Monday, May 13, 2013

You're Grounded! I mean it! Earth Runners Circadian and Alpha Sandal Review



I'm sure a number of you have heard "you're grounded!" from your mom at one time or another.  But, in the spirit of celebrating Mother's day yesterday, let's take that as good thing to hear!

As you may know, Earth Runners is a terrific sandal company launched last year, and they make high quality grounding huaraches sandals which are terrific to run in.   Last October, as part of their Kickstarter launch, I reviewed the Quantum sandal, and you can read that review here.

http://www.earthrunners.com/

What makes Earth Runners unique? Well, besides producing a quality performing sandal, they also incorporate features which allows you to ground yourself with the earth.  I don't know a lot about grounding, or earthing, but I'm sure there are benefits.  I mean, it truly feels good to go barefoot outside, that's for sure.  If you are interested, a brief discussion of the benefits of grounding can be found here, or just message the folks at Earth Runners!

Now, the exciting news is that Earth Runners just launched a new Kickstarter project to fund equipment needed to produce two new models, the Circadian and Alpha.  Check out the video below for their project:



As you can see, the Earth Runner's team has been hard at work developing a more technologically refined running sandal that also keeps you grounded. I was really excited to see what was in store as I've been providing feedback to Michael at Earth Runners about what I like and dislike about different huaraches.. how did they do meeting my needs? ( not that it's all about me but.. :-)  )



First off all, let me give you my impressions of the Circadian model.  The circadian utilizes a 6mm Vibram sole. The material and tread pattern are very similar to the Bedrock Earthquakes, and the sole on the RunAmoc Dash Lites.  I really like this particular sole due to its light weight, and balance of proprioception and protection on the trail. For me, 6mm seems to be the sweet spot for trail running in huaraches.




What is unique about the Earth Runner version is that it has been slightly molded, or shaped, around the edges as you can see in the photo's.  Some of this happens naturally over time, but I really like the way they have been pre-molded.  What I liked about the Quantum model release last year was the curved edges of the sandal, and in particular in the toe area.  I found that this shaping helped to relieve much of the strap strain between the toes going down hill by allowing your toes to gain some purchase against the front of the sandal.










Both the Circadian and Alpha are available with a naked foot bed, or a sueded version.  The Circadians I ran in were naked, which kept them at the 6mm thickness but also boast some incredible traction in the foot bed, even when wet.  I was really impressed with the traction of my foot against the bed in some steeper trail down hill sections.  This traction combined with the molded sole took a lot of pressure off the toe strap.

Speaking of the strap, this is one of the biggest changes over prior models.  No longer are you standing on 4 or 5 copper studs to get grounded.  Instead grounding comes through the single copper stud in the toe post and is transferred via the conductive lacing to your foot (Conductive laces are an option).  Pretty slick!



Otherwise, the nylon lacing system is similar to past models with the side mounted, lever action locking clip for adjustment.



Now, the Alpha model is based on a 10mm Birkenstock sole (reminds me of the old days in Seattle... wearing my Birks with socks and shorts!). This beefier sole can be ordered with a naked bed, or with a sueded foot bed as shown above.  Conductive lacing is also an option.  These soles are also molded, even more so than the Circadians.


Here is the Birk tread pattern, and the conductive copper stud in the toe post that grounds you via the conductive lacing.

I enjoyed running in the Alpha's as well, but not as much as I did in the Circadian's.  Much like the Luna Leadvilles, the Alpha's provide a muted ground feel due to the thickness of the sole, but that is the trade-off for greater protection from nasty trails, or if you prefer a little more cushion over the long haul.  I have not trail run more than 10 miles in any huarache, so I can't say what my preference would be for a really long run.. guess I need to get out there!





As for the sueded foot bed.... it's really comfortable!  But... for running, I would stick to the naked bed option. While the suede is comfortable, I didn't get the same traction as I did with the straight rubber foot bed.  However, for a comfortably casual sandal, these are amazing! I've taken to wearing them around on the day after I've run barefoot a long way, as my feet tend to be a bit tender.  The soft suede is really nice under foot for those days.   Also, they make terrific bike riding sandals!














Obviously, the thicker Alpha is a bit less flexible over the Circadian on the right, but both are pretty decent, and have also begun to custom mold to my foot pattern.





The ONLY issue I had with these sandals was that it took a little bit of adjusting of the straps to find the right fit, but that is common with most running huaraches.  Part of the issue is that the strap coming across the foot from the toe is at a bit more of an angle than many lacing or strapping systems because the locking adjuster sits just above and in front of the ankle, rather than mid foot.  I noticed this difference in angle (similar to the Luna's), and it took a few runs to get accustomed to it.  Also, it really bothered me on the Alpha's at first, but thanks to advice from Michael at Earth Runners, it was simply a matter of pulling the toe post out of the base, and twisting the strap to a better angle (matched it to the Circadians), to relieve the pressure I was feeling... problem solved!! Oh, and the only other minor issue is that the copper points that touch your feet will leave a little gray spot that washes off.... at first I thought they were little bruises!!



So, the bottom line is, if you are looking for a way to stay grounded, but not always run barefoot, these Earth Runners are a great solution!

Now a quick note about pricing.  As far as running huaraches go, these Earth Runners are priced in the mid to upper middle range. Both the Circadian and Alpha are the same price and include the same options noted below:

The base price for a standard size sandal with nylon laces (non-conductive) and no bedding: $55

Add conductive laces: +$7
Add Leather Laces: +$10
Add Leather bedding: +$10
Add Conductive inserts +$14 *this will not be available on the Alphas
Custom sandal via foot trace: +$10

BUT...  while the Kickstarter project is running, you can get 20% or more off these prices by backing the project before 6/2/13.  Click HERE to see the Kickstarter options.

Thanks again for tuning in to another lengthy review... trust me, I tried to shorten it up! But I could talk about huaraches all day :-).   As always, if you have questions, comments, or if I missed anything, let me know!

Woops... almost forgot the pre-requisite Pikes Peak shot!  Here you go



Happy trails!

Jeff
http://barefootinclined.com


5 comments:

Mamarunsbarefoot said...

Hmmm those look pretty sweet! I just ordered my new Luna's though :/

Daniel Ericsson said...

I back these on kickstarter. From your review, are the Circadian better for running and Birkenstock better for casual? I'm considering 1 of each as I want a pair of casual and a running pair. My summer flip flops are the nike ones, but while their soles are amazing (for the most part) I have to buy a new pair every summer. Plus they don't fit as securely. :/

Jeff Gallup said...

Hi Daniel,

Personally, I like the Circadian for running, but I like a more flexible sandal with good feedback (much like barefoot). And the Alpha is an awesome casual sandal. But you can run in them as well. If you run in the Alpha, I would not get the leather foot bed.. if you are going casual (and aren't going to be getting them wet all the time), I would get the leather footbed as it is really comfortable!

Jeff

Anonymous said...

I am a former "California Girl" and the name "Huarache's" caught my eye. The literal translation of huarache's are woven leather sandals. I wore them in the 80's and your sandals look NOTHING like huarache's, although they are very cool.
It might be a consideration to change the descriptive name, which is incorrect.
On another note, I saw your yaktrax snow/ice "crampon's" on t.v., and with all the snow we get here (especially right now) in the Midwest, I have put them on my Facebook page. GREAT idea!! I am definitely going to order some right now. (Just thought I'd let you know about the huarache thing. Being a Beach Boys fan from their early days, those are Definitely not huaraches, and a "Woody" is not what kids today think it is, either...)

Jeff Gallup said...

In that sense, no, not the same huarache. But instead modeled after the Tarahumara huarache foot covering, used for running. In the BF/Minimalist environment, huarache is generally interchangeable with sandal (for running). And yes, the Yaktrax are awesome! Stay warm.. :-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huarache_(running_shoe)

http://www.stevenrobbinsmd.com/minimalist-shoes/footwear---historical-perspective

Jeff