Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Branca Barefoot Running Sandals

Barefoot running.
Most of us have heard of it.
Some scoff at it.
Some swear by it.
It has been labeled "trendy", "dangerous", or "basic and wise".

For me, I have no interest in becoming a barefoot runner.  I'm doing fine with shoes thank you very much.  However, I do know several friends that have suffered from injury after injury during their running journey. People that love running so deeply but just can't seem to find a way to do it continually without being knocked down by foot, knee, and various leg injuries that cause them pain and problems!  Many of these people have chucked the fancy shoes and turned to the simplicity of barefoot running or a minimalistic running approach.   Some use a very minimalistic shoe.  Others have tried the trendy Vibrams.  And there are those that use barefoot running sandals or nothing at all.

Barefoot running, like anything in life, isn't for everyone.  It is what it is and it works for many people.  Not so much for others.  Although I am not a barefoot runner and I don't think I ever really will be, I do think that making time for barefoot running can be beneficial in several ways.  I think that by adding barefoot running or barefoot sandal running to my running routine several times a week (starting gradually) can:

  • Improve my form
  • Strengthen my feet
  • Work my muscles in new ways and make me a stronger runner
I've been seeing a lot of the Vibram shoes around lately.  I've just always thought of them as the funny toe shoes.  And then my husband got a pair and I started noticing them more and more.  But I had never seen anyone wearing barefoot sandals until one afternoon at the Children's Museum.  A man was wearing these really awesome looking Branca sandals.  They looked comfortable and well made.  Apparently, he is also a fan of Luna sandals but he liked his Brancas better and so he was sure to have a pair made especially for him when he was in the Portland area.  He even let me take a picture.  

I asked him several questions about his sandals and I mentioned that I write a running blog.  Soon after my meeting, Brant, from Branca Barefoot  contacted me and asked me if I'd like to try out a pair of leather barefoot sandals.  I said that I'd be interested in trying them out in hopes of gradually adding barefoot drills to my running routine.   

So far, these sandals feel very comfortable when I'm running and when I'm just wearing them around.  They are well made and tailored to fit just right!  Brant, from Branca, also mentioned that they recently upgraded to Vibram Newflex soles.  And they have developed a method to curve the soles so they don't flap and bend under the toes.  However,  I have not noticed mine doing this even before the improvement.  

Here is some information taken direction from the Branca website.  You can read much more and even watch several videos by visiting the Branca website! yourself!  

Welcome to the Branca! We provide custom-made, colorful, comfortable minimalist running sandals for anyone looking to improve their running form and prevent injury.

  • Vibram Newflex
  • Low Density
  • Highly Resistant to Abrasion
  • Extremely Light
  • Rigid Tread Patter for Maximum Traction
  • Note: The Original Brancas use 1/8" thick styrene/butadiene rubber mix sole. Not Vibram.

  • Stoned Oil-tanned Leather, and Perforated Leather
  • Original Brancas: Vinyl coated cloth, 15 colors available

Heel Straps
  • Black Elastic Rubber
    • UV and ozone resistant
    • 1" width provided maximum comfort!
    • "runbranca.com" imprinted
  • Leather
    • 1-2mm thick
    • 1" width provided maximum comfort!
    • Black and Brown options available

  • 3/8" wide (Note: Black, Navy Blue, and Red are significantly wider)
  • 45" long
  • Nylon/Polyester Blend
  • 22 colors (maroon now available!)
  • Easy tying design

  • Color: black oxide
  • Heavy Duty Steel

  • Perforated Leather: Less than 5 ounces
  • Originals and Brown Leather: Just over 6 ounces

  • Flat sole. No knot under toes. 
  • "Winged" soles allows eyelets to be lifted off ground so laces don't make contact with ground and don't wear out.
  • Mens size  13 is largest size we can make.
  • 5" wide toe region
  • Simply tying design allows for convention knot tying. No complex knots imvolved.

  • Originals: $40, Free Shipping
  • Stoned Oil-Tanned: $74, Includes a Free Pair of Original Brancas (Yes, you get two pairs of running sandals!), Free Shipping
  • Perforated Leather: $97, Included a Free Pair of Original Brancas (Yes, you get two pairs of running sandals!), Free Shipping

  • Free domestic shipping
  • International: $13
  • Priority Mail



  1. hmm interesting.. They flap around? My invisible shoes do that when I'm walking but not when running. I thought I'd love them but not so sure now.

  2. Very interesting, indeed!!

    btw, I truly believe improper shoes can cause injuries ... mostly down road, as in wearing the wrong shoe for an extended period of say many years. So... I'm glad to hear you're incorporating some barefoot in there to strengthen the foot (shoes leave your feet weak!)...but my advice is maybe to just do drills on a grassy area to start. Our track team does barefoot drills and I swear it has made them faster!

    See you soon!! :)

  3. Flap around??? no. they don't.

    Jill, yes, drills...not for the road for me.

  4. Interesting. Since getting help with injuries last year from a sports injury chiropractor, I've really tried to heed her advice of going barefoot a lot, which is fine because I work from home and it's an option, but otherwise, I'm usually in my Frees...it would be nice to have sandals like that.

  5. I've seen these before (or something very similar) and they kind of scare me :) I'm not sure if barefoot running is for me...

  6. I am trying out a pair now and they are pretty comfortable!

  7. Since they mimic barefoot, is it also suggested to start out with a mile and build up from there, or do they have a different philosophy on that?

  8. Very interesting info. I started running with racing flats for shorter distances and have really been liking them. I cannot believe how much harder my calves and feet had to work in them. I have seen a lot of improvement in my lower leg strength since training in them a couple of days a week.

  9. These are cool! Although they look like a thong, while our running shoes are more granny-panty :)

  10. I have VFFs for wearing around and running errands. Decided that since I am barefoot 90% of the time it works for me! No plans to run in them though.

  11. Forty bucks...that is a great deal. I have NEVER seen those!! I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop being injured though!! Great review, thanks Amanda!