Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Branca Barefoot Running Sandals

Brant from Branca sent me a pair of their new leather running sandals ($74, includes free shipping and a free pair of original Brancas, a $40 value) to try out recently. Initially, I was pretty skeptical, though also intrigued. I am definitely in the camp that advocates for some barefoot running within most runner's training plans, but have only dipped my toes into the minimalist running shoe market. However, I'm open to trying new things and this is definitely new for me.

One of the neat things about these sandals is that each pair is unique and made to order from the customer's measurement. The company has upgraded to Vibram Newflex soles and also developed a method to curve the soles so that they don’t flap and bend under the toes. They are constantly upgrading the adhesive that attaches the sole, so the sandals can be repaired if the glue ever fails. According to Branca, these sandals (and other minimalist footwear) reduce the risk of laceration and microbial infection over just running barefoot.

The sandals I received, made of leather, also have the option to add a perforated sole for increased breathability and traction between the foot and sandal, though only 30-40 will be manufactured. The sandals come assembled, but uncut, so that each customer can trim the sandals to the shape of their foot, as shown in the photos below. Nice touch.

The sandals were comfortable from the get-go, though initially the heel straps felt rigid and did not snug the heel particularly well, not unexpected since they are fresh leather. I wore the sandals at home around the house, then spent some time doing yardwork (mowing the lawn, cutting up some branches), before attempting some running. Branca suggests the following progression: Run in the Brancas 1 minute/day the 1st week, 2 minutes/day the 2nd week, 3 minutes a day the 3rd week, and so on. Gradually increasing the duration allows for a safer transition to minimalist running.

Munchkin was so excited by them that he tried to take them for himself, but happily they were too large for him. :)

My overall impressions? These seem to be well-made by a small company based here in the United States. The idea is simple and well-executed, and the customization possibilities are a welcome addition to footwear purchasing options. If you like flip-flops, you'll love the fit of these, with the supporting heel strap for snugness. I thought they had a slight gladiator look, but Laima thought they were a bit feminine looking.

Running: These were very comfortable to wear walking around, so I was excited to try them out running, though I did have some trepidation. Surprisingly, they were very comfortable. Maybe since they are not shoes I didn't have the unsupported feeling one sometimes gets from minimalist footwear, but I definitely felt like I was running barefoot, yet protected from anything I might step on. If you're interested in trying barefoot running but are worried about injuring your feet or stepping into something discgusting, these might be a good option. On the Run Branca Facebook page, a fan shared an alternative way of lacing the sandals, more comfortable, in his opinion. I completely agree, definitely worth trying it out.

You can get more info or purchase sandals at the Branca website and also like them on Facebook.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Branca Barefoot LLC. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com. 


  1. Those are crazy! It's hard to picture actually running in them - you don't get chafed between the toes?

  2. No, they were actually very comfortable, especially using the alternate tying method.

  3. That is very similar to the sandals that Staci (Sandal Girl) from "She Runs In Sandals" run in. She completed Comrades in that so obviously they are comfortable enough.

  4. I like the idea of getting the benefits of barefooting with some protection - gladiator style :)

    Love Munchkin's little feet in those huge sandals!

  5. Still minimalist shoes. Not barefoot. Can't run in these to try barefoot. Only way to try barefoot. is. to. go. barefoot.

    Ok. zealot comment over.

    They look like a few others like it. Have you tried the others? comparisons?

  6. Haven't tried others, but these felt remarkably barefoot to me.

  7. Very informative - I'm not into the whole barefoot running thing yet, but maybe one day. They look like on your forward stride, they would fly off of your foot. Did you feel like you would have trouble keeping them tight? Pretty cool how they are customized to your foot.

  8. With the alternative method I felt like they were more secure, but both seemed like they would keep the sandal on the foot just fine.

  9. I like the curved sole idea but I am with Neil about going barefoot. I tried similar sandals and my gait is different in them than barefoot. Still, for some surfaces, a bit of protection goes a long way.


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