A while back, Earth Runners contacted me to ask if I would be interested in trying out their sandals. I spend a lot of time running in sandals and I was intrigued.
I’m going to get one thing out of the way right off. You’re not going to find anything in this review about “Earthing”. If you want to look into that, go for it. That was not why I was interested in their shoes, and in fact I asked for the versions without the copper inserts. And that is all I will say about that.
What I will say a lot more about are the sandals themselves. At the time I got them, Earth Runners had not yet released their “Extreme” line, which paired their multi-surface sandals with very handsome, high quality leather straps. Now they’re out in the wild and I do have to say they make for a very unique experience. Aside from the leather sandal straps, I also added the leather footbed.
Since I know this will come up immediately, let’s talk about the differences between Earth Runners and Luna Sandals. Although when you glance quickly at them they look very similar, they honestly couldn’t be different. There’s definitely room in your stable for both.
My Luna Mono is a very firm sandal. It molds, but I believe the durameter of the rubber underneath is fairly high. It makes for really good protection from sharp rocks. It reminds me of “taking the ground with you”, still very much a barefoot experience while maintaining protection.
The Earth Runner is a different beast altogether. The best way I can describe the feel of these is if you suddenly had “more foot” under you. They have a very flesh-like feel under your foot, and move naturally. While a cliche, to say they are like an extension of your foot would not be too far out of bounds. They still provide protection (plenty) but really sharp edged rocks should be avoided (as they should be anyhow). I received the version of the sandal with the tiny nubs for traction on a variety of off-trail surfaces. The traction is excellent. When you combine all those contact points with the sandals propensity to deform and deflect with the ground you get a very solid feel for the terrain underfoot.
Another big difference between the Luna and the Earth Runners was the lace pattern. Frankly, out of the box, the Circadian lace pattern with the leather laces didn’t work for me. I used their directions to try and tweak it, but in the end completely relaced them into a different pattern. Once I did that, they worked great. The reason the default pattern didn’t work for me was due to my very bony ankles. The wide straps combined with the plastic buckle at the ankle to cause much bad rubbing and discomfort. Your mileage will definitely vary, remember that my right ankle had a metal plate on it for 20 years (and was the one where I had the issue). One of the benefits of sandals like these though is that you can relace to your heart’s content. Don’t be afraid to play with the pattern.
Another huge difference between the Luna and the Earthrunners is price. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Luna sandals and they are worth every penny in my opinion, but there’s lots of folks that can’t afford to drop that much on running sandals. Earth Runners are significantly less expensive, with a pair of their entry-level Cicadian 6mm coming in at $55 with standard laces & rubber footbed. Even adding leather to the laces and footbed only bumps the price up another $20. And you’re getting a high quality product here. While they are definitely the less expensive option, they are not “cheap” in any other way than the price you pay for them.
However, like I said, I think that if you enjoy running in sandals, you’re going to want to make room in your shoe stable for both shoes. I tend to wear the Earth Runners in more casual situations in addition to running in them, those leather laces and footbed look very sharp. And if I have to break into a run, they’re ready for me!
Cost: $82 (base Circadian X w/leather laces & leather footbed)
Score: 9/10 RAWRS (Hell of a running sandal, great feel underneath, handsome enough for around-town wear)
High: High quality, good proprioception underfoot, nice price
Low: Leather laces take some wear-in, buckle might rub ankle if you’re a bony footed guy or gal
Full disclosure: I was provided a pair of Earth Runner Circadian X sandals to test out for a potential review.