Many runners have discovered the benefits of reducing the tread that separates their feet from the road. Seeing past the hype of mainstream marketing, these runners have found ways to mimic what humans have done for centuries – run barefoot. And for many of us, tapping into this natural form has proven to reduce injuries, increase efficiency, and provide better feedback from the ground.
While there are several options for those looking for a minimalist shoe, sandals have become a popular choice. But which running sandal do you choose? Today, I’ll be reviewing the GladSoles Trail Running Sandals which were designed right here in America. Read on to see if they are the sandal for you!
On his search for the perfect minimalist running sandal, Richard Gladstone (founder of Gladsoles) tried various models. He even explored traditional huaraches, using all of the different tying methods. No matter which sandal he tried, or which way he tied them, they never felt quite right. Growing tired of searching, he decided to create his own minimalist sandals. With a little tinkering, and modifying the lacing system, GladSoles were born.
After friends, family, and local runners began inquiring about the sandals, Richard decided to begin producing them for the general public. Today, GladSoles are sold all over the world from their original location in South Orange, New Jersey. They come in 3 models: Lite (4mm), Original (6mm), and Trail (8mm). No matter what surface you run on, GladSoles has a sandal for you. See their full line of sandals here.
I’ve been wearing GladSoles Trail Sandals for well over a month now. The trail version of their sandals comes with an 8mm tread that has ridges for gripping rocks, roots, and loose dirt. I’ve used them in hot, cold, and (even) rainy conditions. Although most of my runs have been on pavement, I’ve managed to tackle a few trails as well. With plenty of distance covered, I thought it was time to give you my complete (and honest) review, helping you to decide if these are the sandals for you.
Comfort and Fit
GladSoles were designed with comfortability in mind. Each pair of GladSoles Sandals are custom-cut for your two feet. That’s right; they’re cut specifically for you! When placing your order, you will send in tracings of your feet. The process is painless, and fairly straightforward.
The only issue I had was with sending my tracings via email. But, I’ll chalk that up to me not understanding how to use my scanner. I simply put my tracing in the mailbox, and had them to Rich within a day. See the demo below to learn how you can create your own tracings.
Being that each sandal is cut perfectly to match the length of your toes and heel, you won’t have to worry about any excess tread. I’ve noticed that other sandals have this issue, which poses the risk of tripping. I have yet to trip, slip, or fall wearing my GladSoles. In fact, my sandals always feel secure no matter what surface I’m on. And I’ve taken them through mud, over rocks, and down steep hills covered in leaves. Not once have I felt off-balance.
Another concern I (like many others) have had with sandals, is the strap that goes between the toes. On other sandals I’ve tried, it takes time to adjust to this foreign material between the toes. But GladSoles uses military strength paracord laces, which are very soft, but super durable. You can barely tell that they’re touching your feet.
Locks, Laces, and Tying
With each order, you get to choose the color of locks and laces that you’d like to have on your sandals. I chose olive green laces, with black locks. Lacing the sandals was much easier than I had expected, although for a beginner it may take some getting used to. But don’t worry, GladSoles has directions on their website, plus a YouTube channel to help you along the way.
There are many different ways that you can tie your GladSoles Sandals, but they recommend trying the GladSoles’ method. I have tried three different ways, and found that I like the GladSoles’ method best. Check out the video below to see how simple lacing your sandals can be.
When I first laced my sandals, I felt that they were somewhat loose; they were shifting a bit, and not staying pressed against my foot. After retying them, keeping my heel towards the back of the sandal, and pulling the laces tighter, I corrected the issue. They now stay snug against my foot, and I know that they won’t be going anywhere.
Take your time with the sandals when you first get them. Test out several tying methods, seeing which one works best for you. You may even want to do a few “test runs” before deciding which one you like best. The great thing about GladSoles is that you can always change it up later on.
The biggest concern that people have with sandals, is the ability to run in them (and rightfully so). I wasn’t sure if I would be able to maintain my pace and distance in them. But, after my first run (stats to the right), I knew that GladSoles could keep up with my demands (even during marathon training). Actually, I’ve run some pretty quick runs using my new GladSoles, and topped 13.5 mile distances. I’ve even considered using them in my upcoming marathon.
The best thing about running in sandals is that you get incredible feedback from the ground. With GladSoles, this feedback is even greater because the tread fits right up against the bottom of your feet. Unlike other sandals that I’ve tried, GladSoles are extremely flexible, allowing them to act as a second skin. So, instead of the tread smacking the pavement with every step, you hear almost nothing. You feel that you are truly barefoot. This is one of the biggest reasons why I’m loving these sandals.
Something we often overlook when picking a product is the quality of customer service that comes with it. I’ve been amazed at the level of engagement that I’ve received from Rich since ordering my sandals. He has been there to answer my questions, and help me through every step of the ordering process. He’s even checked in with me to see how I’m enjoying my new footwear.
I would also like to mention that the folks at GladSoles treat you like a person, not a customer. Speaking to Rich has been like talking to friend. He is very laid back and fun to talk to. Now, I understand that most of us aren’t looking to make friends when we’re ordering kicks, but it’s nice to feel like more than just “another order.”
Models & Prices
Most barefoot running sandals range from $39.99 – $100.00. I’m happy to tell you that GladSoles fall in the lower range of these prices. And for sandals, I feel that $40-$60 is a fair price, especially for a custom-made product. They also come in three different models. Below are the descriptions and prices for each model of GladSoles sandals:
Update: After writing this review, I joined the GladSoles team. I became a Brand Ambassador because I absolutely love these sandals. Now, I can offer you a discounted priced with my coupon code: vegrunchat. Please use it at checkout to receive 15% off of your purchase.
Lite: $39.99 – ($33.99 with discount)
GladSoles Lite is our ultra-minimalist model, with a 4mm Vibram® sole and tread for extra traction. These DO NOT have the recessed laces like our Original and Trail models.
Original: $49.99 – ($42.49 with discount)
GladSoles Originals are our original sandals, with a 6mm Vibram® sole. GladSoles are extremely versatile. They give you excellent barefoot feel, and are perfect for running, walking, going to and from yoga, the gym or the beach. The laces are recessed into the bottom of the sole, and very easy to swap out.
Trail (8mm): $59.99 – ($50.99 with discount)
Whether you’re hiking the trails or pounding the city pavements, GladSoles Trail will get you where you need to go in style and comfort. GladSoles Trail has a luxurious 8mm Vibram® sole with tread for extra traction. The lace is recessed into the bottom of the sole, and very easy to swap out.
If you’re looking to take barefoot running to the next level, I highly recommend GladSoles. Rich Gladstone has taken the modern running sandal and perfected it. With the recessed laces and ultra-flexible Vibram sole, GladSoles make running in sandals feel completely natural – as it should. Furthermore, the price for these quality made sandals is more than reasonable.
As with any review, I try to point out potential flaws, or drawbacks. I didn’t really find one with the GladSoles, but I will mention that there is a learning curve with the lacing system. But this should be expected of any “true” barefoot sandal. I believe it took me all of two days to have my sandals exactly the way I like them. With the help of their YouTube channel, and communicating with the GladSoles team, you shouldn’t have any problems either.
If you’re interested in learning more about these awesome sandals, check out the GladSoles website, visit their YouTube channel, or send Rich a tweet: @GladSoles. If you have any further questions about the Trail Sandals, please feel free to leave me a comment below. I will get back with you as soon as possible. If you’d like to order, please use coupon-code: vegrunchat to receive 15% discount.
Note: I am a proud GladSoles Ambassador. However, all opinions are my own, and were not influenced in any way by GladSoles. In fact, I wrote this review prior to becoming an ambassador. And the only items that have been updated are the pricing to reflect the discount you will receive with my promocode.