Review by Heidi Redlitz
Minimalist running is no new trend. It’s been played up by major sports apparel companies to squeeze some extra bucks out of excitable athletes, but it’s also a concept that harkens back to ancient footwear as being no more than a sole and some straps. Dan and Nick, co-founders of Bedrock Sandals, have improved on the fundamental design by adding adjustable straps and a Vibram sole. The concept, however, is the same: to offer foot protection without impeding the foot and body’s natural movement.
I was talking to Dan over the phone to figure out the right size for my Goldilocks feet that are always just in between standard foot sizes. Dan is a friendly, talkative guy who’s very willing to answer questions and concerns regarding the sandals or the barefoot running concept. Then the inevitable question came up: Is barefoot really better? I’ve been training with the same padded shoe style for 10-plus years, so like any superstitious sport enthusiast, I’m weary of change. Running in three-ounce footwear was to me akin to playing soccer without cleats or shin guards, or to surfing in winter temps with just a rash guard. Pain and injury seemed inevitable.
“I don’t think I’m that into barefoot running,” I warned him.
His reply: “Just wait til you try these.”
Dan has a reason for his confidence. The beauty of Bedrock Sandals as a form of minimalist footwear is their simple, logical construction. Nothing pulls, strains or tugs unevenly. Because Bedrock can produce customized cuts based off a foot tracing you send to them, the sandals are well-fitted to your foot’s anatomy. And with the constant “customer support” you’ll have via phone or email, training with these sandals is like having a personal support team at your side.
Since I’m new to this mode of running, I’ll have to ease into using the sandals. Since I do already run barefoot on the beach, so these have worked as a great barrier for when the high tide covers up jagged rocks and toe-stubbing, foot-bruising pebbles. For the general runner curious to try barefoot running, Bedrock Sandals offer the same benefits (and detriments, if you’re approaching this running style carelessly) as other minimalist footwear: improved form, increased strength and range of muscle use, and a decreased likelihood of injury over time.
Beyond the potential pros of minimalist running, I realized that wearing the sandals boosted an acute awareness to my form and to an overall consciousness of my body in motion. By being more vulnerable in open-toed shoes and feeling more distinctly the slight pressure of uneven terrain underfoot, I had to be more careful of each foot placement and more attune to every stride. In the same way that the right board and suit heightens the potential for a successful session, these barely-there sandals transform running from just a routine exercise to an exhilarating connection between mind, body, and the elements.
If barefoot running’s not your thing, these sandals are useful for barefoot everything else. They’re a practical addition to long hikes or overnight backpacking trips. Strap them to your pack, and you don’t have to sacrifice extra weight for relieving your feet from a long day of wearing cramped, sweaty shoes. Or use them on rocky beaches and dangerous road crossings that might otherwise lead to cut feet and a miserable time in the water. As a current backpack-toting traveler, I’ve enjoyed having them to lighten the load of necessary shoes. Easily packed away, lightweight, bendable, breathable, and adaptable to rain and mud, they have worked well for walking for miles in a city and in the backcountry.
The versatility of these shoes applies to men as much as it does to women, though I would understand someone’s hesitancy to run through public places in what look like gladiator sandals. But wear them with confidence, and be proud to know you’re supporting a group of humble DIY-ers looking to build a company founded on the beliefs that sit deep in their core. At the very least, they make for a great conversation starter.
See more of Bedrock Sandals on the go here: