I just have to say, those "Sharks" on the ABC Show "Shark Tank" totally missed the boat last Spring when they turned down a great offer from Steven and Lena of Xero Shoes. If you missed the episode, feel free to watch it right here below... but continue reading afterwards for my review of their latest offering and a chance to win a pair for yourself!
So... the Sharks missed out on benefiting from some great new products coming out from Xero Shoes, and in particular, the Sensori Venture huarache that was just released.
Ok.. if you aren't familiar with Xero Shoes (Formerly known as Invisible Shoes), they are a great company out of Boulder CO that make some really terrific running huaraches. The Invisible Shoes 6mm Connects were the first minimalist shoe I ever ran in... I did a review on them after they switched names, but basically it's the same sandal and you can read the review by clicking HERE.
I am so happy to finally be able to run a review on these, as I was fortunate to run in several iterations of this sandal over the last 6+ months as part of the wear testing/usability process. But I couldn't say anything!! AND... stay tuned for some more cool stuff from Xero Shoes.. in particular if you want to run in cold weather/snow in your huaraches.... doh! I've said too much already... :-)
The Contacts and Connects are terrific sandals (4mm and 6mm) and I know a lot of folks that have racked up some serious mileage in them. Speaking of which, Xero Shoes provides a 5,000 mile warranty on their proprietary soles!
Ok.. before I tell you what's new, I can let you know what hasn't changed. As I noted, the proprietary sole material produced by Xero Shoes is the same, as well as the sizing and shape. The tread pattern is the same as well, however the Sensori Venture comes in a 5.5mm thickness. While I like the 4mm Contacts, a sandal that is closer to 6mm provides a better sweet spot (in my opinion) between protection and ground feel/feedback.
So what's NEW? Check this out:
First: No more knot to tie, melt, and worry about wearing out! The Sensori Venture features a counter sunk rubber toe post that should last as long as the sole. Big plus here...
Here is the other side of the toe post... comprised of a comfortable flexible rubber.
Second: Pre-tied lacing! While I love learning different ways to tie loose corded huaraches, I generally end up dialing in the best fit I can, and then leaving them alone. These arrived almost exactly as I needed them.. took about 30 sec of and adjustment and done! The Sensori Venture comes pre-laced with dual-corded lacing and easy to fit adjusters on each side. Also note the two-tone color scheme.. pretty sweet :-)
Third: Heel cup and silicon achilles strap. I really like the silicone strap/tube as it is really comfortable and keeps the heel strap from slipping. The heel cup is ok... the intent was to keep out debris etc, but I think it really just adds more to the looks. I don't have any issues with my heel slipping out or off in any of my huaraches. In this case, I would have preferred a similar cup or ridge on the FRONT of the sandal to assist with steep downhills....
Finally: I really like the design of the side supports for the lacing. It's been moved out and up from the sole to prevent any rubbing and I imagine may extend the life of the lacing hole at these points.
So, how do they feel? From a running perspective, I feel that all of the positives from the original Connects carries over to the Venture. The foot bed traction, ground feel, and flexibility is terrific. It did take me a little bit to get used to the toe post as it rubbed a little funny at first, but after a few minor adjustments and a few more miles in them, I've gotten used to the feel. These still run a bit heavy compared to comparable soles on my other huaraches, but its a minor trade off as I know this rubber will wear much longer, and they are not any heavier than the 6mm Connects.
So.. how do you get your hands on some of these? You can click on the Xero Shoes banner up at the top left of this post to check them out. They retail for $39.99 which still places these at the lower end of the pricing range for good running huaraches. OR... yes, you know what's coming next. Enter to win! Steven was kind enough to provide a pair of Sensori Ventures to a lucky Barefoot Inclined reader. Enter via the Rafflecopter thingy below... and good luck!
Contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Contest will run until 10PM MST, Tuesday November 19th, 2013.