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]

Gadling Gear Review: Keen Turia Sandals

Shoe manufacturer Keen is well known for making comfortable and sturdy footwear for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Their catalog includes shoes for hiking, trail running and even cycling, all of which manage to remain both durable and stylish at the same time. Perhaps their most iconic offering is their line of sandals which continues to evolve and improve while retaining the core elements that have made them a favorite with many for years. This legacy continues with the new Turia Sandals which are a great travel shoe for warm weather destinations.

Lightweight and breathable, the Turia Sandal provides plenty of coverage for the foot while remaining comfortably cool even in the warmest of environments. A synthetic mesh wraps the top of the foot while a closed-toe design proves to be both protective and pragmatic for travelers visiting demanding locations. The shoes use a zip lacing system that holds them snugly in place for hours on end and an aggressive sole manages to provide solid traction on a variety of surfaces including those that are both slick and wet.

Sporting anti-bacterial fabrics, Keen has designed these sandals to be worn for days while still resisting odors, fungi and and stains. On top of that, they’re easy to keep clean and quick to dry, which is greatly appreciated on short summer escapes and extended journeys alike.

All of these features make the Turia an excellent choice for travelers who are looking for a versatile and comfortable shoe to take with them nearly anywhere. Their compact and flexible design make them easy to pack and their stylish good looks keep them appropriate for light hiking, visits to the beach or just kicking around town. In fact, that versatility is perhaps my favorite feature of these sandals, which were one of just two pairs of shoes that I took with me on a recent visit to the country of Jordan, where they proved to be equally adept at both trekking in the desert and visiting the beaches of the Red Sea.

As with all sandals, the open design of the shoe does allow for dirt, sand and small rocks to collect inside at times. This issue is further exacerbated by the closed toe on the Turia, which can prevent that debris from escaping, causing irritation on the foot and toes. While this is more of an issue with these type of shoes in general, and not a design flaw of the Turia itself, I did feel it was worth noting. While wearing these shoes, there were times when I needed to stop on the trail, pull them off and empty out the offending materials before continuing.

Available in four different colors, the Keen Turia is an excellent choice for travelers looking for a lightweight and versatile shoe to take with them on their next adventure. They are comfortable, durable and packable, which makes them a great option for just about any escape and with a price tag of $100 they remain affordable as well.

GPS Footwear: Program your shoes and start walking?

Perhaps one of the worst travel experiences is being lost and on foot in a city without a decent map or a sense of direction. This is particularly horrendous when one has walked and walked and walked only to discover the same buildings and streets that one saw hours ago. A shoe GPS system might be the answer to such foot torture and travel woes.

This shoe + GPS is an idea that has a design already. If these shoes are ever made, Footwear with GPS will be shoes equipped with a GPS unit and transponder.

After reading the description and looking at the diagram of this shoe at Funny Patents and Inventions, I’m not exactly sure how this system works, but it does seem that even if you don’t know where you’re going, this shoe could be helpful for determining where you are.

I wonder how the system fares in rain? Could you get shocked if you happen to slog through a puddle? Also, I wonder if you could have a bit of fun with someone and program one shoe to point a person in one direction and the other to point the opposite way?

This Footwear with GPS system idea reminds me of the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Perhaps that could be a slogan for an ad campaign.

Travel footwear review: Terrasoles Logans

From the moment I donned the Terrasoles Logans, I knew they were designed for comfort. They slipped on easily and felt, quite simply, cozy. When I stepped out of my apartment, I delighted in thinking I was wearing slippers, despite visible evidence to the contrary.

The design straddles outdoor and office – you can get away with either. With a pair of cargo shorts or the khaki uniform of a cubicle dweller, the Terrasoles Logans won’t look out of place. Yet, the flexibility of style does not compare to the comfort these shoes provide. Among the softest and lightest shoes I’ve slipped on my feet (aside from flip-flops or running shoes), they were an absolute joy to wear.

The Logans basically wrap right around your feet, snugly supporting your dogs while you put them through their proverbial (and literal) paces. The softness is what struck me, even more than with the Tukermans, but for this reason, I do have some concerns about their endurance. I’ve pushed the Logans a bit, and they have held up well. For normal use, they’ll probably have a fairly long life, but consistent urban use will be tough on these shoes. I’ve already noticed some rapid wear on the outer soles.

For streets, sand and trails, the Terrasoles Logans are a good choice – a pair of shoes you can wear anyplace. I’ve been happy every time I’ve put them on.

Travel footwear review: Terrasoles Tuckerman Canvas

It’s pretty obvious that a pair of shoes can make or break your trip. You rarely notice the impact that great shoes can have, but a bad decision will haunt you every time you take a step. If you walk a lot, as I do, the effects are magnified. So, I put the Terrasoles Tuckerman Canvas through hell. My five mile daily commute (roundtrip) is just the start of what I did to these shoes, as I put more than 500 miles on them in searing heat and pouring rain. And yes, as the Proclaimers would say, I’d walk 500 more. It’s rare that I find a pair of shoes that I like – and that can withstand what I do to them – and the Tuckermans are among the best I’ve worn.

A bit of context: a pair of shoes tends to last me only three or four months. By then, they are torn, frayed and sporting holes in the soles. I’ll try to squeeze an extra month, at which point it’s time to throw them out. I abuse footwear, and I was suspicious of the lightweight outdoor-oriented shoes from Terrasoles. Anything designed for heavy outdoor use – for the adventure travel guys – rarely holds up against the conditions of the urban jungle. Climbing and hiking are nothing compared to the effects of Manhattan pavement pounding. A pair of standard issue combat boots, the most enduring and reliable shoes I’ve ever owned, didn’t last half a year … and they were designed for war!

The Terrasoles Tuckermans performed as well as my other favorites – the product used by the U.S. Army – and at half a year, it’s time for a new pair. But, that comes with plenty of normal use on top of more than 500 miles of “commute” walking. With every step, they were light and comfortable, like a second pair of socks but with much more support. Initially concerned that I’d feel every pebble and crack in the sidewalk, I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a pain-free experience. The soles provided a sufficient barrier between my feet and the ground.

The design is as flexible as the use of these shoes. They can be worn in any number of conditions – from urban to outdoor – and social settings. Simple and elegant, I routinely wore them to work and even with a suit (though I doubt normal people would do this).

The canvas Terrasoles Tuckermans are versatile and comfortable – and they will last. It doesn’t take long to break them in, so you’ll be comfortable from the start, wherever your travels take you.