My first impression after receiving my Xero Shoes huaraches are very good. I ordered the 6mm sole for two reasons, I wanted longer wear, and I am still interested in a little more sole between my sole and the road.
I've done a three mile easy run, some even easier jogs with my daughter and dog, some walking on trails, and some casual wear in these sandals. Right now, I have a VFF Bikila on one foot and a Xero on the other.
I can't help but compare "barefoot shoes" of all types with my VFFs simply because they are the first that I used so they are my frame of reference.
The upper on the Xero Shoes is definitely more breathable. Of course, the upper is a string, so that is kind of obvious. The only thing to really compare then is the sole. The VFF Bikila has a pretty flexible sole, the segmented rubber area helps a lot with that, the 6mm Xero Shoe is a single piece of rubber and has a little less flexibility than the Bikila. I'd like to see sometime how the 4mm compares. The VFF also flexes much better at the toes due of course to the individual toes.
Despite being slightly less flexible than my Bikilas the Xero Shoe actually has better ground feel. I feel more texture under my feet, and I better feel what my foot is doing when it contacts the ground. This leads me to what I feel is the single biggest reason to run in huaraches at least every once in a while.
I have recently discovered a problem with my running form. I suspected it from examining the soles of my VFF's and SoftStar Runamoc Dash shoes, but I confirmed it for sure while running in my Xero Shoes.
I have duck feet.
Not webbed toes, obviously, or I couldn't run in VFFs. What I mean is that my feet land with my toes pointed outward. I first realized I walked that way when I took a snow picture of footprints from my daughter and me walking through the snow. Her toes pointed in the direction she was going, mine pointed way out to the sides.
Looking at videos of me running before going minimal, not only did I heel strike, but my duckfootedness resulted in a zigzag pattern to my running stride. When I went minimal, a lot of this was corrected because I switched to a forefoot strike, but I have a degree of twist when I land. I start off with toes out, heels in, then my foot twists slightly to line up with my direction of travel. I saw evidence of this on the wear pattern in my shoes, but the huaraches give me immediate feedback of this with every step. I can feel the twist happening, and when it is extreme, my heel actually presses against the strings of the huarache and nearly steps off the edge of the sole. This twist is something I didn't even figure out on barefoot runs. I knew there was friction on my foot, but I couldn't pin it down.
Number one reason to run in huaraches? They are the biggest tattle tail on my running form. If I skid forward on landing, the string between my toes tells me so. If I push off too much with my toes, the string around my heel tells me so. If I twist the strings around the side tell me so.
Instant feedback with every step, and the most barefoot feeling shoe I've ever tried. Just those two factors give me all the reason I need to run in Xero shoes.
There is one more thing though. VFF Bikilas run $100 a pair and last me about 1000 miles before the inside starts to give me toe blisters. Xero Shoes run less than $30 a pair and have a 5,000 mile warranty. As I am on a budget, this matters to me. Bikilas cost me ten cents per mile. Xero Shoes,
six tenths of a penny per mile.