Best Huaraches Reviewed & Rated

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

Last Updated: May 22, 2018
By Tenby Lloyd:

We have recently updated our list to include 15 of the top items currently available on the market. We have also updated our criteria section to give you more information to help you decide on a great pair!

Huaraches are only considered true and authentic if they’re “home-made” (as opposed to being manufactured and mass-produced). They’re flat-heeled, have 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 were replaced by synthetic rubber from recycled tires; thereby giving them that “tread” look.

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Typically worn by farmers in countryside communities, they would eventually gain in popularity among some religious orders like the Catholic Church’s Franciscan Friars, and also in the 1960s with hippies and the baby boomer generation. Some huarache wearers saw them last for 10 to 20 years. It can difficult to find a pair that would fit properly since they were handmade without standard sizing. Even now, it takes a while to get a handmade pair to work around your foot but often well worth the effort. (A good tip is to massage the leather with your hand. Another is to wet them and walk around in them for a day.)   

 

15 Best Huaraches

 

1. Keen Newport H2

These sporty, durable sandals are inspired by huaraches and are made of a polyester webbing upper and a rubber sole. These are a great summer sandal for tougher terrains like rocky beaches and trails. Need to bushwack to your secret swimming hole? No problem.
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Machine washable
You have to love footwear that you can clean by throwing into the washing machine (on the gentle cycle) and air dry. Convenience and a rugged style!

Excellent Traction
These sandals have great traction with multi-directional lugs on the bottom and razor siping. You’ll get through the trail and the bush to that secret spot, sure on your feet the entire trek.

Cost and Value
These are in the mid-range of huaraches on our list but they are certainly worth the investment. These rugged sandals will last a very long time and are the perfect summer sandal for going off-road.
Pros
  • Polyester webbing
  • Durable rubber sole
  • Sporty style
  • Toe bumper
  • Bungee lacing
Cons
  • Fits small

2. Aerosoles Chlothesline

These Aerosoles are inspired by the traditional Mexican footwear and are lush and comfortable. For a flat sandal, you will get hours of comfortable wear and a very cute Mexico meets Gladiator style. You won’t regret the purchase of the Chlothesline even if you do struggle with the spelling of it.
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Lush insole
The insole on the Chlothesline is made of double-padded memory foam for great comfort. It also has a suede sock insole to raise the comfort level to ‘lush’. So cozy.

Gripping sole
This sole has decent traction for a flat, thanks to the diamond pattern on the outsole. It’s made of synthetic material that will resist wear but does not expect good traction on every surface. These shoes may slide on smooth surfaces like marble and laminate flooring.

Cost and Value
These shoes are very reasonably priced. You get an incredibly comfortable, stylish sandal for a value price. You cannot go wrong with these Aerosoles.
Pros
  • Diamond sole
  • Stylish flat
  • Sueded sock insole
  • Double memory foam
  • Synthetic upper
Cons
  • Not for narrow feet

3. Keen Venice H2

These Keens are also huaraches-inspired. They are a great sports sandal with stretch straps for fit, the bungee lacing system. Once you’ve bushwacked your way through to your secret swimming hole, slip these water worthy sandals on and enjoy the water without worrying about what might lie beneath the surface.
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Water-ready
The Venice H2 features breathable stretch straps, waterproof nylon overlays, and hydrophobic mesh lining so these sandals are ready for the shore.

EVA midsole
The midsole on the Venice H2 is made from compression-molded EVA. EVA offers both cushion and shock-absorption so your feet remain comfortable.

Cost and Value
These sandals are in the mid-range of prices and worth every penny, designed for great traction on a variety of terrains, from the shoreline to the trail, from the concrete jungle to muddy jungle, your feet will remain safe and secure wherever life takes you.
Pros
  • Built for adventure
  • Exceptional traction
  • Open strapping system
  • Non-marking
  • Hydrophobic mesh lining
Cons
  • Not for high arches

4. Brand X Pachuco

4. Brand X Pachuco
Ronn Simpson took his degree in Spanish, his inspiration from the "huaracheros" (huarache crafters) in Mexico, and started off as a street vendor in 1972's Oakland. These are arguably the closest thing you will find to a traditional huarache on the market. Brand X boasts authenticity in spades; ensuring that your 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), you would expect a high price tag. However, these huaraches are at the low end of the price range. You won’t regret the purchase at such a reasonable price.

5. Keen Uneek

5. Keen Uneek
This huaraches-inspired Uneek sandal is offered up in many colors from neutral to neon so you can choose the one that suits you best. This is a one of a kind design made from loops of soft polyester cording so it is flexible and moves with you. You will be super comfortable in this sandal whether you take it to the beach, the boardwalk or running errands on a warm summer day.
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Comfort for days
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in the Uneek, the midsole offers the support of a good sneaker, cushioned strap offers support for the ankle and poly cording compose the upper so you will be comfortable.

Non-marking rubber outsole
The non-marking outsole will make you and any place you visit happy while the rubber outsole will provide shock absorption and traction.

Cost and Value
These shoes are at the top of the mid-range of prices but work every penny for the Uneek style, comfort, and the traction to go anywhere and do anything. You can’t go wrong with these sandals.
Pros
  • Poly corded upper
  • Supportive midsole
  • Heel strap
  • Choice of colors
  • Non-marking
Cons
  • Cording may dig in

6. SoftSpots Tatianna

6. 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. The Tatianna is meant to have that elegant balance.
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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 where and when it is needed.

Leather Straps
The elaborate weaving and design of the leather straps are reminiscent of ancient huaraches. The Tatianna also features a closed-toe design for that is appropriate for work.

Cost And Value
These stylish, heeled huaraches are in the low-range of prices relative to this list. They are a value for a stylish and comfortable heeled shoe that you can wear every day, all summer, while you work. These are also fairly closely loyal to the design of handmade, Mexican huaraches.
Pros
  • Made with leather
  • Choice of colors
  • Polyurethane outsole
  • Suede-lined footbed
  • 1.5"-high steel shank
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Straps may tear

7. Nike Air Huarache

7. Nike Air Huarache
Now moving on to huaraches that look less like huaraches. Nike 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. This is a very unique looking shoe with all the comfort and performance that comes with Nike’s reputation.
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Pliable upper
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
These Air Huaraches are comfortable on your feet, even while running. A Phylon foam had been added underfoot, Air-Sole under the heel and forefoot, and a neoprene-like sockliner in these shoes ensure they fit well and will not cause aching feet.

Cost And Value
These are the most expensive shoes on our list but they are not a sandal either, they are a high-tech, road ready athletic shoe. These are well worth the investment if you are a serious runner.
Pros
  • Rubber sole
  • Choice of colors
  • Customizable by Nike
  • Very comfortable
  • Neoprene sockliner
Cons
  • Limited sizes

8. Crocs Isabella

8. Crocs Isabella
Crocs say they are the world leader in creative and casual footwear. Crocs' Isabella Flat Jelly Sandals are huarache-inspired, yet it's made of completely synthetic material. Their overall goal of these sandals is to give your feet comfort and airiness. They are youthful and fun.
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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 a pair of original huaraches, TPU straps are known for their flexibility and toughness. It also means that Crocs' Isabella sandals can come in many colors and just as many sizes while maintaining their comfort around the feet.

Cost And Value
These Crocs are priced on the lower end of the range. These can last as long a good pair of homemade huaraches. For a low price, you can enjoy these fun sandals.
Pros
  • Huarache-inspired
  • Massaging nubs footbed
  • Choices of colors
  • Youthful design
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • Hard to break in
  • May chafe

9. Naturalizer Wendy

9. Naturalizer Wendy
Caleres, Inc. is 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" can nearly be considered "true huaraches."
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Made Of Leather
Any pair of shoes with the word "huarache" in it should be made of leather. That's one of the main criteria for the shoes to be considered true huaraches. The leather straps are on the Wendys 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 be more Earthy or "natural."

Cost And Value
They are not as pricey as other shoes in the list, falling in the low-range. These sandals will be worth every penny if what you want are closest to true huaraches. They are elaborately woven and stylish and will become a favorite sandal.
Pros
  • Leather huaraches
  • Choice of colors
  • Synthetic rubber soles
  • Elaborately woven
  • Medallion-style
  • Adjustable backstrap
Cons
  • Material may tear
  • Sole may peel

10. Crocs Huarache Wedge

10. Crocs Huarache Wedge
Not to be outdone by Naturalizer, Crocs brings us the Huarache Wedge, with a 3.25-inch wedge heel. These sandals also have some vivid colors added to them to liven your stride. Crocs also ensure the wearer of their Huarache Wedge sandals that each step will also be 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 herd. With Crocs, it's their patented "Croslite Insoles;" dedicated to giving your feet the lightweight, cushioning step every time.

Cost And Value
These colorful, fun sandals have been discontinued by Crocs. Get them while they last. You won't regret it when you put them on and wear them and they are at the very low end of huaraches on our list.
Pros
  • Synthetic sole
  • Crisscross straps at vamp
  • Adjustable ankle strap
  • Vivid, translucent colors
Cons
  • Poor fastener
  • Rubber heels wear

11. Naturalizer Neina

11. Naturalizer Neina
Naturalizer knows a comfortable shoe and this huaraches-inspired sandal is ultra comfortable and stylish, with a small heel. This shoe will look great with any summer outfit you choose from jeans and a tee to your swimwear to that light, summer dress you’ve been waiting all Spring to wear.
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Naturalizer comfort
This sandal features a very soft padded insole and a shock absorbing heel and outsole, You will feel comfortable for many hours of wear in this sandal.

100% leather
The upper on this Naina is 100% leather which is soft and comfortable against your skin while being durable and weather resistant. The straps are also leather lined for twice the durability.

Cost and Value
These sandals are well within the mid-range of shoes on our list. For a slight investment, you are getting a shoe that will last quite a long time and will remain comfortable for that time. Stylish and open, this sandal will become a new summer fave.
Pros
  • Leather lined straps
  • 100 % leather upper
  • Padded insole
  • Shock absorbing outsole
  • Functional and stylish
Cons
  • May fit wide

12. Forever Vera 82

12. Forever Vera 82
These are a very stylish huarache meets ballet flat shoe that is also vegan-friendly. There is no heel, a closed toe and an ankle strap for added security. This is a fashion shoe that will look great with any summertime outfit or casual occasion you choose. No arch support though so avoid long periods of wear.
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No heel style
This is a true ballet flat with no heel. The style is modern but obviously huaraches-inspired. They are a great summer shoe for relaxing, running errands, sitting on the deck or any other thing summer may bring.

Animal product free
For those who want their clothing to be free of animal products, this shoe is entirely synthetic.

Cost and Value
This is the least expensive shoe in our lineup of the best huaraches and you will get a cute, versatile flat with a comfortable insole. However, you will find that it wears quicker than other shoes on the list.
Pros
  • Heelless flat
  • Sythetic leather
  • Vegan friendly
  • Ankle strap
  • Synthetic sole
Cons
  • Sizes run large

13. SoftSpots Tela

13. SoftSpots Tela
The SoftSpots’ Tela is an open-toed version of the Tatianna huarache sandals, above. The Tela is built for long walks on hot summer days with the same care you'd expect from SoftSpots. Though it may not be appropriate for work, it certainly is welcome on the beach, running errands or doing whatever your busy life demands.
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Leather Upper
Leather's durability and ease in use like weaving is the reason that most huarache-inspired footwear 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-air huaraches is, without doubt, the most important trait. SoftSpots continues to emphasize comfort on the Tela.

Cost And Value
These cute sandals are in the mid-range price-wise. For the price, you will be getting a comfortable, fashionable little sandal that will go well with many outfits in your closet and will suit many different occasions.
Pros
  • Flexible sole
  • Choice of colors
  • Open toe
  • All day comfort
  • Long-lasting
Cons
  • Straps may break

14. Stacy Adams Naples

14. Stacy Adams Naples
Started in 1875 by William H. Stacy and Henry L. Adams they are part of the American culture. The Naples Slip-On Loafers, also known as "Moc Toes," are inspired by the huarache style - in a very unique interpretation. These are 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

15. Mordenmiss Summer Leather

15. Mordenmiss Summer Leather
This is the most unique looking huaraches sandal on our list. This Mordenmiss sandal is available in either cowhide or leather. It is a very well constructed sandal that is not limited to summer wear but can be worn in spring and fall as well.
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Soft upper
The upper in this summer sandal is made from either cowhide or leather, both of which are soft against your skin and durable materials. Cowhide is not as weather-resistant as leather, however, so avoid wet situations if you choose cowhide, or have the sandals treated.

Multi-seasonsal
This sandal does have an open design however, it is substantial enough and warm enough to wear in spring and fall as well, extending the wearability of the shoe. This also extends the value you get from the shoe.

Cost and Value
These shoes are at the low-end of the price list and are a great value for the money. The shoes are soft on the upper foot and have great traction and durability in a uniquely styled shoe. Extending the wear to three seasons also helps you get more bang for your buck.
Pros
  • Cowhide or leather
  • Unique style
  • Well constructed
  • Multi-seasonal
  • Good traction
Cons
  • Sizes run small

The 15 huaraches in our list are varied and each is great in its own way, from fashion sandals, to runners, to wedges, to trail wear. You will find something that suits every taste and sensibility. You can’t go wrong with the shoes on this list.

Read more below about the criteria we used to develop our list and further, questions and answers that people have posed relating to this updated from traditional style shoe.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Huaraches

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Interpretation of the Original

When we looked to create a list of the best huaraches, we felt it was important that each of the shoes we picked for the list met the following criteria in terms of their style:

  • Loyal – Are the shoes loyal to the original huarache designs, material, and manufacture? How closely do they resemble traditional Mexican patterns? Are they leather strapped and rubber-soled? Are they handmade?
  • Modern update – If they are not loyal to the original design, are they a modern update? For example, is the rubber hardened? Is the sole a better material than vulcanized rubber? Are the straps synthetic leather or other material? Has the pattern been updated while still resembling the original design?  Are they sewn rather than cemented?
  • Creative interpretation – Some of the shoes we chose are creative interpretations of the original, like the Nike Huarache, and the Keen H2 sandal varieties. They no longer look at all like the original but they retain some elements in a nod to the original craftsmen and their innovative shoe.

Shoes that went too far from the original or could not be said to be a creative interpretation of the original, were nixed as there were no elements which could rightfully be attributed to the building of the original shoe.

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Quality of the Material

Setting aside the aesthetic design of the shoe for a moment, our next criteria deals with the quality of the material used. The original huaraches used leather soles and leather strapping that were later updated to vulcanized rubber soles and leather strapping, we’ll start therefore with leather and rubber:

  • Leather – leather is a very strong and soft material that does not usually cause irritation to or biting of the skin. Cheaper, thinner leather straps can break and leather that is hardened too much can rub and irritate skin. Where a shoe has leather we looked to determine whether it would suffer these faults.
  • Rubber – rubber is a very durable material for soles and offers a great deal of traction and shock absorption. Where a shote had a rubber sole or a synthesized rubber sole, we looked to ensure it would provide familiar traction and whether it was sufficiently thick to be shock absorbing.
  • EVA or Memory foamEVA makes for a very comfortable insole or midsole so when it’s used in a relatively flat shoe like a huarache, we consider it a bonus. EVA will mold over time to your foot or can come molded to the natural lines of a foot, either way, you can expect comfort from EVA. Memory foam is also very cushioning and rare to find in most flats, so bonus points for this as well.
  • Plastics Some of the shoes have plastic straps, which can dig in, rub, stick and generally irritate. We read a lot of reviews to be sure these would not be a problem for the shoes you choose.

When choosing a huarache, or any shoes, you should look for the very best quality materials that you can afford – for comfort and for durability. Remember that the longer you can use them, the more value you achieve for your hard-earned money.

 

Longevity

Traditional huaraches are a hard-working, long-lasting shoe. There’s no reason yours should not last as long as they can either.  The longer your shoe lasts, the more value you achieve for your money as well. A number of factors determine how long a huarache will last, including how you care for them, the material quality, and build quality of the shoe. Here are some tips on what to look for and how to care for your huaraches:

  • Good quality material – see our criteria above for material tips.
  • Good quality builds – look for shoes that are sewn together with solid stitching preferably as these shoes tend to last longer and can be repaired more easily. Many will be cemented (glued) together so look for faults in the cementing. Read reviews to help you determine where the shoes wear most frequently and whether or not the straps come apart. People are great about telling you when and where shoes they’ve purchased are faulty.
  • Forming leather strapsforming leather straps to your feet, like traditional huaraches, will help them fit better and last longer. Real leather straps can be formed by either wetting the shoe and then wearing them as they dry or massaging leather cream into the straps and then wearing them until they dry. These options work well for shoes that are slightly tight on your foot.
  • Weatherproofing – leathers, canvas and other natural materials can be treated for water and stain resistance to help them live longer. Ensure you use a product that is recommended for your shoe and your type of leather and repeat the coating as appropriate with wear.
  • Repair – if you’ve invested in a good pair and the straps have finally begun to give way after years of use, it may be worth repairing leather strapping that has worn through. Check with a cobber in your local area to determine whether and how strapping can be replaced. Plastic straps normally cannot be replaced or repaired.
  • Avoid direct sunlight – your shoes can handle quite a bit of sun but leaving them exposed to UV radiation for long periods of time will dry out the leather straps too much, making them brittle and breakable. When you’re not wearing them, be sure to store them away from direct sunlight.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What does “huarache” mean?
A: “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?
A: The correct pronunciation of the word is “Wa-Ra-Jei.” Not everybody is skilled in or familiar with 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 start?
A: Farmers and indigenous people wore this in the Pre-Columbian era of Mexico. Specifically the agricultural areas in Yucatan, Michoacan, Jalisco, and Guanajuato.

Q: Are they minimalist shoes or sandals?
A: There is a certain type 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 running.

Q: What’s up with Nikes and their “huaraches?”
A: It seems like the people over at Nike had done some research on 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 ones made from synthetic materias still huaraches?
A: Being hand-made, using leather (strapped) uppers, and using rubber outsoles; that’s the general rules behind what makes a pair authentic. However; the second general rule is to make sure that anything based on the original design is not poorly made.

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,


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