I recently received a pair of GladSoles sandals to review and here are my thoughts about them..
What is GladSoles?
GladSoles is a company based in New Jersey, USA. It all started when Rich, the CEO and founder, read the book “Born to run” by Chris McDougall. As for many others this book opened up his eyes to a more minimal, or let’s rather call it natural, way of running. After running in Runamocs and Vibram® FiveFingers, and inspired by the Tarahumaras, Rich decided that it was time to switch to truly minimal running – “barefoot running” – so he started exploring the running sandal market. As he wasn’t happy with anything offered on the market, he started experimenting making his own sandals:
I started tinkering. I made some minor modifications to some traditional tying methods, got rid of the annoying knot underneath the sandals, found some really comfortable lacing material and came up with my GladSoles. They were awesome. My wife and kids even stopped laughing at me and got me to make them their own GladSoles. I made myself a couple more pairs. I wore them everywhere. That was it, I was done. I had created the perfect running/ walking/ hiking/ beach/ everything sandal – and I was thrilled. I still didn’t have a business, nor did I think about starting one, but I was a very happy man running around in my own, custom-made sandals.
As Rich and his family wore their sandals out and about they noticed people were very curious about the sandals and wanting to get their feet in these sandals too, which lead to starting the company GladSoles. Since then GladSoles is offering us all a hand made sandal, made with Vibram® soles and military strength paracord laces which are flexible, strong and silky smooth against the skin. The sandals are now worn and loved by runners, yogis and sandal lovers in general around the globe.
What products does GladSoles offer?
The GladSoles come in three different models:
- GladSoles Lite – 4mm Vibram® sole
- GladSoles Original – 6mm Vibram® sole
- GladSoles Trail – 8mm Vibram® sole with tread for extra traction
These models all use the same laces and squeeze lock systems and you can easily change the laces when you feel like switching the colors up or when the laces are due for a change. There are 11 lace colors and 9 lock colors to choose from so you can really make the sandals your own, by matching the colors you like.
Evelin and GladSoles
It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that I now like what could be called “minimal” shoes as you’ve seen me running a bunch in SKORA since I first got my hands on them last spring. Before transitioning to zero drop, or minimalist shoes like a lot of people want to call them, I had never thought that it would happen. At least not in the near future.. All I heard was that I needed a cushy shoe for my medium-high arches, and as a fairly new runner I believed it was the truth and nothing but the truth. Of course, we are all different and I’m sure the “traditional” cushiony shoes are perfect for some runners. However while I was transitioning to zero drop and less shoe I came to realize that this was great – I had found “my way” through the running shoe jungle. Zero drop and “less shoe” – more strength – better form (or a reason to work on my form). Since making SKORA my beloved go-to shoes I have been curious about trying out even LESS of a shoe – I have been looking at sandals, both for running and everyday wear (after all I live in Hawaii and I don’t have a sandal tan?! Just kidding, maybe.). So when GladSoles contacted me asking me if I wanted to try and review their custom made sandals I jumped on it!
After having a chat with GladSoles I got my feet traced. This is done to get a pair of custom made sandals – made for just YOU and your feet when you put in your order. After tracing your feet you can scan and email your foot tracings to GladSoles, or simply send it with snail mail. Once GladSoles received my tracings things were moving fast, within a day or two my custom made sandals were on their way from the far East to the Big Island of Hawaii.
To be honest I could barely wait to get these sandals and try them on. So when they did arrive just a few days later, I hurried up getting the lacing guide videos up on the computer and I got going.. I had a lot of fun trying different colors of laces and different tying techniques and probably bugged my post-work tired husband to the maximum by constantly saying something in the lines of “Look baby, they even look great on my ugly feet?!”, “What color of laces should I use first?” or “Which tying method do you like better?”.
The great thing with this kind of sandal is that you can tie them on in so many different ways and therefore find one or more tying methods that fit your feet perfectly and will make for great fit and feel when your running, walking, doing yoga or whatever you choose to do in the sandals. GladSoles offer a tutorial video for the standard GladSoles tying method. This was really helpful for me when tying them on the first time, and.. This method is great! I used this for my first few runs, the sandals stayed put on my feet perfectly while running and a big pro is that you don’t have to re-lace the sandals every time you put them on – you just slip them on/off, which of course is very convenient!
Since I’ve been using the sandals more I’ve found other ways to tie the sandals on that also works great for me – same basics but different placement of the laces. I found that experimenting with the tying methods and watching YouTube/Vimeo videos for tutorials and ideas was very interesting and fun. For everyday wear I really like the traditional Huarache tying method. I have been using a variation of GladSoles tying method and the latest one I tried and also liked a lot is a variation of Barefoot Bonez method. Why am I using the word variation so much? Yes, because our feet are all different and different tying methods and placements of the laces will be good for different people.
So after experimenting and doing some tweaking with the tying methods a bit I got going running in the sandals. I received the GladSoles Trail model with 8mm sole and a bit of thread on the sole (see photo above) and these sandals are just amazing for running. I have been running on both roads and on trails and both have been wonderful experiences – there is something very special with being barefoot in nature, feeling the air against your feet as you move forward. I am somewhat a clumsy girl and was worried I would trip, both running on roads and trails, but I haven’t even been close to tripping?! This obviously has to do with how well the sandals stays on my feet, they really stay put and move with my feet. I especially enjoy trail running in the GladSoles, the ground feel is truly AMAZING and makes for smooth and secure running while the sole is still offering great protection against hard rocks, uneven surface etc. I love the way my feet are allowed to splay and it is obvious that my feet due to this have the ability to fully adjust to the ground beneath me! Running in the sandals have been wonderful and I will keep enjoying it. A lot.
Another thing I really like about GladSoles is that they as a company put in effort on being sustainable and cruelty free. The sandals are completely vegan (no leather or animal based glues) and nobody, nor animals or people, were harmed in the making of the sandals – I love that.
What I also have been happy about with these sandals is that they work just as well for everyday wear as for running. I live in Hawaii and haven’t had a pair of sandals that treated my feet well for… A long long time. Therefore I have used them when going to the beach or to town running errands etc. Every time I am around people I tend to get compliments on my nice looking sandals – who doesn’t love that?! For runners who aren’t quite ready to try running in sandals, I would say definitely think about using GladSoles for everyday wear – by being close to the ground and zero drop they will help you naturally work up strength and mobility in your feet which will help you with your running. Plus, they stay put on your feet which will save your from the “toe pinching” technique many of us use to keep sandals like flip-flops in place while walking.
Do yourself a favor and make your feet happy with GladSoles! Head on over to GladSoles.com, choose your sandals, color of laces and use the code “EvRuns” for 15% off! I highly recommend these sandals for running, both road and trails, and for a pair of great looking and comfortable sandals for everyday wear.
Check out GladSoles and connect with them here:
If you’re not ready to take the leap just yet, it might just be your lucky day! GladSoles offered my readers a chance to win a pair of sandals. Very nice! Is that lucky reader you? We will see – just make sure to enter the giveaway below for YOUR chance to win a pair of custom made GladSoles Originals!
Giveaway is closed and the winner is:
Giveaway rules: This giveaway is open to only US residents over 18 years old. The giveaway is open between Sunday 12/1/13 12am HST and Monday 12/9/13 at 12am HST. I will choose a random winner and post him/her here on evelinruns.com Monday 12/9/13.
Disclaimer: I was sent a pair of GladSoles Trail sandals for free to do this review, I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions in this blogpost are mine and mine alone and they have not been controlled or influenced by GladSoles or anyone else.