How can you improve such a simple design like huarache running sandals? Stevens Sashen and Xero Shoes took the challenge and tried to modernize the original huaraches. Thanks to Xero Shoes I am also able to test Sensori Venture here in Poland. This is not my first encounter with Xeros. These were my very first running sandals and back then they were called Invisible Shoes. It makes me just more excited to put on the new Ventures and compare them to my first barefoot plus experience.
Huarache market has been growing bigger and bigger recently and producers are trying hard all the time to impress us with the new improvements applied to the simple design. Xero Shoes has remained all that time faithful to the original ultra minimalistic models (Connect and Contact) which are basically just a piece of rubber and a string. What more do you need to make original huaraches?
However, the original design has some flaws which Sensori Venture tries to eliminate maintaining its barefoot character at the same time. In Ventures I can feel the same pure spirit of barefoot running but closed in a modern frame. The original Xeros were primitive. Ventures are rough too but definitely more modern.
So what’s new? Firstly, Sensori are ready-to-go huaraches – you just pick correct size and once you get the sandals you don’t have to cut anything or adjust. Sure, you can do it if you feel such a need but I’m perfectly happy to skip that part of barefoot running experience ;) Moreover, the edges are nicely shaped which may be important for some runners (like me) who are not particularly talented as far as manual skills are concerned.
Secondly, no more knots smashing your toes! There is a rubber insert in the bottom of the sole and a rubber thong between the toes. It gives you a bit of a rubber feeling but all in all it’s comfortable and very durable. So far, I have had no problems with that part while laces in my original pair broke a couple of times on the trail.
The most visible innovation is probably the colorful heel cup. Yes, it looks weird but what’s the purpose of this new piece of tech? It’s supposed to prevent your feet from slipping of the sandals and stop any debris from getting under the feet. Never really had such problems (maybe on some really steep hills only) so can’t appreciate the additional “splash of color”. On the contrary, I think it just adds a bit of unnecessary weight and disturbs the balance of the sandal. It’s not a big deal, you won’t feel it so much while running but if there was such an option I’d choose heel cup free version.
And finally, the new lacing system! Sensori Venture come to you pre-laced and it takes just few seconds to adjust and you can enjoy the run. The lacing is based on two color strings which just look nice ;) At the heel there is again a rubber tube preventing the laces from slipping. The lacing is very comfortable and secure.
The sole is a thing which remains close to the original model. It is 5,5mm thick and gives you all the protection that you need and provides great ground feel.
OK, but we are not interested in how they look but how they really perform during running! So let’s run! There is no doubt that all the improvements described above make Xeros more comfortable but fortunately they don’t interfere too much with the running itself. In other words, the essence of huarache is still there. Sensori Venture are truly minimalistic and all they give you is a little protection for the feet. Thin and super flexible sole is not going to overlook any faults in your running form. They are demanding teachers of running technique :D
As I’ve already said, I’m not a big fan of the heel cup. In my opinion it’s not necessary and it makes Ventures just a little heavier and unbalanced. Of course you won’t feel these extra grams on your feet as they are still super light… but could be even lighter ;) What’s more, the strange look prevents me from wearing them on casual occasions :(
I run in Sensori Venture both on roads and trails. The traction is decent and the feedback that you get is just perfect. You may need some time to adapt to such extreme barefoot experience but if you give it time, you’ll love it.
I appreciate very much that Xero Shoes keep affordable price of their products and 5000 mile guarantee. These were the factors that made me buy the first pair few years ago and remain unchanged.
Sensori Venture are definitely one of the most interesting huaraches I’ve worn recently and running in them simple makes me smile which should be the best conclusion for this review.
If you would like to experience the same pleasure of running go to Xero Shoes website and check out the details ;) I’m looking forward to the latest model from Xero Shoes which is Cloud and may bring some true revolution to huarache :D
Starringer Freeheel Runningpads is a one of a kind product which I’ve been testing for some time already thanks to the kindness of Starringer company. Runningpads are fascinating for many reasons and that’s why I’ve decided to write this short first impressions review in which I’ll try to introduce the pads.
So, what exactly are the runningpads? From the front they look like regular huaraches but if you look in profile you will notice that they are much shorter – like cut. Their purpose is to provide cover and protection only to those parts of the runner’s foot which really need it. Namely, the toes and the forefoot. The heel and practically the whole midfoot are left uncovered.
Even at the first glance one can see that they were produced very carefully and with attention to the details. They are put on like normal huaraches and the long elastic strap should go around the heel, below the Achilles tendon. After having run the first kilometers I can say that the pads hold the feet very firmly and they do not slip or move in any direction. Thanks to the non-slip elements the straps also remain in place.
Now I’d like to say few words about the materials that are used for the productions of the freeheel runningpads. The upper layer – the lining – is made of the roe deerskin which is unbelievably soft and mellow. As far as the sole is considered, we have two options. The first one is deerskin which is also very soft, elastic and molds perfectly to the shape of the feet. The second option is rubber which is a bit tougher and may perform better for example on very rocky courses. The fact that the proper preparation of the leather takes about a year can be a prove of its highest quality.
As you have probably noticed, there are two straps between the toes. I was a bit confused by this second, longer lace and I didn’t know how to use it at the beginning. I tried to put it between my toes but I was explained by Starringer stuff that it should remain as it is – a bit loose, between the big toe and the second one which is supposed to improve the grip ;)
It’s also worth mentioning that Starringer Freeheel Runningpads received the ISPO 2012 AWARD for “innovations, great design and outstanding performance”.
What does it mean “a running shoe”? Yeah… running shoes, walking shoes, it’s all the same, isn’t it? Not really. Every running shoe is good for walking as well but not every walking shoe is necessarily as good for running as for everyday use. We could make such a rule but Airia One are Swedish shoes that are going to change that. Airia One are shoes designed specifically for running and walking in them probably won’t be as comfortable as we may expect.
It sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? So far, I can tell only what I know from the materials provided by Airia as it’s not possible to buy the shoes yet but anyway they interested me very much.
Airia One are not typical minimalist running shoes. They treat natural running in a completely new and I would risk saying that in a revolutionary way. Designers of Airia claim that in every stride that we make there is a hidden potential which is unfortunately lost due to poorly designed shoes. The idea of Airia is not only to promote the most natural stride possible but also to make it even more efficient. The concept is to improve nature.
The design process has been going on for many years now but you are not going to find any space technology inside. Instead, there is one very simple solution which may just turn out to be a revolution… or a total failure. Solution which only aim is to make us run faster. Even 7% faster. What is it?
6mm drop. No, no… don’t worry. Airia One feature 0mm heel to toe differential. However, they implement 6mm differential between the outside and the inside of the sole. The sole is thicker on the outside and and big toe side is thinner. To put it in other words, these shoes are just crooked. This is madness, I know ;) But maybe there is something into it! Rising of the outside edge of the sole is supposed to distribute the energy evenly which eventually increases the speed. On the one hand, it sounds a bit fishy but when you give it a second thought it seems not as insane as at the beginning. You have to run to decide.
How these shoes are going to perform? I’ve got no idea! In the photos Airias look a bit strange but intriguing (in a positive way) at the same time. I’d like to put some miles on them right away and test them on a fast 10K. Recently, I’ve got confirmation from Airia representative that I can expect to receive the shoes in the near future. Then we will be able to decide if there is going to be a running shoes revolution or if it is a false start resulting with disqualification.