Xero Shoes lightweight sport sandal - hiking running backpacking

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Figured Out How To Make Huarache Sandals!

I just successfully finished making my first pair of Huaraches, based off the running sandals used by the Tarahumara Indians. It must have been the native Alaskan in me. (OK, so I don't have native blood but I was born and raised in Alaska...) Anyways, back to the point. These things are really cool! They're pretty much the closest thing you can have to barefoot without the bare feet. Vibram FiveFingers (VFF's) are very similar but some report that they are a little stiffer than these and feel a little more shoe-like because of the encapsulating top. An added benefit to Huaraches is that they don't smell, which is an oft complained of "feature" of the VFF's. (That being said I'm very interested in trying some VFF's and may be purchasing a pair myself in the future.)

On to the build:
The absolute best site for all things DIY Huaraches related is www.InvisibleShoe.com The founder of the site, Steven, has put together an excellent resource if you're interested in making a pair, there are full instructional videos and forums dedicated to the shoes. Also if you are wanting to build or buy one pre-maid pair you can't beat his prices.

For the build I followed Steven's instructions with only a few variations. First is getting the foot shape:

Second, cutting out the material:

Lastly, tying them up:

My only real variation was the knot under the toes and the hole sizes. After I tied it I was completely annoyed by the feeling of a pebble under my shoe. I tried the suggestion of cutting the chord out of the middle of the laces then tying the knot but it was still too big for me. What I came up with was to melt the end of the lace with a lighter then smash it flat so it mushroomed out like a little flange on the end of the lace. Seen in this picture:
I just heated it to the point of melting then smashed it on the cold steel to make it flat. The thing that makes this work is making the holes for the laces slightly smaller than recommended to prevent the lace from pulling through. I think mine are about 1/16" or 3/32", I used a Dremel tool with a small rotary bit to make the holes. This might not seem like a very secure way to keep the laces from pulling through but I yanked on the thing pretty hard and it didn't even try to come through. You can also see in the picture-above the solution for pulling the laces through the smaller holes. I wrapped the end of the lace in scotch tape length-wise, twisted the tape to a point and pulled it through the hole. Here's a close-up of the finished product:
 As you can see there is very little protrusion from the bottom of the sandal.

I'll also note that there are a TON of different ways to tie these bad boys, most of which can be found at www.invisibleshoe.com/tying/ For this first attempt I'm using Steven's slip-on method and seem to be fairly happy with it. I've got some bungee laces that I'd like to experiment with but that will come later.

The Finished Product


I'm including this one just so you can see the difference in the top and bottom textures of the material. The tops are very smooth while the bottom has a nice grid that seems to be quite grippy.
Another note is that I've read of people having issues getting pebbles stuck between their foot and the sole. One of the remedies for this is to remove more of the material under the arch of the foot. Ideally the huarache will be only slightly bigger than your wet footprint. DON'T make them this way at first though, it's much easier to remove more material later than to add it back...

If you want to build your own stop by www.invisibleshoe.com and for $20 score yourself a pair!


  1. Wow. These are so cool! I'm going to have to try a pair!

  2. very cool. I may have to make a pair myself!

  3. TY

    How did you 'smash' the nylon with a hammer to get the mushroom?

    The only way I can see to do this is lay the string along a stone and hit with hammer ( after melting it ) but then it is flat sideways instead of a mushroom like you're done

    Please describe how to make the mushroom


  4. Hi Paul, to mushroom out the lace you melt the end of it with the lighter and while it's still hot (immediately) press the hot gooey end against a cold hard surface and it mushrooms out like shown in the picture. If you don't get a good spread just cut it off and try again.

  5. Hey Ty,

    You still live in Alaska?

  6. Moved to Michigan last year... I'm enjoying it here but there are definitely parts that miss!

  7. I just successfully finished making my first pair of Huaraches, based off the running sandals used by the Tarahumara Indians. It must have been ... hhuaraches.blogspot.com