Outdoors Magazine

Backpacking in Bio Earth Runners

By Earthrunner1987 @earthrunner1987

For years, though, I equated time in nature with wearing hiking boots. From day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, I left my sandals in the car & strapped up my boots. It wasn’t until a friend was sharing her pictures of a Nepalese trek that I noticed she wore her Chacos the entire trip. I didn’t even say anything, I felt so oblivious. Since then I’ve done several hikes in Chacos & it was life-changing. I felt so much more connection to nature, all that great air flow and breathability that only a sandal can provide. And the massive footbed of the Chaco felt super safe.

For those unsure about the lack of protection, it is surprising that toe stubbing isn’t an issue. I am a pretty lackadaisical hiker, and though I was prepared to trade comfort for bloody toes, I quickly stopped worrying about hitting my feet. My theory was that the lighter shoe and increased sensory awareness of my foot of its environment helped keep me safe. Slogging big boots around almost begged for some stubs.

This past winter, I decided to upgrade my winter sneakers from retro pumas to a pair of Minimus. The advent of minimalist footwear is amazing, and I love the new intersection of light, agile shoes with support and stability. Science is amazing.

So after a winter of enjoying my nimble Minimus, it was time to get ready for spring trekking. The first time I put on my Chacos I felt like I strapped an anchor to my feet. It was horrible. It never occurred to me how massive and heavy the footbed was!

Lucky for me, the past few years have sprouted minimal sandal manufacturers. They have a similar common origin to the Huarache sandal of “Born to Run” fame. After hours of browsing, I settled on Earth Runners. After emailing them about my needs, I was offered an unreleased model that was perfect for my application.

I am amazed by these sandals. They are so light and comfortable, it is like having perfectly protected feet with essentially no weight. Normally my footwear is jettisoned the instant I enter the door, but with my Bios I have to remember to take them off. My first few days in them I felt better wearing them than going barefoot, even indoors. I wanted to sleep in them. I know, I sound crazy.  The insole is grippy, almost sticky. The midsole is just enough foam to take the edge off of ground impact without taking much ground feel away. And the outsole is grippy and tenacious without clogging with earth.

Backpacking in Bio Earth Runners

Earth Runner is big on grounding bioelectrically, and I gave it a shot with the conductive lacing system. I can’t compare them to a non-conductive model to say how big of a difference it makes. All I can tell you is that they feel too good to be true.

Setup was a bit of a process, but well worth it. These shoes are for people who want a perfect shoe, and will tinker with the straps until you get exactly what you need. With Chacos I probably tightened straps daily; with the Bios I dialed in my strapping and it’s set.

On trail, they are far superior to my old sandals. I am another order of magnitude more dextrous given the weight change and grippy insole. The laces are a superior fit, I never feel like my sandals are anywhere but exactly secure to my feet. I have the same lack of toe stubbing as I did in Chacos. Under the load of a backpack, I don’t feel like I need more shoe under my feet. If anything the more minimal footbed allows my foot to work more naturally and I have negligible soreness after a long day. Who knows maybe it’s the earthing?

Like other sandals there is occasional trail debris getting under my feet. This is never a big deal; if it’s bad I take a mid stride break to clear it. I consider it nature’s tax for having open shoes. I’ve worn them in streams, mud, dry forest, and sand dune. They are amazing in all of it. The only weakness is when the insole has been completely coated in mud, the grippy sole turns very slick. This is rare, and besides a closed boot I can’t imagine a shoe performing differently. If you want to be perfectly impervious to the forces of nature, wear boots. I’m okay with my feet getting muddy and dealing with it, and enjoying my time outdoors so much more with sandals.

I wear these sandals all the time, on trail and off. They are by far my favorite shoes of all time.

Earth Runners
USA [email protected]

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