Welcome to the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy!

For the latest in barefoot and minimalist running advice, news, and product reviews, subscribe or follow me at one of the links below! Cheers citizens!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Branca Barefoot Leather Sandals Giveaway and Discount!

Branca Barefoot

Citizens, the commercial huarache market is exploding.  Not only do you have several different companies to choose from, the companies themselves are expanding their line-up based on customer needs.  One of those companies adding cool new options to their sandal collections is Branca Barefoot

I wrote a review of the original Branca Barefoot Running Sandal back in May 2011.  I've always considered these sandals very unique in the huarache market.  For one, they are somewhere between a DIY kit and a custom sandal.  Although they will create a hole for the laces of the sandal based on the distance between the heel of your foot to the space between your big toe and second toe, it's up to you to trim the tops of your sandals to your preferred fit.  And instead of using some elaborate tying method, Brancas tie on top of your foot similar to a traditional athletic shoe.

I've always liked these sandals because of all huaraches that use laces, these are the easiest to tie and the most comfortable across the top of your foot.  Well it looks like Branca is improving comfort even more by introducing a series of leather-topped huaraches. 

The pair I received for testing was the Stone Oil Leather Top model.  It came equipped with a pair of standard black athletic laces for tying.  As with my Original Brancas, it also came with a black UV heel strap to secure your foot in the sandal.

I am really impressed by the quality of the leather on these puppies.  I find it to be a higher quality than the suede top of the Luna Sandal.  My problem with that leather top is that it was just a thin strip of suede glued to some rubber.  It looked somewhat cheap, and after a short period of time it began peeling off of the sandal itself.  This is a solid piece of stone oil leather, and it's really attached on there good. 

For those of you who are wondering why you'd want a pair of leather sandals, here's the scoop.  Leather tops give the footbed of your sandal a much softer feel.  This makes the sandal more comfortable for casual wear, though I've been unable to find much of an improvement in comfort while running.  This softness is somewhat short-lived though.  The natural oils in your foot will break down the leather over time, and it will become less soft.  Getting the footbed wet will accelerate this process. 

I've also found that a leather top makes it easier to use the sandal during long distance runs or in hot weather.  In both instances,  the sun or the friction from your foot will cause the rubber of your sandal to heat up and start frying your foot.  The leather does not absorb heat from the sun like the black rubber naked top, nor does it create as much friction.  The downside to a leather top is that it becomes slippery when wet, much moreso than the naked top.  Water also completely trashes the softness of the leather.

Do you need a leather top?  Not really.  But I think it's a nice touch and I prefer it. 

My only issue with this leather was that it was hard to cut.  Cutting leather and rubber is a lot harder than cutting just rubber.  As a result, my scissors flailed around a bit while I was cutting and marked up the leather.  It also left a bit of frayed edges that left my sandals looking a bit trashy.  I'm not sure if some sandpaper will clean it up or not, but I was a bit sad after seeing the finished product.  It's probably mostly my fault, but I'm worried that folks with the same lack of artisitc skills will have the same problem.  These sandals may be for the more crafty among us.

Branca has made a couple of other modifications to their new sandals that I like.  The first is in response to my comment about the eyelets for the laces.  The eyelets on the Original Brancas had a sharp point on the end that would dig into your skin if you tied the sandals too tightly.  Branca fixed the problem in all of their sandals, including these, by squaring off the corners.  The sandals no longer dig into my flesh as I run.  Upgrade!

Branca has also changed up some of the materials that they use.  First of all, they now give you the choice of the standard UV heel strap (shown in my sandal pictures) or a leather strap.  The leather is recommended for folks who do more trail running, as it isn't as elastic as the UV strap.  Therefore it will do a much better job of keeping your foot stable in the sandal.  I find that my foot moves around a bit with the UV strap, and would recommend the leather strap to those who like a snugger fit.

Branca has also started using 5mm Vibram Newflex as their soling material of choice for all of their leather sandals.  The Newflex is a lighter and more durable soling material, which also has a better tread for traction.  These were all things that I was somewhat critical of with the Original Branca.  The material used there is a styrene/butadiene mix.  It had no tread whatsoever, and weighed approximately 5oz. (on the heavy side for a sandal).  Newflex has a criss-cross tread pattern, and is about half the weight of traditional huarache soles.

A pair of the Stone Oil sandals will run you $74 plus shipping.  By comparison, a pair of Luna Sandals with a leather top will run you around $85.  Which sandal is a better deal here will depend on your own preferences.  In my opinion Branca uses better materials.  But Lunas come pre-finished, saving you the agony of destroying your sandals yourself.

Anyway, I already love these sandals, and these improvements make me love them even more.  And Branca is letting me do some cool stuff so that you can get your hands on some.  Keep reading to find out more! 

Leather Sandal Giveaway!


The second new offering from Branca is the Limited Edition Perforated Leather Sandal.  The sandal has the same construction as the Stone Oil Leather model, except that the top is made from a honeycombed leather.  The purpose is to increase breathability as well as improve grip between your foot and the sandal. 

Only 30-40 of these sandals will be made, and they are retailing for $97 plus shipping.  But you loyal citizens can get your hands on a pair by entering this giveaway! 

This isn't one of those "do a bunch of stuff for me" style giveaways.  Okay...it still kind of is.  But instead of liking a bunch of stuff, and tweeting about how much I'm awesome, in order to enter you'll need to leave a comment on this post and answer one or more of the following questions:

1) MGBG....awesome, or mega-awesome...and why.  Discuss.
2) What would you like to see talked about on this blog.
3) What would you like to see improved on MGBG.
4) What feature(s) would you like to see in a huarache that is/are not currently offered by any company?
5) What do you like best about Branca Sandals?
6) What would you like to see improved on Branca Sandals?
7) What's the coolest/weirdest/most incredible/dumbest thing you've ever done in huaraches?

I will be picking a winner at random on August 22nd, 2011 and announcing that winner on my blog along with the winner of the Naked Foot 5K giveaway

The MGBG Citizen Discount!

Right now Branca is doing a discount deal where anyone can buy a pair of leather sandals and get a pair of Original Brancas for free.  That's cool for mere mortals, but you folks are swag-hunting, awesomeness-loving, world-domination plotting citizens of the MGBG nation!  For you loyal blog ninjas, Branca will be doing a buy one get one free on any of their leather sandals!  That's way cooler!  You knew that wasting your time on my blog would pay off eventually.

Here's what you have to do.  When you are building your Branca Sandals in their "Shoe Builder", enter two sizes in the box marked "Foot Measurement" as well as the code Maple Grove.  That's awesome code by the way.  I would have chosen something like "Foxtrot", or "Constantinople" or "Niner".  Then again, this one makes more sense.  This deal is only good until August 18th, 2011, so do it...DO IT NOW!

You will get two glorious leather sandals for the price of one!  Get together with a friend and save some money.  Get a pair in case you commit sandal homicide with your first pair.  Or use them both and become an aspiring sandal whore like me!  The possiblities are endless.   

Anyway, may all your sandal purchases be happy citizens!  Cheers MGBG nation!


  1. I am proud to be a dedicated citizen of the MGBG nation!!MGBG rocks because he has actually changed my previously concretely held total lack of respect for all lawyers.MGBG has proven once again that his swagging is actually paying off.Have to say really-everyday you make me laugh...a little arrogance is worth the daily humor.We apparently have the same warped sense of humor :))...Thanks for another GREAT review MGBG!!! (Is that enough sucking up Christian???)

  2. PS/ I would LOVE to see a little more discussion re/ barefoot form. I am trying REALLY REALLY hard to work on my form everyday-lift feet,bending knees and NOT pushing off-when will I have to stop working at it so hard???I want it to come naturallY!!

  3. 1) MGBG....awesome, or mega-awesome...and why. Discuss.

    Issue: Extent of MGBG awesomeness.

    Rule: Awesomeness is measured in the eye of the beholder, and can depends on the receipt of free shit (a/k/a swag).

    Analysis: In the seminal case of Smith v. MGBG, 31 F.Supp.3d 298 (Minn. 2011), the Court noted that an awesomeness quotient can fluctuate depending on the free shit ("swag") received. Factors include the quality of the swag; its cost; its utility; and the time within which it is received. A kilt and a cape can increase the quotient, but posting topless pictures with a sneer on one's face on the Internet may detract (unless the pic is of a really cute chick).

    Conclusion: Withheld pending receipt of swag.

  4. 1) Mega-awesome due to your humility, and to your selfless goals for running this blog (certainly nothing to do with free schwag). I also appreciate your constant attention to political correctness.

    2) Besides more Demi? I'm looking forward to more about your foray's (plural?) into the ultrarunning world.

    3) Don't mess with it. See #1.

    4) I only have experience with Lunas, and am disappointed with how often the bottom knot breaks, and the discomfort from the lace between the toes. I may have to try these new Brancas though.

    5) The solid leather rear strap is a good idea.

    6) Perhaps Branca should do something to compete with Sketcher Shape-Ups (wait til April 1st to announce though).

    7) I tried going 8 miles my first time in huaraches. 4 miles from home, I wore through the skin between my toes, and found myself running barefoot on some dubious road conditions (for my tender feet) all the way home. Okay, not much of a story. Sue me.

  5. 4) What feature(s) would you like to see in a huarache that is/are not currently offered by any company?
    I would like to see some method of attaching a timing chip, nike+, garmin footpod... to the huarache. Nobody currently thinks of this and I know that many runners have opted for some sort of ankle strap to wear these different devices. A little pouch or pocket included with the Sandel would be a very nice feature.

  6. WHat I like best about Branca sandals is the sense of freedom and individuality they convey. They're a great departure from the 'same-old, same-old' that I shy away from. Thank for the chance to own them!

  7. 2) What would you like to see talked about on this blog.

    How about a fitness related challenge were followers can do something and report their experiences?

    Fan Friday was good, keep that.

    Interview some big names in barefoot running, Robilard, Barefoot Ken Bob/Ted, or some other barefoot bloggers such as Barefoot Angie Bee.

  8. Just want to let everyone know that the price has been lowered to $74 for these Stoned Oil-Tanned "puppies". We just want to make it as fair as possible. The Perforated Leather sandals are now $97 (from $125).

  9. 1) MGBG....awesome, or mega-awesome...and why. Discuss.
    - It's clear that it is mega-awesome. If there is any confusion about this, refresh your page and look at the awe-inspiring caped man on banner at the top of the page.

    2) What would you like to see talked about on this blog.
    -I'm going to agree with what Garrett said on the post two above mine. Good ideas.

    5) What do you like best about Branca Sandals?
    -Never worn a pair so... the design?

  10. 3) What would you like to see improved on MGBG.

    - I dont know, maybe you some how become shorter?

    7) What's the coolest/weirdest/most incredible/dumbest thing you've ever done in huaraches?

    - I took a pair of 99 cent flip flops, cut them in half and ran The Great Aloha Run in them. I also made and wore some huaraches out of cardboard while on mission in Afghanistan

  11. 1) Epic Mega-awesome. Mostly because you use your A-list celebrity status to bestow free stuff on your followers. Also, your humility humbles us.
    2) I will second the request for form discussion. I'm not getting blisters anymore, but the skin on my left big toe is being eroded away, which is uncomfortable to say the least, and frickin painful to say the most.
    3) See above. You can also give a weekly "awesome tip". Just a suggestion to add to your workload.
    7) I've never owned any. That's why I'm so glad I'll win this giveaway.

  12. 3) What would you like to see improved on MGBG.

    I know you're on the look out already, but you need a sweet logo to go along with your blog.

    4) What feature(s) would you like to see in a huarache that is/are not currently offered by any company?

    Instead of a knot on the bottom of the shoe why doesn't anyone do it kind of like these. http://huaracheblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/nube-huajapan-cover.jpg?w=484&h=614 and put two holes and run the cord into and up and put the knot on the top of the shoe in front of and between the big & little toes to keep the sole flatter more comfortable?

    I would also like to see a running huarache in this Aztec style. http://mocactia.com/footwear-for-humankind.cfm

  13. What I would like to see improved in MGBG -

    1. I would like to take this opportunity to formally request some MGBG capes. I would like to wear one on my runs.

  14. What I would like to see talked about on this blog.

    A little more detail about your cross training. Like specifically what workouts you do. Maybe a workout I could follow along to?

  15. 1) Mega-awesome. Because he responds well to bribery when conducting giveaways.
    2) Shoe reviews are super-helpful, so keep it up. And form reminders are always good.
    3) Shorter posts.... I learned early on as a blogger that I got better response if my posts weren't too long. It also makes it more likely that readers will actually read (rather than skim) a whole post.
    4) When I had homemade huaraches I loved my super-skinny deertan laces. That would be cool.
    5) The no-knot thing.
    6) I think the ankle strap is so wide that it's kinda unattractive.
    7) When I first made mine I wore them a lot and stressed out my foot arches, which weren't used to being barefoot or nearly-barefoot outside yet.

  16. I am an artist by trade, and I can't imagine being able to cut those suckers any better than you. How's your hand?

  17. How about some Branca's with some elasticized laces? I love the idea here, just need some more elasticity for me.

  18. 1. Head inflation of others is not my thing
    a. Would you like to hear more about me, though?
    2. Action shots and action talk
    a. Let’s hear a bit more about the running, man.
    b. Actually, I would be interested in the other activities, too
    3. Do you think you could get a phone viewable site?
    4. Tread.
    a. I know that the companies are getting raw Vibram sole material and cutting it out for me, but I could do that.
    b. I would love to see some sandals with more aggressive tread.
    c. I mean like a thought out tread pattern
    d. And yes, I realize this would take work on the part of the companies. They should work hard to gain access to my hard earned cash.
    5. I like the semi-customization. Though I worry that they are a bit too one-size-fits-some
    6. I don’t like the looks of their laces. Small thing, but that’s the one aesthetic bit to the shoe
    7. I made a pair out of flip flops. Hawaiian themed flip flops.
    a. Yes, my wife laughed me out of the house.

  19. 1)mega awesome. your writing style and sense of humor make my day.

    2)I'd like to see a post about the things you hate the most about some of the shoes you have reviewed. I'd also like to see some more reviews on different gear (water packs, compression socks, etc.)

    3)Improvements... nothing really, I really like your blog.

    4)First off, I'd like to say that only you could pull off asking a company to try to make this. A biodegradable sandal. Maybe one with seeds in it so that it grows flowers. Running in the rain can be annoying with huaraches. Possibly a huarache with a detachable upper, sorta ruins the purpose, but still.

    5)I don't own any Branca Sandals...yet. I think the strap on the back is pretty cool, though.

    6)I'd like to see better traction and possibly a different tying method just when I want to spice it up sometimes.

    7)I currently don't own a pair of huaraches. That's why I'm entering this contest.

    P.S. August 22 is the day after my birthday. Wouldn't that be a nice belated birthday gift?

  20. Like a few of the posts above I would like more on BF form. Being new to BF running I'm pretty sure I over think what I'm doing to the detriment of my run. I would also like more on primal lifestyle.

  21. I'd like to see a write up of the epic first meeting of MGBG and Jason Robillard.

    I'd also like to hear about your dream run/race. Mine is to do Comrades someday.

    Those things and continued awesomeness.

    There have been a lot of recent huarache innovations recently. Although innovation is a good thing, I'd like to see the big "players" in the huarache market focus on improving quality as well.

    I like the Branca take on the huarache, but I would go for a less obtrusive heel strap if they offered it. The black perforated leather model looks sweet.

  22. 3. Maybe you need a new name. You talk about shoes a lot for a barefoot guy. But I'm still here reading, so....

    4. I'm not a hardcore barefoot. My feet have been abused a long time and they really feel better with just a little cushion. My favorite shoes are Sanuk flip flops that are still really flexible, lots of room for toe spread, but I don't like the flip and the flop. Shoe companies, give me a sole like that with more straps, and you make the size so I don't have to do the homemade cut out thing. And for Pete's sake, I'm a girl! Give me something cute to wear when I want to be minimal but I'm not working out.

  23. I actually just ran for the first time in my Brancas. I like the elastic rubber heel strap. I love the sole and grommets on the sides. These sandals have the best ground feel of any sandal I've worn.

    But I'm not as crazy about the suggested tying method, which has two laces come between the toes, each angling to a grommet on the side. It keeps the sandal more stable on the foot, and reduces the "slap" for those of us who don't have perfect light form. But that means one lace goes over the bone and ridge behind the big toe, which rubbed my skin raw (to the point of bleeding).

    An alternate tying method, shown in a photo on Branca's web site (www.runbranca.com/gallery) should eliminate the problem. If it does, these will be pretty close to perfect running sandals.

  24. What would you like to see talked about on this blog?
    Any minimal options for people with big feet (i.e. size 15 EE). There are very few minimal options out there for us, especially for winter wear.

    What do you like best about Branca Sandals?
    It looks like the back strap would be really comfortable, and reduces the time and effort to tie the sandal at a comfortable tension.

  25. 7. Had a blow out in my Original Lunda Sandals 7 miles from home. Tough run back!

  26. Awesome, these are pretty cool to be mine XD.. Seems to be comfortable and perfect in summers.
    Saudi Sandal

  27. Are you one of those who simply adore white sand, the heat of the sun, the sound of the wind and waves? There's no doubt that many of us have grown to love the beach and its beauty. Summer to a lot of us may mean the busiest time of the year.I find this website for Best Comfortable Flip Flops.If you want you can visit this site.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...