Steven Sashen has a new offering, the Umara Z-Trail, utilizing an "across the toes" strap, and I have had the great fortune to test them. You can find them through the link to the right of this post. These are very similar in looks to the previously released Z-Treks (I'll be posting a review on them later), but with a beefier sole that is up to pretty much anything that most of us can throw at them. Since receiving these, I have run in them, done a bit of hiking, worn them to the store, out to dinner, working all day in our fruit orchard, in effect, pretty much lived in them. (At my wife's urging, I did clean them up a bit before wearing them out to dinner.) They have taken me on trail terrain, to be sure, including what mud I could find now that our California El Nino seems to have fizzled, but are equally good on asphalt, concrete, in any urban environment as well. We have a mountain camp-out coming up and the Z-Trails are definitely coming along. They roll up so they take up very little room, a men's size 9 is 5.4 oz, and even my size 12s have a weight that is negligible.
I have worn a lot of different "running sandals", and these certainly fill that bill, but they are oh, so much more. The lacing system on the Z-Trails is so versatile that I think you'd have to try very hard to have them not hug your foot. With the way these are set up, you can make macro or micro adjustments to the strap across the toes, the strap securing the ankle, the heel strap (I love Velcro), any which way you need. My feet are not always the easiest to fit, but the templates provided on Xeroshoes.com gave me the tools and instruction that I needed to get a perfectly fitting pair. When you get them on and adjusted, your feet settle into them and you pretty much forget that you have them on.
The sole, at 10mm is the thickest Xeroshoes has offered. I had been hoping for this for a while, as sometimes it's nice to have that little bit of extra protection when traversing rough terrain. They have hit the sweet spot with these, and there is still ground feel, even with the extra protection. The beefing up of the wear points on the sole should make them last for a long time, and the tread gives these sandals great traction, even on gravelly hills. The barefoam foot bed is extremely comfortable, and, maybe it's just my perspective, but I think I can see it having molded a bit to my foot. The fit is extremely comfortable and any adjustments are quick and effortless. The Xeroshoes design gurus have outdone themselves this time, and the price is great, too at only $79.99.
I will continue to wear these, and I'm determined to test Steven's 5k mile warranty with them. I highly recommend these to anyone who is looking for a great minimalist sandal with some extra protection for the foot sole, at a great price. Xeroshoes is a trustworthy company, as well, in my opinion. I have dealt with them a number of times over the years and have never been disappointed. It's clear that Steven wants everyone who puts on his shoes to be satisfied, and he seems to go to great lengths to make that happen.