It’s no secret that my running footwear of choice is usually barefoot running sandals from US brand Gladsoles. I have now run in Gladsoles for almost five years now and for the past 2 – 3 years they have been on my feet more than any other. Whenever I am due for more barefoot running sandals I email Rich at Gladsoles and ask if he has anything new coming out. The purchase of these sandals came because my Trail 2.0 sandals had reached their decline after 1400km over all surfaces. This time around Rich let me know he had a new Vibram rubber that I may be interested in.
Enter the Gladsoles 10mm Super trail. These sandals are built on 10mm thick Vibram Nuflex rubber, the Trail 2.0 sandal was built on a 8mm thick Vibram Gumlite rubber. It was explained to me that the Nuflex rubber would be slightly less dense and slightly more flexible than the Gumlite rubber. If there was any criticism of the 8mm Gumlite rubber it would be that it was slightly too dense and didn’t have a lot of give.
What is missing from barefoot running sandals compared with most running shoes is mid sole foam. The mid sole foam is there to provide cushioning. When you run without mid sole foam your feet and ankles take more impact. There is no doubt this puts more stress on this area however in time the feet and ankles strengthen to the point where mid sole foam becomes irrelevant to your running. The effect of not having cushioning is mainly evident on longer runs as fatigue impacts running economy and running form. This has stopped me wearing sandals in road marathons to this point until my feet and ankles become even stronger. What I’ve been looking for in a barefoot running sandal is exactly what the 10mm Super Trail sounded like.
Immediately after running in the 10mm Super trail it was noticeable that the Nuflex rubber reacts slightly differently. It is quite a bit more flexible than the Gumlite rubber and slightly less dense. The benefit to this is a very small amount of give or cushion effect, that may be enough to help the feet, ankles and legs fatigue less through long runs and be able to run better for longer periods. The Nuflex rubber has been tested multiple times already on long runs of up to 3 hours 30 minute and this is evident.
Having a more flexible sandal means you still get fantastic feel from the ground whether you choose to run on road, trail or other surfaces. These have so far been tested on road, trail and beach conditions and passed each test comfortably. Initially this was a concern moving from a 8mm sandal to a 10mm rubber and whether this would affect the feedback you receive back from the ground. The 10mm sandal does give slightly less feedback however the benefits for longer runs outweigh this ever so slight negative.
The possible downside to a less dense rubber is longevity. The 8mm Gumlite have run 1400km and counting, I am unsure whether the 10mm Nuflex sandals will give this type of mileage. So far though they have run 150km and have virtually no visible signs of wear to the sole of the sandal. These sandals most certainly give 1200km+ meaning they are giving double what most running shoes twice their price return.
Gladsoles sandals are custom made to a tracing of both feet which you email when ordering. This is a huge benefit from any other product on the market. They are hand crafted and customised to your feet making sure that every sandal is a perfect fit for the individual runner.
So far the running experience in the Gladsoles 10mm Super Trail has been excellent. These are the fifth sandal I’ve owned from Gladsoles and for running long distances they are the best yet. Running in this sandal so far and testing it over marathon specific long runs in training, I am confident this sandal can get me through a road marathon (or a race on any other surface) in my best shape.
If you are looking for a barefoot running sandal for your running give Gladsoles some consideration. While they may not be the most recognised name in the barefoot sandal arena they make up for it by working hard to make a mighty good running sandal. The customisation can’t be understated as every sandal will fit perfectly and the customer service is superb.
The Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails are great choice of barefoot running sandal. #freethefeet