10 Best Huaraches Reviewed & Rated

The huaraches are a type of traditional sandals worn by indigenous Americans, mainly Mexicans, during the Pre-Columbian era. (That time before the Spaniards like Christopher Columbus and other Europeans sailed in, conquered the lands, and nearly wiped everyone out.) Huaraches used to go by their earlier names; Warachi and Kwarachi (roughly meaning “sandals” in their original Pure’pecha language).

10 best huaraches-brown shoes

Huaraches are only considered true huaraches if they’re “home-made” (as opposed to being manufactured and mass-produced). They’re flat-heeled, having uppers with leather strips, and are usually open-toed. And they’re made mainly of leather for their soles and straps. During the introduction of automobiles in the 1930s, the leather soles would be replaced by synthetic rubber from recycled tires; thereby giving them that “tread” look.

Last Updated: October 22, 2017
By Benjamin Tyree III:

Critiques, Facts, and Questions had been added to the table of contents of this article; detailing the materials used for them and answering possible questions that would appear about them.

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The huaraches were usually worn by farmers in countryside communities. They would gain its popularity among some religious orders like the Catholic Church’s Franciscan Friars, and also in the 1960s with hippies and the pre-baby boomer generation. Some huarache wearers would have them last for 10 to 20 years. But it’s difficult to find a pair that would fit them since they’re based around the size of typical Mexicans’ feet. And even still, it takes a while to get a good-sized pair to work around your foot. (A good tip is to massage the leather with your hand. Another is to wet them and walk around in them for a day.)

 

10 Best Huaraches

 

1. Naturalizer Wendy

Caleres, Inc. is a global footwear brand currently based in St. Louis, Missouri. They started out in 1927 during the decade of "cultural shifts and progressive thinking." With Naturalizer as their headline product, Caleres continues to make women's shoes that are unpretentious, "beautifully fit," backed by research by the company's "Style And Trend" experts, and comfortable to wear throughout the day. Their "Wendy Huarache Sandals" are Amazon's most popular sandals and can nearly be considered "true huaraches."
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Made Of Leather
Any pair of shoes with the word "huarache" in it should immediately have leather for the build. That's one of the main rules for the shoes to be considered true huaraches. The leather straps are elaborately woven throughout the sandals and have a nice decorative front on them.

Several Luxurious Colors
The leather also comes in several decorative colors; giving you a choice of what to match your "clothing style of the day" with. There are even several different shades of brown; one of them with blue, yellow, and red straps if you want to come off as more Earthly or "natural."

Cost And Value
It's not as pricey as the latest sports shoes of the month. But a good pair of these sandals can hurt your wallet for a good week or two. If you remove your fear of that, then these sandals will be worth every penny you spared.
Pros

Made of leather

Comes in several colors

Synthetic rubber soles

Elaborately woven leather straps

Medallion-style image on front

Adjustable backstrap with hook-and-loop closure

Cons

Issues of the material tearing apart

Issues with the sole peeling apart

2. Crocs Isabella

The Crocs main website states that it's the world leader in creative and casual footwear for everyone of all ages. Starting out in 2002; based in Niwot, Colorado; and sold over three hundred million shoes ever since. The company also committed to charity and donated three million of their shoes to those without them. Crocs' Isabella Flat Jelly Sandals for women are huarache-based; yet it's made of completely synthetic material. Their overall goal of these sandals is to give your feet comfort and airiness.
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Croslite Foam Cushion
Crocs' proprietary material that's been used in the soles of every shoe they create. This technology emphasizes softness and comfort, lightness of weight, and resistance to odor and marking.

Soft TPU Translucent Straps
While not as elaborate as something you might find on a pair of original huaraches, TPU straps have been known for their flexibility and toughness. It also means that Crocs' Isabella sandals can come in more colors and as just as many sizes while maintaining their comfort around the feet.

Cost And Value
A good pair of Crocs, especially these Crocs, can also hurt your wallet for a week. But they're also worth every dime once you get the right pair. They're also known to last long as a good pair of original huaraches.
Pros

Huarache-inspired shape

Massaging nubs footbed

Several choices of color

Cons

Difficulty breaking them in sometimes

Same sizes but different build chafing parts of the feet

3. Nike Air Huarache

Now moving on to huaraches that look less like huraches. Nike, one of the top international shoe-makers (and user of the Greek goddess of victory's name), introduced this style of running shoe in 1991. Based on "Native-American sandals," the Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Huaraches had been updated to today's current standards.
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Leather (Synthetic And Mesh)
These running shoes are designed to "stretch with your feet." Meaning that they're made to be broken in and utilized for the long run without any loss of performance whatsoever.

Foam Midsole
The Air Huaraches also emphasize comfort to your feet when you run. Phylon foam had been added underfoot, Air Sole under the heel and forefoot, and neoprene-like sockliner are in these shoes to make sure they fit well and are worn better around your feet.

Cost And Value.
They're pricey; too pricey and expensive. If they sell out at Nike's brick-and-mortar store or website, then be prepared to shell out a lot of cash. It'll be worth every dime, but you need to be serious about running. This ain't just some trendy sneaker you can trow away after a month.
Pros

Rubber sole

Comes in several colors

Custom-made colors at Nike website

Cons

Not too many sizes

Issues with quality of manufacture

4. SoftSpots Tatianna

4. SoftSpots Tatianna
The people who run SoftSpots and created the Tatianna Ankle Strap Huaraches know that a balance of comfort, function, and style can be achieved. They also know that there's nothing wrong with adding a little zest, and simple elegance, to any outfit.
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PillowTop
SoftSpots' patented insole technology allows for comfortable walking from the moment you put on your shoes to the end of the day when you take them off. The distribution of cushioning allows for comfort under the feet daily.

Leather Straps
The elaborate weaving and design of the leather straps are reminiscent of the ancient huaraches back then. The Tatianna also features a closed-toe design for added "style points" to your shoes.

Cost And Value
Getting a really good pair of Tatianna huaraches can hurt your wallet for a week. But they can also be worth it. A tip for those on a budget, it's advised not to get them used because it's unknown how long they've been worn.
Pros

Made with leather

Comes in several colors and sizes

Polyurethane outsole

Suede-lined footbed

1.5"-high steel shank

Lightweight

Cons

Issues with material falling apart

5. SoftSpots Tela

5. SoftSpots Tela
The Tela is an open-toed version of the SoftSpots' huarache sandals, compared to the Tatianna version having closed toes. It's been built for long walks through the hot summer days and with the same care you'd expect from SoftSpots.
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Leather Upper
Leather's durability and ease of "breaking in" had been the stable of most footwear that use this material. The Tela shows off its intriguing design with the weaving of leather straps and the pattern at the center.

Ultra-Cushioned Insoles
Being able to walk comfortably in today's open-aired huaraches is considered one of the most important trait to have, if not the most important trait. SoftSpots continues to emphasize this trait on the Tela.

Cost And Value
You'll be able to buy a pair of these in one week's paycheck. And your feet will be glad you did. Just be careful of those who try to sell it for cheap (because of the curse of "getting what you pay for").
Pros

Flexible sole

Comes in several colors

Long-lasting

Cons

Not many sizes

Issues with straps breaking

6. Brand X Pachuco

6. Brand X Pachuco
Ronn Simpson took his degree in Spanish, and his inspiration from the "huaracheros" (huarache crafters) in Mexico, and started off as a street vendor in 1972's Oakland. By 1976 he and his wife were selling huaraches from a building on Telegraph and 43rd (a seven-minute walk from McArthur BART Station); that's now a warehouse and shipment location for their hand-crafted huaraches. Brand X boasts authenticity in spades; insuring that you day will be brightened by a nice pair of handcrafted huaraches.
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Vegetable Tanning
Done in Mexico, this process is a natural and non-chemical process that gives the leather vibrant colors and keeps the moisture off. It also helps the leather to comfortably mold to the shape of your feet.

Dual Density Cushion Midsoles
Being able to walk comfortably in these huaraches is also important. The color of these midsoles match beautifully with the leather straps and the rest of the huaraches.

Cost And Value
Since they're hand-crafted and sold in a small shop (instead of being mass-produced and sold at a big-box store), they're going to be a little price. But that week-long pain in your wallet will be worth it once you start wearing these huaraches.
Pros

Durable "Microtech" lug outsole cushions

Comes in a variety of colors

Hand-made in Mexico

Cons

Limited sizes

Issues with quality of leather and materials

7. Stacy Adams Naples Slip-On

7. Stacy Adams Naples Slip-On
Started in 1875 by William H. Stacy and Henry L. Adams in Brockton, Massachusetts, their men's clothing and shoes company has survived it all; two world wars, prohibition and jazz, if it's part of the American culture, you name it. The Naples Slip-On Loafers, also known as "Moc Toes," are inspired by the huarache style; great for the summertime casual wear.
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Man-Made Upper
The Stacy Adams Company has placed much of their efforts into making their loafers as attractive and shiny as the original makers of the huaraches in Mexico.

Leather Linings
This malleable material has been used in a lot of footwear; the leather used by Stacy Adams is no different (with shoes worn by Morris Day of The Time / Original 7ven and wearers of "zoot suits"). The Naples utilize the leather splendidly.

Cost And Value
Fortunately; you don't have to be at the level of Morris Day and his fellow musicians or the zoot suit wearers to purchase these shoes. They cost more than standard sandals and flip-flops, but they're also worth every extra penny you put in.
Pros
  • Synthetic sole
  • Concealed goring insets
  • Moc-toe stitching
  • Fully cushioned insoles
  • Lightweight
  • Great replacement for flip-flops
Cons

No "wide" sizes

Wears out quickly

Poor cushioning

8. Earth Shore Slip-Ons

8. Earth Shore Slip-Ons
Anne Kalsø (born 1905 & from Denmark) was passionate about yoga. She traveled to Brazil in 1957 and was in awe with how the bare feet imprints of the Brazilians were deeper in the heels than in the toes. She took the knowledge she gained and, with the help of a Portuguese shoemaker, created Kalsø (Earth) Shoes. After a financial falling out in the late 1970s, the company came back under new management in 2001. It's now just known as "Earth," not to be confused with the "Earth" shoes sold at Walmart. The Shore Huarache Sandals are this company's more popular style.
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Premium Leather Upper
The great powers of yoga and huarache-making combined. The malleable leather with glove-soft lining had been created to insure that the sandals will fit your feet near-perfectly.

ThermoPlastic Elastomer Rubber Outsoles
Leather material for the upper and rubber for the outsoles partly make for the standards of true huaraches. The outsoles guarantee a grip on the ground with every step.

Cost And Value
Another one of huarache styles that will hurt your wallet for a good week. The good news is that it's currently going on sale. So it's best to get a new pair of them while supplies last.
Pros

Synthetic sole

Lining is breathable PU

Multi-density cushioning

Arch support

Cons

Limited sizes

Issues with pinching

9. Natural Soul Grandeur

9. Natural Soul Grandeur
Natural Soul is a subline of Caleres / Naturalizer's multitude of sandal styles. The Grandeur Slip-On is the closed-toe version of the huarache-style sandals; the second style from the same company featured in our top ten list. However; it's not less of an eye-catcher with its weaving patterns and design.
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Leather Man-Made Upper
The Naturalizer footwear has no shortage of incredible leather-weaving designs. The malleable leather allows you to break them in and wrap around your feet.

Easy Slip-On Style
Slip them on, slip them off; with style and without any hassle. Enjoy a full day in comfort wearing these huarache-style sandals.

Cost And Value
It's released in the spring of 2015, but it doesn't look like there's many of them left. There are sale's going on for these sandals, so this is the time to pick them up without hurting your wallet too much.
Pros
  • Rubber sole
  • Smooth man-made lining
  • Cushioned footbed 
Cons

Limited sizes

Limited colors

10. Crocs Huarache Wedge

10. Crocs Huarache Wedge
Not to be outdone by Naturalizer and its brands, Crocs features the Huarache Wedge, giving the heels a 3.25 inch rise in every step. These sandals also have some vivid colors added to them to liven your stride. Croce also insures the wearer of their Huarache Wedge sandals that each step will also be just as comfortable.
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100% Synthetic
It may not be leather, but it works just as well. The strappy, translucent uppers mean that you can slide them on and show off your style until the day gets dark.

Croslite Insoles
Any type of footwear would be the same old footwear if it didn't have anything separating it from the heard. With Crocs, it's their patented "Croslite Insoles;" dedicated to giving your feet the lightweight, cushioning step every time.

Cost And Value
Seems like this is another style of sandals that are at the end of its career. The main company's website doesn't have them anymore. So if you see a new pair of them on sale, pick it up while the picking's good. You won't regret it when you put them on and wear them.
Pros

Synthetic sole

Crisscross straps at vamp

Adjustable ankle strap

Vivid, translucent colors

Cons

Issues with fastener

Issues with rubber heels

During the search for the top ten huaraches, there have been a lot of other footwear that call themselves “huaraches.” However, they are actual running shoes, minimalist shoes, and sandals. Nike, in particular, had been doing this for a while. Is it because the word “huarache” looked and sounded pretty cool? Or were the shoes the same leather build, with rubber soles, as the original huarache?

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Huaraches

 

Material

The original huaraches were completely made of leather; tanned cattle rawhide that can be malleable to fit around the feet. And while rawhide is still used for leather, synthetic substitutes are also used for the uppers of the huaraches. Sometimes, vegetable coating is used to give the huaraches vibrant colors.

Soles

The soles of the huaraches used to be all leather until the automobile had been introduced within the 1930s. Used tires would be recycled and turned into the soles of the huaraches; giving them that “tread look” and more grip to the ground. Cushioning insoles, sometimes patented by other companies, would be placed within the footbed of the huaraches for more comfortable walking.

Weight

The materials herein are suppose to be lightweight; due to the use of leather but mainly because of the synthetic and recycled material. It’s possible that the huaraches were a little heavier in earlier times. But that might be due to the technology utilized at that time.

Longevity

Huaraches that had been under the best of care were recorded to last around two years. However, they’re difficult to re-use afterwards because the leather material had been massaged-to-wear for so long.

Color

Most huaraches come in shades of brown, grey, white, and black. But because of the materials used for the uppers and the technology used today; huaraches (and many fake huaraches) can come in several array of colors and patterns. You can even get them custom-made at some web sites.

How They’re Made

True huaraches had been crafted by hand. The length and cost to make huaraches yourself varies. There are videos and website that tell you how to make them. (Or, if you’re bad with your hands, you can always order them online or go to a specialty store for them.)

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does “huarache” mean?

“Huarache” comes from the Purépecha language term kwarachi, which means “sandals.” (Purépecha, also known as Tarascan, is a small language family spoken by a quarter million indigenous people in the Mexican state highlands of Michoacán.)

Q: How is “huarache” pronounced?

The correct pronunciation of the word is “Wa-Ra-Jei.” Saddeningly, not everybody’s skilled in the use of the original South and Central American languages. So it’s also pronounced “Ha-Ra-Chei,” “Her-A-Gi,” or a mixture of the two quoted phrases.

Q: How and where did huaraches started?

Farmers and indigenous people wore this in the Pre-Columbian era of Mexico. Specifically the country farm areas in Yucatan, Michoacan, Jalisco and Guanajuato .

Q: Are huaraches minimalist shoes or sandals?

There are a certain type of huaraches created by the Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons, where straps made by leather or some other material were used to tie to the ankles; as opposed to using leather uppers. However; not all huaraches are made for excessive running.

Q: What’s up with Nikes and their “huaraches?”

The assumption is that “the name sounds cool.” But it also seems like the people over at Nike had done some research behind the name. Their Air Huarache running shoes are ”known for their stability, and shape with tread for strenuous terrain.” Very much like the foot-hugging huaraches originally used in the outlying areas of Mexico.

Q: Are synthetic huaraches still huaraches?

Being hand-made, using leather (strapped) uppers, and using rubber outsoles; that’s the general rules behind what makes a pair of huaraches truly huaraches. However; the second general rule is to make sure that anything based on the huaraches are not poorly made and hurriedly slapped together on some conveyor belt.

Q: What stores sell huaraches?

Huaraches are mainly sold in specialty shoe shops and higher-ended shoe shops. You can find synthetically made huaraches for less money in big-box stores, but the general idea is that “anything (made of true) leather is better.”

Q: What popular person wears / wore huaraches?

Not too many people, unfortunately. You’ll have your online reviewers who try these, wear these, and give them high ratings. And then you have the lot of popular sports stars who’re signed under Nike to promote their “Huarache” shoes and trainers. They’re mention in the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Noble Surfer;” as well as novels like “On The Road,” “The Help,” and “Inherent Vice.” But there’s yet to be anybody from outside review sites who’d actually say that they wear huaraches.

Sources

  1. masterwoodsman, huaraches,
  2. dailyvitamina, tarahumara,
  3. xeroshoes, how-to-make-huaraches,
  4. youtube.com, About slip ons and huaraches,
  5. crocs, about-crocs-shoes,
  6. earthbrands, our-story,
  7. softspots, about huaraches,