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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Luna Equus Sandal Review
Some things just get better with age.
End of review...
Why did I put a picture of Demi Moore in my Luna Sandal review? No, I don't need to fulfill some sort of "cougars in bikinis" quota. Although I will look into acquiring such a quota. It would give purpose to my need to watch shows with Courtney Cox in them.
I did it to illustrate the point that some things get better with age. Remember St. Elmo's Fire?
She looks like she's about to audition for JEM and the Holograms. With age, she not only got the wisdom to dump the human cue ball Bruce Willis and go cradle-robbing for Kelso, but she also stopped playing mousy coke whores and turned into a smoking hot fox. Winning!
AFTER POST NOTE: I got some flack yesterday for calling Bruce a human cue ball. Let's be clear folks. I like it when dudes rock the bald. When Bruce Willis does it though, he looks like he's from another planet. Or at least like the lead singer from REM.
When I think about the products offered by Luna Sandals, I also think about better quality over time. Barefoot Ted puts a lot of time, effort, and thought into the materials he uses to make his products. And I think his products are very solid out of the box. But where they really shine is a few hundred miles down the line. I have at least 500 miles on my Original Lunas, and they work and fit better than ever. The neoprene sole of my Original Lunas has molded to my foot beautifully over time. And the suede of the leather footbed has broken down from the oils in my feet so that it's smooth and soft. They get better each time I wear them.
When the Equus Sandal was released several months ago, it was clear to me that Ted was trying to take this concept to a whole new level. This sandal, with its luxurous shell cordovan leather top, and equally luxurous price tag of $125, would be the Rolls Royce of huaraches. I also knew, like all products made out of fine leather, that this would be a product that would be best appreciated with age.
Immediately after removing these sandals from their packaging, it was clear to me that these sandals are unlike any other huarache on the market. As with all Luna products, the first thing I noticed was the exquisite craftsmanship of the sandal. Luna Sandals are already a cut above when it comes to quality; largely because Luna Sandals, even custom ones, are factory made. All of their sandals have crisp, clean lines and are cut to precise specifications. Even so, with even finer materials the Equus sandal seemed a step above that.
As with any Luna Sandal, you can buy the Equus as either a custom sandal, or in one of the standard sizes listed on the Luna website. I went with the standard size, because my standard Original Lunas fit me perfectly. However, in general I recommend that if a company offers a custom option that you go for it. Especially with a sandal this pricey, it's the best way to ensure a perfect fit.
Like all Luna products, the Equus also comes pre-laced with your choice of elasticized leather Equus laces. For those unfamiliar with the Equus lace, you can read my review here. The short version is this: this lace is fantastic, and the lace I primarily use on my Original Lunas. The Luna Sandal Company does recommend that you try your luck with their standard leather or hemp laces as well. You can get them with these sandals for an extra cost. As you'll see in a minute, despite my objections to these laces I actually think in this case it's a good idea.
What also sets these sandals apart is its construction. The sole of the sandal is made of 2mm Vibram Cherry, a thinner version of the soling material used in brands like Invisible Shoes. However, a majority of the sandal is constructed from a thin strip of shell cordovan leather. Shell cordovan is a leather that's used a lot during shoemaking, and is prized for its durability and longevity. The company states that this piece of leather is approximately 2mm thick. So the total thickness of the sandal is around 4mm. My pair is closer to 4.5mm.
One thing that these sandals are NOT right out of the box is flexible. This picture shows me bending the sandals as hard as I could while still being able to snap a picture.
In fact, when I first got these sandals I didn't much care for the shell cordovan leather top. I found it to be stiff, hard, and slippery. None of these are qualities that I like in a huarache. But I didn't pass judgment on the sandals immediately. I hoped these things would be like a baseball glove. In that case, you needed to work the leather until it was just right.
Comfort and Feel
So to get a real feel for these sandals I wore them a lot. I've pretty much wore them everywhere for the past month and a half. And I was right. These sandals really do get better with age. A lot better.
As with the Original Luna, the reason that these sandals get better with age is because they mold to your foot. But this process is a little different with the Equus. For one, it doesn't seem to be as extreme. Whereas the entire neoprene sole of the Original Luna will fold inward on itself around the shape of your foot, the Equus seems to be stiff enough to retain its original shape for the most part. However, the leather footbed will indent slightly as the oils in your foot break it down. As it does this, the leather will become softer, more flexible, and less slippery.
The possibilities. My well-worn Original Lunas next to my Equus sandals after only a few days wear.
The result is a sandal that is exceptionally comfortable, but again for different reasons. I love that the neoprene sole of the Original Luna wraps around my foot so much that it becomes almost an extension of my foot. I don't get that feeling with the stiffer sole of the Equus. However, the feel of the shell cordovan on my foot blows the suede top of my Original Lunas right out of the water. It is a truely luxurious experience.
Despite getting more flexible over time, I doubt that the Equus will ever be comparable to other 4mm huaraches like Unshoes or Invisible Shoes. These sandals are like wet noodles when flexed. The leather top on the Equus isn't even in the same ballpark. Then again...the sandal is mostly leather. It's designed with other important qualities in mind, like toughness. I have a feeling these sandals will last forever.
I actually haven't done a lot of running in these sandals. I joked with the folks at Luna that they were "too pretty to run in". Now they assured me that these sandals can stand up to any abuse, and I believe them. I've never seen better construction in a commercially-made huarache. But the concern still remained for me. I think my fear is almost the same as for someone who didn't get these things as swag. If you just dropped $125 on a pair of sandals, and they looked this good, you wouldn't want to get them all scuffed up either.
It was that, and the fact that I just really didn't enjoy running in them as much as I did walking and hanging around in them. That had a lot to do with their stiffness. Even though they've become more flexible over time, they still feel a bit like I'm running with plywood strapped to my feet. Not that they don't have good groundfeel. I was pleasantly surprised with that aspect, probably because they are so thin. But while running in them I always felt like I was slapping the ground.
Not that this inflexibility is all bad. This stiffness lends itself very well to running trails, particularly rough ones. I actually took this picture after several miles on nasty, sharp rock trails. I could barely feel the rocks beneath my feet. I'm pretty sure these are the only sandals I own that could have handled this trail.
If you do use these sandals on the trail, I suggest you do as I do and switch back to traditional laces. The Equus lace combined with the slightly more slippery shell cordovan footbed on these sandals makes for a somewhat unstable ride. The traditional laces help keep your feet from sliding around as much.
Yikes! At $125, the Equus is by far the most expensive huarache on the market today. Now I'm usually the first person to criticize The Luna Sandal Company for its prices. With this sandal, the price tag is somewhat understandable. Shell cordovan leather is a very pricey material. Probably more than any other huarache in the Luna lineup, the price of this sandal is in line with what you actually get.
I think these sandals are an investment, in that they are a superior quality product that will last the test of time. Nice things cost money. But I also think for most people, the price tag will be a deal breaker. And it probably should be. Unless you are seriously into minimal shoes, and are looking to expand your collection with some real quality products, you probably don't need to buy these things. There are other huaraches that will serve your needs just fine. You are paying luxury prices here to get a luxury product.
The Equus Sandal really is the first luxury huarache on the market. For luxury prices, you get a luxury product. Just as if you bought a Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce, you can expect the same superior craftsmanship. I would compare the Equus Sandal to a Birkenstock. Birkenstocks are arguably the highest quality casual sandals on the market. They possess superior comfort and durability. If you want that same quality in a huarache, this is the one and only product for you.
That being said, if you don't need a luxury sandal, don't get them. There are plenty of other products out there that will serve your purposes just fine. Also, if you're looking for an all-around running sandal, I think that Luna has better options. I think this sandal is best used as a trail running sandal if used for running at all. But as a casual sandal, these are top notch.
Cheers sandal wearers!