, and see­ing that you slipped out from under the toe strap points to one sim­ple thing:

    You tied them incorrectly.

    (In fact, I can see some of the errors by look­ing at the pictures.)

    There’s really no way to expe­ri­ence any of the prob­lems you describe with cor­rect tying. And tying them cor­rectly doesn’t mean that they are tight in any way.

    I’m happy to take all the blame if you were unable to fol­low my video instruc­tions. Suf­fice it to say, I have 100% con­fi­dence that I can teach you to tie them cor­rectly over the phone, if you like.

    Give a call any time — 303.447.3100

    • Clyn­ton


      - Sent from my Palm Pre

  • Sock Run­ner

    Well, they do look good. But I can imag­ine how you ran with it, espe­cially when you men­tioned that “it had a life on its own” and when it kept on slip­ping from our toe. Maybe you just have to get used to it so you can run com­fort­ably with it, but I think that it looks bet­ter for every­day or casual footwear. :)

  • Vic­to­ria

    Well, it seems to me if you agree to test a prod­uct and have the lux­ury of tak­ing a few weeks before try­ing them, and the maker of the prod­uct goes to long lengths to make sure you know how to use it… um.. it is sort of WRONG to give “them” a bad review when “you” didn’t do what was nec­es­sary to do a proper test. Also, ANYONE knows that your feet get accus­tomed to what­ever your fave shoe is, and using a new pair of ANY kind of shoe is apt to give you blis­ters. I think, con­sid­er­ing you admit­tedly didn’t choose to fol­low direc­tions, and had never worn them before, a few days of wear­ing them around the house might have been the way to go. Sheash!

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