|Luna Leadvilles w/Monkey Grip Technology!|
Ok.. I have to admit that the first time I heard "Monkey Grip Technology", my first thought was "Kung fu grip!"
Back to the review.. recently I was provided the opportunity to test and review the Luna Leadvilles from Luna Sandals. As you may know, Luna was started by Barefoot Ted McDonald (of Born to Run fame). So, if you've read the book, you understand that a lot of though has gone into the Luna Sandal product line.
The models available include the Original Luna, Leadville, and Leadville Pacer. The Leadville is slightly thicker than the Leadville Pacer (11mm versus 9mm), but otherwise have similar features. I chose the Leadville to review, as I wanted to try the sandal that Barefoot Ted tackled the famed Leadville 100 Trail Race with in 2010.
The sandals come with a choice of traditional leather laces, elasticized laces (for easy on and off), or the ATS (all terrain strap). The ATS is the best fit for trail running, so I tested that lacing version. As you can see above, it is a pretty substantial strap, that includes an elastic heel strap to help keep the strap in place and to allow a nice snug fit. Also, the straps kind of do a crossover on the foot with an buckle that can slide forward and back, and then cinch down. I like the extra loop to keep the extra strap down after adjusting.
The Vibram soles are pretty flexible, considering the thickness, and have a soft feel to them. As opposed to some of the thinner Vibram soles (on the Bedrock Sandals, or Runamoc's), these are certainly softer over all, so I'm curious as to how quickly they may wear.
|Vibram sole with countersunk plug for the toe strap|
|Vegan elasticized heel strap|
Ok... by now I know you are dying to know more about the Kung.. I mean Monkey Grip Technology (MGT)! Instead of a "naked" top sandal, or a leather foot bed, MGT is a 1mm rubber surface on top designed to enhance foot traction and durability.
Ok sorry... ever since I titled this post I've been wanting to watch this video... wow.. 1982.. remember when MTV played videos? ugh.. waxing nostalgic and distracted once again.
Here is a close up of the surface. The 1mm layer adds some really nice tackiness to the foot bed... something I really appreciate, especially running down hill.
So... the big question is.. how do the Leadvilles perform? Overall, as a trail running huarache I thought they were pretty exceptional. Granted, keep in mind that with 11mm between your foot and the ground, proprioception is certainly muted... but so are those nasty jagged rocks! As I've mentioned before, minimalist trail runners have to find that sweet spot of trading off ground feel for protection that works specifically for them. And yes, Ken Bob, if by chance you are reading this... first, why are you reading a shoe review? You don't need shoes! And second, yes, I understand barefoot is best... and I will work on it.. promise :-).
As fall has certainly arrived here in Colorado (snowed already), I've done several runs pairing Injinji's with the Leadvilles... worked out great... traction was excellent and kept my toes just a tad bit warmer.
If you are looking for an industrial strength trail running huarache, the Luna Leadvilles are a great choice. Especially if you are more focused on a heavy duty huarache that may carry you more miles (maybe even 100!).
So, what are the downsides? As far as quality, construction, and features go, these are the Rolls Royce of huaraches. And like a Rolls, the downside is that they are positioned near or at the top of the price range for sandals. The Leadvilles (as reviewed), will set you back $100 ($85 sandal, $15 for ATS lace system). What remains to be seen is how much mileage you can get out of these.. I only have around 50 on them so far, so will be interesting to see if there are any wear issues... if so, I'll update the review down the road... or trail.. :-)
What experience have you had with any of the Luna models?