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Running Sandals for Men and Women

“The Best Running Sandal Your Feet Will Ever Love”

What are running sandals?

What if the best running shoes you could possibly wear aren’t shoes at all but running sandals instead? Now, I know some people hear that and they think, “Can you actually run in a sandal?” Well, the answer is yes, but maybe not in the sandals that you’re thinking of. See, if you’re thinking of a flip-flop, it’s not a good idea to run in those. In fact, they’re not even great for walking. Or, if you’re thinking of a big, thick sport sandal, those are also not great for running.

The History of Footwear

Before I show you what is a great running sandal, let’s just talk about the history of footwear. Sandals are mankind’s first footwear, mankind’s favorite footwear since about 15,000 BC, and pretty much the only option that you had until just a couple of hundred years ago. If you travel around the world and find indigenous tribes, you’ll still find people running in sandals. If you go to Australia, you will find the aborigines often barefoot, but also often in sandals and they will hike, run, walk, everything. They live in them. If you go to Africa, same thing.

If you go to the Copper Canyon of Mexico, you’ll find the Tarahumara Indians who are running in what they refer to as a huarache sandal. Huarache is just the Spanish word for sandal. So they make these with leather on the top and used tires on the bottom with a leather strap. Now, it’s an amazing thing to realize that all you need to hold something securely on your foot, is a three-point construction — something that wraps around your heel, something that holds onto both sides of your ankle, and something around the toes.

Traditional Huarache

But you’re not going to have to necessarily run in these. There’s a lot of evolution of the running sandal since the Tarahumara started wearing these a while ago. For example, from Xero Shoes, the Genesis, similar idea that three-point design, but a much easier lacing system and much lighter, much more flexible. You can actually make your own running sandals with a do-it-yourself kit where you get the sole that’s right for you, laces in a color that you want, and a bunch of instructions on different ways you can tie those. You can also run in a sport sandal from Xero Shoes that’s ultra-lightweight. Or our Z-Trek, really flexible, really lightweight, perfect for running.

3 Point construction ensures snug fit while walking or running
Our Z-Style strapping provides a more traditional sport sandal look & security

All you need for a good running sandal is the right amount of protection and a way to hold it on your foot that feels safe and secure. That’s it. So in the videos that follow this on the page, you’re going to hear a whole lot more about how you can run in sandals enjoyably, safely, so you can feel the freedom, feel the fun, and feel the world.


Some people ask about the safety of running sandals. Is it safe to go for a run in a sandal? Well, let’s talk about shoes first. Fifty percent of runners and 80% of marathoners get injured every year. So what are we comparing to? The only thing that we have to do is beat the horrible performance and safety reporting of shoes to answer that question.

Now, when people think about safety, they’re usually thinking of one of two things. First, what about things poking you, you know, protecting you from the ground? Again, people will often think about flip-flops, which is an inappropriate comparison. All I can tell you is there are a lot of options including our Z-Trail sandal, our sport sandal, that give you a great amount of protection. Arguably the perfect amount of protection while still letting you feel the ground. You want to actually feel something. There are more nerve endings on the bottom of your feet, on the soles of your feet than anywhere but your fingertips and your lips, and that’s not an accident. You’re supposed to feel things. It’s good for your balance. It’s good for your agility. You don’t want to get rid of all that feeling. You just want the right amount of protection.

Some people ask about the safety having to do with having your foot being nice and free. Now look, I’ll admit, if you’re out on a trail or somewhere where there’s lots of brush that could be scraping against your feet, shoes may be appropriate or, frankly, just a pair of socks with a sandal. I know that’s not a great fashion statement but, if you want to experience the fun and freedom of sandals, that’s one way of doing that while protecting your feet from the brush that you might be on on trails.

But the other one, sometimes people will go to a gym and the gym will say, “Well, you can’t be in here in sandals. You need a covered shoe.” And now my question is, “Tell me how it is that that fraction of a millimeter of nylon is offering any protection if you’re going to drop a weight on your foot.” It’s not.

Suffice it to say, we have thousands of runners who have put millions of miles on their Xero Shoes enjoyably, safely, and quickly too. We’ve got a lot of people who set personal bests while running in sandals. So, more about that in a bit. Until then, just rest assured safety is not an issue.