Vibram Five Finger shoes vs. Huaraches Running Sandals

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running Shoes, Huaraches | Posted on 29-07-2010

Many people wear the Vibram Five Fingers shoe for minimalist running… how does it stack up against the huarache running sandal?

Well, this video has some of my thoughts about the two.


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There are (39) Comments for the Vibram Five Finger shoes vs. Huaraches Running Sandals

  1. Great review!

    I also have morton’s toe (short first toe!) so I definitely understand where you’re coming from with the VFFs. I recently got a smaller pair and plan on modifying the toe, but I just wish they had a more optimal option for people with toes like us.

    So while I do agree with your points, I also think VFFs have their uses. I like to use mine at the gym so that I have better protection, but I have to wear injiji socks so that my feet don’t get too smelly. ;) The “dry fit” material helps wick away the moisture, so that pretty much prevents the problem. VFFs are also washable in case they develop an odor (especially if you wear them with no socks, which I tend to do.)

    Also, if you’re in an area that gets colder during parts of the year (I’m in Connecticut, so we get some nice snowy days up here), you really can’t wear huaraches if you’re going to be trudging around in the snow, getting your feet wet – frost bite would be terrible! Although I haven’t tried them yet, it looks like Soft Star moccassins makes barefoot alternative winter wear, which could be a great option.

    So while every good thing has its pros and cons, there’s definitely a time and place for every shoe. ;)

    Again, well done video. Keep up the good work!

  2. I enjoyed your comparison of the huarache vs. the Vibram (pronounced vee-brim by the way) FiveFingers. I currently train either barefoot or in Vibram Sprints depending on the terrain. I’ve considered the huaraches and will probably try them at some point. Thanks for the insights. :-)

  3. I know it’s “vee-bram”… but, boy, do people think you’re a dork when you say it that way. It’s the same with Teva sandals (tay-va, not tee-va)

  4. Totally agree with you, Steven. I have three pairs of your huaraches (blue, black, and yellow laces) that I wear as much as I can, because I love them! I do about half my running in my huaraches, on trails; the rest I do on the road in Nike Free’s (haven’t quite gotten to running on the road in them yet). I also wear my huaraches for all my everyday outside activities other than running as much as I can.
    I am also an ex-Vibram Fivefingers, because they confine my feet too much.
    And one more thing–the way you, Steven, figured out the slip-on lacing style, makes them easy to wear and very stylish!
    I love my huaraches!!
    Check out the video on my blog “Withlacoochee Forest for my birthday” June 29 post.

  5. i just went on a river rafting/rock climbing trip and i only took my huaraches when it came to foot wear. these little sandals held up like champions. i had to modify them a little bit in order to swim and hike thru water with them, but that was really simple. i punched 3 more hole in the ball of the foot area. 2 holes on the inside and one hole on hte outside, and then i took some string and laced them through in a “z” like fashion. the sandals held up great and even worked when i climbed the hardest rock on the trip.

    however, my buddy had a pair of vibrums and i will say they also worked great, they do have a very specific foot type which is a down side, but they also wokr very well for hiking and climbing. and they are machine washable so smell isnt an issue. they still are very expensive. and depending on which type of vibrum you get can feel very confined on your feet.

  6. Interesting that you mention the Morton’s foot issue with VFF. I started my barefoot experiment in VFF, but have hit a limit of about 3.5-4 miles when my left 2nd metatarsal head begins to hurt intensely. The pain doesn’t last through the day, walking around and I can run two days later without it hurting until I hit that distance. I’m wondering if it’s related to the ill fit on my Morton’s toe or just an underdeveloped fat pad for that distance. Have you heard any other similar reports from people?


  7. I’m guessing fit, since it’s unlikely that your 2nd toe is getting more force/friction on it than your others naturally.

  8. Billy,

    Please post photos of your modifications!

  9. I have some VFFs that I wear with injinji socks great for bouldering (the siping creates amazing grip). However I am trying to run in them and am having a great deal of achilles and gastrocnemius muscle pain after. Is this because of forefoot running and springing off or will this bet better as I get used to it?

  10. Hi Tim,

    Pain is always a sign that you’ve been doing something wrong. The “lesson” is “TRY something different,” “Try to find something that doesn’t hurt, rather than pushing through the pain, or hoping it’ll go away, or hoping you’ll get stronger/used to it.”

    Without seeing you run, it’s hard to say, but the odds are that it’s because you’re trying to spend too much time on your forefoot, rather than letting your forefoot contact the ground, then letting your heel/foot drop to the ground (which loads the arch), then LIFTING the foot off the ground. The odds are pretty good that your knees need to be softer, too.

    I say “the odds are” because these 2 corrections are the most common.

    Oh, the third is, “even though you may not feel like you are, you’re overstriding — putting your foot in front of your body too much, rather than under you more.”

    If you just know those 3 things, you can usually coach most runners ;-)

    OR, it could be the amount of distance you’re doing at first… even with good form, if you do too much too soon, you’ll get some pain

  11. I am seriously considering getting these as I am an ex-running enthusiast who was told many years ago (by my doctor) to stop running after I injured my knee. No sport ever enticed me as much as running did so I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should.

    My current problem is that I live in Chicago and obviously we have all kinds of weather. Do your sandals work well on a treadmill?

  12. Hi Karen,

    People wear Invisible Shoes on every surface I can think of — from underwater to 100m trail runs. I actually just had mine on a treadmill the other day (doing video analysis of my running).

  13. Steve, what do you mean by lowering your center of gravity, when running down hill, could you explain this a little further, I don’t understand what you are saying.
    Thanks, Ward

  14. Hi Ward.

    Where did I mention lowering your center of gravity when running down hill? I can’t remember the reference, so I can’t answer your question yet.


  15. My second and third toes are webbed on both feet, so wearing the Vibram Five Fingers has never been an option for me. Anyone in my position knows that the Five Fingers aren’t worth very much.

  16. I Love my Invisible Shoes, My VFFs and my Lunas but I love my bare feet the most calluses and all. I use each for specific activities one thing I would recommend to people with VFF problems try taking them into a sauna or steam room a few times they’ll kinda stretch and conform to your feet. If your getting pain in VFF or Shoes go back to square one shorten time and length of run and to bare foot or invisible shoes to train form.

    Doctors told me I wasn’t meant to run, they were right. They just forgot to mention i wasn’t meant to run in shoes. :)

  17. PS. That smell on the VFFs febreeze sport 3 sprays each shoe and regular washing or rinsing will take care of that. I’ve seen some mods were they remoe the padding and replace with uhpolstery grade leather helps with the smell and the “extra” padding. Think I just may do that do my next invisible shoes make um a bit snazzy.

  18. I will use both come summer in Chicago. My Vibrams are used primarly for hiking, climbing over fallen trees and on wet rocks is totally awesome. Can’t wait for running with the Huaraches!

  19. I’m about to make my very first pair of huaraches; I got a kit for everyone in my family for Christmas. I doubt I’ll be able to wear them much until the weather warms.

    I have VFFs and love them. I have the black leather KSO Treks. I can get away with them at work (I’m a public school teacher), but not so with huaraches. Also, the smell is easily controlled with an occasional hand wash and dry plus regular shoe powder. I’ve been wearing them pretty much non-stop since early Oct. 2010 and foot powder’s done it. I imagine if and when they need a wash I’ll just wear them in the shower.

    Happy 2011 Steven and thanks for such a great site and product!


  20. I agree entirely, Steven! VFFs are good, but they don’t compare at all to minimalist huaraches. In fact, I like my Invisible Shoe huaraches that, since getting them, I haven’t even looked my two pairs of VFFs, much less run in them.

  21. I thought this was a great video. I am on my third pair of Viram FiveFingers and they do attract a smell. That is why I only wear them when I have to, like at work. I try to be barefoot as often as possible, but I am going to make some huaraches because gravel still hurts a little bit when totaly barefoot.

  22. another poor fit issue with the VFF is large foot volume / really wide feet… sigh.
    but still, I have to wait for summer to come back around until I can try sandals.

  23. I like very much your invisible shoe and I will order them soon, even if I am very far (Italy) and I don’t know if taxes will apply for customs (and so raise the price of the VAT and of the courier fee).
    I’d definitively walk only with them, if I had a better climate here :) for me it’s possible to wear sandals only in Summer: that’s the only reason why I should buy 5fingers or barefoot shoes instead.

  24. Vale, check out the post I did about barefoot running in the winter

  25. I heard that you are not even supposed to race in vibram five fingers that they are more of a training tool

  26. With VFF it was a struggle to get my toes in the right place and my feet sweat. My huaraches are great. Used them this winter. With foam vibram you have good isolation, even on cold frozen roads. Massive vibram has less isolation. Rain, mud, sand, a thin layer of snow are no problem, but a thin layer of ice cuts your feet. I now use my invisible shoes for hiking. Feels a lot better then heavy expensive shoes.
    And…do’nt forget the social contacts when walking on invisible shoes. Many people ask ,many do not understand why, but you have a nice talk.

  27. I’m not a runner, but I’ve always gone barefoot wherever I could from childhood to adult. I got a pair of Vibrams first and I liked feeling like I had a glove on my foot, but it did not feel like I was going barefoot. Especially when grass and weeds would get wedged between the toes! I also have a very long second toe (almost the same length of my pinkie finger) so it would be crunched in my vibrams. I can bend my toes at the knuckles and noticed when I run, they really spread out which is inhibited by regular shoes or even my Vibrams. So I got a pair of huraches and I thought it was very similiar to going barefoot. My friends laugh at me though because they say I am ‘clopping’ when I jog in them, but I am sure I just have a crappy jogging technique. Overall, it is the closest I have found to a barefoot fit.

  28. Last week Merrel rep come to running store to test Merrell shoe… I have 5 Finger for almost year. So far… I like Merrell shoe better than 5 Finger. Because 5 Finger’s bottom is hard and thick… Merrell is less.

    Hey is your 6mm hard and thick feeling?

  29. The 6mm Contact does not “feel thick”… it still has good ground feel, but obviously less than the 4mm Connect. And it’s still quite flexible.

  30. I have Merrel Trail Gloves and 6mm Contact Invisible Shoes. The Trail Gloves have significantly LESS feel than the 6mm Invisible Shoes.

  31. I’ve found the 4MM’s feel better than everything else. The 6′s seem just heavy enough to put more leverage on the lacing than I want at longer distances.

    I’m nearing 100% of my running time either in huaraches (baretoed) or barefoot. With my running shoes wittled down to New Balance XC flats and NB Minimus trail shoes in 2E width, I’m finding I prefer walking in the trail shoes best. The flats have a “rock guard” that is too stiff and blocks out too much.

    I have the Merrell Trail glove in leather to wear to places inappropriate for baretoes or flats. Regular shoes don’t feel right now. Even my Birkenstocks are collecting dust this year!

  32. I have the VFF KSO’s and at first they were great. I thought I had fairly good ground response. Until one day on a longer run I felt like I was getting a rub on top of my foot. The shoes had gotten wet since I was running on the beach. Needless to say the pain had gotten so bad I had to take them off and finish my run barefoot which wasn’t too bad but, the shoes had given me such a bad blister it took almost a week for my feet to heal. I since emailed the company several times to tell them to remove the company logo off of the toe area of the shoe. I can see where the invisible huaraches would have no problem with a logo on the toe unless I drew one directly on my foot with a Sharpe pen. Hmm now there is an marketing idea…

  33. I sent a number of emails to the Vibram Five Fingers company about the “VIBRAM LOGO” being on the top front of the shoe. They caused me on numerous occasions to get blisters. I eventually had to take a thread puller and cut the logo off of the shoe. They still rub on other parts of the shoe as well. I can’t use them to run in anymore. I will be buying the Huaraches soon. I only wear them to lounge in once in a while. They do smell too, I wash mine regularly and they still reek.

  34. I totally agree with you, only I want to be able to walk/run barefoot in winter too, so that’d be hard (or COLD!) in hurraches. In summer though, I think those’d be better.
    I want to visit a store still, to actually feel te FF’s and see how supple/supporting they are. So I’m still in doubt…

  35. I have three pair of Vibrams & have been wearing them for about a year before I just got my new invisible shoes. I’m barefoot most of the time, when I have to wear shoe I have been wearing the Vibrams. No longer, now it is invisible shoes

    I like my new invisible shoes way better than Vibrams, much more like barefeet, far more cleanable.

  36. Plus for Huaraches – VFFs are a bigger production to put on esp. with Injini socks (a must to keep down odor).

    A minus for Huaraches – harder to be stealthy versus VFFs or barefoot. Steady flap flap flap is noticed in group runs or on a treadmill. Technique issue?

  37. Cwanda… check out (so, yes, it is technique ;-) )

  38. I’m an ex-Five Finger wearer for running since I’ve bought the Xero Shoe. I now run in Xero Shoes on day one and for day two in a modified dime store flip flop that I’ve cut out the original strap and laced in a Huarache style slip in pattern using the original holes adding a heel strap with nylon like the Xero Shoe. Yes the Xero Shoe hurts… Only when I run incorrectly and lazily which is the point like when running barefoot! They feel… BAREFOOT! My Five Fingers did not feel barefoot enough and allowed me to run too far, too hard and too late and I was getting injured. Also the Huarache Sandal works amazingly well for rain running which I just found out today wearing toe socks and at the end of my 4 1/2 mile run I just rinsed the sandals off in the tub. Easy! Thanks for making a running sandal that gives proper barefoot feedback keeping me in true running form.

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