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FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works!
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Ryan French
FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works! on 05/07/2013 11:16:35 MDT Print View

Thanks to a lot of insipiration from BPL members and the need for a lightweight supportive sandal, I finally found a sandal that fits my needs perfectly....I made it!

I searched long and hard for a minimalist sandal that would stay put on my feet on trails, over hills and in the water...everything I found came up short and were just plain heavy. So I did what most BPLers do, bought some material and got to work.

First prototype:Too much slop since this is a stand on top

After wearing these around, I realized that they were sorely lacking in function. I don't know how people run in these things. No matter how tight I made the straps, my feet aleays wanted to fall off. And I didn't like the large webbing. So I kept modifying and playing with the strap design until I settled on this:Re-cut the shape to fit my foot and hand-molded the footbed/sole...

These were much better and I realized that I was getting closer to what I was looking for except I needed a strap design that would keep my feet in the foot bed. My final design got me where I needed to be:Final perfect sandal!

So glad I made these. I have never worn a shoe or sandal that gave me what these offer up. Since I've made them, I have run/walked a few miles and spent half a day cleaning up our backyard without issues. I love these things:Think I'll call them the exodus sandals since I am never going back to captivated feet again!

There a couple of other details in the strapping and the footbed that I think will make these things last quite a long time. And with my strap design + molded footbed, lateral movement is encouraged! I can't wait to get these things into the water and canoe!

Let me know what you think...

Edited by lifegearguy on 05/07/2013 11:30:30 MDT.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
Sandal on 05/07/2013 13:21:17 MDT Print View

Beautiful! I'd buy a pair :)

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Sandals on 05/07/2013 13:47:06 MDT Print View

Yeah, these look super good. Nice work. Curious how this works out for you in a variety of conditions. post reports!

Ryan French
Adding post to: "FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works!" on 05/07/2013 14:03:17 MDT Print View

@Ben - Thanks! I will let you know ;)

Seriously though, I am considering whether or not to buy materials and get to work. Appreciate the interest.

@Adan - will do! Thanks!

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Adding post to: "FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works!" on 05/07/2013 14:50:16 MDT Print View


I'd love a lightweight replacement for my Chacos. The closest think I've seen are the Unshoes Pah Tempe but I like the narrower webbing you used. If you decide to sell some I'd probably be interested.


Ryan French
Re: Re: Adding post to: "FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works!" on 05/07/2013 17:23:14 MDT Print View

I'll keep that in mind, Adan. I can tell you that the toe lock is, IMHO, much better than the thong. It really helps keep my foot into the rubber sole/footbed.

I am thinking about putting a kickstarter project together for this but would definitely be willing to make some at a fair price for BPL members.

Let me know.

Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Adding post to: "FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works!" on 05/07/2013 19:11:51 MDT Print View

I'm, not a sandal person, but I like what I see and I'd be down for a pair.


Edited by jumpbackjack on 05/07/2013 19:12:24 MDT.

Ryan French
Re: Adding post to: "FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works!" on 05/07/2013 19:32:09 MDT Print View

@Jack- thanks man!

Humble beginnings but you guys are really making this an easy decision...I'll keep you posted.


Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
I am interested on 05/07/2013 22:02:52 MDT Print View

Keep us posted on your efforts and availability. Great idea for a river crossing/camp wear as well.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: FINALLY...A minimalist sandal that works! on 05/07/2013 22:19:06 MDT Print View

Well, you have reinvented flip-flops or thongs (depending on your country. That's fine.

> I can't wait to get these things into the water and canoe!
Ahhh - wait till you do before shouting. I find that a little bit of water makes them super-slippery. A little bit of mud and ... oh dear.

So - test in water and river beds, and let us know.


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Slippery Top on 05/08/2013 06:21:31 MDT Print View

"I find that a little bit of water makes them super-slippery. A little bit of mud and ... oh dear."

Definitely a problem with other sandles I've used but not with Chacos. They aren't that slippery because of the sticky top and good strap system.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
okay, i'll bite on 05/08/2013 06:27:37 MDT Print View

They do look very like unshoes. If you're looking for beta testers I'd be interested. What's your sole material?

Daniel Fish

Locale: PDX
... on 05/08/2013 06:31:57 MDT Print View


Edited by on 06/08/2013 19:18:27 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Slippery Top on 05/08/2013 07:02:06 MDT Print View

Early Chacos (when they were still Gecko) used a nylon strap system. Nylon stretches when wet and so the straps come loose when in water. Later they changed to polyester strapping. Polyester doesn't stretch when wet, and I've never used another sandal that is as secure and tight, even when walking in hours or soggy conditions. The only thing I don't like about Chacos (I always used the Z2 with the toe strap) is that they are very thick and heavy. But I've hiked in very rough terrain in them in the mountains, on rocks, and they always worked very well.

I, too, would like to know what footbed and sole materials you used. And the straps, did you just bore holes in the sole and thread the strap through. How do you deal with the exposure of the strap material to the ground?

Ryan French
Re: weight? on 05/08/2013 07:17:06 MDT Print View

@Randy - thanks for the interest and I will keep you guys posted on the details

@Roger - appreciate the feedback, I have not gone sloshing through mud bogs yet but have had them dirty and wet without any issues. Locking in the toe + additional row of straps + molded footbed are helping, for sure. I will definitely take that request, find some mud and report back. Thanks.

@Luke - once my feet were wet from spraying them off with the hose, I can definitely say something unexpected happened, they seemed more sticky. But as I told, Roger, I will try to abuse these things and come back with some answers.

@Spelt - thanks, will definitely get back to everyone. I will definitely need to order additional materials to accommodate but will figure out the details and report out. The soling material is 6mm Vibram gumlite material. Here is a detailed photo of the sole with the molded details...
sole material and mold details

@Daniel - duh, the $100 question. As shown in the picture above, a size 11.5 men's weighed in at 4.1 oz (8.2 oz for a pair). For most people, this could be reduced to under 4 oz I would suspect by cutting off the excess webbing, but I like the backup.

Thanks again everyone. Will keep the updates coming...

Edited by lifegearguy on 05/08/2013 07:17:52 MDT.

Ryan French
Re: okay, i'll bite on 05/08/2013 08:21:37 MDT Print View

@Spelt - I have a lot of respect for the other companies out there, Unshoes, Luna, Bedrock. They have all done a great job of bringing sandals to market that didn't exist. And I was ready to pull the trigger on buying a pair but wasn't quite satisfied.

My dilemma was that none of their products met my (specific) needs. Unshoes Pah Tempe didn't incorporate the thong but the really large straps are too large for my taste. Also, the footbed is flat which I could not get to work well in my initial prototypes...even when I walked the front ball of my foot wanted to slide inward, off of the sandal, as well as the heel...and this was only walking, not hiking, running, watersporting. Looking at Bedrock, again another great sandal company, but I assumed I would have the same issue. Then, when I molded my sandal, it changed everything. Instantly I felt like my foot would stay put which was a huge bonus for me. After putting on some jeans for a dinner with my family, I didn't like the way the single strap looked. Too much foot and not enough strap. And not enough support for my taste (I am that guy who will wear these things for everything except my day job).So I started fresh on the webbing design you see today which made me one happy outdoorsmen.

More testing and updates to come. Thanks.


Edited by lifegearguy on 05/08/2013 08:23:30 MDT.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Nice! on 05/08/2013 13:31:41 MDT Print View

Very nice! You have fixed the main issue I have with my minimalist sandals: Foot moving all over the place.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Molded! on 05/08/2013 13:34:14 MDT Print View

How did you go about molding the sole?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Straps on 05/08/2013 16:29:33 MDT Print View

Very nice looking project. I loved Chacos but I've always wished they'd put their starp system on a minimalist sole.
My only concern would be whether the straps would wear through, especially at the back. I believe this question was asked about invisible shoes and the response was "If you to strike you won't wear the heal straps out much." Probably true but I wonder about hiking in them?
Does the molded sole keep the heel straps off the ground?

If not I have an idea. Make a pair of these with thin rubber and get the straps adjusted just right. Then glue another piece of rubber to the bottom so that the straps are covered.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
chacos on 05/08/2013 18:43:50 MDT Print View

Am I the only one who never liked Chacos? Every one I have tried on the soles felt like boards. I never walked out of a store with a pair.

Ryan, thanks for the additional info. I actually had a thread last week about the Wokova Feather and the Pah Tempe. I like the toe strap and thinner straps on the Feather but also the claimed lateral stability of the Pah Tempe. It seems by wrapping the toe you may have found the right combination.