Hey... welcome to summer! It seems to finally have arrived, and for me in Colorado, it means a lot more barefooting and huarache sandal running!
For my first huarache review of the season, I am really excited to introduce the new Bio from Earth Runners. I love that I have been involved with Michael Dally at Earth Runners since the first Kickstarter campaign for the original Quantum, and later with the Circadian and Alpha. And with each iteration, the innovation and quality from Earth Runners has significantly improved.
This third Kickstarter project introduces the new Bio sandal, and wow, there are a lot of great things to say about these. But before I get into the review, you might want to check out the Kickstarter project by clicking HERE. The project ends on June 5, 2014! If you back the project, you will help Earth Runners move to a larger facility and start filling wholesale orders as well!
Ok.. so here we go. While I could take time to compare the Bio to the prior generations of Earth Runner sandals, it actually makes more sense to compare these to the Luna Leadville and Oso sandals that I have run in. They have much of the same feel, and the comparisons just kept popping to mind as I ran in these.
First of all, just a few specs on these sandals. The stack height is 10mm (compared to 11mm for the Luna's), and is comprised of a 3mm Tactile Mitosis tread, a 6mm EVA, and then topped with a 1mm Biotac foot bed. Weight wise, the Bios come in at just over 5 oz, lighter than the 7 oz Oso's, and just about the same as the 5 oz Leadvilles. The Bios have nylon straps which can be ordered plain, or with conductive fibers to allow you to ground via the copper stud on the bottom of the sandal. I know there is a lot of debate around grounding, so if you are a proponent, the conductive laces are $7 more, if not, no worries!
The feature that I really love most about the Bios is the "Biotac" foot bed. Much like the MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) on the Luna's, the Biotac provides exactly that...a tacky surface on the foot bed to help keep your feet connected to the sandal. Biotac is made from recycled car tires (which is really cool), and it performs amazingly well.
In my opinion, the Biotac is as good as the MGT on the Lunas in dry conditions, and outperforms it when wet. Actually, it seems that the Biotac performs best when either wet, or damp from sweating feet (yum). The only warning I have is that during your initial runs when new, the Biotac is going to leave some black residue on your feet. Not a big deal, and it get less with each run, but just an FYI before your spouse or significant other freaks at your dirty feet in the house! Also, the EVA midsole is allowing for some custom molding of the sandal to my feet, which I expect to get better over time (I have around 30 miles on these so far).
As far as ground feel and flexibility goes, the Bios literally fall directly in between the Luna Oso (firm), and the Leadville (more flexible). The stack height and flexibility of the Bios keeps them in the range for what I would consider a fair trade off for rugged terrain. You are not going to get the ground feel of a 6mm or less sandal, but you get enough feedback to negotiate trails with some decent protection against bad foot placement on rocky trails. The base traction is decent.. however not as grippy as either the Leadville or Oso, so that point goes to Luna.
Finally there is the strapping. The Bios introduce a slightly different way of threading the strap "racing style", which means bringing the cross over strap over the top of the toe strap and tucking it through to the locking clip. The other method is to not cross which makes the sandal a little more flexible, but not as secure. I like this method, and I really like the locking buckle a lot. I can make quick tension adjustments at any time without having to pull through a buckle etc. Once I have the strap tensions where I like them (toe, around the heel) I can then lock in the fit with the locking buckle and I'm good to go. Technically you could keep it a little looser for a slip on/slip off set up, but I find it is better to loosen the lever when putting them on, and then cinch them up for a solid stable fit for the trail. One last compare to the Lunas... the nylon straps on the Luna sandals are certainly softer, heavier, and have a nicer feel, however the softness requires different ways to help keep the heel strap on (rubberized surface, or elastic etc). While the Bio straps are rougher/stiffer, they also tend to hang on and stay in place a little better.
Also, just had to share my run in the Bios today.... I climbed up this
Which led to this......
So there you go... looking forward to a lot of great huarache trail running this summer! If you are interested in the Bios, I would recommend jumping on the Kickstarter deal... you can get a pair with non-conductive lacing for $65 (incl shipping). Later these will retail for $75 plus shipping, so this is a great opportunity. And, as always, if I've missed something or you have a question, feel free to leave a comment here or on Facebook, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org