Things sure have been shoey around here lately. Which is funny, because I’ve never been more barefoot than I have this summer. Even though my job requires I spend the day in a gravel yard, my employers (I prefer to call them customers) are cool with my choice of flimsy footwear. The Invisible Shoes have been great, basically making the rocks feel like they’re covered in a thin sheet of rubber. I was contacted by Branca Barefoot to give their latest product a try: the Perforated Leather Running Sandals.
Here are my initial thoughts:
Woops, I should read the instructions. They left me to the task of cutting them to fit. At first I was all Mr. Irate Customer, even though I didn’t pay for them. It’s like getting a free Vallvik from IKEA. So then I thought, who am I to look a gift Vallvik in the mouth?
Actually, having the customer cut the toe end of the sandals makes sense – who better to make a “custom” fit than the “custom”er?
So I cut ’em and wore them to work.
– It wasn’t the lace that was uncomfortable. Turns out I had a bug bite on my foot.
– I played around with the lacing and have some options.
– Not much running in them yet. Sorry guys, it’s summer. I’m not putting anything on my feet unless I absolutely have to. I guess everything will get re-reviewed in the winter.
– They have upgraded the Vibram Newflex soles. I don’t know what that means, other than they must be better than the Oldflex.
– New soles also have the curvy bendy feature to minimize flappage. But I gotta say, I don’t see how that is necessary with how the lacing works. These sandals stay snug.
So, would I pay $97 for a pair (that includes a free pair of basic Brancas, which I haven’t tried)? Because that’s what they cost. I can see how a small company would need to charge that much to make any kind of profit. Those soles and heel straps are probably pricey, especially if you’re not buying in mega bulk. But as a customer, no, I wouldn’t. Too steep for me, and there are more affordable options.
Price aside, my initial impression of the Branca is very positive. The sole is thicker than I’d prefer, but honestly after a while I don’t even notice. On some terrains and distances I might even like it better. For my general daily shod activities, though, Invisible Shoes are my first choice. I’m thinking I’ll want the Brancas for the trails, though. Time will tell…