Gadling Gear Review: Luna Sandals Mono And Venado

Over the past couple of years there has been a movement in the outdoor community towards lightweight, minimalist footwear. Much of the movement stems from the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, which kicked off the barefoot running craze and created a whole new section in the shoe department of your favorite sporting goods store. The minimalist approach has had a dramatic impact not only on running shoes, but also hiking boots and travel footwear as well.

Now, Luna Sandals is bringing those same minimalist sensibilities to their impressive line of sandals that are designed to be versatile, comfortable and fun to wear. They have developed several pairs of lightweight shoes that are perfect for both the outdoor enthusiast and active traveler alike. Here are two of those products that will likely prove of interest to readers of Gadling.

Mono Sandal ($75)
Luna’s Mono sandal is its Swiss Army Knife of minimalist footwear. Designed for a wide assortment of activities, this shoe features a light, yet durable, Vibram sole that cradles and protects the foot from a wide variety of obstacles. It provides surprisingly good traction on a variety of surfaces, which makes it a great choice for the trail, beach, pavement or just kicking around the house. The pliable leather footbed does a nice job of molding itself to the unique contours of your foot, which improves the fit and comfort over time. That means, the more you wear them, the more you’re apt to love them.The Mono sandal also features Luna’s All Terrain Strapping (ATS) laces, which make them a breeze to pull off and on. The soft, nylon ATS system secures the shoes to your feet and keeps them in place no matter where you go. The laces are easy to adjust and lock snugly into place, without chafing or irritating your feet as well. That translates into being able to wear these sandals longer and in a variety of conditions, without having to deal with discomfort.

I have to admit, that I was a bit hesitant about trying these sandals when I first saw them. The minimalist approach to running shoes didn’t connect with me personally and I was afraid that these sandals would provide a similar result. But the Mono was the shoe that changed my mind. I am amazed at just how lightweight they are, while still being able to provide a high level of comfort. I haven’t always been a fan of flip-flops in the past either, but Luna’s ATS laces made these feel more like a regular shoe.

Frequent travelers will love these sandals, and not just because they take up almost no room in your pack and tip the scales at a mere 9.2 ounces for a pair. They make a great second pair of shoes for those who like to travel ultralight and can be worn in a variety of situations ranging from the backwoods to your favorite local hangout. Backpackers will find that they make an excellent camp shoe, while those heading to a beach destination will appreciate how well they function around sand and water. They are easy to keep clean, durable enough to shrug off most wear and tear and they actually look good too. In short, they’re just about everything you could want in a travel shoe wrapped up in a minimalist package.

Venado Sandal ($65)
If the Mono sandal didn’t quite seem minimalist enough for you, Luna offers the Venado for those who want an even lighter shoe. These sandals still feature a comfortable and durable Vibram sole, but it is a thinner and less substantial than the one found on the Mono. The result is a pair of shoes that weighs even less (7.8 ounces) while still providing plenty of comfort and protection for your feet.

While the Mono is the rugged, go anywhere, do anything sandal in the Luna line-up, the Venado is a bit more refined in its approach. Designed for use on pavement or for very light-trail duty, this shoe provides the same level of comfort and durability that is found in Luna’s other footwear, albeit in an even more streamlined package.

Using the same ATS lacing system found across the Luna line-up, the Venado clings to the foot, even in wet conditions. That makes them great for wearing around the pool, short walks on the beach or trail, or while casually strolling around town. While the Mono’s are built for scrambling over rocks and hiking longer distances, these shoes are for those who don’t venture too far off the beaten path, but still want an incredibly light sandal that provides versatility when they need it.

As someone who is very active, and enjoys hiking, trail running and backpacking, I’m a bit partial towards the Mono sandals. They are the perfect size and weight for the activities I enjoy and are a great addition to my bag when I hit the road. But for those who don’t need the extra thick sole found on that shoe, the Venado is a lighter, more affordable option that is sure to serve you well both at home and while traveling.

[Photos by Luna Sandals]